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Thread: Could Britain have won Malaya?

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I disagree.

    Just about everything is wrong with that, and it typifies the Malaya campaign where the British relied upon road transport.

    The ambushing part is spot on. As the Australians showed in the latter parts of the campaign around Gemas in probably the best laid and most effective road ambush, which didn't have much impact on the overall Japanese advance.

    The realiance on road transport limited the scope of action of the British forces to roads. This meant that they would always be ahead of the Japanese somewhere down the road.

    Contrast this with Japanese tactics of infiltration and envelopment, which used the jungle even along the roads.

    To take a simple example, what would have happened if the British had used more or less the same tactics as the Japanese while retreating? Ambush on road. Evaporate into jungle. Japanese advance. British move toward Japanese rear off roads. Ambush Japanese some miles further back from initial ambush point when it is thought that British (as in fact happened) had retreated ahead of the Japaneses advance. Japanese now confront, for the first time, the infiltration and envelopment tactics they use. And which they were no more adept at handling than their enemy.

    It's about going onto the front foot instead of being constantly on the back foot.

    And it doesn't need a formation, just half-section, section, platoon, and at most company attacks to have some real impact on an advance.
    Again, this comes down to training. The Argyll's did a good job with what they had. If they had hooked into the Japanese rear, they would simply have been overwhelmed as there were so many Japanese advancingagainst them. It would have worked as a delaying tactic, but then they would most likely have been wiped out. In which case the tactics of ambush, which they did use, would not have happened. Their ambushes were very successful. Yes they ambushed the raods, as that was were the Japanese were advancing. If they had taken to the jungle there would have been no enemy to fight.

    They did try using four-man Tiger patrols, to do preetty much what you are describing, but htese became, lost in the jungle and perished as they had no supplies, or they blundered into the Japanese when once they hit the roads, and were destroyed. What they did achieve was very good given the situation and ther circumstances.

    Your point on defence in depth is a very valid one. With the right kind of preparatory triaining i.e. battalions, brigades and the various arms such as infantry and artillery working together, offering mutual support, which would, to some extent, remove the fear of being flanked and cut off, then, perhaps, that would have worked. Even where they would have had to pull back they could have withdrawn through friendly positions which prepared to meet the enemy, thus, allowing them time to reorganise and prepare for the next onslaught, even forming a reserve to press home a counter-attack. I recall reading of one artillery unit which was operating very well, but the units on their flanks pulled back for fear of being cut off. Thus, the gunners then had to withdraw from a poition which allowed them to marmalise the enemy they were not happy chappies about it. Sadly, it was all a bit of a stew.

    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"

    Samuel Butler

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Regarding air interception of the Japanese at sea.

    I don't know how effective this might have been. The Germans were not particularly successful against British Destroyers, at Dunkirk.

    I know little about the British capital ships being sunk by the Japanese, but I seem to recall that it took several waves of bombers and torpedo planes over a matter of hours to do the job?

    How best, then, to employ the British air force in defending against invasion?

    Use aircraft to escort the Naval formations and allow them to deal with the Japanese ships; Use the aircraft to attack the ships directly; use the aircraft to defend the beaches?

    Given the comments on the Japanese taking control of British airfields and the equipment left there - how best to defend the airfields? If they were surrounded, were there aircraft available for re-supply, and would they have been able to hold?

    For me, the best option, so far, is to blame the French - not just for the fall of Malaya and Singapore, but also for the American defeat in Vietnam.

    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"

    Samuel Butler

  3. #48
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo View Post
    How best, then, to employ the British air force in defending against invasion?

    Use aircraft to escort the Naval formations and allow them to deal with the Japanese ships; Use the aircraft to attack the ships directly; use the aircraft to defend the beaches?
    All of the above.

    The primary targets for naval and air action were the transports and, once the invasion fleet reached land, any landing barges that were launched.

    Inevitably, the navy would have to deal with the escorts first, or at the same time as the transports, and would have their hands full doing so as the escort forces on the Kota invasion fleet were roughly similar.

    It's then a question of whether there was sufficient air power to support the navy and also attack the transports and barges. If not, air focuses on the transports and barges, because even if the RN / RAN force sinks every IJN escort but the troops still get ashore the exercise has failed to achieve its objective.

    Given there were only three transports in the Kota landing, it’s quite possible that they could all have been destroyed at sea. As it was, the Hudsons of 1 RAAF Squadron from Kota put three bombs on one transport around 0200 hrs (two hours after the landing started) and started a fire which caused it to be abandoned later, while they badly damaged the other two transports. Aircraft were probably less able to bomb accurately at night than they could have the day before. Conversely, there might have been problems with Japanese air cover being available for the fleet the day before.

    The reason Britain couldn’t bomb the approaching invasion fleet was the same reason that Matador couldn’t be launched until the Japanese were at the point of landing: Britain didn’t want to alienate American opinion by being seen to start the war with Japan. It put Britain at a severe tactical disadvantage and deprived it of the opportunity to take steps that, even with the meagre air resources available, might have altered the course of the Malaya invasion and, if Singapore had been retained, the whole Pacific war.

    Given the comments on the Japanese taking control of British airfields and the equipment left there - how best to defend the airfields? If they were surrounded, were there aircraft available for re-supply, and would they have been able to hold?
    There were no British transport aircraft in Malaya.

    As things actually happened once the Japanese were ashore, I don't think the airfields could have been defended for more than a few days at best unless they were protected by defence in depth out past enemy artillery range of the airstrips, which would have required more vastly more forces than were available to defend every possible avenue of advance.

    That still wouldn't relieve Alor and Kota of constant air attack from Singora and Patani.

