Sometime during 1962/63 I, as 12/13 yr old, was sat at the humble kitchen-diner meal table with my maternal grandfather [he was also my adoptive father and died in 1986 age 76yrs] and I spontaneously asked him this question on the almost never mentioned subject of his WW2 experiences as a 88th Field Regiment gunner and death railway pow, "Did you kill anybody in the war?". He replied with his accustomed humility, "I think I might have shot down a Jap plane with a Bren gun, son" ... end of conversation.
I've spent recent years researching his war, including reading 'Singapore Burning'. Imagine my delight on reading pages 306-307 of the report of 88th Field bringing down a Jap spotter-plane with Brens at Kampar!
I believe that each battery only had one Bren, so Colin Smith's book may have immortalised my relative's action in published print.
Singapore Burning is unique in the way that it constantly keeps an understanding of the 'big picture' of the progress of the battle for singapore in the reader's view; whilst soulfully bringing him, or her, close in touch with the human experiences of those living in the 'here and now' of events and actions. Not only thus, does this book break out from the herd to become the undisputed leader but also for two other reasons; (i) because the author's labour-of-love commitment to it glows from every page and, as I progressed through it, I sensed this book becoming as if friend that I could consult for the most reliable truths and likely causes and (ii) beause it is comprehensive and not limited to mostly focusing on one or two regiments.
Not least, Singapore Burning consigns to the bin once and for all any remaining question as to whether the british boots-on-the-ground had simply not tried hard enough!
Frankly, I am extremely grateful for this book's existence for all of the above reasons.