The Malayan Campaign was a military campaign fought by Allied and Axis forces in Malaya, from 8 December 1941 – 31 January 1942 during the Second World War. It was dominated by land battles between British Commonwealth army units, and the Imperial Japanese Army with minor skirmishes at the beginning of the campaign between British Commonwealth and Royal Thai Armed Forces. The Japanese had air and naval supremacy from the opening days of the campaign. For the British, Indian, Australian and Malayan forces defending the colony, the campaign was a total disaster.
The operation is notable for the Japanese use of bicycle infantry, which allowed troops to carry more equipment and swiftly move through thick jungle terrain. Royal Engineers, equipped with demolition charges, destroyed over a hundred bridges during the retreat, yet this did little to delay the Japanese. By the time the Japanese had captured Singapore, they had suffered 9,657 casualties; Allied losses totaled 145,703, including 15,703 casualties and 130,000 captured.
By 1941 the Japanese had been engaged for four years in trying to subjugate China. They were heavily reliant on imported materials for their military forces, particularly oil from the United States. From 1940 to 1941, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands imposed embargoes on supplying oil and war materials to Japan. The object of the embargoes was to assist the Chinese and encourage the Japanese to halt military action in China. The Japanese considered that pulling out of China would result in a loss of face and decided instead to take military action against US, British and Dutch territories in South East Asia. The Japanese forces for the invasion were assembled in 1941 on Hainan Island and in French Indochina. This troop build-up was noticed by the Allies and, when asked, the Japanese advised that it related to its operations in China.
When the Japanese invaded, they had over 200 tanks, consisting of the Type 95 Ha-Go, Type 97 Chi-Ha, Type 89 I-Go and Type 97 Te-Ke. In addition, they had over 500 combat aircraft available. Commonwealth troops were equipped with the Lanchester 6x4 Armoured Car, Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car, Universal Carrier and only 23 obsolete Mk VIB light tanks (in the 100th Light Tank Squadron of the Indian Army), none of which were sufficiently armed for armoured warfare. They had just over 250 combat aircraft, but half of these were destroyed inside the first few days of combat.
Between the wars, the British military strategy in the Far East was undermined by a lack of attention and funding. In 1937, Major-General William Dobbie, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya (1935–39), looked at Malaya's defences and reported that during the monsoon season, from October to March, landings could be made by an enemy on the east coast and bases could be established in Siam (Thailand). He predicted that landings could be made at Songkhla and Pattani in Siam, and Kota Bharu in Malaya. He recommended large reinforcements to be sent immediately. His predictions turned out to be correct, but his recommendations were ignored. The British government's plans relied primarily on the stationing of a strong fleet at the Singapore Naval Base in the event of any enemy hostility, in order to defend both Britain's Far Eastern possessions and the route to Australia. A strong naval presence was also thought to act as a deterrent against possible aggressors.
By 1940, however, the army commander in Malaya, Lieutenant-General Lionel Bond, conceded that a successful defence of Singapore demanded the defence of the whole peninsula, and that the naval base alone would not be sufficient to deter a Japanese invasion. Military planners concluded that the desired Malayan air force strength would be 300–500 aircraft, but this was never reached because of the higher priorities in the allocation of men and material for Britain and the Middle East.
The defence strategy for Malaya rested on two basic assumptions: first, that there would be sufficient early warning of an attack to allow for reinforcement of British troops, and second, that American help was at hand in case of attack. By late 1941, after Lieutenant-General Arthur E. Percival had taken over as GOC Malaya, it became clear that neither of these assumptions had any real substance. In addition, Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed that in the event of war breaking out in South East Asia, priority would be given to finishing the war in Europe. The east, until that time, would be a secondary priority. Containment was considered the primary strategy in the east.
Planning for this offensive was undertaken by the Japanese Military Affairs Bureau's Unit 82 based in Taiwan. Intelligence on Malaya was gathered through a network of agents which included Japanese embassy staff; disaffected Malayans (particularly members of the Japanese-established Tortoise Society); and Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese business people and tourists. Japanese spies, which included a British intelligence officer, Captain Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan, also provided intelligence and assistance.
