In the early 1940s, Emperor Hirohito of Japan was in the business of stomping ballsacks, sending wave after wave of his own men at anyone he deemed worthy of his Imperial disdain, and generally just making all of Asia his bitch. The ultra-modern Imperial Japanese Army was pretty much epically beating the shit out of everything from China to Hawaii, and there wasn’t a whole lot that anybody could really do about it other than die painfully from the massive cranial trauma that results from receiving a sword wound to the brain. As Imperial forces steamrolled through the Pacific like a freight train plowing through a giant container of Cool Whip, the Japanese set their stabby-stab sights on the Malaysian island of Singapore in February 1942.
Now Singapore wasn't exactly a military powerhouse that was going to bust out some super-secret prototype stealth Gundam with jetpack feet and lasers for arms or open a secret bunker that served as a training facility for an army of Sam Fisher commando ninja vikings with night-vision goggles, automatic weapons and portable nuclear missile launchers, but the island did serve as a base for over 80,000 soldiers of the British Commonwealth. Singapore was like Yavin IV – it held great strategic significance to the Allied forces battling against Imperial occupation, and if the Emperor wanted to deal his enemies a crippling blow, he needed to terraform the landscape Death Star-style. To this end, the Japanese launched a two-pronged amphibious invasion of the island with the sole purpose of kicking everyone’s fucking asses and writing the appropriate names down in a college-ruled spiral notebook with a rising sun and the phrase “Asses that have been kicked by us” drawn across the cover in decorative kanji.
On the morning of 13 February 1942, dozens of military transports crashed into the Northeastern portion of the island of Singapore like a fleet of suicidal beaching whales, and a force of 13,000 Japanese soldiers began their determined march towards the city. Standing between this horde of crack regular infantry were a mere 1,400 Malay, Australian and Indian soldiers, many of whom had seen about as much live-fire combat as the Swiss Navy. Among these bold defenders was a 27 year-old local Malay officer named Adnan bin Saidi. Lieutenant Adnan's small, 42-man platoon was part of the force assigned to defend an area known as Opium Hill – a critical high ground overlooking some key British supply and munitions depots, and presumably a sweet place to plant some poppy seeds as well. Adnan’s soldiers were young, ill-equipped and inexperienced, and were now facing off against a main invasion force of battle-hardened veteran Japanese Infantry from the elite Imperial “Chrysanthemum” Division. I know you’re probably doubting the badassitude of a military unit named after a fucking brightly-colored perennial flower than can be used to make tea, but the Chrysanthemum is also the official symbol of the Japanese Emperor, so you can pretty much assume that he doesn’t just let any group of inept jackasses get away with calling themselves the “Chrysanthemum Division”. The Malaysians had very little ammunition, few heavy weapons, they were impossibly outnumbered, and they had absolutely no hope of receiving any type of reinforcements or resupply. Lieutenant Adnan did the best he could – he ordered his men to sandbag their positions, dig in, and get ready for the fight of their lives.
It wasn’t long before the Japanese made contact, beginning their attack by shelling Opium Hill with more mortars and artillery than one of those illegal fireworks stands just across the South Carolina border. Once the defenders’ positions had been sufficiently blown the fuck up, the Imperial Infantry began their assault up the ridge. Armed with little more than their crappy service rifles, the Malay troops valiantly tried to fight off the Japanese onslaught, but it’s kind of difficult to fight back when the enemy has more soldiers than you have bullets. Eventually the tide of Imperial troops broke through the Malaysian ranks and the two forces fell into brutal hand-to-hand combat, whacking at each other with rifle butts, brass knuckles and ten-speed bicycle chains. Just as the men of Company C of the 1st Malaysian Regiment were getting ready to commend their spirits to Allah, Adnan bin Saidi ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge the enemy head-on. Company C jammed their bayonets on the ends of their rifles, formed up into a wall of pointy death, and rushed forward at the Japanese, impaling anybody they came across like a Greek Phalanx bum-rushing a hot dog stand. The tactic worked – the Japanese lines were broken and the survivors were driven back down Opium Hill to regroup.
