British tanks in Malaya

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Peter H
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British tanks in Malaya

Post by Peter H » 15 Oct 2009 01:14

it seems that some British armour did arrive in this theatre:

http://1942malaya.blogspot.com/2009/07/ ... -late.html
100th Indian Indp. Light Tank Squadron, Malaya 1942..The squadron had between 9 and 18 of these tanks.

The squadron was sent to Malaya early in 1942. On 29 January 1942, His Majesty’s Transport Empire Star arrived in Singapore with "16 tanks of obsolescent type." On 11 February 1942 a detachment of squadron was attached to Massy Force of 18th Infantry Division for counterattacks against the Japanese forces on Singapore Island. The entire squadron was lost when British forces surrendered on 15 February 1942.

Fatboy Coxy
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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 17 Oct 2009 00:34

Theres a little bit more here

http://1942malaya.blogspot.com/2009/07/ ... -late.html

Other than their off road mobility these tanks were no better than the armoured cars, and in fact had a poorer armament suite, in addition they were at the end of their service lfe and kept breaking down!

Steve

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phylo_roadking
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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by phylo_roadking » 17 Oct 2009 01:46

they were at the end of their service lfe and kept breaking down!
Depends on the breakdown, and the degree of trained maintenance :wink: Those little fine-cleat tracks and Horstmann suspension meant the track pins wore FAST, same bugbear as the Bren gun carrier :( The Vickers' Lights (even worn out) were pretty fast for the period, and there was a strict maintenance regime of shortening the tracks by removing links (like a period motorcycle :lol: ) - or else they were constantly throwing them on corners and hard manouvering...! 8O

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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 21 Oct 2009 18:03

I'm unsure of the mix of marks of the light tank with this squadron. They may have been Mark II and IV's which had been replaced in the order of battle by the Mark VI. This mark equipped the armoured units in the BEF and the Western Desert in 1940. However the squadron originated from the 8th King George's Own Light Cavalry, and formed with three troops. I would have expected them to have 6 tanks per troop plus 2-3 in the squadron HQ, so 16 seems to be under equipped. This really was scraping the barrel!

There is a really informative site here with the Mark VI Light Tank
http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/we ... _mkVI.html

Steve

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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by DCRFAN » 21 Nov 2020 10:03

Perhaps the reduced number of tanks was a reflection of available shipping space.

aghart
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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by aghart » 21 Nov 2020 17:45

I don't believe these vehicles were involved in any action on Singapore Island. Their inability to counter Japanese tanks really made them next to useless at that stage of the campaign. Had they been in theatre and operational at the start of the conflict then they might have been of some use. A squadron of even obsolete light tanks leading the advance to "The Ledge" might have changed the entire campaign? By that I mean a successful occupation and subsequent destruction of the road at the ledge leading to a less speedy Japanese advance down Malaya. This invites the prospect of all of 18th Division deploying in Johore, 7th Armoured Brigade getting there in time and maybe 7th Australian too.

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Re: British tanks in Malaya

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 26 Nov 2020 13:41

aghart wrote:
21 Nov 2020 17:45
I don't believe these vehicles were involved in any action on Singapore Island. Their inability to counter Japanese tanks really made them next to useless at that stage of the campaign. Had they been in theatre and operational at the start of the conflict then they might have been of some use. A squadron of even obsolete light tanks leading the advance to "The Ledge" might have changed the entire campaign? By that I mean a successful occupation and subsequent destruction of the road at the ledge leading to a less speedy Japanese advance down Malaya. This invites the prospect of all of 18th Division deploying in Johore, 7th Armoured Brigade getting there in time and maybe 7th Australian too.
Re "The Ledge" I think it was all about who got there first, which given the location, should have been the British, who could have destroyed the road, and taken the threat of the back door to the Jitra Front, away.

When I think about who to blame over "The Ledge" affair, I'm unsure who to point the finger at
Percival seems to have commanded from afar, leaving responsibility for it on a lower level. He comes across as not really being aware of the problem, until it developed into one. He should have known the strategic value of the Ledge.

Lewis Heath, the Corps Commander, seems to have had the same mindset, content to give its responsibility to the CO of 11th Indian Div, David Murray-Lyon. This was just plain wrong, it was about 75 miles away by road from Murray-Lyon in Alor Star, it should have been given to an independent Brigadier, given the forces (two infantry battalions plus engineers and artillery) committed, and reporting straight to Heath

Murray-Lyon had so many problems to deal with, and no clear understanding of what his role was. Either he was to hold the Jitra line, which was a very poor defensive site, picked as much for political reasons as for anything else, or advance into Thailand, being the main force committed to Operation Matador. The division was only of two brigades, the Indian battalions badly needing more training, little artillery, and not as much mobility as you'd think. For the advance into Thailand (Matador) half his force was travelling by train. He was guilty of wishful thinking for Matador, having no confidence in the Jitra Line. Both Percival and Heath are guilty of not making clear what he was suppose to do, but regards to putting Matador into operation, you have to look further up the chai of command to Brooke-Popham for finger pointing.

However, a successful defence of "The Ledge" alone, wouldn't in my opinion, have mattered much given the state of things at the Jitra Line. An early clear decision that Matador was not happening, plus a success at "The Ledge" maybe makes things a little better.

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