Prior to hostilities Japanese intelligence officers like Iwaichi Fujiwara had established covert intelligence offices (or Kikans) that linked up with the Malay and Indian pro-independence organisations such as Kesatuan Melayu Muda in Malaya Indian Independence League. The Japanese gave these movements financial support in return for their members providing intelligence and later assistance in determining Allied troop movements, strengths, and dispositions prior to the invasion.
Through the operation of these networks prior to the invasion the Japanese knew where the Commonwealth forces were based and their unit strengths, had good maps of Malaya, and had local guides available to provide them with directions.
In November 1941 the British became aware of the large scale buildup of Japanese troops in French Indo-China. Thailand was seen to be under threat from this build-up as well as Malaya. British strategists had foreseen the possibility of Thailand's Kra isthmus being used by the Japanese to invade Malaya. To counteract this potential threat, plans for a pre-emptive invasion of southern Thailand, named Operation Matador, had been drawn up. By the time the invasion became highly likely the British decided not to use them for political reasons.
The Malayan Campaign began when the 25th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita, invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941. Japanese troops launched an amphibious assault on the northern coast of Malaya at Kota Bharu and started advancing down the eastern coast of Malaya. Japanese forces also landed at Pattani and Songkhla in Thailand, then moved south across the Thailand-Malayan border to attack the western portion of Malaya.
French Indochina was controlled by Vichy France, which collaborated with the Axis. The French authorities there had submitted to Japanese occupation and allowed Japan to use the territory's ports as naval bases, build air bases, and mass forces there for the invasion. Japan also coerced Thailand into cooperating with the invasion, though Thai troops resisted the landings in Thai territory for eight hours.
The Japanese were initially resisted by III Corps of the Indian Army and several British Army battalions. The Japanese quickly isolated individual Indian units defending the coastline, before concentrating their forces to surround the defenders and force their surrender. The Japanese forces held a slight advantage in numbers on the ground in northern Malaya, and were significantly superior in close air support, armour, co-ordination, tactics, and experience, with the Japanese units having fought in China. The Allies had no tanks, which had put them at a severe disadvantage. The Japanese also used bicycle infantry and light tanks, which allowed swift movement of their forces overland through terrain covered with thick tropical rainforest, albeit criss-crossed by native paths. Although the Japanese had not brought bicycles with them (in order to speed the disembarkation process), they knew from their intelligence that suitable machines were plentiful in Malaya and quickly confiscated what they needed from civilians and retailers.
A replacement for Operation Matador, named Operation Krohcol, was implemented on 8 December, but the Indian troops were easily defeated by the Royal Thai Police and the Japanese 5th Division which had already landed in Pattani Province, Thailand. Force Z of the Royal Navy (battleship HMS Prince of Wales, battlecruiser HMS Repulse, and four destroyers, under the command of Admiral Tom Phillips) had arrived right before the outbreak of hostilities. But the powerful Japanese air forces in Indochina sank both capital ships on 10 December, leaving the east coast of Malaya exposed and allowing the Japanese to continue their landings.
As a lower-priority theatre, the Allies had comparatively few modern aircraft to challenge the Japanese. In addition the Allies did not consider Japanese aircraft a significant threat. In 1941 the Allies assumed that Japan would only have a few hundred poor quality outdated aircraft. The respected Janes All the World's Aircraft for 1941 indicated that the Japanese only had a cluster of dated foreign and indigenous aircraft. Japanese pilots were also underrated, considered unlikely to make particularly good pilots.
Prior to the invasion on 8 December there were 75 Allied aircraft stationed in northern Malaya and 83 in Singapore. The only fighter squadron in northern Malaya was No 21 Squadron RAAF that was equipped with 12 Brewster Buffalos. The Japanese had over 459 aircraft available.
The Japanese Navy's 22nd Air Flotilla (22nd Kōkū-Sentai) with 110 aircraft and commanded by Vice Admiral Matsunaga Sadaichi operating out of three air bases near Saigon took part in the initial attacks on Malaya.