    So there was a risk that even with solid defence in depth, the British would have had to pull out whatever planes they actually had within a few days of the invasion to save them from being destroyed by Japanese air power.

    It would have been different if the British had sufficient planes to be the aggressor and to strike at Singora and Patani so that it was the Japanese aircraft that were being ground down. But that would have required a lot more aircraft than were available, although probably no more than the Chiefs of Staff and Malaya command had previously recognised were necessary for the defence of Malaya.

    For me, the best option, so far, is to blame the French - not just for the fall of Malaya and Singapore, but also for the American defeat in Vietnam.
    This works for me, too.

    We can pin most of the world’s ills on the French.

    Every continent they’ve been on has had troubles. The connection with the French is obvious.

  4. #49
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo View Post

    Offensive air support was not a major factor. It was only useful against an enemy whose position was known and that intended to hold its ground. The communists preferred mobility and stealth. In Malaya, CT positions often had to be checked by ground troops, normally resulting in ground combat or enemy withdrawal. Close air support also required aircraft with extremely short response times, which was not practicable because of the few suitable airfields and limited aircraft loiter times. Ground to air communication
    was also poor because of jungle canopies. In addition, army radios were too heavy and took too long to set up. Offensive air support in Malaya was also limited by weather and navigation. Air strikes were often unreliable except in mid-morning, after fog and thin stratus cloud dissipated and before the rapid generation of cumulus and storms, which began around noon and could last into the night.
    The circumstances in WWII were very different.

    Air power was quite effective against the Japanese on the ground, when it finally arrived in any useful quantity.

    Col Tsuji noted that when Hurricanes appeared around 20 January they were a big problem as strafing attacks shot up motor transport and blocked traffic. Previously the IJA could move at will on paved roads in daylight as they advanced towards Johore. When the Hurricanes appeared everybody had to get off the road, even single cars.

    Had more planes been available to give similar service from the outset, the retreating British would have been given time to regroup and provide better resistance than they could with the Japanese pressing their rear all the time. Half a dozen planes flying in relays could have seriously slowed the Japanese advance during daylight, and perhaps at night depending upon conditions.

    The Hurricances were part of the 51 crated Hurricanes which arrived after hostilities started and took some time to get operational because the ground crews weren’t familiar with the aircraft. They were old Mk I and Mk IIA’s with 8 machine guns and no cannon. Originally destined for the Middle East, they had desert air filters which took 30mph off their top speed. The pilots were all fresh from training and came from different units to form 232 Squadron.

    By 28 January 17 Hurricanes had been lost; 13 were being repaired; and 21 were available but not all ready to fly at the same time.

    They had advantages and disadvantages against the Japanese Oscar fighters http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-...nemy/oscar.htm used by the IJA, downing three for the loss of three Hurricanes with inexperienced Hurricane pilots. The Hurricanes were damaging against Japanese bombers, one flight claiming to have shot down 8 Japanese bombers on one occasion.

    With current Hurricanes and pilots adquately trained in fighting the Japanese (my earlier comment about contacting the Chinese and Chennault applies here), they could have been much more effective.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 05-15-2007 at 04:25 AM.

  5. #50
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    On the morning of 8 December the strength and dispositions of squadrons in Malaya were:

    Unit / Type / No. of Aircraft

    No. 36 (TB) Sqn RAF Vildebeeste 6
    No. 100 (TB) Sqn RAF Vildebeeste 12
    No. 205 (FB) Sqn RAF Catalina 3

    No. 34 (B) Sqn RAF Blenheim IV 16

    No. 453 (F) Sqn RAAF Buffalo 16

    No. 243 (F) Sqn RAF Buffalo 30
    No. 488 (F) Sqn RNZAF Buffalo 30

    Sungei Patani
    No. 21 (F) Sqn RAAF Buffalo 12
    No. 27 (NF) Sqn RAAF Blenheim I 12

    Kota Bharu
    No. 1 (GR) Sqn RAAF Hudson 12
    Det No. 243 (F) Sqn RAF Buffalo 2

    Gong Kedah
    Det No. 36 (TB) Sqn RAF Vildebeeste 6

    No. 8 (GR) Sqn RAAF Hudsons 12
    No. 60 (B) Sqn RAF Blenheim 8

    Alor Star
    No. 62 (B) Sqn RAF Blenheim I 11

    Total aircraft 158

    On Singapore Island there were also three Catalinas manned by Dutch crews.


  6. #51
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    What an utter bloody shambles!

    Rusty guns. Undisciplined officers, NCO's and men. NCO's and men slacking off as Malaya falls about them. Cock-ups left, right and centre. This was largely an Australian effort, and a deplorable one.

    It'd be interesting to know just how representative this was of other units' behaviour.

    No bloody wonder Malaya was lost!

    Three screens. Click for next screen at bottom of each screen.

  7. #52
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Notes on Japanese Warfare on the Malayan Front

    Military Intelligence Division, Information Bulletin No. 6, January 9, 1942


    The information contained in this series of bulletins will be restricted to items from official sources which are reasonably confirmed.

    This document is being given an approved distribution, and no additional copies are available in the Military Intelligence Division. For provisions governing its reproduction, see Letter TAG 350.05 (9-19-40) M-B-M.


    The information in this bulletin, other than photographs and descriptions of weapons, has been extracted from reports submitted by American official observers with Allied Forces now engaging the Japanese in the Far East. The photographs are reproduced from an album recently published by the Tokyo Asahi ("Morning Sun"), one of the leading vernacular newspapers in Japan, showing Japanese troops in their operations against the Chinese. These photographs should be accepted with reserve, because they were published as propaganda. Nevertheless, they give a general idea of the Japanese soldier's equipment and his methods of warfare. In order that our troops may familiarize themselves with the appearance of their enemy, it is suggested that these photographs, which are themselves not classified as Restricted, might be removed and placed on bulletin boards.


