Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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Avalancheon
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Avalancheon » 01 Mar 2020 20:36

The British would have lasted longer if they had invaded Thailand in order to gain strategic depth. They actually did plan for this via operation Matador, but there were foreign policy implications. The British were worried that they would look like the instigators in the war, and alienate the United States.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Mar 2020 03:37

Avalancheon wrote:
01 Mar 2020 20:36
The British would have lasted longer if they had invaded Thailand in order to gain strategic depth. They actually did plan for this via operation Matador, but there were foreign policy implications. The British were worried that they would look like the instigators in the war, and alienate the United States.
Except the Japanese didn't need to invade Malaya overland from Thailand; even if the British had deployed forces in strength into Thai territory, Japan's naval and air strength in the theater was such they could have landed larger forces in Malaya proper and still forced the British to retreat.

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Zaf1
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Zaf1 » 05 Apr 2020 13:35

Not necessarily so since on the East Coast of Malaya the British had considerable force on the beaches with barbed wires, land mines, pillbox bunkers. The British Air force could attack the Japanese convoy easier on the Malayan mainland compared to southern Thailand. By the way the Royal Navy warships would had it easier time to attack the Japanese invasion convoy

LineDoggie
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by LineDoggie » 07 Apr 2020 22:27

Zaf1 wrote:
05 Apr 2020 13:35
Not necessarily so since on the East Coast of Malaya the British had considerable force on the beaches with barbed wires, land mines, pillbox bunkers. The British Air force could attack the Japanese convoy easier on the Malayan mainland compared to southern Thailand. By the way the Royal Navy warships would had it easier time to attack the Japanese invasion convoy
Same RN ships sunk by the IJNAF? hard to do when your enemy has air superiority
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

LineDoggie
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by LineDoggie » 07 Apr 2020 22:34

David C. Clarke wrote:
11 May 2005 00:36
Hi Folks, in your opinion, what were the primary factors in Britain's defeat in Malaya in 1941-42?

Best,
~Akira
Standard answer is always

Percival....

Not that he had an impossible situation, untrained troops, subordinates who refused to listen, Civil Service who refused to listen, Promised FIRST RATE aircraft like Spitfires not sent but used in wholly asinine cross channel raids. Promised tanks sent to russia instead. A weak RN response including a missing carrier from the forces intended. Civilian Labor refusing to work (on tank defences and landing obstacles) members of the Golf Club members interfering with fighting positions being dug on "Their" Green...Harummph...

Percival was handed a shitshow but he didn know better since he had done a staff study pre war on the defences

And lets not forget one of his commanders running away from his own men to save his ass (Bennett)
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

Fatboy Coxy
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 24 Apr 2020 22:33

This thing about blaming Percival almost exclusively among the British leadership is so wrong.

Firstly Singapore was supposed to be defended by the British Fleet, and was given a days in waiting of 90 days, before its arrival, I believe, which then got increased to 180 days. While they waited for the Navy to arrive, the RAF was meant to defend Singapore/Malaya, the Army merely had to provide internal security and defend the airfields. Then, having had the Navy declare they couldn't defend it, followed by the RAF saying the same thing, the Army was left holding the baby. And Percival, CO of Malaya Command thus gets the blame.

But where was the Navy, and what did they do, having got there. Admiral Phillips, previously Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, should have known enough about what was going on, but made a number of frankly very bad decisions, and that cost us the potent Force Z.

And what about the RAF, who had made such a play for the right to defend Malaya when the Navy couldn't. Mostly they didn't show, but neither Newall nor Portal who followed him, doesn't take any blame for this. And lastly, Percival had a superior, who he directly reported to, based in Singapore, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Far East Command, Brooke Popham, another who somehow escapes the full weight of criticism.

Percival wasn't well served by those under him either, questions can be asked of III Indian Corps commander Lewis Heath, 11th Div Co David Murray-Lyon, and Australian 8th Div CO Gordon Bennett.

