From the preface:
I wrote this book eight months ago, long before Japan’s dawn attack on Pearl Harbour, her first landing in Malaya at Kota Bahru, the last tragic days and conquest of Singapore itself.
The Singapore I knew was the Singapore of peace. I lived there from the end of 1937 until September 1939, worked as a newspaperman in a backstage editorial room on the edge of Chinatown. It was a period of peace, but uneasy, a rumbling sort of peace like the storms which gather and sweep in from the South China Sea.
I saw the opening of the King George V Graving Dock at Singapore’s Naval Base, was there during the dismal tragedy of Munich, watched war games, sat over a radio like the rest on that fateful night of 3 September. It was this period I knew, this period I had covered when the last page of this book was finished eight months ago. The Singapore I lived in has gone, and it can never be known again even after it has been retaken. So that is why I have called this book—This Was Singapore.