Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
daveshoup2MD
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 09:06

rcocean wrote:
18 Jan 2022 23:43
The British could have easily defended Singapore even after Indo China was lost. The Japanese took Singapore with what? 50,000 men and 500 aircraft. When they should have been reinforcing Malaysia, the UK was sending hundreds of Hurricanes to the USSR where they did nothing (as Alanbrooke suspected). A couple of Aussie divisions, later brought back to the Pacific Theater would've stopped the Japanese in their tracks.
Just like the Australian 8th Division did?

Beyond that, 151 Wing RAF left the UK in August, 1941 for North Russia and was not operational until September, with roughly 40 Hurricanes. The IJAAF and IJNAF land-based air forces available at the same time in the theater numbered 2,000 or more.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 09:25

Linkagain wrote:
19 Jan 2022 03:24
Defensing Singapore was one thing Keeping it supplied HOW?????? It Could not be done from the air the IJN Controled the air which is why the HMS Repluse and HMS Prince of Wales were sunk....and withe the capital sjips gone it could only have been supplied by submarine,,,,,,how many submraine trips would it have taken to supply Singapore????
Interestingly enough, the British had so much unused shipping available in 1941, the British 18th Infantry Division was moved to the Indian Ocean by the US Navy in convoy WS-12X.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Gooner1 » 19 Jan 2022 14:58

Linkagain wrote:
19 Jan 2022 03:24
Defensing Singapore was one thing Keeping it supplied HOW?????? It Could not be done from the air the IJN Controled the air which is why the HMS Repluse and HMS Prince of Wales were sunk....and withe the capital sjips gone it could only have been supplied by submarine,,,,,,how many submraine trips would it have taken to supply Singapore????
The British have to control either Burma or Sumatra to be able to supply Singapore/Malaya.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 19 Jan 2022 17:14

daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:56
The point about the Greek campaign is really the key; it absorbed - more or less - what passed for the strategic reserve in the Med/Southwest Asia region, which is also what - presumably - was the pool that any worthwhile reinforcement of the British position in Southeast Asia, early enough in 1941 to have made any difference - would have had to be drawn from.

Given that, anyone suggesting Malaya-Singapore (or Burma-Ceylon, or Papua, for that matter) should have been a priority has to acknowledge that the British choice in the early part of 1941 was one or the other; trying to do both resulted in two defeats.

It also opens the door to the greatest "all British what-if" - whether Britain (and the Empire, etc.) could have actually defeated the Axis in the North African theater in 1940-41?
Hi,

Isn't that based on hindsight to a great extent though? After all, in 1941, the British didn't know that the Japanese were going to invade Malaya in December 1941. The British prioritised the Middle East in summer 1941 and that priority supplied sufficient forces to win (just!) Operation Crusader. Absent the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the 18th Infantry Division would have ended up in the Middle East or even the Caucasus.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 19 Jan 2022 18:52

Given the strategy daveshoup2MD is advocating, I'm surprised we didn't just fold up and ask for a peace treaty after Dunkirk, oh wait, with Hindsight we know we will win, so push on boys!

Stop it Fatboy, your beginning to sound churlish!

oh yeah, sorry
Regards
Fatboy Coxy

Currently writing https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/ ... if.521982/

daveshoup2MD
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 22:21

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
19 Jan 2022 17:14
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:56
The point about the Greek campaign is really the key; it absorbed - more or less - what passed for the strategic reserve in the Med/Southwest Asia region, which is also what - presumably - was the pool that any worthwhile reinforcement of the British position in Southeast Asia, early enough in 1941 to have made any difference - would have had to be drawn from.

Given that, anyone suggesting Malaya-Singapore (or Burma-Ceylon, or Papua, for that matter) should have been a priority has to acknowledge that the British choice in the early part of 1941 was one or the other; trying to do both resulted in two defeats.

It also opens the door to the greatest "all British what-if" - whether Britain (and the Empire, etc.) could have actually defeated the Axis in the North African theater in 1940-41?
Hi,

Isn't that based on hindsight to a great extent though? After all, in 1941, the British didn't know that the Japanese were going to invade Malaya in December 1941. The British prioritised the Middle East in summer 1941 and that priority supplied sufficient forces to win (just!) Operation Crusader. Absent the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the 18th Infantry Division would have ended up in the Middle East or even the Caucasus.

