I gave a talk yesterday lunchtime (Tuesday, 21 February 2017) at the Royal Fusiliers Museum at the Tower of London to a small but select group of military historians, battlefield guides and members of the Battlefields Trust. My presentation, which compared the experiences of Sevastopol and Singapore during their battles for survival in 1942, led to a lively Q&A period. Much of the discussion focused on the leadership (or lack of it) showed by the British commanders involved at Singapore, and in many cases, the low fighting spirit of their troops. In contrast, the Soviet defenders of Sevastopol (Russians and Ukrainians alike) in 1941-42 were fighting on their own soil – and were imbued with the ‘spirit of Sevastopol’ (originally coined by Tolstoy). After the Second World War, Stalin declared Sevastopol to be a Hero City. There was no worse defeat for Britain than Singapore. For more about the defence of Sevastopol in the Second World War, my book Sevastopol’s Wars: Crimea from Potemkin to Putin covers it in detail. Perhaps a full military analysis of Singapore remains to be written? Thank you, Frank Baldwin, for inviting me to give this talk and for your warm hospitality. I suspect we may meet again on Western Front battlefields!

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