    6. SUPPLY


    a. The Japanese use roads until contact is established with hostile forces. Then, avoiding frontal attack, they make, wherever possible, flanking movements through the jungle and the rubber plantations. The Japanese also make expert use of small craft, including launches and landing boats, in carrying out flanking movements by river or along the coast.

    b. Japanese companies advance behind one and two-man patrols which are armed with submachine guns. When the patrols are fired upon, they do not stop, but maneuver around the flanks and infiltrate deep into the British position toward their objective, attempting to reduce any opposition met.

    c. If British units counterattack, Japanese advance parties permit them to pass through and then turn and deliver fire on the flanks and rear of the counterattacking troops.

    d. The Japanese work their way through the Jungle with ease. They display considerable initiative, vigor, and physical stamina and patiently wait under cover to take advantage of an opportunity to advance.

    e. The Japanese have used the following tactics:

    (1) Orders are issued orally for attacks on specific objectives;

    (2) Small tanks accompany infantry attacks;

    (3) No type of terrain is considered an obstacle;

    (4) Attacks are by aggressive infiltration, followed up by the forward elements of the supporting troops and determinedly pushed toward a successful conclusion;

    (5) Front-line troops are equipped with submachine guns and light machine guns, thus providing a volume of fire that seems to indicate heavier armament than that actually possessed.

    f. So far the Japanese have used mainly machine guns, submachine guns, mortars, and grenades, but not much artillery. They are, however, beginning to increase the use of artillery. Mortars and grenades especially have been very effective.

    g. The British have come to the following conclusions in regard to the tactics of the Japanese:

    (1) A linear or static defense is ineffectual. To overcome such a disadvantage, the best system of defense would be self-contained combat posts as pivots of maneuver for an aggressive reserve. These self-contained posts would have all-round defense.

    (2) The Japanese have unusual aptitude for overcoming terrain obstacles.

    (3) After infiltrating to the flanks and to the rear of the opposing forces, the Japanese press home the assault with great determination.

    h. Night Operations. The Japanese are reported to have been rafting troops down rivers at night.


    a. Japanese bombers attack airdromes while their fighters draw R.A.F. fighters into combat. The bombers fly some distance from the field after the initial attack and wait until the R.A.F. fighters, because of lack of fuel, are compelled to land. Then the Japanese bombers return and attack the R.A.F. fighters before they can refuel and take to the air again. The R.A.F. is thus unable to intercept the bombers. Of course, the success of these tactics is made possible by the small number of R.A.F. fighters in the area.

    b. Effective bombing of objectives around the edges of airdromes, sparing the runways, has been accomplished because the Japanese bombers have been confronted with little opposition. When the leader in the formation signals, all the planes in the formation release bombs simultaneously. Airdrome strafing is the main activity of the Japanese fighter planes.


    a. Small flare bombs in strings of six to eight are being dropped by some Japanese planes. These flares have a percussion-striker explosive charge in the nose; and when they burst on impact, they give off a flash and cloud of smoke. On the ground they leave a brown stain.

    b. Japanese planes attack communications, and trucks left exposed during daylight hours have been destroyed.


    The British have found it difficult to maintain tank obstructions on the roads, because the Japanese steadily harass the British flanks by infiltration. Tanks are employed with tactics similar to those used by the infantry, as described in Section 1.

    To be continued

  8. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2007




    a. Anti-personnel Air Bomb. This bomb has a relatively ineffective shrapnel load encased in lead.

    b. Individual Equipment

    (1) Only a minimum of equipment is carried in addition to arms and ammunition, and this is generally very light.

    (2) Rubber belts which can be blown up for crossing rivers are a part of the equipment.

    (3) Dress is often varied and non-military. At night, commanders wear crossed or single white sashes; N.C.O.'s, white arm bands.

    c. Small Arms. The regular bullet used in the rifle and in the light and heavy machine guns is a 6.5-mm. pointed Spitzer-type nickel-steel-coated lead projectile which leaves a small wound. The 6.5-mm. bullet is approximately .25 caliber.

    d. Grenades and Submachine Guns. Among the light equipment are many grenades and a large proportion of submachine guns. See figure 1 for a group of grenade throwers. The following description of the Heavy Grenade Thrower, Model 89, is taken from the Japanese Handbook (WD TM 30-480, May 14, 1941), pages 79-80:

    Weight (total) _ _ _ _ _ 10.5 lbs.
    Length _ _ _ _ _ 20 in.
    Length of tube _ _ _ _ _ 10 in.
    Caliber _ _ _ _ _ 50 mm. (about 2 in.)
    Ammunition used _ _ _ _ _ Model 89 shell
    Time-fuze hand grenade
    Signal grenade
    Smoke grenade
    Practice grenade
    Range for model 89 shell _ _ _ _ _ 140 to 700 yds.
    Range for other ammunition _ _ _ _ _ 40 to 200 yds.
    Signal, vertical _ _ _ _ _ 100 yds.
    Time of fuze _ _ _ _ _ 7.5 sec. after discharge or on impact
    Rate of fire _ _ _ _ _ One man--10 shots per min.;
    two men--20 shots per min.
    Effective area of burst, model 89 shell _ _ _ _ _ 50-yd. radius
    Time-fuze hand grenade _ _ _ _ _ 25-yd. radius

    e. Machine Guns

    (1) Light Machine Gun. Figure 2 shows the Nambu Light Machine Gun, Model 1922. The following description of this weapon is taken from the Japanese Handbook, pages 76-77:

