|World War I started
in 1914. With a few European countries at
loggerheads initially, the war soon spread to the
other parts of the world. It was estimated that
some thirty countries were involved in the war.
Effects of the war proved destructive. About 8.5
million people were killed and another 21 million
||How did this
frightening war start? What were the factors that
sped up its spread? How was Singapore affected?
These are some of the questions, which might
interest us as we uncover the historical records
of this war.
HOW DID THE
FIRST WORLD WAR START?
|During the beginning
of the 20th century, the strongest country in
Europe was Britain. Her empire was the largest,
industries the richest and navy the biggest.
||The envious Germany
soon built up her empire and challenged
Britains position. At that time, Germany
also conquered two French provinces. This made
France a rival of Germany too.
Before the murder
After the murder
The murder of the Archduke triggered the start of the
war. The Archduke was the heir to the Austria-Hungarian
throne. He and his wife visited Bosnia on 28 June 1914.
In Bosnia, some Serbias shot the couple to death.
The Serbias plotted against the Archduke because
they hated Austria-Hungary for taking Bosnia away from
Besides these two rivalries, other European countries
were also unhappy with one another. Soon they took sides
and two opposing groups emerged. The atmosphere was
Austria-Hungary then accused the Serbian government of
murder. Soon Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, with
German support. Russia, which was friendly with Serbia,
came to her help.
Soon other European nations began to take sides. World
War I thus started with two opposing parties, the Central
Powers and the Allies. The wear soon spread from Europe
to the other parts of the globe, thus earning the name,
"The First World War".
SINGAPORE AFFECTED DURING WORLD WAR I?
|Singapore was not
very much affected during the initial outbreak of
the war. This was because she was far away from
Europe and the countries around her were either
friendly to Britain or neutral to either sides in
the war. There was only a temporary inflation of
food prices as people rushed to buy food for
||The problem was
solved when the government forbade huge export of
foodstuff from Singapore. The government also
imported rice from Siam and Vietnam. Effects of
the war only emerged when two major incidents
- A German Warship, the Emden, began to
attack the Allies ships in Asia
shortly after the War broke out.
- Departing from Qingdao, the Emden sailed
southwards to Malaya. On its way, it sank
several Allies ships.
- It then moved to India. At Madras and Sri
Lanka, it opened fire and sank more
ships. After that, it returned to Malaya.
- Ships sent by the Allies to deal with the
Emden seemed futile. In October 1914, it
sank many ships near Penang.
- The Emdens threat was only brought
to a halt two weeks after its attack on
Penang. It was destroyed by an Australian
warship at the Cocos Islands.
- The Emdens presence in the seas
near Singapore affected her shipping and
trade. Ships could not sail safely from
Singapore to India or Europe.
supplies and other
countries could not
After World War I broke out, the Indian Muslims rose
up against the British. This was because Britain has
declared war on Turkey, which sided Germany.
|The Sultan of Turkey
was regarded as the leader of all Muslims in the
world. Hence, when Britain declared war on
Turkey, the Muslims, including those in
Singapore, were urged to go against the British.
Blue Mosque in Turkey
|A rich Indian Muslim
businessman named Kassim Mansur, who was in
Singapore, invited sepoys (Indian soldiers) to
his house. He talked them into rising against the
||An Indian Muslim
religious leader, Nur Alum Shah, instilled
anti-British feelings in the Muslims in
Singapore. He also visited the sepoys and told
them that it was their religious duty to rise up
against the British.
prisoners-of-war (P.O.Ws.) In Singapore also had
a share in stirring up the sepoys against the
British. The sepoys who were put to guard the
German P.O.Ws. Were told of bad stories about the
British by these prisoners. The P.O.Ws. Also said
that Britain was losing the War.
||On 15 February 1915,
the sepoys rose up against the British. The
rebellion was known as the Sepoy Mutiny. The
rebels went around killing British people.
|In November 1914,
the British government decided to send the sepoys
to Hong Kong. The sepoys, however, heard the
rumours that they might be sent to Europe or
Turkey to fight the Muslims. In February 1915,
when the sepoys received orders to sail to Hong
Kong, they decided to rebel.
government was caught unprepared. Soon, they
sought help from other countries. The Mutiny
finally ended after ten days. About forty people
were killed and some wounded. The guilty sepoys
were arrested and tried in court. About
thirty-six of them were executed in public.
HOW DID THE
LOCAL PEOPLE HELP THE BRITISH?
European men volunteered to fight for their
countries. Most of them were from British trading
companies. They sailed to Britain and took part
in the fighting in Europe. Many of them did not
return from the battlefields.
At the Singapore
governments appeal, Tan Jiak Kim donated
$18 000 to the British war funds. He also joined
a committee to help raise war funds. Another
group, the Straits Chinese British Association
also helped to raise funds. One example was a
concert held at Victoria Theatre.
Some rich Straits Chinese
in Singapore contributed money to buy fighter
planes to help Britain. Among them was Tan Jiak
Kim, who donated a fighter plane, Malaya No. 21.
Other donors included the Chinese merchants and
Straits Chinese ladies. Altogether, Singapore and
Malaya donated 53 warplanes to Britain.
Fighter Plane at that time
The Chinese, Eurasians
and others in Singapore were loyal to the British
too. They volunteered to help defend Singapore.
These volunteers helped to guard the Government
House and other important places on the island.
END OF WORLD
World War I ended on 11 November 1918. The war, which
started in 1914, lasted 5 years. The Allies emerged
victorious with the Central Powers defeated. The end of
the war marked the start of a new period of peace and