The 22nd Air Flotilla included the 22nd (Genzan), Mihoro, and Kanoya Air Groups (or Kōkūtai). They were equipped with 33 Type 96 Mitsubishi G3M1 Nell bombers. The Air Flotilla also had 25 Type 96 Mitsubishi A5M4 Claude fighters available. The Genzen Air Group was a key participant in the sinking of the British capital ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse off the coast of Malaya on 10 December 1941, losing one aircraft and its crew during the battle. On 22 January 1942, bombers from the Genzan Air Group attacked Kallang Airport in Singapore, and subsequently provided air support for Japanese offensives in Malaya including the landings at Endau.
The Japanese 3rd Air Corps (飛行集団 Hikō Shudan) and three Air Combat Groups (飛行戦隊 Hikō Sentai) of the 5th Air Corps took part in the Malaya Campaign. In total there were 354 IJAAS first line aircraft involved together with the 110 IJNAS aircraft. The Army units were variously equipped with fighters: Nakajima Ki-27 Nate, Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar, Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia; bombers: Kawasaki Ki-48 Lily, Mitsubishi Ki-21 Sally, Mitsubishi Ki-30 Ann; and reconnaissance: Mitsubishi Ki-15 Babs, Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah.
Most Japanese pilots of the IJAAS units and at least a quarter of the IJNAS pilots had combat experience against the Chinese and Russians. They were all very well trained.
Prior to the commencement of hostilities the Allies in Malaya and Singapore had four fighter squadrons: 21 and 453 RAAF, 243 RAF, and 488 RNZAF. They were equipped with the Brewster Buffalo B-399E, a plane that aviation historian Dan Ford characterized as pathetic. Its engine had fuel starvation problems and poor supercharger performance at higher altitudes. Maneuverability was poor and the engine tended to overheat in the tropical climate, spraying oil over the windscreen. In service, some effort was made to improve performance by removing the armour plate, armoured windshields, radios, gun camera, and all other unnecessary equipment, and by replacing the .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. The fuselage tanks were filled with a minimum of fuel and run on high-octane aviation petrol where available.
The remaining offensive aircraft consisted of four RAF squadrons of Bristol Blenheim I and IV light bombers (27, 34, 60, 62 Squadrons), two RAAF squadrons (1 and 8) of Lockheed Hudsons, and two RAF squadrons of Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers (36 and 100). The Vildebeests were considered obsolete for the European theatre of operations. No 36 Squadron had some Fairey Albacore bi-planes. There were also two PBY Catalina flying boats of No. 205 Squadron RAF and three Catalinas from the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force at Singapore.
The squadrons were beset by numerous problems including inadequate spare parts and a lack of support staff, airfields that were difficult to defend against air attack with no early warning of impending attacks, a lack of a clear and coherent command structure, a Japanese spy in the Army air liaison staff (Heenan), and antagonism between RAF and RAAF squadrons and personnel. The Japanese through their network of informants knew the strength and disposition of Allied aircraft before they invaded.
Many of the pilots lacked adequate training and experience. For example, a total of 20 of the original 169 Buffalos were lost in training accidents during 1941. Those fighter pilots with experience had been trained in methods that were very effective against German and Italian fighters but suicide against the acrobatic Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" and Mitsubishi A6M "Zero". A counter tactic of avoiding dog fights with a slash and run attack was developed by Lieutenant-General Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers but was too late for the Allied pilots serving in this campaign.
On the first day, the focus of the Japanese air assault was on the Allied air bases. Mitsubishi Ki-21 Sallys from the 7th Hikodan bombed the airfields at Alor Star, Sungai Petani, and Butterworth. A total of 60 Allied aircraft were lost on the first day, primarily on the ground. Those Allied fighters that did manage to engage the Japanese performed adequately against the Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate". However, the appearance of ever greater numbers of Japanese fighters, including markedly superior types such as the Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" soon overwhelmed the Buffalo pilots, both in the air and on the ground.
While contesting the Japanese landings on Malaya, Hudsons from No. 1 Squadron RAAF based at Kota Bharu became the first aircraft to make an attack in the Pacific War, sinking Japanese transport ship Awazisan Maru, while also damaging Ayatosan Maru and Sakura Maru off the coast of Kota Bharu, for the loss of two Hudsons, at 0118h local time (an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor). The Squadron was transferred to Kuantan the following day.