    (a) The Nambu Light Machine Gun, Model 1922, is a gas-operated, air-cooled, hopper-fed gun with a bipod support permanently fixed to the piece near the muzzle. It is normally fired from the prone position at ground targets. The hopper has a capacity of 30 rounds, which are loaded by placing in the hopper, one on top of the other, six 5-round clips of rifle ammunition. These are forced into the feed mechanism by a follower pressing down from above. The principal measurements and characteristics of this gun are as follows:

    Weight _ _ _ _ _ 22.44 lbs.
    Length, over-all _ _ _ _ _ 43.5 in.
    Caliber _ _ _ _ _ 0.256 in. (6.5 mm.)
    Rifling _ _ _ _ _ 4 grooves, right twist
    Rear sight _ _ _ _ _ Graduated from 328 to 1,640 yds.; no windage or drift corrector
    Muzzle velocity _ _ _ _ _ 2,375 ft. per sec.
    Maximum range _ _ _ _ _ 4,374.4 yds.
    Cyclic rate of fire _ _ _ _ _ 500 rds. per min.
    Effective rate of fire _ _ _ _ _ 150 rds. per min. in bursts of five

    (b) Although the light machine gun is usually fired from the prone position supported by its bipod mount, a tripod mount, model 1922, is carried by the gun squad for use as desired. When the legs are fully extended and the tripod is raised to its maximum serviceable elevation, the gun is about 4 feet from the ground. The tripod contains both traversing and elevating devices, but when the piece is to be used against aircraft, the elevating device is unfastened so that the weapon may be moved freely, both vertically and horizontally. When the piece is mounted on this tripod, the legs of the bipod are folded back along the barrel. The weapon is essentially a machine rifle when the bipod is used and a light machine gun when mounted on the new tripod.

    (2) Heavy Machine Gun. Heavy Machine Gun, Model 92 (1932) (figure 3), is an improvement on Heavy Machine Gun, Model 3 (1914) (figure 4), which is described in the Japanese Handbook, page 77. Model 92 is now in general use in the cavalry and infantry arms, though, it is estimated, not in sufficient quantity to equip the entire Japanese Army in a large-scale offensive. The description of Model 92 which follows is taken from a report of an official observer:

    (a) Mount. The mount is geared for elevating, and a small hand-wheel on the front of the tripod connects with the elevating screw. At the end of each of the tripod legs are attachments allowing for the insertion of handles. The rear handle is U-shaped. These handles add greatly to the ease of manipulation, and are also utilized for antiaircraft fire. In the latter case the U-shaped bar becomes the supporting spade of the gun, and two soldiers elevate the muzzle by means of holding the front handles over their heads. Such a firing position for this comparatively heavy gun gives poor accuracy.

    (b) Measurements and Characteristics:

    Weight, gun _ _ _ _ _ 61.6 lbs.
    Weight, tripod _ _ _ _ _ 60.5 lbs.
    Length of gun _ _ _ _ _ 43 in.
    Length of bore _ _ _ _ _ 25 in.
    Caliber _ _ _ _ _ 0.303 in. (7.7 mm.)
    Rifling _ _ _ _ _ 4 grooves, right twist, one turn in 20 cm.
    Life of barrel _ _ _ _ _ 40,000 rds. (approx.)
    Traversing angle _ _ _ _ _ 360° of which approx. 35° on arc graduated in mils
    Maximum angle of elevation _ _ _ _ _ 11°
    Maximum angle of depression _ _ _ _ _ 15°
    Ground clearance of barrel:
    Low firing position _ _ _ _ _ 14.4 in.
    High firing position _ _ _ _ _ 21.4 in.
    Rear sight _ _ _ _ _ Graduated from 300 to 2,700 m.; no correction for windage or drift
    Cyclic rate of fire _ _ _ _ _ 450 rds. per min.
    Maximum effective rate of fire _ _ _ _ _ About 200-250 rds. per min.
    Muzzle velocity _ _ _ _ _ 2,700 ft. per sec. (estimated)
    Maximum range _ _ _ _ _ 4,587 yds. (4,300 m.)

    The clip holds 30 rounds of ammunition and is inserted into the gun from the left side. These clips are made of pasteboard and are loaded at the factory, thus eliminating pre-loading preparation on the part of the gun crew. When not in firing position, the gun is covered with a leather case.

    (c) Antiaircraft Adapter (figure 3). The gun is equipped with an antiaircraft adapter, which is inserted between the gun proper and the tripod elevating screw. This adapter allows a maximum angle of 80 degrees and a vertical range of 1,000 meters. It requires less than a minute for an experienced crew to attach this adapter to the gun.

    A brace attached from the adapter to the gun is telescopic and allows the gun to be held firmly at any desired elevation. The high elevated sight is detachable and is used only when the gun is operated as an antiaircraft weapon. When the sight and the adapter are not in use, they are carried in a canvas-covered case slung over the back of one of the ammunition carriers.

    f. Mortars. The Japanese have at least four experimental mortars. Figure 5 stows the 90-mm. Mortar, Model 94. Its characteristics have been reported as follows:

    Maximum range _ _ _ _ _ 4,155 yds.
    Minimum range _ _ _ _ _ 612 yds.
    Weight of bomb _ _ _ _ _ 11 lbs. 10 ozs. (with chemical filling)
    Total weight in action _ _ _ _ _ 350 lbs. 8 ozs.