Regards

Tom
Not the hindsight, but certainly the reality that the British prioritized - and quite rightly - the MTO and SW Asia - hence the overarching point that for any reinforcements in Malaya to make a difference, they had to be in place before the balloon went up, and in strength, not the 'too little too late' increments that were sent. Two "more" divisions (Aust. 8th and Brit. 18th, plus the two additional Indian army brigades), two capital ships (Prince of Wales and Repulse) and two squadrons of Hurricanes (or Fulmars aboard Indomitable, etc.) certainly sweetened the pot for the Japanese, but had squat to do with a realistic appraisal of the correlation of forces in the theater, much less any chance for the Empire to win in Malaya.

The bottom line is that the British three away forces in Malaya-Singapore (and Hong Kong, and Ambon, etc.) that might have actually 'won' a victory elsewhere, which the British specifically and the Allies definitely needed in 1942 ...
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 19 Jan 2022 22:29, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 22:27

Fatboy Coxy wrote:
19 Jan 2022 18:52
Given the strategy daveshoup2MD is advocating, I'm surprised we didn't just fold up and ask for a peace treaty after Dunkirk, oh wait, with Hindsight we know we will win, so push on boys!

Stop it Fatboy, your beginning to sound churlish!

oh yeah, sorry
No, because the Germans could never cross the Channel - by sea or air - in the necessary strength to force a decision, in 1940 or thereafter.

However, in 1941, the Japanese could most definitely secure air and sea supremacy in the South China Sea, and points south, as they most clearly did in 1941-42. The point being made here is that with a little more realism and lot less misplaced confidence, the British could have saved resources that would have been much more useful to the Allied cause elsewhere in roughly the same period, and afterwards.

Again, the point is not to die gallantly, riding into the Valley of Death with pennons fluttering (so to speak); it is, as a fairly well-regarded combat commander once said, to "make the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." ;)

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by aghart » 19 Jan 2022 23:46

daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Jan 2022 22:27
Fatboy Coxy wrote:
19 Jan 2022 18:52
Given the strategy daveshoup2MD is advocating, I'm surprised we didn't just fold up and ask for a peace treaty after Dunkirk, oh wait, with Hindsight we know we will win, so push on boys!

Stop it Fatboy, your beginning to sound churlish!

oh yeah, sorry
No, because the Germans could never cross the Channel - by sea or air - in the necessary strength to force a decision, in 1940 or thereafter.

However, in 1941, the Japanese could most definitely secure air and sea supremacy in the South China Sea, and points south, as they most clearly did in 1941-42. The point being made here is that with a little more realism and lot less misplaced confidence, the British could have saved resources that would have been much more useful to the Allied cause elsewhere in roughly the same period, and afterwards.

Again, the point is not to die gallantly, riding into the Valley of Death with pennons fluttering (so to speak); it is, as a fairly well-regarded combat commander once said, to "make the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." ;)
If only the powers that be had your gift of hindsight. They could have left the UK almost bereft of troops from November 1940 onwards. Sent the lot to Malaya knowing what the Japanese were going to do and when they were going to do it. Except of course even the Japanese did not know what course of action they would take until mid 1941 and the Russian threat receded. I suppose we should have turned the other cheek when Argentina invaded the Falklands, after all, we never stood a chance go getting the Islands back?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Jan 2022 03:17

aghart wrote:
19 Jan 2022 23:46
daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Jan 2022 22:27
Fatboy Coxy wrote:
19 Jan 2022 18:52
Given the strategy daveshoup2MD is advocating, I'm surprised we didn't just fold up and ask for a peace treaty after Dunkirk, oh wait, with Hindsight we know we will win, so push on boys!

Stop it Fatboy, your beginning to sound churlish!

oh yeah, sorry
No, because the Germans could never cross the Channel - by sea or air - in the necessary strength to force a decision, in 1940 or thereafter.

However, in 1941, the Japanese could most definitely secure air and sea supremacy in the South China Sea, and points south, as they most clearly did in 1941-42. The point being made here is that with a little more realism and lot less misplaced confidence, the British could have saved resources that would have been much more useful to the Allied cause elsewhere in roughly the same period, and afterwards.