But the Japanese people didn’t build a continent-spanning Empire by backing down and quitting every time somebody jammed a knife into their eyes, so the forces at the base of Opium Hill put together a plan to defeat the Malay soldiers and break through Allied lines. One Company of Japanese soldiers put on the uniforms of Allied Punjabi soldiers and marched up the hill towards Lieutenant Adnan’s position, ostensibly to reinforce the Malay defenses. But Saidi wasn’t falling for it. He astutely noticed that the supposedly-Allied soldiers were marching in a four-abreast formation, while actual Indian and Punjabi Regiments marched in columns of three. Adnan quietly alerted his troops, and as soon as the Japanese came into range, the Malaysians tore them a new bunghole, annihilating pretty much the entire Company in a fusillade of death.
Now the Japanese commanders were really pissed. They eventually just decided to say, “look, fuck strategy – we have several thousand motherfuckers here and they’ve got like forty dudes, two machine guns, and a couple mortars up on that hill. Let’s just swarm them until they are all dead.” A mere two hours after the fake Punjabis got their asses handed to them, Imperial Stormtroopers and AT-STs launched a full-scale balls-out human wave “Bonzai” attack, rushing up the mountain like an endless sea of wealthy nerds charging after the last Nintendo Wii in the tri-state area.
The Malaysian soldiers defending Opium Hill had sustained over 48 hours of near-constant battle without giving an inch to the Japanese invaders, but this time they were in an impossible situation. Outnumbered a hundred to one, low on ammunition, and completely out of food and medical supplies, they held out bravely against the charging Japanese warriors, but in the end it was too much. During the battle, Lieutenant Adnan continued shouting for his men to fight to the death – to resist at all costs. He personally manned a machine gun until his arm was broken by gunfire and shrapnel, at which point he began firing his pistol into the enemy ranks. When he ran out of bullets, he (along with the rest of his men) fought on with bayonets, knives, and even fists. Adnan refused medical attention or evacuation, vowing to stand with his men until the bitter end. The Japanese attack annihilated the entire unit.
As the smoke was clearing on the battleground, the Japanese soldiers came across the severely wounded body of Lieutenant Adnan and immediately recognized him as the “short berserker who had personally killed dozens of Japanese”. They beat him up, hung him feet-first from a tree and bayoneted him to death like a medieval piñata at a fucked-up Spanish Inquisition birthday party. Adnan bin Saidi had kicked so much ass in the battle and pissed off the Japanese so hard that after they occupied Singapore, Japan's secret police attempted to hunt down and execute Saidi’s entire family. Now that's hardcore - when you're so fucking badass and you whip your enemies' balls so hard that your death isn't even enough to satisfy their thirst for vengeance. Luckily, the Japanese gendarmes never found Adnan's relatives, and in the end the Lieutenant got the last "fuck you" - his relatives survived, and Japan was eventually ousted from Singapore by Allied forces in 1945.
The Battle of Opium Hill is Malaysia’s Alamo, and for his brave actions in February 1942, Adnan bin Saidi is remembered today as the national hero of both Singapore and Malaysia. He took a small group of inexperienced troops and stood up against one of the most powerful militaries in the world, showed no fear despite being thrust into a battle he had no chance of winning, and made his enemies pay dearly for every inch of land they took. His bravery and courage drew the attention of Allied nations across the globe, and inspired a fighting spirit and pride in the Malay people that stands to this day.
|"He was heavily outnumbered by the Japanese… they bombed him but he fought on fiercely and inflicted heavy losses on them. Adnan would have never surrendered under any circumstances. He was absolutely dedicated. In fact, just before fighting, he adopted a motto for his platoon, ‘Biar putih tulang, jangan putih mata’ - death before dishonor."
The Malay Regiment
The Real Tiger of Malaya