Under a devastating hail of Allied bombs, Japan's air and sea invasion surged southward through the oil-rich Dutch East Indies Island of Sumatra today toward the stronghold ef Java.
American, Dutch aud British air squadrons scored direct hits on ten Japanese, transports and warships and repeatedly strafed enemy troop-laden barges in a week-end of heavy fighting along the Sumatra coast and up the Musi River.
Dutch Apply Torch
But the Japanese added to their capture of Singapore the seizure of the main Sumatra oil center of Palembang, which the Dutch had destroyed in line with their scorched earth policy, and pushed the western prong of their pincers through stubborn Dutch resistance to within almost 200 miles of Java on the west.
The enemy offensive was seeking to close two huge arms around Java one by way of Sumatra on the west and the other by way of Borneo on the north and east and there were some Axis-inspired reports that landings already had been made, on Java Island.
Axis-controlled broadcasts by Radio Vichy and Radio Saigon claimed that Japanese troops, under protection of naval forces, landed on Java and attacked an important airdrome, where heavy fighting was in progress. These reports were not attributed to either Tokyo or Berlin, however, indicating that they were propaganda blasts put out through Axis-controlled French stations.
In any event, the Japanese drive against the Allied defense screen in the East Indies already had broken through at vital points with the fall of Singapore and the invasion of Sumatra and the outlook for defense of Java was grim.
Dispatches from the fighting fronts showed:
Singapore -- British fear 60,000 troops lost as prisoners on Singapore Island. Axis reports say these troops include' 15,000 British, 13,000 Australians and 32,000 Indians.
Batavia -- Eight Japanese transports and two cruisers (one set aflame) blasted by direct Allied hits as Japanese take Palembang pour reinforcements into Sumatra. Dutch fight on south of Palembang and on Celebes Island, but Borneo apparently is lost.
Australia -- Government calls on whole population to "work or fight" as nation braces for defense against expected Japanese attacks.
Burma -- Japanese crack Salween River defense line and British withdraw to defensive position closer to town of Thaton. Burma Road supply line now in peril. British fear invasion of India will be forthcoming.
Libya -- R. A. F.'s American-built fighters down 20 enemy craft without loss as British artillery and armored forces engage enemy in patrol fighting southwest of Derna. Berlin reports Axis air and naval forces sank seven ships, one destroyer and a patrol boat in three-day Mediterranean engagement
Describe Last Hours
The story of the tragic last hours of Singapore was told for the first time by Harold Guard, veteran United Press staff correspondent who arrived at Batavia after a hectic escape from the blasted, fire-swept British island.
Guard reported that the British, Australian, Indian and Malay troops had fought on for five days after it was apparent they had not the slightest chance against the overwhelming Japanese assault forces.
Guard revealed that some 60,000 Imperial troops engaged in the final defense. Not a single naval ship remained at what had once been the greatest sea base between the British Isles and Yakohama. In the final days Royal Air Force personnel were evacuated that part of it which remained alive but no other fighting men were brought out so far as Guard was able to ascertain.
Britons took the fall of Singapore with cold, hard anger anger which was directed into demands for radical, ruthless reorganization of Prime Minister Winston Churchill's government on an all-out, total war basis.
Churchill's Sunday address in which he announced the fall of Singapore did not mollify his critics. In Australia unofficial reaction was that Churchill's speech was one of the weakest he had ever made.
The British Prime Minister made a studied defense of his war direction, a foretaste of what he must tell the House of Commons when he faces it this week.
He reviewed the events since the fall of France, the Russian smashing of the Nazi legend of invincibility, the Japanese sneak attack and the American entry into the war.
Then he made his plea for national unity, and reached his peroration. This, he said, was one of those moments when the British race would show its quality and its' genius.
Britons said that it was a typically good Churchill speech but that it was not good enough. They wanted to see themselves fighting .forward through the storm, not sitting out in the open being drenched.
The indication was strong still that Churchill's own position was secure provided he acted soon and vigorously to buck up the war effort, with especial reference to the actual fighting. Newspapers generally called on the nation to criticize methods, not men.