Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 12 May 2005 17:52

David C. Clarke wrote:Hi Harri, if I recall correctly, the British had intended to send an aircraft carrier with Force Z, but the carrier ran aground (I think in the West Indies) and wasn't available. Churchill believed that the stationing of two batleships in the Singapore area would make the Japanese cautious. (I don't think he quite caught what they were up against should Japan decide to invade.)
I agree. All warships were although vulnerable without aerial support so it was a rather hastily made desicion to sent battle ships towards Japanese especially when aerial reconnaissance was also ineffective.

I don't remember the name of the British aircraft carrier. Was it HMS Eagle? (Or was it already sunk?)
David C. Clarke wrote:I've read about the final battle of Prince of Wales and Repulse. The ships fought with the customary Brtish naval bravery, but again, they had no idea of the potential of Japanese land-based torpedo planes. The planes used were faster than anything the ships had trained against and their tactics were excellent.
I'm not quite sure what fighters British carrier had at that time. Fairey Fulmars? I think they would have been faster than Japanese twin engined torpedo bombers?
David C. Clarke wrote:But what really intrigues me is the land battles, which appear to have been waged pretty economically by the Japanese. This was one of the few times that Japanese tanks were used in an effective role with adequate tactics against a Western power.
I have a couple articles on Japanese armor use in Malaysia and they are fascinating.
I think British anti-tank capabilities were at least in sufficient level. They for sure had Boys AT rifles and 2 pdr. AT guns. I have no idea how many tanks British had but I have a slight idea that some of them were Matilda IIs. Perhaps someone has more info on both Japanese and British armour?

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 12 May 2005 18:13

The A/C was HMS Illustrious

The WI thread link below will give you some excellent info

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=51265

Andy H

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaysia?

Post by Jon G. » 12 May 2005 18:18

David C. Clarke wrote:Hi Folks, in your opinion, what were the primary factors in Britain's defeat in Malaysia in 1941-42?

Best,
~Akira
I'm entering this thread late, and I think most points have already been made. However, I want to illustrate the one crucial piece of Japanese equipment for this campaign:

Image

The humble bicycle was the prime mover in the Japanese logistics chain in this campaign which is kind of funny to note on a site where much interest centers on big tracked vehicles named after cats :)

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 12 May 2005 19:17

Andy H wrote:The A/C was HMS Illustrious
Ahh, yes of course. It had more aircraft than Eagle would have had.

Thanks for the link.

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Post by Belrick » 13 May 2005 04:37

Lack of combined arms stymied the British. WW2 could not be fought without it with any expectation of success. They just didnt have enough time to rectify this nor free resources to what was merely a sideshow.

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Post by David C. Clarke » 13 May 2005 15:32

Hi Shrek! Nice photo!. Just as a matter of history, the humble bicycle also played a crucial role in the American defeat in South Vietnam. Bicycles were used as goods transporters down the Ho Chi Minh trail by the Communist forces. My recollection is that, with a slight modification (a long bamboo stick on the handlebars for steering), a good man could transport 150 pounds of equipment or food on a bicycle frame.

Best Regards,
~Akira

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 13 May 2005 17:45

Jungle. To us Brits is was an alien environment, but we were quick learners (Chindits!). Also Singapores defences all looked out to sea, the Japs came t'other way.

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Post by Jon G. » 13 May 2005 18:11

David C. Clarke wrote:Hi Shrek! Nice photo!. Just as a matter of history, the humble bicycle also played a crucial role in the American defeat in South Vietnam. Bicycles were used as goods transporters down the Ho Chi Minh trail by the Communist forces. My recollection is that, with a slight modification (a long bamboo stick on the handlebars for steering), a good man could transport 150 pounds of equipment or food on a bicycle frame.

Best Regards,
~Akira
Hi David-san, I can vaguely remember Giap naming the bicycle as crucial for the success of the Viet Minh in bringing up supplies for the troops besieging Dien Bien Phu - maybe there is some of the inspiration for other Asian armies that you're addressing in another thread?

There also is the point of Singapore's defenses facing the sea. Pre-war a land attack down the Malyan peninsula was probably not part of British staff contingency plans, for such an attack would probably have to be staged from French Indochina and/or neutral Siam.

Does anyone have hard numbers on the opposing forces? I am pretty sure the Japanese were outnumbered on the ground, but it would be interesting to know by which factor - say, 50,000 Japanese vs. 100,000 or more British and Commonwealth troops? As far as I know, Yamashita deliberately slimmed down his attacking force from five to three divisions.

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Post by David Thompson » 13 May 2005 19:59

Malaya Campaign 1941-1942
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=45015

From Colonel Vincent J. Esposito (ed.), The West Point Atlas of Military Wars, Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, New York: 1959, vol. 2, Maps 117-118:
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Harri
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Post by Harri » 13 May 2005 23:25

Excellent maps, David!

