Why Did Japan Do So Well In Malaya And Singapore? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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#14344723
Japan was able to easily overtake Malaya and Singapore. In fact Singapore was surrendered without even a single shot being fired.

What was the reason for Japan's quick sweep down the Malay peninsula and then their walk into Singapore without even having to fight?

Allied forces had far more soldiers in Malaya and Singapore than the Japanese force. Yet they suffered far more casualties than the Japanese and still lost.

What were the reasons for this military defeat and why did General Percival surrender?
#14344728
The British had never faced a well-armed foe as the empire was largely maintained by indirect rule, relying on local elites to police their own countries. Tribal soldiers in Africa and Afghanistan were no match for the modern British Army and those colonial troubles were relatively minor, which had not threatened the very existence of the British Empire. The British units in Malaya and Singapore surrendered without putting up a resistance perhaps because British soldiers were not ready for putting their lives on the line to defend Asian colonies. Most British POWs survived the war despite some abusive incidents occurred in captivity and the death rate was less than 5%.

For the British military command in Singapore, war was still fought by the ‘rule book’'. Social life was important in Singapore and the Raffles Hotel and Singapore Club were important social centres frequented by officers. An air of complacency had built in regarding how strong Singapore was – especially if it was attacked by the Japanese. When the Japanese did land at Kota Bharu aerodrome, in Malaya, Singapore’s governor, Sir Shenton Thomas is alleged to have said "Well, I suppose you’ll (the army) shove the little men off." Only the army could stop the Japanese advance on Singapore. The army in the area was led by Lieutenant General Arthur Percival. He had 90,000 men there – British, Indian and Australian troops. The Japanese advanced with 65,000 men lead by General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Many of the Japanese troops had fought in the Manchurian/Chinese campaign and were battle-hardened. Many of Percival’s 90,000 men had never seen combat. All the indications were that the Japanese would attack Singapore across the Johor Strait. General Wavell, the British commander in the region, was ordered by Churchill to fight to save Singapore and he was ordered by Churchill not to surrender until there had been "protracted fighting" in an effort to save the city. The Japanese took 100,000 men prisoner in Singapore. Many had just arrived and had not fired a bullet in anger. 9,000 of these men died building the Burma-Thailand railway.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/fall_of_singapore.htm
Last edited by ThirdTerm on 24 Dec 2013 16:30, edited 2 times in total.
#14344729
Political Interest wrote:Japan was able to easily overtake Malaya and Singapore. In fact Singapore was surrendered without even a single shot being fired.



Actually there was a major battle at Singapore. It didn't fall without a shot.

link


Political Interest wrote:JWhat was the reason for Japan's quick sweep down the Malay peninsula and then their walk into Singapore without even having to fight?

Allied forces had far more soldiers in Malaya and Singapore than the Japanese force. Yet they suffered far more casualties than the Japanese and still lost.

What were the reasons for this military defeat and why did General Percival surrender?



Numbers of personel don't translate directly into militray power. Factors such as training, leadership, experience and moral/determination make a big difference. Also an overwhleming superiority can result for supier technolgy of the right type in a given era.

The Japanese army in Malaya had already been fighting in China for many years and was experienced, well trained and equiped. The leaders knew what they were doing and had a good plan. The soldiers were comitted and determined with a high moral.

Japanese tactics were based on rapid penentration or out flanking and hard explotaion of those break throughs. This kept up the pace of their offence. Perhaps they learn this docrine from fighting the Russians in 1937?

The real killer thoug, was the Japanese army aviation. Japanese airpower was larger and eqiped with more effective aircraft and expericned, well train pilots. They were able to quick take control of the skies, destroying any naval intervention and interdicting logics and troop movements.


The British army was a 'rag-tag' force of mainly colional troops. The large part of it was of Indian origin, which was raw and still being trained, the unit leaders having been removed and redeployed back to India to help raise the new Indian army. So they lacked leadership, training and experience.

