Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 05 Mar 2022 02:32

Because this thread is focused primarily on British failure in Malaya, I've started a new thread expanding on why US strategic incoherence is arguably the main reason for the world's two largest navies failing to check the Japanese for 6 months.
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Post by green ridge » 12 Apr 2023 02:03

Michael Tapner wrote:
12 May 2005 15:33
In no particular order here is why the Brits lost in Malaya / Singapore:

#1 Training / Equipment. The main Japanese units had been trained, equipped and above all prepared for the jungle fighting.
With the exception of the Australian brigades and a solitary British battalion, no attempts were made by the Allied forces to master or equip for jungle warfare. Indian formations particularly were low on regular equipment.

#2 Air Superiority. Slight edge in quality to the Japanese, but a vast numerical superiority (about 500 aircraft to ~ 150). The Japanese lost large numbers of aircraft in the campaign. But a 1:1 loss rate was inadequate for the Allies.

#3 Lack of air cover meant that the Allied army had to defend everywhere - ports, airfields, the width of the peninsula. The Japanese could then focus their attack at one point. The Japanese used this concentration of force to great advantage throughout the campaign. Consider that in the first 6 weeks of the campaign the Japanese took out 1 Indian brigade after another, 1 at a time. They did this with 3 divisions and a tank brigade. It was also the way they crossed into Singapore. The attack focused on 1 sector, with all units crossing into Singapore at that point.

#4 Belief. It has been pointed out already that high command had convinced the Allied soldiery prior to combat that the Japanese were deficient in just about everything. They found out that they weren't only in combat.

#5 Lethargy of Allied command. They had the plans to do things before the campaign but could not implement these plans - and often it was not for a want of time.

Something else to consider is that while the Japanese may have been numerically inferior, they were superior in terms of the type of troops. The Japanese had 10 regiments of infantry between the 3 main divisions plus 4 regiments of tanks and other assorted assets. The Allied forces at the start of the campaign consisted of 3 divisions, each of 2 brigades plus a string of line of communication troops

Although this is an older post, it is very good imo.

One of the issues overlooked in the campaign was the integration of the RAAF into Malaya Command. The best example is the four squadrons of RAAF aircraft, 1 and 8 Squadrons RAAF (both Hudsons) and 21 and 453 Squadrons RAAF with Buffalo fighters. Al four squadrons came under the command of a Group Captain RAAF in Malaya. However, a Group Captain RAF in charge of RAF fighters believed he had oversight of the RAAF fighters and there were tensions. This was in addition to the lack of early warning systems, fighter direction and inexperience fighter pilots many straight out of PTS.

In addition, on arrival in Malaya the Hudson Squadrons discovered the RAF operated on a peace time cadence with flying only in the morning whereas the Hudsons flew to achieve operational efficiency. There were also limitations on the RAF due to flying hours, spare parts and lack of aircraft. The Hudsons Squadrons came equipped with 12 aircraft each squadron plus 6 reserves for each Squadron.

For anyone interested in the RAAF view on the campaign read Scott - "Glory In Chaos".

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by BayonetOnAZero » 31 Oct 2023 17:39

David C. Clarke wrote:
11 May 2005 00:36
Hi Folks, in your opinion, what were the primary factors in Britain's defeat in Malaya in 1941-42?

The British and Americans heavily underestimated the IJN. There was an instance in the early war in the Pacific where a joint force of US, British, Dutch, and Australian warships went to attack Japanese territory in Guinea or Indonesia, I can’t remember, and the Japanese ambushed them and destroyed majority of the warships using battleships (like the Kongō-Class and Fusō-Class) and destroyers and cruisers loaded with Type-93 Torpedos.
What has happened has happened, history is history. We must accept and embrace the things that we are passionate about and the atrocities that had been committed. Denying history is an atrocity in itself.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by LineDoggie » 31 Oct 2023 23:49

Battle of the Java sea did not involve IJN Battleships
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

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