Tom from Cornwall wrote: ↑
25 Jan 2022 18:37
Was he wrong to hold that opinion given what was known in July 1941?
Have you read the relevant Chiefs of Staff meeting minutes? Their priorities are pretty clear, as shown in this signal to the UK commanders in the Far East sent on 21 Jul 41.
CAB79-13 - COS Mtg 21 Jul 41 - Signal to C-in-C's Far East.JPG
Priority = current operations.
What advice was Churchill receiving regarding sending aircraft to Malaya in July 1941? This from a Joint Planning Staff paper of the same date:
CAB79-13 - COS Mtg 21 Jul 41 - JPS - Air Defence in Far East.JPG
Not much evidence there of his military advisors finding fault with Churchill's opinion that in July 1941 it was better to prioritise operational theatres rather than the uncertain threat in the Far East.
Tom, I am sure you have read cab/66/11/42 'Future Strategy: Appreciation by the Chiefs of Staff Committee' of September 4th 1940
"14. Japan, like Russia, sees in the war an opportunity to pursue her
Imperialist aims while the going is good. How far she means to go we do not
know; the uncertain reactions of the United States and of Russia, her
uncertainty of the extent to which we ourselves are prepared to make concessions
and of our future attitude if we defeat Germany, and the continuing heavy drain
of the China war are factors which may deter her from pressing her claims too
far. The new Japanese Government is, however, likely to be increasingly
pro-Axis; and the least we can assume is that Japan's attitude will continue to
be menacing, and that her sympathies will be with our enemies.
157. The retention of Malaya is vital to our security in the Far East as,
so long as we can retain Singapore, it remains a potential base for a fleet in being
and so restrict Japan's naval action. It is also most important to hold Singapore
for the exercise of economic pressure and for the control of commodities essential
to our own economic structure. Finally, Malaya forms a footing from which,
eventually, we can retrieve the damage to our interests when stronger forces
become available. To hold Singapore entails holding the whole of Malaya and
air bases in Borneo, a task for which the present garrison is quite insufficient.
In view of the menacing attitude of Japan, the reinforcement of Malaya is a
matter of urgency.
243. The garrison of Malaya has at present only one of the three divisions
considered necessary for security. In view of the attitude of Japan, it is proposed
to make a further two divisions available during the coming winter.
261. Our defence policy in the Far East * in the absence of an adequate
fleet, must rely primarily on air power. The existing total air strength is only
88 aircraft (including three Australian Squadrons). The minimum requirements
for the security of Malaya, Borneo and co-operation with the Navy in the control
of sea comunications in this area is a total of 336 first line aircraft."
Appendix VI Overseas Garrisons adds 'Garrison at present considered necessary' for the Far East at three infantry divisions and one light tank regiment. 'Strength of existing garrison' was 'Infantry only of one division, one 3-7-in. howitzer regiment, equivalent of one field regiment (30 - 18-pdr. used for beach defence)'.'Interim reinforcements proposed during the coming winter' was put at two infantry divisions. 'Remarks' were 'Australia has been asked to send a division. Second division will have to come from United Kingdom.'
As regarding prioritising 'operational theatres' you will note that the Soviet Union itself always kept sufficiently powerful forces in their far east to deter, and if necessary, to defeat a Japanese attack.