By 9 December, Japanese fighters were operating out of Singora and Patani, Thailand, and Kota Bharu airfield was in Japanese hands. The Allies tried to attack Singora airfield. The bombers were intercepted on take-off by a Japanese raid which disabled or shot down all but one. The sole surviving bomber, a Bristol Blenheim flown by Arthur Scarf, did manage to bomb Singora. No 62 squadron had been moved from Alor Star to Butterworth, and on 10 December it was moved to Taiping.
On 10 December, No 21 Squadron RAAF was withdrawn from Sungai Petani to Ipoh, where it was joined on 13 December by No 453 Squadron RAAF. No 453 Squadron had been sent to protect Force Z on 10 December, but arrived after the warships were sinking. On 15 December both Squadrons were pulled back to Kuala Lumpur, receiving replacement aircraft for those shot down or destroyed. Within the first week of the campaign the Japanese had established air superiority. On 19 December the bombers were moved to Singapore, with No 62 Squadron being re-equipped with Hudsons.
Continued Japanese dominance eventually forced both Squadrons back to Singapore on 24 December, where they were merged until more replacement aircraft could be obtained. No 64 Squadron had run out of aircraft and its surviving ground-crew and airmen were shipped to Burma. RAAF No 1 and No 8 squadrons were amalgamated due to aircraft losses. This left the Allied ground troops and shipping completely open to air attack and further weakened the defensive position. The Genzan Air Group sank Prince of Wales and Repulse on 10 December, which also established Japanese naval supremacy. In comparison, the Japanese army enjoyed close air support from the start of the campaign, and sought to capture bases for their air support to operate from.
On 25 December, the Second division of Squadron 5, Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force was deployed to Singapore, contributing to the Allied cause before being recalled to Java on 18 January. Several Dutch pilots—including Jacob van Helsdingen and August Deibel—responded to a number of air raids over Singapore while stationed at Kallang Airport. They claimed a total of six aircraft, particularly the Nakajima Ki-27 Nate, which fared poorly in Malaya.
On 3 January 1942, 51 disassembled Hurricane Mk IIBs arrived in Singapore along with 24 pilots (many of whom were veterans of the Battle of Britain) who had been transferred to there with the intention of forming the nucleus of five squadrons. The 151st Maintenance unit assembled the 51 Hurricanes within two days and of these, 21 were ready for operational service within three days. The Hurricanes were fitted with bulky 'Vokes' dust filters under the nose and were armed with 12, rather than eight, machine guns. The additional weight and drag made them slow to climb and unwieldy to maneuver at altitude, although they were more effective bomber killers.
The recently arrived pilots were formed into 232 Squadron. In addition, 488 (NZ) Squadron, a Buffalo squadron, converted to Hurricanes. On 18 January, the two squadrons formed the basis of 226 Group. The following day 453 squadron provided an escort of eight aircraft for five Wirraways and four NEI Glenn Martin bombers, attacking Japanese troops on the Maur River. All the Martins and one of the Wirraways were lost.
No 243 Squadron RAF, equipped with Buffalo fighters, was disbanded on 21 January and 232 Squadron became operational on 22 January, the same day as the Genzan Air Group attacked Kallang Airport. 232 Squadron thus had the first losses and victories for the Hurricane in Southeast Asia that day. Most of the bombers were moved to Sumatra midway through January.
Aircraft from 36, 62, and 100 Squadrons unsuccessfully attacked the Japanese invasion fleet at Endau on 26 January, suffering heavy losses. The surviving aircraft were evacuated to Sumatra on 31 January.
In mid-January, the three Sentai of the 5th Air Corps returned to Thailand to participate in the Burma Campaign and the 3rd Air Corps turned its attention to the Netherlands East Indies. In the end, more than 60 Brewster aircraft were shot down in combat, 40 destroyed on the ground, and approximately 20 more destroyed in accidents. Only about 20 Buffalos survived to reach India or the Dutch East Indies. The last airworthy Buffalo in Singapore flew out on 10 February, five days before the island fell. The RAAF and RNZAF fighter squadrons left for Sumatra and Java at the beginning of February.
It is not entirely clear how many Japanese aircraft the Buffalo squadrons shot down, although RAAF pilots alone managed to shoot down at least 20. Eighty were claimed in total, a ratio of kills to losses of just 1.3 to 1. Additionally, most of the Japanese aircraft shot down by the Buffalos were bombers. The Hawker Hurricane, which fought in Singapore alongside the Buffalo from 20 January, also suffered severe losses from ground attack; most were destroyed.