And when all was said and done, the one guy that stood by his men, through the years of being a POW and afterwards worked hard on getting compensation for the FEPOWs. All in all, a decent guy let down by those above and below, who happily cast him as the scapegoat. He did make mistakes, but so did everybody else, yet somehow his the main culprit for most people.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by aghart » 25 Apr 2020 10:23

In my opinion the one factor that did the most to doom Malaya was the abandonment of the Dobbie defence line. I understand the change in concept to a "whole of Malaya" forward defence rather than a "hold Johore" defence. However, A fully prepared last line of defence (in case plan A fails) where the reteating forces could make a determined stand and keep the Naval base out of artillery range seems (with hindsight) a basic requirement, especially when the defenders were in insufficient numbers to have any real chance of holding all of Malaya. This especially as the line had been started and funds in place to continue it.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 27 Apr 2020 16:06

aghart wrote:
25 Apr 2020 10:23
In my opinion the one factor that did the most to doom Malaya was the abandonment of the Dobbie defence line. I understand the change in concept to a "whole of Malaya" forward defence rather than a "hold Johore" defence. However, A fully prepared last line of defence (in case plan A fails) where the reteating forces could make a determined stand and keep the Naval base out of artillery range seems (with hindsight) a basic requirement, especially when the defenders were in insufficient numbers to have any real chance of holding all of Malaya. This especially as the line had been started and funds in place to continue it.
If it had existed, the Dobbie or Kota Tinggi line could have been a disaster when Percival was at the stage of withdrawing to the Island. The troops used to defend it would have been well spread out along the line, and the defensive line was just some pill boxes that would have been augmented with earthworks, lacked depth. Once the Japanese pieced the line it would have been a race back to the causeway, with many more cut off. A failing of the Japanese in this campaign was they didn't stop the retreat onto the island, this line would have given them that chance.

The other thing about the Kota Tinggi line is it lacked strategic depth, the captured airfields at Kluang and Kahang were only 60-70 miles away from Singapore City, giving the RAF no time to respond to any air attacks. At best, the line might have given the British another two weeks respite.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by hoot72 » 20 May 2020 12:17

Would anyone have any references I can look at primarily with regards to the casualty numbers of British, Indian, ANZAC troops in Malaya and Singapore from December 1941-February 1942?

I have looked at a number of sources but none appear to be as detailed or seem to be consistent in the number of troops KIA, missing in action or captured and do not always reflect the number of soldiers by nationality or race.

Any help or directions to sources I can look at would be appreciated.

Many thanks.
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 14 Jun 2020 06:52

Casualties were 100 percent, less one Australian major general and a few of his "staff"...

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Jun 2020 07:50

Sorry, I meant to post this before. Casualties according to the War Office as of 7 February 1942, the last report received, were (KIA/WIA/MIA/PW):

British Service - 317/632/1791/18
Australian Imperial Forces - 294/437/838/0
Indian Army British Personnel - 45/59/112/5
Indian Army Indian Personnel - 693/1437/8977/23
Local Colonial Forces - 22/49/3374/0
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 14 Jun 2020 08:38

LineDoggie wrote:
07 Apr 2020 22:27
Zaf1 wrote:
05 Apr 2020 13:35
Not necessarily so since on the East Coast of Malaya the British had considerable force on the beaches with barbed wires, land mines, pillbox bunkers. The British Air force could attack the Japanese convoy easier on the Malayan mainland compared to southern Thailand. By the way the Royal Navy warships would had it easier time to attack the Japanese invasion convoy
Same RN ships sunk by the IJNAF? hard to do when your enemy has air superiority
True. Again, not sure why this is contentious, but they were trying to defend a country the size of Britain with eight mobile brigades of infantry and negligible strength in terms of air and sea power in comparison to the Japanese army and naval air arms and the IJN in the theater. After the fall of France and Italy's entrance into the war in the summer of 1940, trying to defend Malaya was a pipedream. The forces lost there could have been much more effective in the Middle East, Burma and India, and the Southwest Pacific.

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Attrition
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 16 Jun 2020 14:33

That's imperialism for you; by not defending Malaya and Singapore, the British Empire would have had a hard time claiming them back after the war.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by LineDoggie » 16 Jun 2020 21:02

Attrition wrote:
16 Jun 2020 14:33
That's imperialism for you; by not defending Malaya and Singapore, the British Empire would have had a hard time claiming them back after the war.
145,000+ casualties in Malaya is Not defending it?
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

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Attrition
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 17 Jun 2020 10:09

No, the point I made is that it was defended; had the British cut their losses and not defended them, however inadequately, the British Empire would have had a hard time claiming them back after the war. Ergo an inadequate defence was a diplomatic necessity not a prudent operation of war.

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