    A mortar projectile of unknown caliber has been reported to have a small blasting effect.

    g. Infantry Battalion Gun. The Japanese have another weapon which combines the lightness and portability of the mortar with the stability of a field gun. This weapon is called the Infantry Battalion Gun, Model 92, and is shown in figure 6. Figure 7 shows the same model with a redesigned carriage. Because of the weakness of the crank-shaped axle, it is presumed that the newer models have straight axles and so mount the gun higher. The following description of this weapon is taken from the Japanese Handbook, pages 82-83:

    To be continued

  9. #54
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Last instalment

    (1) General. The Infantry Battalion Gun, Model 92, is a 70-mm. rifled gun capable of delivering fire from a range of 200 to 2,800 yards. Its characteristics are--

    Gun _ _ _ _ _ 101 lbs.
    Mount _ _ _ _ _ 77 lbs.
    Mounted gun and caisson _ _ _ _ _ 420 lbs.
    Length of bore _ _ _ _ _ 50 in. (approx.)
    Over-all length _ _ _ _ _ 27 in.
    Mounted over-all length _ _ _ _ _ 5 ft. (approx.)
    Width of wheel tread _ _ _ _ _ 27 in. (approx.)
    Effective range _ _ _ _ _ 300 to 1,500 yds.
    Traverse _ _ _ _ _ 45°
    Elevation _ _ _ _ _ -10° to +50°
    Danger area of burst _ _ _ _ _ 40 yds. (approx.)

    (2) Breechblock. Two threaded segments rotating and opening downward.

    (3) Carriage

    (a) Recoil Mechanism. Length of recoil, about 4 inches.

    (b) Traversing and Elevating Mechanism. Traversing hand-wheel on the left of the barrel and elevating handwheel on the right. Both handwheels are operated by the gunner, who lays first for direction, then for elevation. Elevating mechanism is similar to that of our old pack howitzer. Traverse is about a heavy pintle mounted on the axle.

    (c) Shield. Armor plate about one-eighth of an inch thick.

    (d) Trail. Split 5 feet long, welded except where riveted to spade.

    (e) Panoramic Sight (same as field artillery). Mounted on the sight bracket on the left side of the piece. The sight bracket includes a range drum with four divisions marked in mils, an elevating bubble, and a cross bubble for correcting for difference in level of wheels.

    (4) Ammunition. Semifixed with brass case. High explosive shrapnel and smoke shells are used. The range is extended by increasing the powder charge. At maximum range the time of flight for the different powder charges is--

    Charge No. 1 _ _ _ _ _ 50 sec. (3,075 yds.)
    Charge No. 2 _ _ _ _ _ 25 sec. (1,975 yds.)
    Charge No. 3 _ _ _ _ _ 20 sec. (1,300 yds.)
    Charge No. 4 _ _ _ _ _ 15 sec. (985 yds.)

    Minimum permissible ranges with instantaneous fuzes employing low-angle fire varies with the powder charge, elevation of gun, and target. With ground level ranges are--

    Charge No. 1 _ _ _ _ _ 1,100 yds.
    Charge No. 2 _ _ _ _ _ 660 yds.
    Charge No. 3 _ _ _ _ _ 225 yds.
    Charge No. 4 _ _ _ _ _ 110 yds.

    Minimum ranges with delayed-action fuzes ground level are--

    Charge No. 1 _ _ _ _ _ 660 yds.
    Charge No. 2 _ _ _ _ _ 330 yds.
    Charge No. 3 _ _ _ _ _ 330 yds.
    Charge No. 4 _ _ _ _ _ 330 yds.

    Rate of fire: 10 rounds per minute, 5 rounds per box.

    (5) Other Vehicles

    (a) Limber. This is a simple box mounted on an axle. Two boxes of ammunition, sights, and accessories are carried in the limber chest.

    (b) Caisson. Similar in construction to the limber and contains three boxes of ammunition.

    6. SUPPLY

    Figures 8 to 12 inclusive are included simply to show some methods used by small units in supplying ammunition, food, and water to the front lines. Of particular interest is the method employed by the Japanese soldier in transporting ammunition (figure 9). It will be noted that the ammunition boxes are carried as shoulder packs, leaving the arms free for negotiating difficult terrain and permitting greater freedom of action under fire. Figure 10 shows the preparation of simple food, and figure 11 shows a method of getting it forward over exposed terrain. This method is of interest, for it indicates that advance elements, even though they may be held to the ground by hostile fire, can still be fed by a simple process. What holds true for the supply of ammunition to small units also holds true for the supply of water, as large canteens strapped on the back of the soldier will be noted in figure 12.


    a. According to a prisoner taken in northwestern Malaya, the Japanese landed without rations and got help from Fifth Columnists.

    b. The Japanese are making wide use of propaganda leaflets dropped from the air.

    c. Civilians dressed in the uniforms of British-Indian soldiers have operated with the Japanese. In some instances they oven know the British-Indian N.C.O.'s by name.


    The following excerpts from an account by a war correspondent with the British Forces in Northern Malaya showing Japanese methods of warfare are included in this bulletin for informational purposes. The account has not been confirmed, but the reader can in some instances draw his own conclusions from the confirmed data contained in Sections 1 to 7 inclusive of this bulletin.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    "Japanese successes have been attained through superiority of numbers and equipment and the use of clever but simple tactics especially adapted to the tropical lands. British officers at the front describe Japanese losses as 'enormous', but emphasize that the attackers keep pouring in, apparently determined to advance at any cost....

    "The Japanese equipment includes one innovation, a two-man carrier, probably especially designed for use in the tropics. This little carrier can negotiate smaller streams, rice fields, rubber groves, and thin jungles, but is not heavily enough armored to resist British antitank rifles. It is proving a useful weapon in combination with the heavier tanks and armored cars that the Japanese possess.