The defeat of Allied troops at the Battle of Jitra by Japanese forces, supported by tanks moving south from Thailand on 11 December 1941 and the rapid advance of the Japanese inland from their Kota Bharu beachhead on the north-east coast of Malaya overwhelmed the northern defences. Without any real naval presence, the British were unable to challenge Japanese naval operations off the Malayan coast, which proved invaluable to the invaders. With virtually no remaining Allied planes, the Japanese also had mastery of the skies, leaving the Allied ground troops and civilian population exposed to air attack.
The Malayan island of Penang was bombed daily by the Japanese from 8 December and abandoned on 17 December. Arms, boats, supplies and a working radio station were left in haste to the Japanese. The evacuation of Europeans from Penang, with local inhabitants being left to the mercy of the Japanese, caused much embarrassment for the British and alienated them from the local population. Historians judge that "the moral collapse of British rule in Southeast Asia came not at Singapore, but at Penang". However, many who were present during the evacuation did not experience it as a scramble. It was a response to an order from British High Command which had come to the conclusion that Penang should be abandoned as it had no tactical or strategic value in the rapidly changing military scheme of things at that time.
On 23 December, Major-General David Murray-Lyon of the Indian 11th Infantry Division was removed from command to little effect. By the end of the first week in January, the entire northern region of Malaya had been lost to the Japanese. At the same time, Thailand officially signed a Treaty of Friendship with Imperial Japan, which completed the formation of their loose military alliance. Thailand was then allowed by the Japanese to resume sovereignty over several sultanates in northern Malaya, thus consolidating their occupation. It did not take long for the Japanese army's next objective, the city of Kuala Lumpur, to fall. The Japanese entered and occupied the city unopposed on 11 January 1942. Singapore Island was now less than 200 mi (320 km) away for the invading Japanese army.
The 11th Indian Division managed to delay the Japanese advance at Kampar for a few days, in which the Japanese suffered severe casualties in terrain that did not allow them to use their tanks or their air superiority to defeat the British. The 11th Indian Division was forced to retreat when the Japanese landed troops by sea south of the Kampar position. The British retreated to prepared positions at Slim River.
At the Battle of Slim River, in which two Indian brigades were practically annihilated, the Japanese used surprise and tanks to devastating effect in a risky night attack. The success of this attack forced Percival into replacing the 11th Indian Division with the 8th Australian Division.
By mid-January, the Japanese had reached the southern Malayan state of Johore where, on 14 January, they encountered troops from the Australian 8th Division, commanded by Major-General Gordon Bennett, for the first time in the campaign. During engagements with the Australians, the Japanese experienced their first major tactical setback, due to the stubborn resistance put up by the Australians at Gemas. The battle—centred around the Gemencheh Bridge—proved costly for the Japanese, who suffered up to 600 casualties. However, the bridge itself (which had been demolished during the fighting) was repaired within six hours.
As the Japanese attempted to outflank the Australians to the west of Gemas, one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign began on 15 January on the peninsula's West coast near the Muar River. Bennett allocated the 45th Indian Brigade—a new and half-trained formation—to defend the river's South bank but the unit was outflanked by Japanese units landing from the sea and the Brigade was effectively destroyed with its commander, Brigadier H. C. Duncan, and all three of his battalion commanders killed. Two Australian infantry battalions—which had been sent to support the 45th Brigade—were also outflanked and their retreat cut off, with one of the Australian battalion commanders killed in the fighting around the town of Bakri, south-east of Muar. During the fighting at Bakri Australian anti-tank gunners had destroyed nine Japanese tanks, slowing the Japanese advance long enough for the surviving elements of the five battalions to attempt an escape from the Muar area.
