For the 80th anniversary of the Malaya-Singapore campaign I won't be repeating what I've done in previous years as in we won't be doing a blow by blow of the major events. At least not all of them. Instead I'll try and flesh out some of the lesser known aspects of the people and events of the campaign based on where we are in the timeline. For example, we'll look at Force Z, the construction of HM Naval Base Sembawang and the Singapore Strategy over the next few days. I hope you will find them equal parts interesting and useful.
Force Z, comprising HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse escorted by 4 DDs will slip their moorings at HM Naval Base Sembawang. Aboard PoW, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips intends to head east into the South China Sea before turning north into the Gulf of Thailand after having passed the Anambas Islands. His intention is to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet off Kota Bahru.
Photo is courtesy of @AWMemorial and highlights an event for which PoW isn't as widely known. Photo caption follows.
ARGENTIA, NEWFOUNDLAND. 1941-08-10. AT THE ATLANTIC CHARTER MEETING THE CAPTAIN OF THE BATTLESHIP HMS PRINCE OF WALES WELCOMES UNITED STATES PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT ABOARD. CAPTAIN ELLIOTT ROOSEVELT USAAF IS AT HIS FATHER'S SIDE ACTING AS HIS AIDE. IN THE BACKGROUND IS THE DESTROYER USS MCDOUGAL. NOTE HER TWIN 5 INCH/38 SINGLE PURPOSE TURRETS. (NAVAL HISTORICAL COLLECTION)
80 years ago, in just a few hours from now, elements of the Japanese 25th Army will begin landing at Kota Bahru in Malaya and Singora and Patani in Thailand.
Under the command of LTG Yamashita Tomoyuki and centred around 3 infantry divisions well supported by a tank group, artillery regiments and overweight on engineer formations, the 25th Army was built for task, made up of veteran formations and staffed and led by the best and brightest the IJA had to offer, it had 100 days to capture Malaya and Singapore, knocking out the centre of British presence east of the Suez.
A regimental combat group (56th Infantry with supporting arms) from the 18th Division will come ashore at slightly past midnight on 8 Dec 1941, they will encounter heavy resistance as they fight through the night but by morning will have secured and expanded their beachhead.
Further north, the 5th Infantry Division will begin landing on the beaches of Singora and Patani a few hours later at around 0400hrs, in contrast to the landings at Kota Bahru, their landing would be virtually unopposed.
53 months after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, 27 months after Germany invaded Poland, the Empire of Japan initiated hostilities with the Allied Powers and turned the Second World War into a truly global one