    "The Japanese tactics are based on infiltration and mobility. Apparently groups of men are simply being told to reach a certain objective many miles ahead, and they scatter all over the map to do it. When groups encounter a British strong point, they do not attack, but melt away and filter past along the flanks of the British position, concealing their movements in jungles of rubber trees. The strong point is later attacked by strong Japanese forces armed with heavy equipment, and simultaneously the Japanese close in on the flanks and rear.

    "Japanese advance patrols armed with tommy guns sometimes for days are constantly working toward an objective, often lying low in the dense undergrowth to conceal themselves from the British. A number of advance units are sent to attack the same objective, so that if some meet grief on the way, the others will slip through and gain the goal. The Japanese obviously have made an intimate study of their terrain and apparently know every road and path in Northern Malaya.

    "The Japanese regulars have a unique uniform, consisting only of light khaki shorts, a sleeveless upper garment that looks like an undershirt, and low rubber shoes. The Japanese tactics are leading to a savage warfare of movement, ambush, surprise, and encirclement. An American military observer I met at the front said:

    "'It is like Indians fighting with tommy guns.'

    "The Japanese have air superiority in Northern Malaya, but so far they have not been using planes much at the actual front in bombing or strafing. The raids on British airdromes are bringing air battles in which the British, despite numerical inferiority, emerge victorious.

    "British land forces are rapidly adapting themselves to the Japanese type of jungle fighting, and much of the struggle at the front now consists of patrols stalking patrols, infiltration and counter-infiltration, intermingled with hard battles for strong points in which artillery is brought into use....

    "British officers have been in the thick of close-in fighting, and I heard many stories of officers leading Indian units in savage charges." (By F. Tillman Durdin, New York Times, December 18, 1941)

  10. #55
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    1993 information paper for members of Australian Parliament


    The fall of Singapore was one of the most traumatic defeats ever to befall British and Australian forces. It is not surprising that even half a century later it can still stimulate controversy.

    The following points can be made in conclusion:

    The charge attributed by the media to General Wavell, that the Australians were responsible for the loss of Singapore, was never made by him; certainly not in the terms quoted. The media have misinterpreted the recently- released report. In fact, its charges against Australians are of indiscipline, desertion and failure to carry out patrols of the enemy- held shore opposite the Australian positions.

    Britain, not Australia, was responsible for the design, construction, defensive works and administration of Singapore. Prewar neglect of fortifications, especially on the landward side and despite representations from officers on the

    spot, made the island excessively vulnerable. It was the British who, to paraphrase Churchill, built the battleship 'without a bottom'. Small wonder, then, that the 'battleship' was lost.

    British prewar counter- intelligence against the Japanese, like that of the Americans at Pearl Harbor, was ineffective; Japan had significant intelligence advantages in the Malayan and Singapore battles.

    The British commander Percival aggravated the prewar neglect (which, to his credit, he had tried to remedy at the time) by adopting in wartime the view that fixed defences 'were bad for morale' and hindering the construction of defences until far too late.

    Demolition of the causeway connecting Singapore to the mainland was not properly carried out by British units despite ample time for preparation.

    Japanese air superiority, in part created by the withdrawal of Allied aircraft (something criticised by Liddell- Hart), greatly increased the difficulty of effective defence.

    Though at least some of Singapore's famous naval guns could (contrary to popular belief) fire to the north and not just out to sea, there was a serious shortage of ammunition designed for use against land targets.

    Percival incorrectly assessed the point at which the Japanese would attack Singapore and disregarded Wavell's suggestion that the British 18th Division should be placed in the vulnerable northwest sector. But Percival placed the weakened 8th Australian Division in this sector because he incorrectly assessed the point of greatest risk as being elsewhere.

    The 8th Division's effectiveness was further undermined by the poor quality of its reinforcements, many of whom were incompletely trained. At this time, most of Australia's fully- trained troops were in the Middle East or North Africa fighting with the British against the Nazis.

    A significant number of Australian troops, many of them poorly trained reinforcements, apparently broke and ran under heavy Japanese attack. This is not uncharacteristic conduct, even for better- trained troops, when trapped in a completely hopeless position. Nor were Australian troops the sole deserters at Singapore.

    The charge that requested Australian patrols were not sent across the Straits is conclusively refuted by the Australian Official History.

    British writer Anthony Bevins makes a pertinent point. In the UK newspaper The Independent, he suggests that: '...British efforts to scapegoat Australian forces and the Governor of the Straits Settlement for [the Singapore disaster] could well have been motivated by a wish to deflect attention from Whitehall's far greater dereliction of duty'. 36

    Interestingly, other recently released British wartime documents level similar charges against Canadian troops during the fighting for Hong Kong in December 1941. The Canadians are alleged to have been drunk and to have lost their nerve. Significantly, these Canadians were also raw and incompletely trained recruits. 37 These allegations were also made in a classified paper written by a British officer (in this case General Christopher Maltby, commander of the Hong Kong garrison) months - a year, in Maltby's case - after the event.

    The fundamental conclusion which can be drawn about the loss of Singapore is that it was lost as a result of fundamental strategic blun ders. To dispute endlessly about the immediate tactical responsibility for the successful Japanese landing on 8/9 February is to neglect the basic truth: Singapore, lacking adequate landward defences, was lost when Malaya was lost. Australian troops did as well in Malaya as any, as evidenced by the successful ambush of 26/7 January.

    If it is truly necessary to assign responsibility for the disaster of the Malaya/Singapore campaign, then that responsibility must lie with the British Government, its military establishment in London, and its field commanders. At different times, all of these made errors which proved cumulatively fatal. Singapore was a strategic, not a tactical, defeat. Allied troops on the ground, of whatever nationality, could do little to save the base given the impossible situation into which they were thrust by inadequate British political and military leadership.