The doctrine the Brisih were using was flawed, based on static defense and a notion of 'impassable' junbgles protecting their flanks, which turned out not to be the case.

The British were unprepered, many hastily purchased obselete US fighters still being in their boxes during the conflict. There was inadecite airpower and the land defenses were a hasty improvisation as Singapore had been thought to only need defense form naval attack (clearly a 18th/19th century way of thinking).

Basicly, the Britsh were not prepared, had mainly low quality troops, lacked the right technology at required levels (air power) and then employed a flawed doctrine. The Japanese had a very good force of high quality troops, thourghly prepared, well supported with the right technology (air power) and an effective offensive doctrine (inflitrate, by pass and then exploit).

In the end General Percival surrendered because the final line of defnse had been breached, his troops were out of food, water and ammunition and there was not chance of retreat. The European convention in such circumstances was surrender.
#14344790
I actually did admire these colonial governments in this respect, those aren't their lands, yet they still fought until the last line of defense is breached.
I would have expected most of them to bail ass on the first sight of superior Japanese forces.
#14371865
Britain's ability to protect the significant geo-economic "keys" of the empire, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, was undermined during the interwar period. Inter-service rivalry, in particular the army-navy-airforce death-struggle weakened the basing system. Conflicting doctrine further damaged the ability of the overseas bases to successfully defend against assault. Combined with budget cuts, the financial crisis, and political pacifism and disarmament (the ten year rule, Washington and London naval treaties), not to mention the rise of indigenous fascism in Britain, delayed commitment to colonial defence until it was too late.

Last minute intervention, such as the commitment of Repulse and Prince of Wales, although potentially game-changing, took more risk than the defence system could absorb. The Royal Navy and RAF were already at breaking point at the end of 1941, if anything it's amazing the British recovered.
#14371936
Thailand, instead of opposing Japan, agreed to let Japan travel through their country in exchange for retaining their sovereignty. This allowed Japan to get to Malay really easily and saved countless lives. If Thai resistance hadn't been so instrumental in the war against Japan, Thailand could have suffered, but they came out of it relatively intact.
#14409084
ThirdTerm wrote:The British had never faced a well-armed foe as the empire was largely maintained by indirect rule, relying on local elites to police their own countries. Tribal soldiers in Africa and Afghanistan were no match for the modern British Army and those colonial troubles were relatively minor, which had not threatened the very existence of the British Empire. The British units in Malaya and Singapore surrendered without putting up a resistance perhaps because British soldiers were not ready for putting their lives on the line to defend Asian colonies. Most British POWs survived the war despite some abusive incidents occurred in captivity and the death rate was less than 5%.;

For the British military command in Singapore, war was still fought by the ‘rule book’'. Social life was important in Singapore and the Raffles Hotel and Singapore Club were important social centres frequented by officers. An air of complacency had built in regarding how strong Singapore was – especially if it was attacked by the Japanese. When the Japanese did land at Kota Bharu aerodrome, in Malaya, Singapore’s governor, Sir Shenton Thomas is alleged to have said "Well, I suppose you’ll (the army) shove the little men off." Only the army could stop the Japanese advance on Singapore. The army in the area was led by Lieutenant General Arthur Percival. He had 90,000 men there – British, Indian and Australian troops. The Japanese advanced with 65,000 men lead by General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Many of the Japanese troops had fought in the Manchurian/Chinese campaign and were battle-hardened. Many of Percival’s 90,000 men had never seen combat. All the indications were that the Japanese would attack Singapore across the Johor Strait. General Wavell, the British commander in the region, was ordered by Churchill to fight to save Singapore and he was ordered by Churchill not to surrender until there had been "protracted fighting" in an effort to save the city. The Japanese took 100,000 men prisoner in Singapore. Many had just arrived and had not fired a bullet in anger. 9,000 of these men died building the Burma-Thailand railway.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/fall_of_singapore.htm


Third Term has it bang on. Little perceived need to militarilly regiment the eastern colonies.

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