Led by Australian Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Anderson, the surviving Indian and Australian troops formed the "Muar Force" and fought a desperate four-day withdrawal, allowing remnants of the Commonwealth troops withdrawing from northern Malaya to avoid being cut off and to push past the Japanese to safety. When the Muar Force reached the bridge at Parit Sulong and found it to be firmly in enemy hands, Anderson, with mounting numbers of dead and wounded, ordered "every man for himself". Those who could took to the jungles, swamps and rubber plantations in search of their division headquarters at Yong Peng. The wounded were left to the mercy of the Japanese, and all but two out of 135 were tortured and killed in the Parit Sulong Massacre. Anderson was awarded a Victoria Cross for his fighting withdrawal. The Battle of Muar cost the allies an estimated 3,000 casualties including one brigadier and four battalion commanders.
On 20 January, further Japanese landings took place at Endau, in spite of an air attack by Vildebeest bombers. The final Commonwealth defensive line in Johore of Batu Pahat–Kluang–Mersing was now being attacked along its full length. In the face of repeated requests from his Chief Engineer, Brigadier Ivan Simson, Percival had resisted the construction of fixed defences in Johore, as on the North shore of Singapore, dismissing them with the comment, "Defences are bad for morale." On 27 January, Percival received permission from the commander of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, General Archibald Wavell, to order a retreat across the Johore Strait to the island of Singapore.
On 31 January, the last organised Allied forces left Malaya, and Allied engineers blew a 70 ft (21 m)-wide hole in the causeway that linked Johore and Singapore; a few stragglers would wade across over the next few days. Japanese raiders and infiltrators, often disguised as Singaporean civilians, began to cross the Straits of Johor in inflatable boats soon afterwards.
In less than two months, the Battle for Malaya had ended in comprehensive defeat for the Commonwealth forces and their retreat from the Malay Peninsula to the fortress of Singapore. Nearly 50,000 Commonwealth troops had been captured or killed during the battle. The Japanese Army invaded the island of Singapore on 7 February and completed their conquest of the island on 15 February, capturing 80,000 more prisoners out of the 85,000 allied defenders. The final battle before the surrender was with the Royal Malay Regiment at Bukit Candu on 14 February.
By the end of January, Heenan had been court-martialled for spying for the Japanese and sentenced to death. On 13 February, five days after the invasion of Singapore Island, and with Japanese forces approaching the city centre, he was taken by military police to the waterside and was hastily executed. His body was thrown into the sea.
The 12th Indian Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade at the outbreak of the Indian Army during World War II. It was sent to Singapore in August 1939 and took part in the Malayan Campaign before going into captivity with the Fall of Singapore in February 1942.15th Indian Infantry Brigade
The 15th Indian Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade formation of the Indian Army during World War II. It was formed in September 1940, at Secunderabad in India and assigned to the 9th Indian Infantry Division. Between February and March 1941, it was attached to the 10th Indian Infantry Division, before returning to the 9th in March 1941 and sailing for Malaya. Once in Malaya the brigade was assigned to the 11th Indian Infantry Division. During the Malayan Campaign after the Battle of Jitra and the Battle of Kampar it absorbed the remnants of the 6th Indian Infantry Brigade in December 1941. The brigade eventually surrendered with the rest of the III Indian Corps after the Battle of Singapore 15 February 1942.2/18th Battalion (Australia)
The 2/18th Battalion was an Australian Army infantry unit that served during World War II. Formed in June 1940, the battalion was assigned to the 22nd Brigade, which formed part of the Australian 8th Division. After completing basic training, the 2/18th was sent to Singapore and Malaya to strengthen the defences of the British colonies in February 1941 against a possible Japanese attack. The 2/18th Battalion subsequently undertook garrison duties throughout the year at various locations in Malaya, where it conducted jungle training and constructed defences along the eastern coast.
Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941, the 2/18th saw action against Japanese forces in the Malayan campaign, during which they took part in a large-scale ambush of a Japanese force on the Malay Peninsula before joining the withdrawal to Singapore in early 1942. Assigned to defend part of the north-west coast of the island, the battalion participated in the unsuccessful defence of Singapore in early February 1942. Following the fall of Singapore the majority of the battalion's personnel were taken as prisoners of war. Many of these men died in captivity; the survivors were liberated in 1945 and returned to Australia where the battalion was disbanded.2/26th Battalion (Australia)
The 2/26th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Raised in late 1940 for service during the Second World War, the battalion undertook garrison duties in Malaya and Singapore prior to the start of the Pacific War. In 1941–42, following the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the battalion fought during the Malayan campaign. After the fall of the island, however, a large number of men from the battalion became prisoners of war, remaining in captivity until being liberated at the end of the war in 1945. The battalion was never re-raised.2/30th Battalion (Australia)
The 2/30th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army that served during World War II. Raised in late 1940 as part of the all volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF), the battalion formed part of the 27th Brigade, which was assigned to the 8th Division. In mid-1941, the battalion was deployed to Malaya, as the garrison there was increased amidst rising tensions in the Pacific. In early1942, it fought against the Japanese during the Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore, where it was captured in February 1942. Many of the 2/30th's personnel died in captivity before the war ended in August 1945.8th Indian Infantry Brigade
The 8th Indian Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade formation of the Indian Army during World War II. It was formed in September 1939, in India. In November 1940, the brigade was assigned to the 11th Indian Infantry Division. The brigade was attached to the 9th Indian Infantry Division from March 1941. The brigade took part in the Malayan Campaign and surrendered with the rest of the Allied forces in February 1942, after the Battle of Singapore.Bangkok Conference
The Bangkok Conference was a conference held on 15 June 1942 by Indian Nationalist groups and local Indian Independence leagues at Bangkok to proclaim the formation of the All-India Independence league. The conference further saw the adoption by the league of a thirty-four set resolution known as the Bangkok resolutions that attempted to define the role of the league in the Independence movement, relations with the nascent Indian National Army, and clarify the grounds and conditions for obtaining Japanese support for it. The resolution further attempted to clarify the relations of Japan and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere with a free India.Battle of Gurun
The Battle of Gurun was a minor engagement between the Japanese and Commonwealth forces during the Malayan Campaign of the Second World War. The battle occurred when the 11th Indian Division attempted to slow down the Japanese advance after the disastrous Battle of Jitra at a position 3 miles north of the village of Gurun.Cecil Callaghan
Major General Cecil Arthur Callaghan, (31 July 1890 – 1 January 1967) was an Australian Army officer who served during the First and the Second World Wars. He was the commander of the 8th Division when it surrendered to the Japanese Empire at the end of the Battle of Singapore.Cheras War Cemetery
The Cheras War Cemetery (Malay: Tanah Perkuburan Perang Cheras) is the final resting place for Allied personnel who were killed during World War II, particularly the Malayan Campaign and the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Servicemen who died after the war or during their posting in northern Malaya prior to the Malayan Emergency are also interred here. The cemetery is located near Cheras Christian Cemetery, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was erected and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.HMS Li Wo
HMS Li Wo was an auxiliary patrol vessel of the British Royal Navy, which was sunk on 14 February 1942 by Japanese warships as she single-handedly attacked an enemy convoy during the Malayan Campaign, becoming the most decorated small ship in the Royal Navy.Indian Independence League
The Indian Independence League (also known as IIL) was a political organisation operated from the 1920s to the 1940s to organise those living outside India into seeking the removal of British colonial rule over India. Founded in 1928 by Indian nationalists, the organisation was located in various parts of Southeast Asia and included Indian expatriates, and later, Indian nationalists in-exile under Japanese occupation following Japan's successful Malayan Campaign during the first part of the Second World War. During the Japanese Occupation in Malaya, the Japanese encouraged Indians in Malaya to join the Indian Independence League.Established primarily to foster Indian Nationalism and to obtain Japanese support for the Indian Independence Movement, the League came to interact and command the first Indian National Army under Mohan Singh before it was dissolved.Rash Behari Bose handed over the INA to Subhas Chandra Bose. Later, after the arrival of Subhas Chandra Bose in South East Asia and the revival of the INA, the League came under his leadership, before giving way to Azad Hind.Indian National Council