Again, the point is not to die gallantly, riding into the Valley of Death with pennons fluttering (so to speak); it is, as a fairly well-regarded combat commander once said, to "make the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." ;)
If only the powers that be had your gift of hindsight. They could have left the UK almost bereft of troops from November 1940 onwards. Sent the lot to Malaya knowing what the Japanese were going to do and when they were going to do it. Except of course even the Japanese did not know what course of action they would take until mid 1941 and the Russian threat receded. I suppose we should have turned the other cheek when Argentina invaded the Falklands, after all, we never stood a chance go getting the Islands back?
Amazingly enough - as stated before - the British powers that be demonstrated exactly these abilities to not reinforce exposed outposts in 1940 in the Channel Islands and the British positions in northern China (and in fact, actually evacuated troops from China before the situation turned to shit); they also managed to recognize the realities of the situation - in terms of the impact of Axis airpower, especially - in Norway, France, and British Somaliland in 1940, and Greece, Crete, and Burma in 1941, and evacuated their personnel, if not their equipment, as well.

So, it's not hindsight, is it?

Yet they shoveled the equivalent of two reinforced infantry divisions, plus a couple of separate brigades, and two-fifths of the fast capital ships they had after Hood was lost, into a sack in southeast Asia because ... why, exactly?

They thought less of the Japanese than they thought of the Germans, obviously.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 20 Jan 2022 11:45

daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
Amazingly enough - as stated before - the British powers that be demonstrated exactly these abilities to not reinforce exposed outposts in 1940 in the Channel Islands and the British positions in northern China (and in fact, actually evacuated troops from China before the situation turned to shit); they also managed to recognize the realities of the situation - in terms of the impact of Axis airpower, especially - in Norway, France, and British Somaliland in 1940, and Greece, Crete, and Burma in 1941, and evacuated their personnel, if not their equipment, as well.

You keep repeating this ridiculous argument.

British Somalia was not a vital military base and produced little income for the U.K. The situation there was in no way comparable to the economic impact and important strategic materials linked to Malaya.

The British did not withdraw from Burma in 1941.

Norway, France, Greece and Crete were not British colonies. There is no legitimate reason to conflate the military action there with consequences from losing control of the federated Malay states and Straits Settlements.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 20 Jan 2022 16:13

I think you overlook strategy in favour of economics. What would have happened to the Red Sea route to Egypt once the Italians controlled the Horn of Africa? As it was convoys had to divert towards the north end of the Gulf of Aden (northabouts Socotra iirc) adding to the shipping shortage. The British were able to exploit interior lines from Egypt to re-establish their control with expeditions to East Africa, Syria, Iraq as well as regain its position at the entrance to the Red Sea. The retreat from British Somaliland was strategically important (in early 1941) but much easier to remedy than reconquering Burma, once the Japanese complicated the war in the Middle East somewhat.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 20 Jan 2022 20:30

daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
and two-fifths of the fast capital ships they had after Hood was lost, into a sack in southeast Asia because ... why, exactly?
Well, the strategic deployment of those two fast capital ships was intended to deter the Japanese and that decision was taken in August 1941 (IIRC) so without the benefit of hindsight obviously. The tactical decision to push them up into the South China Sea was exactly that, a tactical decision made by a single-service commander in response, as far as I can see, to a mostly self-inflicted desire to contribute to the defence of northern Malaya. A high risk decision which ended in his death and the loss of two capital ships but one that was not pre-ordained when the strategic decision to begin to build up a fleet in the east was taken.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
Yet they shoveled the equivalent of two reinforced infantry divisions, plus a couple of separate brigades ... why, exactly?
I suppose because they (whoever they is?), understood the implications of not making the effort in terms of Australian and New Zealand reaction. Let's not forget that in response to the Japanese attack, the Australians asked for all their forces in the Middle East to be withdrawn.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
They thought less of the Japanese than they thought of the Germans, obviously.
In terms of the threat to the UK, that's obviously true.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 21 Jan 2022 04:28

EKB wrote:
20 Jan 2022 11:45
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
Amazingly enough - as stated before - the British powers that be demonstrated exactly these abilities to not reinforce exposed outposts in 1940 in the Channel Islands and the British positions in northern China (and in fact, actually evacuated troops from China before the situation turned to shit); they also managed to recognize the realities of the situation - in terms of the impact of Axis airpower, especially - in Norway, France, and British Somaliland in 1940, and Greece, Crete, and Burma in 1941, and evacuated their personnel, if not their equipment, as well.

