Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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Attrition
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 21 Jan 2022 15:42

Depends on the RAF so I doubt it.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 21 Jan 2022 18:57

daveshoup2MD wrote:
21 Jan 2022 04:35
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?
The intention was that those two capital ships were the beginnings of a British Eastern Fleet though - I thought that would be obvious? As I said:
...when the strategic decision to begin to build up a fleet in the east was taken.
If you really would like an understanding of Royal Navy planning during the run up to the war with Japan (and for so much more besides) I'd recommend Andrew Boyd's The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters which covers both pre-war and pre-1942 British planning.

It's also worth noting the influence on British capital ship movements of the German fast capital ships.

Again, if you are really interested, it might also be worth skimming through some of the Australian accusations of British betrayal in leaving them defenceless in the face of Japanese aggression...

Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 21 Jan 2022 21:46

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
21 Jan 2022 18:57
If you really would like an understanding of Royal Navy planning during the run up to the war with Japan (and for so much more besides) I'd recommend Andrew Boyd's The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters which covers both pre-war and pre-1942 British planning.

Regards

Tom
Yes I have that, very good
Regards
Fatboy Coxy

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

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 01:14

Gooner1 wrote:
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?
It's an interesting question - the Japanese invaded Burma with the 15th Army, which amounted to the reinforced 33rd and 55th divisions, mostly overland from Thailand, and then reinforced by elements of the Japanese expeditionary force that (historically) overran Malaya and Singapore; the IJAAF also deployed significant airpower.

The British forces in Burma amounted to one mobile division, the 17th Indian - which lost two of the brigades it was originally organized with, 44th and 45th Indian, to Malaya, and had them replaced by what had been independent units - and the 1st Burma Division, which is many ways was significantly weaker than a "standard" Indian Army division. The Chinese expeditionary force was - probably - the equivalent of two light infantry divisions in British terms, but all of the Allied forces were short of artillery, engineers, armor, etc. Air power, British or American, was minimal as well.

Add two organized infantry divisions (Aust. 8th and British 18th); leave the 17th Indian it's original brigades; add some more modern fighters (the RAF Hurricanes that historically went to Malaya); and the odds certainly are more in favor for the Allies than would have been otherwise, especially if te British reinforcements that historically went to Burma before the collapse there (British 7th Armoured Brigade, additional Indian infantry) then the odds get better.

The Allied position in Burma is still challenging; the Allied forces would still be very diverse, with all that means in terms of supply and operational efficiency; Burma is/was a big country, transportation was limited, and the Burmese population, at that point in the war, was not exactly entirely enamored with British rule.

But - the British might have 'won' in Burma with a stronger force.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 02:01

Attrition wrote:
21 Jan 2022 15:42
Depends on the RAF so I doubt it.
True, but even the RAF answered to the British minister of defense in 1941.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 02:13

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
21 Jan 2022 18:57
daveshoup2MD wrote:
21 Jan 2022 04:35
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?
The intention was that those two capital ships were the beginnings of a British Eastern Fleet though - I thought that would be obvious? As I said:
...when the strategic decision to begin to build up a fleet in the east was taken.
If you really would like an understanding of Royal Navy planning during the run up to the war with Japan (and for so much more besides) I'd recommend Andrew Boyd's The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters which covers both pre-war and pre-1942 British planning.

It's also worth noting the influence on British capital ship movements of the German fast capital ships.

Again, if you are really interested, it might also be worth skimming through some of the Australian accusations of British betrayal in leaving them defenceless in the face of Japanese aggression...

Regards

Tom
Okay - "Hey, there's a team on the field with 16 guys. We have 16 who can play as well, but we can only put two on the field currently. Game hasn't started yet, though ... wonder what we should do, coach?"

Two capital ships in Trincomalee, when the closest the IJN could get is Saigon, waiting for the rest of the force to deploy, was one thing. Two capital ships in Singapore, when the IJN is in Saigon, was a human sacrifice.

The difference in the North Atlantic in terms of influence on British capital ships (Churchill's "rogue elephants" concept, apparently) only worked until Bismarck was sunk, and largely because of RN carrier air power - so one would have thought that may have come to mind for the British regarding the vulnerabilities of Force Z.