  11. #56
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Two of Percival's biggest errors, in the sense of being matters exclusively within his control and not in any way affected by London's decisions, were:

    1. Failing to construct fortifications on the mainland and northern shore of the island well before Japan ever attacked. As noted in the quote in my last post, he considered it bad for morale. Well, they were living on a bloody fortress, for Chrissake! Why TF did he think that it could make it worse for morale to strenghten the fortress?

    2. Failing to recognise the importance of the water supply which came from the mainland, and failing to defend it. Any idiot could work out that an island with no fresh water and a large population is going to have to surrender pretty quickly once the tap is turned off by an enemy in control of the source of the water.

  12. #57
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    I've no doubt Winston was author of disaster
    says Correlli Barnett, former Keeper of the Churchill archives.
    Operation Matador, the book by Dr Ong, reveals new findings on Singapore's fall.

    THE former Keeper of the Churchill archives has supported the interpretation by Singaporean military historian Dr Ong Chit Chung that British wartime leader Winston Churchill alone was responsible for the fall of Singapore to the Japanese during World War II.

    Dr Ong published this and other ground-breaking findings on the fall of Singapore in a recently-released book, Operation Matador.

    The former Keeper of the Churchill archives, Mr Correlli Barnett, told The Straits Times: "I have no doubt at all that the author of this complete disaster was Winston."

    Mr Barnett, whose histories of World War II have won worldwide acclaim, is accepted as the authority on Churchill. He has written extensively about the fall of Singapore. His book, Engage The Enemy More Closely, is a definitive work.

    Commenting on Churchill's mistake, he said: "Churchill failed to take into account that the defence of Singapore depended on Operation Matador -- which called for the pre-emptive occupation of southern Thailand and its airfields -- to enable North Malaya to be held.

    "A sea-borne invasion was most unlikely, because of the big naval guns which were, of course, perfectly correctly sited to defend the naval base."

    He said: "No, the key to everything was the airfields in southern Thailand, and Britain failed to equip them with modern aircraft."

    Why was Churchill so obdurate?

    Mr Barnett explained: "To Churchill, Singapore was a fortress, a great naval stronghold. But what was the point of holding on to a naval base when the only two British capital ships in the region, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, had been sunk by Japanese aircraft?

    "It was the airfields that were crucial. We failed to hold them, and from then on the whole thing was done for." What would Mr Barnett, with a historian's hindsight, have done when it was clear that the battle was lost?

    "We should have been retreating to Singapore and evacuated the forces. We should have done what we did at Dunkirk," he said.

    "But Churchill did the very opposite. The thing about Winston was that he was a romantic, seized by heroic words and symbols. He was not an analytical thinker. He had this lunatic idea that Singapore was a fortress and therefore it had to be defended to the end.

    "But it wasn't a fortress at all, just a well-defended naval base that had no ships.

    He said it was "rubbish" for people to argue later that Churchill had not been told the full facts.

    Commented Mr Barnett: "He had taken it for granted that it would be a fight to the finish, and he diverted two troopships when it was too late, and they all went into the Japanese bag. Ironically, those two divisions would have been invaluable in Burma later in the war."

    The historian accepted that Churchill's basic concern had been correct: That, at that stage of the war, the security of Britain was paramount.

    "If Britain went, everything went - the lot, including Singapore," he said.

    "But if the campaign in Africa had not been given greater priority than the Far East, aircraft and weapons could have been found to hold the airfields in Malaya."

    When General Percival arrived to take command, he found he had already lost, said Mr Barnett.

    "Percival was a sound and intelligent soldier," he said. "He assessed the situation correctly, for it was cut-and-dried. He had no choice but to surrender. He had to, to save untold lives and suffering. The casualties would have been enormous, especially among the people of Singapore, and he could not accept that."

    A fight to the finish would have needed Orde Wingate, Britain's charismatic "jungle general" in Burma, said Mr Barnett.

    Later, Churchill described the fall of Singapore as "the worst disaster" and "the largest capitulation in British history".

    On this, Mr Barnett commented: "Winston had a remarkable capacity for distancing himself from mistakes and disasters that had his name all over them."

    This article was first published in The Straits Times on April 5, 1997.


    Fall of Singapore:
    Should Churchill take the rap?

    Correlli Barnett, former keeper of the Churchill archives
    Dr Ong Chit Chung
    Chan Kwee Sung
    Dr Brian P. Farrell
    Chan Kwee Sung (second letter)
    Dr Ong Chit Chung (second letter)

    Roger Boniface
    Roger Boniface (second letter)
    Fight to death, Churchill told British Army

    Go to link to see the yes and no arguments put forward by the people listed at the end of the quote.

  13. #58
    Join Date
    Mar 2007



    Out-Generalled, Out-Witted and Outfought
    Generals Percival and Bennett in Malaya 1941-42

    by Lt Gen John Coates

    British Underestimation of the Japanese

    Like Churchill, the British command in Malaya did not have a realistic understanding of the abilities of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. The ‘Japanophiles’, who sought an objective analysis of Japan’s strengths, were outnumbered by the ‘old China hands’, whose views on Japan were unalterably ethnocentric. The ‘Japanophiles’ took care to assess Japanese military proficiency objectively and against a template of Western criteria.

    Contrary observations that stressed Japanese military inferiority came generally from the school of ‘old China hands’, and the latter’s prejudices remained more prevalent among the local British military staffs in places such
    as Singapore, Burma and Hong Kong.