Again tactical superiority bet numerical superiority. The keys to success are:
1.) knowing of the enemy and his way to operate
2.) creating local superiority to the selected weak points of the enemy
3.) making enemy to think he has met superior opponent
4.) effective aerial and/or land reconnaissance
5.) effective radio intelligence with bearing of enemy radio stations (and HQs)

I think British grouping was totally wrong because like in so many cases military operations were led from too far behind the front. Leaders loose easily contact to their troops and troops without careing leaders are usually not very willing to fight and lose their lives.

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Post by Michael Tapner » 14 May 2005 15:48

British CDA in Singapore was not as limited as is commonly thought. Many of the guns had full 360 arcs of fire. The issue was one of High Explosive ammunition. The guns were equipped almost exclusively with Armor piercing shells, thus they were useless in a role as artillery.

British AT weaponry: Units had some Boyes AT rifles. However at the commencement of the campaign there was the British 80th AT regiment (Stationed in NW Malaya) and the Australian 2/4th AT regiment (south Malaya). The first was at full strength (64 guns) the second at 3/4 strength (48 guns; the balance of theunit was in Australia with the other component parts of the 8th div). The AT guns for these units consisted of 2 Pdrs (majority) along with captured French and Italian captured hardware.
The gunners of the 2/4th found that 2 Pdrs were more effective against Japanese tanks when they used HE shells. Experience with AP shells indicated that they could go right through Japanese tanks.

The Japanese had 4 tank regiments (1,2,6,14 regiment). With other assets their tank strength for the campaign numbered over 200 tanks. About half ofthese were their medium tanks, the rest being light tanks.
The Allies by comparison had little more than the Carriers plus some very antiquated 2 man tankettes, which were very few in number and very poorly maintained. They did not have enough tanks to fully equip the Indian recon battalion.

The British Carrier that was supposed to be wiht Force Z was the HMS Indomitable. At the time it ran aground prior to the event, the ship had an air complement of 24 Albacores, 12 Fulmars and 9 Sea Hurricanes. It is also possible that the carrier could have been augmnented with additonal Fulmars from the Hermes, which was then undergoing a refit.

Cheers,

Mike

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 14 May 2005 17:58

I see. Thanks for the info. I think my thought on Matilda IIs at Singapore was based on years ago seen document film(s). Usually these mistakenly contain film material from other fronts too (for example from North Afrika), so tanks may have been in a wrong place! That wouldn't be the first time... :roll:

So, not Illustrious... British had about 21 naval fighters, a sufficient amount for protecting a naval group I think. Were british ships equipped with radars? What kind of land based planes British have? Gloster Gladiators or Hawker Hurricanes?

Japanese had a large portion of tanks but how these were used? I think Japanese didn't use German like concentrated armoured attacks. Are there any events during which tanks would have played vital role?

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Post by Juha Tompuri » 14 May 2005 20:14

Harri wrote: What kind of land based planes British have? Gloster Gladiators or Hawker Hurricanes?
:) :) :)
FAR better.
Brewster Buffaloes
:) :) :)
http://www.warbirdforum.com/secret.htm

Regards, Juha

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Post by ckleisch » 14 May 2005 20:57

I came in to late to supply some data that was needed to bolster this discussion. I have this attached map from the "atlas of the Second World war" by Brigadier general peter Young through berkley Publishing. The map shows that apparantly the bristish liked stactic defenses set along road ways and junctions. The japanese just flanked these posistions continuely heading south to Singapore. the battle began with Lieutenant general Yamashita and three divisions 5, 8 and Imperial Guards supported by 600 aircraft. General Percival had two divisions supported by 150 aircraft of which 50 remained after the first few days of fighting. The length from point of invasion to Singapore is about 400 miles. At no point could the british troops put up a spirited defense with the exception of Kampar about three hundred miles up the west coast. the Japanese solution was a troop embarkation and flanking move to the south. the position became untenable and the retreat continued.. It took (30) days to travel the distance to Singapore which in Europe would have been called Blitkreig. the british ie Austarlians, Indians could only hold out another (15) days.
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Harri
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Post by Harri » 14 May 2005 22:04

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Harri wrote: What kind of land based planes British have? Gloster Gladiators or Hawker Hurricanes?
FAR better. Brewster Buffaloes
:lol: I didn't remember that but managed to find that same piece of information from another thread. So, what kind of problem British actually had? They had one of the best fighters of those days :D and only a handful of Zeros against them. Brewster had a very long up to four hour range because it was a naval fighter. It was also effective against bombers because of its 12.7 mm HMGs. The number of British planes was about the same as of Finnish Air Force during the Winter War but Japanese didn't have nearly as much planes than Soviets.

What other planes British had and how many?

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