You keep repeating this ridiculous argument.

British Somalia was not a vital military base and produced little income for the U.K. The situation there was in no way comparable to the economic impact and important strategic materials linked to Malaya.

The British did not withdraw from Burma in 1941.

Norway, France, Greece and Crete were not British colonies. There is no legitimate reason to conflate the military action there with consequences from losing control of the federated Malay states and Straits Settlements.


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Sorry, typo; the British withdrew from Burma in 1942 because the Japanese defeated them on land and in the air, and the RN was unable to get them out by sea. Happy?

The evacuations from Norway, France, and British Somaliland in 1940, and Greece and Crete in 1941, and Burma in 1942, were because the British understood the importance of not reinforcing failure. Something they did not learn in Malaya and Singapore in 1942, of course, much to to chagrin of the troops who spent the rest of the war in Japanese POW camps, or worse.

An "economic" resource that is not defendable with the forces available for reinforcements should, presumably, not be reinforced? Once the Japanese were in control of FIC in 1940, Malaya was doomed; sending reinforcements after that date was simply wasting men and resources.

The British lost Malaya and Singapore with four infantry divisions in the country; they still would have lost it with only two infantry divisions there, and saved the two extra infantry divisions. Seems like a positive...

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 21 Jan 2022 04:35

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
20 Jan 2022 20:30
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
and two-fifths of the fast capital ships they had after Hood was lost, into a sack in southeast Asia because ... why, exactly?
Well, the strategic deployment of those two fast capital ships was intended to deter the Japanese and that decision was taken in August 1941 (IIRC) so without the benefit of hindsight obviously. The tactical decision to push them up into the South China Sea was exactly that, a tactical decision made by a single-service commander in response, as far as I can see, to a mostly self-inflicted desire to contribute to the defence of northern Malaya. A high risk decision which ended in his death and the loss of two capital ships but one that was not pre-ordained when the strategic decision to begin to build up a fleet in the east was taken.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
Yet they shoveled the equivalent of two reinforced infantry divisions, plus a couple of separate brigades ... why, exactly?
I suppose because they (whoever they is?), understood the implications of not making the effort in terms of Australian and New Zealand reaction. Let's not forget that in response to the Japanese attack, the Australians asked for all their forces in the Middle East to be withdrawn.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
20 Jan 2022 03:17
They thought less of the Japanese than they thought of the Germans, obviously.
In terms of the threat to the UK, that's obviously true.

Regards

Tom
Is it really "deterrence" when two capital ships were sent, absent air cover worth the name, to a theater facing an enemy with 10 capital ships. six fleet carriers, and better than 2,000 aircraft, though?

"They" would be the British war minister and CCS. Given the reality of where the 9th and 11th Indian divisions were, and who had put them there, seems rather questionable to suggest the Australians would have taken their three divisions in the ME/SW Asia home if the British had said "no, keep the 8th Division, you need it for Papua" much less not sending the British 18th Division and the 44th and 45th Indian brigades to their deaths.

To the UK, true; but given the British had essentially advised and even equipped the IJN for the previous four decades, seems - odd? - they'd be so overconfident in terms of outposts exposed to Japan's full strength.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Gooner1 » 21 Jan 2022 12:06

daveshoup2MD wrote:
21 Jan 2022 04:35
"They" would be the British war minister and CCS. Given the reality of where the 9th and 11th Indian divisions were, and who had put them there, seems rather questionable to suggest the Australians would have taken their three divisions in the ME/SW Asia home if the British had said "no, keep the 8th Division, you need it for Papua" much less not sending the British 18th Division and the 44th and 45th Indian brigades to their deaths.
If the British had decided to send those reinforcements instead to Burma, could they have held there?

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