    Colonel G. T. Wards, the ‘Japanophile’ British Military Attaché in Tokyo, gave the then GOC, Major General J. E. Bond, and the Singapore garrison an illustration of the menace that the Japanese armed forces represented.
    On a visit to Singapore, Wards told his audience that he had participated in Japanese ground-force manoeuvres and exercises both in Japan and in China. He warned his colleagues that the Japanese Army was ‘a first-class fighting machine’ and emphasised the extreme physical fitness of the Japanese troops, their fanatical patriotism, marching prowess and the efficiency of both unit and sub-unit commanders. The Military Attaché also noted
    the professionalism of the Japanese General Staff, including its ability to handle large formations of troops over immense distances.
    The ‘Japanophiles’, who sought an objective analysis of Japan’s strengths, were outnumbered by the ‘old China hands’ …

    Wards punctured a number of British myths about the Japanese. These myths
    included a belief in Singapore military circles that the Japanese forces never operated by night and that they were poor mechanics, drivers and pilots. Wards pointed out the Japanese military’s immense talent for secrecy, surprise and deception. Japanese commanders knew infinitely more about the British Empire forces in Malaya than senior British officers knew about Japan’s armed forces. However, Wards’s valuable advice did not receive proper attention in Singapore’s military circles. This situation occurred despite the fact that Wards’s observations were supported by two 1940 War Office military pamphlets on the Japanese armed forces.

    The atmosphere of self-deception among senior officers in Malaya remained
    palpable right up until the outbreak of hostilities in 1941. One of Brooke-Popham’s officers in Singapore told an arriving Australian officer that ‘the Japanese Army is a bubble waiting to be *****ed’. Indeed, summing up Wards’s 1941 talk, Major General Bond told his assembled officers that the Military Attaché’s statements were unnecessarily alarmist and were far from the truth, and that superior intelligence kept the British apprised of every
    Japanese move. The last claim was untrue. The four-digit, mainline Japanese Army code was not penetrated on a systematic basis until troops of
    the 9th Australian Division captured the Japanese 20th Division’s entire cipher library at Sio in New Guinea in January 1944.

    Although neither Percival nor Bennett was in Malaya at the time of Wards’s visit in 1940, it is uncanny that neither officer chose to challenge Bond’s views. Even as his forces were bundled back onto Singapore Island, Percival elected throughout the campaign to adhere to English public-school ‘good form’ by refusing to alarm the local population.

    For his part, Bennett, in his first instruction to his command in Malaya, suggested that the Japanese lacked the ‘jungle mindedness’ that he intended to instil in his own troops. As Bennett put it:

    Our enemy will not be so trained [in jungle warfare and] is unaccustomed to any surprise attack and reacts badly to it. Generally speaking he is weak in small unit training, and the initiative of his small units is of a low standard.

    Similarly, a Malaya Command Training Instruction of the same period stated
    that the Japanese soldier was ‘peculiarly helpless against unforeseen action by his enemy’. ¹² The belief that Bennett was a rigorous trainer of troops in the Malayan jungle persisted long after the end of the war. In 1962, as a young officer, the author studied Colonel E. G. Keogh’s potted history of the Malayan campaign. Keogh concluded by stating that:

    General Bennett has become a controversial figure. But on one point there is no room for controversy—he trained his troops thoroughly. If Percival had caused his other subordinates to train their troops as hard and as well as Bennett trained his, the story of Malaya might well be very different. ¹³

    In fact, nothing could have been farther from the truth. ¹⁴ Bennett did not supervise the training of troops, almost never went into the jungle himself and, as his own diary makes clear, was overwhelmingly concerned with what he perceived as his personal destiny to move to the upper echelons of the Australian Army. Bennett’s almost total preoccupation with self-interest is revealed in a letter to Frank Forde, the Minister for the Army, on 27 January 1942. With the Japanese closing rapidly on the Straits of Johore, Bennett wrote:

    When the war commenced, I was senior to both Blamey and Lavarack and was
    superseded, not on account of inefficiency, but merely because of jealousy. Also, certain people wanted to see a permanent soldier and not a citizen soldier at the head. If you bring anyone else here to command the Australian Corps when it arrives [sic], I will ask to be relieved. I will take it as a note of lack of confidence in me. I was a Major General when Lavarack was a Lieutenant Colonel.

    Both troops and staff had to look elsewhere for inspiration to men such as
    Colonel J. H. Thyer, Bennett’s General Staff Officer Grade 1 (Operations) and to Taylor, the commander of the 22nd Brigade, in order to try to discern their real military task in Malaya. In turn, an overconfident cynicism, which was natural to Bennett, probably accounted for his own low assessment of the potential Japanese enemy. A considerable inertia pervaded Malaya Command’s estimates of Japanese military capability. Even an effective GOC, Malaya—such as Major General Dobbie, himself an eyewitness of Imperial Japanese Army manoeuvres in 1936—retained a qualified view of the effectiveness of the Japanese Army. It would be surprising if the then Colonel A. E. Percival, Dobbie’s Chief of Staff in Singapore, differed from that assessment.

    Yet, as the Allies subsequently found to their cost, the Japanese Army in 1941 was vastly different from what it had been half a decade earlier. Percival was only one among many senior officers whose judgments had not moved with the times. Indeed, when General Wavell—the newly appointed
    Supreme Commander ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) Command—
    visited Singapore on 7–8 January 1942, he was appalled to find that no effort had then been made to defend Singapore Island, except for the stablishment of the prewar naval guns. Percival admitted that he had not undertaken defensive measures because he believed that ‘building defences was bad for morale’.

  14. #59
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Having conducted an information blitzkrieg exceeding Japan's rate of advance down Malaya, I shall now have a little rest.

    Nobody will notice, as it should be days before anyone gets this far.

  15. #60
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    No bloody wonder Malaya was lost!
    Aaah, but could it have been won? - do not despair, Anjin San!

    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"

    Samuel Butler

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