As far as the Australians and "betrayal" go, for what, putting the 8th Australian Division's collective heads in a noose? What was Curtin going to do, order Blamey et al to go on strike?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by aghart » 22 Jan 2022 12:14

[/quote]

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.
[/quote]

Two capital ships with an aircraft carrier due shortly afterwards, 4 further capital ships plus cruisers and destroyers due within a few months. Millions spent on a massive recently completed Naval base. Newly constructed airfields throughout Malaya and Singapore. Ground crews for planned RAF expansion already in theatre, The first Bristol Beauforts arriving? Singapore is a main base to be defended not an outpost to be abandoned. The US Pacific Fleet now based at Pearl Harbour, the US Asiatic Fleet at the Philippines. The Dutch Forces in the DEI all likely allies in the face of Japanese aggression. That's 4 fleet carriers to start with, plus 10 Battleships/Battlecruisers. Japanese plans were for a quick Blitzkrieg assault and capture of Singapore, Malaya and Singapore were only a few months away from making that a very unlikely prospect. The Japanese attacked during a narrowing window of opportunity, but according to you we should have scarpered and left the window wide open for anyone to walk in?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 22 Jan 2022 17:11

daveshoup2MD wrote:
22 Jan 2022 02:13
Two capital ships in Trincomalee, when the closest the IJN could get is Saigon, waiting for the rest of the force to deploy, was one thing. Two capital ships in Singapore, when the IJN is in Saigon, was a human sacrifice.
In peacetime? I didn't think HMS Repulse was in Singapore when the Japanese invasion fleet was detected - wasn't it on its way to Australia?

If you read the book I recommended, you'll find that you are not the first person to suggest that Force Z should have been held in Trincomalee.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EwenS » 22 Jan 2022 18:14

Repulse sailed from Singapore for Darwin on 5 Dec. She was recalled at 1330 on 6 Dec. She arrived back in Singapore at 1200 on the 7 Dec, just over 12 hours before the Japanese invaded northern Malaya.

The Japanese invasion fleet left Hainan early on the 4 Dec. Bad weather prevented all flying from Kota Bharu on the 4th & 5th Dec so it was 1030 on 6 Dec before any of the Japanese ships were spotted. But their direction of travel was west not south towards Malaya. And 3 hours later Repulse was recalled.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 22 Jan 2022 21:11

daveshoup2MD wrote:
21 Jan 2022 04:28
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...

The larger flaw in all of your replies, is that the Japanese victory was not pre-determined.

Despite the consistently poor management of resources by the British army, navy and RAF, the Japanese invasion force was on the brink of depleting its ammunition. General Yamashita literally bluffed his way into securing the surrender terms. General Percival almost certainly would have changed or delayed his decision to capitulate, if he knew that the Japanese commander made demands from a position of weakness.

Winston Churchill could not have predicted this chain of events. He was not supposed to micromanage all decisions made by the armed forces. But you insist that he should have been a fortune-teller, and should have engineered a pre-emptive write-off for the most important British military installation in the Far East.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 22:47

aghart wrote:
22 Jan 2022 12:14
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.
[/quote]

Two capital ships with an aircraft carrier due shortly afterwards, 4 further capital ships plus cruisers and destroyers due within a few months. Millions spent on a massive recently completed Naval base. Newly constructed airfields throughout Malaya and Singapore. Ground crews for planned RAF expansion already in theatre, The first Bristol Beauforts arriving? Singapore is a main base to be defended not an outpost to be abandoned. The US Pacific Fleet now based at Pearl Harbour, the US Asiatic Fleet at the Philippines. The Dutch Forces in the DEI all likely allies in the face of Japanese aggression. That's 4 fleet carriers to start with, plus 10 Battleships/Battlecruisers. Japanese plans were for a quick Blitzkrieg assault and capture of Singapore, Malaya and Singapore were only a few months away from making that a very unlikely prospect. The Japanese attacked during a narrowing window of opportunity, but according to you we should have scarpered and left the window wide open for anyone to walk in?
[/quote]

So until something approximating a balanced task force and/or land-based air power worth the name was operational in Malaya and could cover the RN's operations offshore, what, exactly, were Prince of Wales and Repulse and their crews supposed to do? Die gallantly?

Considering how much the British had suffered through in 1914-18, and again in 1939-41 up to the Japanese entry into the war, one would have thought the British side of the combined chiefs were past the "stupid and futile gesture" stage, but apparently not... after all, they did the exact same thing in the Dodecanese in 1943, and threw away four battalions of British infantry for no gain whatsoever ...

Malaya/Singapore could not be defended, once the Japanese were in FIC in 1940, with the available forces - air, ground, sea. Until those forces were available - including a field army and an air force worth the name - then yes, sending what amounted to Britain's available strategic reserve in the theater - Australian 8th and British 18th divisions, Force Z, and 2-4 squadrons of "modern" fighters - was idiotic.

