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  • This hour-long documentary combines news footage with talking heads and close ups of important files. It isn't about the fall of Singapore. It's about two British flying officers who fell in love with Japan and acted as spies for the Japanese during the 1920s and 30s.

    Sempill was one of the earliest pilots in the naval air arm. He was a hero and a peer, a member of the House of Lords. He visited Japan in the 20s and more or less showed them how to build an aircraft carrier. It was legal enough, but after he returned to England he continued to supply the Japanese with secret information about the RAF and its technology.

    Rutland also worked in Japan and, if Sempill showed them how to build aircraft carriers, Rutland showed them how to build small airplanes, fit them with bombs and torpedoes, and fly them on and off carrier decks. In the 30s he was sent to Pearl Harbor where he continued his spying for the Japanese.

    The results of the activities of these two men were, of course, disastrous for both England and the United States. The Japanese had their own spies in Hawaii and in Malaya so the Japanese had all the information they needed.

    There is no footage or detailed description of the fall of Singapore, but it's a fascinating lesson in the making of unwarranted assumptions. Singapore is an island just off the Malay peninsula and it was assumed by the British that the expected attack would come by sea. At great expense, the island was turned into a fortress that could repel any invasion from the sea. Of course, the Japanese knew all about the 16-inch guns and instead of attacking from the sea, they landed troops on the Malay peninsula and fought their way down to Singapore until it was isolated and finally bombed into submission. The British lost two iconic battleships in attempting to thwart the Japanese advance. And the Japanese army outmaneuvered the British, Australian, and Indian troops at every encounter on the peninsula. They already had accurate maps of the roads, paths, swamps, and likely choke points, as well as all the fortifications of the naval base in Singapore. The film doesn't mention it but the Japanese army moved far more swiftly than anticipated because instead of marching they rode BICYCLES.

    But there's very little about the fighting that went on. Mostly, it's the story of Sempill and Rutland. When they were both found out, Sempill was given the choice between resigning and commanding an isolated post in Scotland. Rutland went to jail and killed himself. As one expert commented, "Sempill was a peer and Rutland wasn't."