The Indian National Council was an organisation founded in December 1941 in Bangkok by Indian Nationalists residing in Thailand. The organisation was founded from the Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge on 22 December 1941. The founding president of the Council was Swami Satyananda Puri, along with Debnath Das as the founding secretary. Along with the Indian Independence League, it came to be one of the two prominent Indian associations that corresponded with I Fujiwara's F Kikan on the scopes of Japanese assistance to the Indian movement.However, the Indian National Council emphasised solidarity with the Indian National Congress and, at a time when Japan began her successful Malayan Campaign, the council reflected the Congress leadership's reluctance to appear Quisling of the Japanese. The council also had differences with the Indian Independence League, with Puri openly questioning Tokyo's anti-imperialist credibility in light of her actions in Korea and China. Puri was killed in a plane crash, along with Giani Pritam Singh en route to the Conference in Tokyo in 1942 that saw Rash Behari Bose accepted as the leader of the expatriate Indian movement in South-east Asia. Later, the council sent delegates to attend the Bangkok Conference.Japanese order of battle during the Malayan Campaign
The Japanese Imperial Army landed the 25th Army under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita on the east coasts of Malaya and Thailand on the night of 7 December 1941.Kra Isthmus
The Kra Isthmus (Thai: คอคอดกระ, pronounced [kʰɔ̄ː kʰɔ̂ːt kràʔ]; Malay: Segenting Kra/Segenting Kera) is the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula, in southern Thailand.The western part of the isthmus belongs to Ranong Province and the eastern part to Chumphon Province, both in Thailand. The isthmus is bordered to the west by the Andaman Sea and to the east by the Gulf of Thailand.The Kra Isthmus marks the boundary between two sections of the central cordillera, the mountain chain which runs from Tibet through the Malay peninsula. The southern part is called the Phuket chain, which is a continuation of the greater Tenasserim range, extending further northwards for over 400 km (250 mi) beyond the Three Pagodas Pass.On 8 December 1941 local time, the Imperial Japanese Army landed near Songkhla, Thailand and Kota Bharu, Malaya, thus beginning the Pacific War, and launching both the invasion of Thailand and the Malayan campaign, the latter of which culminated in the capture of Singapore.The Thai Canal is a proposal to join the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea. It was originally envisioned as crossing the isthmus.Lionel Matthews
Lionel Colin Matthews, (15 August 1912 – 2 March 1944) was an Australian recipient of the George Cross, the highest award for heroism or courage, not in the face of the enemy, that could be awarded to a member of the Australian armed forces at the time. Matthews was born in Adelaide, South Australia and was schooled there before moving to Victoria. He trained as a signalman in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve before joining the Militia in April 1939. Commissioned as an officer in the Australian Corps of Signals, Matthews transferred to the 8th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force after the outbreak of World War II.
Sent to Singapore with the rest of the division, Matthews served as the brigade signals officer of the 27th Brigade during the Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore, and at the surrender of Singapore he was captured and became a POW. While in captivity he was awarded the Military Cross for displaying a high standard of courage, energy and ability while maintaining communications under fire in the earlier fighting. In July 1942, he was a member of a group of POWs sent to the Sandakan POW camp in British North Borneo. There, Matthews established an intelligence network, collecting information, weapons, medical supplies and radio parts, and made contact with organisations outside the camp, including Filipino guerillas who assisted POWs to escape.
In July 1943, members of his organisation were betrayed, and Matthews and others were arrested, beaten, tortured and starved by their Japanese captors. Matthews refused to provide any information on his organisation or its members to the Kenpeitai, and was executed by firing squad at Kuching, Sarawak, in March 1944. Following the war, he was posthumously awarded the George Cross in recognition of his gallant and distinguished services whilst a POW in Japanese hands.Taiping War Cemetery
The Taiping War Cemetery (Malay: Tanah Perkuburan Perang Taiping) is the final resting place for Allied personnel who were killed during World War II, particularly the Malayan Campaign and the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Servicemen who died after the war or during their posting in northern Malaya prior to the Malayan Emergency are also interred here. The cemetery is located in Bukit Larut, Taiping, Perak, Malaysia and was erected and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
There are more than 850 World War II casualties commemorated in this cemetery, including more than 500 who remain unidentified.The Battle Box
The Battle Box is the popular name of the Fort Canning Bunker, formerly known as Headquarters Malaya Command Operations Bunker, constructed under Fort Canning Hill, Singapore, as an emergency, bomb-proof command centre during the Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore. The Battle Box is currently a museum and tourist attraction.Twenty-Fifth Army (Japan)
The Japanese 25th Army (第25軍, Dai-nijyūgo gun) was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, noted for its role in the Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore.
Second Sino-Japanese War