Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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

Post by Peter H » 20 Sep 2011 21:33

Thanks for posting that Zaf

Peter

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 25 Sep 2011 17:20

Zaf, this is a wonderful find of yours, I've never seen it before. It graphically shows the offensive options for both Japan and the allies. I love the "Lame Duck Lane" bit!

The second map highlights Gen Percivals concerns once command of both air and sea had been lost. The only thing missing is the Japanese amphibious capability on the west coast of Malaya, which to be fair, was exceptional planning and organising on the Japanese part.

Any more gems from Time Life Zaf?

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by steverodgers801 » 26 Sep 2011 12:17

There were units in Thailand, but it was the occupation of Indochina that unhinged the British defences. The Japanese had airbases that could cover the landing sights, the Japanese were able to reinforce the land invasion and invasion forces were able to sail from Indochina. The sailing time of the invasion reinforcements were greatly reduced and the Japanese could fly in planes directly instead of having to unpack them and reassemble once the bases were taken.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Sep 2011 17:48

Zaf1 wrote:In the Life magazine published in July 1941, 5 months before the Japanese attack, showed that the British in Singapore and Darwin and US navies in Manila (in white arrows) in the Far East would cut off the attacks if the Japanese (in black arrows) from French Indochina and Formosa attacking Asia to get the oil fields in Borneo and Dutch East Indies, the 'LAME DUCK LINE' near Sumatra is for any allied warship to shelter if damaged in sea battles. The US bombers in Guam would attack and destroy Tokyo in Japan. If this strategy had worked the British and US could have won easily very early on and the Japanese badly defeated and could not even invade anywhere, and WW2 in Asia would have a really different ending
'Life' magazine was a bit misinformed about where the US bombers would attack Tokyo from. The Phillipines were being developed as the base for that. The move of a heavy bomber wing from the US to the Luzon airfields in 1941 was a important step in establishing this. Guam had a comercial airfield and a naval airbase, but its overall capacity may not have been sufficient for launching a heavy bomber offensive in early 1942. Perhaps this was ignorance on the part of the Life magazine, or perhaps it was deliberate disinformation.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Gustav_SC » 16 Oct 2011 05:08

Zaf, cool find!

The coming war with Japan in Asia was not a suprise in 1941, as the article shows. But the war already happening in Europe, Africa and the Atlantic was, correctly, the primary concern for the UK. Malaya and Singapore were just too far away and not strategically important enough given the resources at hand.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Zaf1 » 16 Oct 2011 15:11

Hi

Thanks, but I did not have more information I think magazines before the war in the Pacific began rarely have much coverage about the military situation in Malaya and Singapore, except for mentioning that massive guns guarding the Naval Base. I knew that in 1920s there were much arguments among the various British leaderships about building that naval base. Many thought that it was a very expensive waste to build it. It seems that only the Australians were favorable because of the more immediate threat.

Regards

Zaf

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by aghart » 23 Feb 2012 12:51

I have just finished reading "Singapore the chain of disaster" by Maj -General S Woodburn Kirby. this is the chap who wrote the official history and this book was written as a private venture so he could air his personal views without looking over his shoulder.

It mirrors most of the main views, that Singapore was lost years before war broke out. In regards to the battle, he does criticise Percival for 2 main things. 1. His obsession with denying the airfields to the japanese and thus spreading his forces to thin on the ground. his view is that since the RAF was too weak the airfields should have been put out of use and the army concentrated in the best defensive positions. 2. Keeping 9th division on the east coast and out of the battle instead of bringing them West into prepared defensive positions that 11th division could then pass through and disengage.

On a tactical level he is scathing that "krochol" was not ready to advance and take the "ledge" at the start of the campaign. This failure is seen as the springboard for the disaters the befell the allies in north Malaya.

A very interesting read

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 23 Feb 2012 19:35

I still don't understand, given the importance of Krohcol, how it was SO badly handled.

