Arthur Ernest Percival

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Ernest Percival (born December 26, 1887 - January 31, 1966 in London ) was a British Lieutenant General . The surrender of his units on February 15, 1942 in Singapore is considered the greatest British defeat in World War II .


Lieutenant General Arthur Percival
Percival at the time of the Japanese attack on Singapore

Percival, who as a private first class (private) of the Officer Training Corps in the First World War was fought in 1916 with the rank of Lieutenant at the Somme . He received his first command in 1917 when he was entrusted with a battalion . Shortly thereafter, a complete brigade was handed over to him . After the war, Percival served in various locations around the world, including Sandhurst , Russia, and Nigeria .

In 1930 Percival came to Staff College , of which John Dill was commandant . For the next ten years he served under dill. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he was given command of the 43th (Wessex) Division of the British Expeditionary Force .

After the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, Percival took over the 44th (Home Counties) Division in defense of the British coast. Since he had already been in British Malaya from 1936 to 1938 and had relevant experience in Asia, the high command sent him to Malaysia in the spring of 1941 to take over command of the British troops there.

One day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese invasion units under Tomoyuki Yamashita went ashore on the Malay Peninsula . Percival had unsuccessfully requested six air-backed divisions for reinforcement; he only had the two and a half available, which were poorly trained.

Percival at the surrender of Singapore on February 15, 1942
Douglas MacArthur (seated) signs the Japanese document of surrender. Behind him Wainwright and Arthur Percival.

On January 25, 1942, Percival ordered the complete withdrawal of all Allied troops to Singapore. The island's defenses were all directed towards the sea because an attack from the land side was not expected because of the adverse terrain. The battle for Singapore began . After the Japanese army with a total of 35,000 soldiers and around 200 tanks - Percival had none - landed near Singapore and advanced into the city at the beginning of February , Percival surrendered on February 15 with 85,000 soldiers and went with them into Japanese captivity. The city of Singapore, with a population of around one million, came under Japanese occupation.

Percival was held captive in Manchuria by the Japanese until the end of the war . After his liberation, he took part in the surrender ceremony on board the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, as did General Wainwright , who was also a Japanese prisoner of war .

After returning to Great Britain, Percival processed his experiences and experiences in the book The War in Malaya , which was published in 1949. Arthur Percival died on January 31, 1966 in London.


  • John George Smyth: Percival and the Tragedy of Singapore . MacDonald and Company, 1971

Web links

Commons : Arthur Ernest Percival  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Bayly, Tim Harper: Forgotten Armies. Britain's Asian Empire and the War with Japan . Penguin Press, London 2005, ISBN 978-0-14-029331-9 , pp. 145 .