The two Indian Army divisions that were in Malaya from 1940 onwards were not enough to hold the peninsula, anymore than four reinforced divisions were, historically, but 9th Indian and 11th Indian would have been more than enough to die gallantly while the forces NOT deployed in 1941-42 were actually doing something useful for the Allied cause - somewhere. Burma, Papua, Ceylon, etc., all come to mind. Same for the capital ships and the Hurricanes.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 22:55

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
22 Jan 2022 17:11
daveshoup2MD wrote:
22 Jan 2022 02:13
Two capital ships in Trincomalee, when the closest the IJN could get is Saigon, waiting for the rest of the force to deploy, was one thing. Two capital ships in Singapore, when the IJN is in Saigon, was a human sacrifice.
In peacetime? I didn't think HMS Repulse was in Singapore when the Japanese invasion fleet was detected - wasn't it on its way to Australia?

If you read the book I recommended, you'll find that you are not the first person to suggest that Force Z should have been held in Trincomalee.

Regards

Tom
Wow, "concentration of force" is a concept? Thanks for agreeing. ;)

Well aware that preserving a strategic reserve until it can be used decisively is not an original concept; among others, this individual https://www.britannica.com/biography/Fr ... c-policies said as much in the Eighteenth Century, as in: "He who defends everything, defends nothing.”

One would have hoped the British side of the CCS would have recognized as much almost a century and a half later, but apparently not.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 22:56

EwenS wrote:
22 Jan 2022 18:14
Repulse sailed from Singapore for Darwin on 5 Dec. She was recalled at 1330 on 6 Dec. She arrived back in Singapore at 1200 on the 7 Dec, just over 12 hours before the Japanese invaded northern Malaya.

The Japanese invasion fleet left Hainan early on the 4 Dec. Bad weather prevented all flying from Kota Bharu on the 4th & 5th Dec so it was 1030 on 6 Dec before any of the Japanese ships were spotted. But their direction of travel was west not south towards Malaya. And 3 hours later Repulse was recalled.
What the hell was one capital ship going to do from Darwin, which is about as remote as one could get from anything approximating an important place in Australia in 1941?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 23:11

EKB wrote:
22 Jan 2022 21:11
daveshoup2MD wrote:
21 Jan 2022 04:28
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...

The larger flaw in all of your replies, is that the Japanese victory was not pre-determined.

Despite the consistently poor management of resources by the British army, navy and RAF, the Japanese invasion force was on the brink of depleting its ammunition. General Yamashita literally bluffed his way into securing the surrender terms. General Percival almost certainly would have changed or delayed his decision to capitulate, if he knew that the Japanese commander made demands from a position of weakness.

Winston Churchill could not have predicted this chain of events. He was not supposed to micromanage all decisions made by the armed forces. But you insist that he should have been a fortune-teller, and should have engineered a pre-emptive write-off for the most important British military installation in the Far East.
Correlation of forces is a thing, though, kind of like concentration of force. ;)

The IJA had 10-12 infantry divisions, enough shipping to move and land half of them at once, 2,000+ combat aircraft, and the third largest fleet in the world, with 10 capital ships and six fleet carriers.

The British had - maybe - 200 combat aircraft worth the name between India and Singapore, maybe four infantry division equivalents in the same category (but needed the USN to move more than one at a time, if that, of course), and had a grand total of two capital ships in the theater.

If the Japanese had been so impolite as to NOT have also attacked the US, but chose simply to target the British and Dutch (which was entirely possible, and pretty close to standard Axis practice when it came to strategy) what exactly were the British in Malaya/Singapore going to do?

Make faces at them?

The whole concept is rather like this one Kut-el-Amara, except writ large. Too bad for the Tommies, Diggers, and Sowars who got stuck with the dirty end of the stick...

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 23 Jan 2022 00:36

[quote=daveshoup2MD post_id=2388372 time=1642813294 user_id=85831]
[quote=Attrition post_id=2388275 time=1642776160 user_id=33401]
Depends on the RAF so I doubt it.
[/quote]

True, but even the RAF answered to the British minister of defense in 1941.
[/quote]

The RAF let down the army in Norway, France, Greece, Crete and the Western Desert,1940 to 1941. It wasn't a matter of orders but production priority, fighter production was too low and the excellent Merlin XX was used to make the Hurricane Mk II as inferior to Bf 109F as the Mk I has been against the Bf 109E, rather than power the Spitfire Mk III, which was fobbed off with the inferior Merlin 45 series instead.

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