I can be critical of Lt Col Moorhead, who failed to provide any real urgency to the operation as the commander on site, though I thought he was an able commander, as he proved latter in the campaign

I can be critical of Major Gen Murray-Lyon, who showed no real interest in the planning and development of this operation. Again some allowance can be made, his focus was on advancing 11th Indian to Singora (Songkhla today) if Operation Matador was called, or digging in on the Jitra Line. The logistics of the Matador move were considerable, and clearly took all his attention.

I can be critical of Lt Gen Heath, who surely should have given the command of Krohcol to a Brigadier General, reporting to III Indian Corps (himself), not to 11th Indian Div (Murray-Lyon). I am unsure whether he had a free hand in deploying units of the III Indian Corps, the assigned units were scattered at the start of the operations, and clearly shouldn't have been.

I can be critical of Lt Gen Percival, who was a main player in developing the strategy for defence of Malaya. Whether Operation Matador was called or not, the Krohcol operation HAD to happen. Loss of the Ledge position greatly compromised the defence of Northern Malaya, losing the important Alor Star and Sungai Patani airfields, and the excellent potential defensive position at Gurun. I would have expected him to have looked at the Krohcol plan as part of any appraisal of his defence, along with Jitra, Matador, Kota Bharu and Kuantan.

I can be critical of Air Chief Marshal Brooke-Popham, CinC British Far East Command. It was his decision if/when Operations Matador, and Krohcol were to be called. His delay in giving authority to Krohcol, and a failure on whether Matador would happen or not early enough, greatly compomised all levels of command below him. He failed to give a clear strong leadership on invoking the defence of Malaya. Again, however, London's guidelines on how he exercised his authority, kind of dammed him either way on the question of being first into Thailand, or waiting on the Japanese invading first.

Any of the above could have been the one that made the difference with regard to Krohcols success!

Regards

Fatboy Coxy

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by donsor » 22 Mar 2012 00:18

It was the usual British discriminatory attitude towards the Japanese much like how they regard the people of their commonwealth territories, that the Japanese were too stupid to attack Singapore from the rear, that the Japanese were too dumb to manufacture airplanes that could fly, that the Japanese soldier is physically inferior in that their (Japanese) eyes were to small (slit-like) that it is impossible for them to sight their targets. Lesson learned by the British the hard way.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Jabberwocky » 22 Mar 2012 07:26

British attitudes to non-white races were in-line with period theories about social-Darwinism and pretty prevalent across the Anglo-Saxon world.

Examples of the same in US propaganda:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjLfyooJ ... r_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuMs5Trf ... re=related

http://brainz.org/10-most-xenophobic-pi ... ropaganda/

http://www.ep.tc/howtospotajap/howto03.html

Hard lessons were also learned in America, Holland, Australia and New Zealand...

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 22 Mar 2012 11:09

British attitudes weren't monolithic (hence the plural) then or now, which is why they can change. Official shibboleths are often at variance with the mainstream, expecially in oligarchies.

donsor
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by donsor » 22 Mar 2012 18:17

On the other hand the United States pictured the Japanese as the little man with thick glasses and protruding front teeth.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by The_Enigma » 22 Mar 2012 20:24

Propaganda doesnt necessary mean that is what the grunt on the front or the staff officer thought or believed.

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Attrition
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 23 Mar 2012 00:58

donsor wrote:On the other hand the United States pictured the Japanese as the little man with thick glasses and protruding front teeth.
It crossed my mind that the stories about how Germans led the attacks on Pearl harbor might not have been racist balderdash so much as intended to smear the Germans in aid of the Germany first policy.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by cstunts » 14 Apr 2012 21:50

Some points need addressing:

1.) The most sensible & competent British commander[s] (read: Dobbie) had long before the war foreseen the Japanese could attack from the mainland. Hence the pre-war maneuvers he organized...to little effect, ultimately.
A more realistic negative factor in the end was inter-service rivalry among the British forces...greatly exacerbated by British economic policies & political ambiguity.

2.) Japanese operational planning actually came very late in the day, but plans for plans had been in the offing for some years, and Japanese intelligence-gathering & subversion later proved to have been long and very deep.

3.) Woodburn Kirby's history was anything but disinterested; he was working under severe constraints, as were others in the fifties (like Wigmore). This skewed their readings/writings, to put it mildly.

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