The Japanese Invasion of Malaya began just after midnight on 8 December 1941 (local time) before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the first major battle of the Pacific War,and was fought between ground forces of the British Indian Army and the Empire of Japan.
The term "British Malaya" loosely describes a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Unlike the term "British India", which excludes the Indian princely states, British Malaya is often used to refer to the Malay States under indirect British rule as well as the Straits Settlements that were under the sovereignty of the British Crown.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States' formal entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China.
Kota Bharu, capital of Kelantan State on Malaysia's northeast coast, was, in 1941, the Royal Air Force's (RAF) and Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) base of operations in Northern Malaya. There was an airstrip at Kota Bharu and two more at Gong Kedak and Machang. Japanese losses were significant because of sporadic Australian air attacks,Indian coastal defences, and artillery fire.
Kota Bharu is a city in Malaysia that serves as the state capital and royal seat of Kelantan. It is also the name of the territory (jajahan) or district in which Kota Bharu City is situated. The name means 'new city' or 'new castle/fort' in Malay. Kota Bharu is situated in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia, and lies near the mouth of the Kelantan River at. The northeastern Malaysian city is close to the Thailand border.
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The honorific of the state is Darul Naim. Kelantan is positioned in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Narathiwat Province of Thailand to the north, Terengganu to the south-east, Perak to the west and Pahang to the south. To the north-east of Kelantan is the South China Sea.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
The Japanese invasion plan involved landing troops from the 5th Division at Pattani and Songkhla on Thailand's east coast, and troops from the 18th Division at Kota Bharu Malaya's northeast coast. The forces in Thailand were to push through to the west coast and invade Malaya from the northwestern province of Kedah, while the eastern forces would attack down the east coast and into the interior of Malaya from Kota Bharu.
The 5th Division was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was the Carp Division. The 5th Division was formed in Hiroshima in January 1871 as the Hiroshima Garrison, one of six regional commands created in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army, and was destroyed in the battle of Okinawa in June 1945. Its personnel were drafted from Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Shimane.
Songkhla, also known as Singgora or Singora, is a city in Songkhla Province of southern Thailand, near the border with Malaysia. As of 2006 it had a population of 75,048. Songkhla lies 968 km (601 mi) south of Bangkok.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.
The British plan for defending against an attack from Thailand into northwestern Malaya was a pre-emptive strike into southern Thailand, known as Operation Krohcol, to take strategically vital positions and delay the enemy attack. The British plan for the defence of the east coast of Malaya consisted of fixed beach defences by the Indian 9th Infantry Division along the northern stretch of coastline and two thirds of the Australian 8th Division defending the southern stretch of coastline. (The other third was on Ambon,West Timor, and at Rabaul )
Operation Krohcol, or the Battle for The Ledge, was a British operation in December 1941 to invade southern Thailand following the Japanese invasion of Malaya and of Thailand during World War II. It was authorised by Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival as a "mini Matador" after Operation Matador, a pre-emptive strike into Thailand which had been opposed by the British government and was not carried out. Due to delays in authorisation by Percival and in the forwarding of his order, the need to reorganise the troops for Krohcol instead of Matador, and resistance from Thai policemen the Krohcol column did not reach the Ledge in time.
The Battle of Ambon occurred on the island of Ambon in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), during World War II. Japan invaded and conquered the island in a few days, facing Dutch, American, and Australian forces. The chaotic and sometimes bloody fighting was followed by a series of major Japanese war crimes.
The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II, with the Japanese invasion force quickly overwhelming the small Australian garrison, the majority of which was either killed or captured. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle. Rabaul was significant because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.
The Japanese attack force was drawn from Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita's 25th Army. It sailed from Samah Harbour on Hainan Island on 4 December 1941. Additional ships carrying more troops joined the convoy from Saigon in southern Vietnam, French Indochina. An RAAF reconnaissance Lockheed Hudson discovered the Japanese convoy. Admiral Sir Thomas Phillips, the British naval commander, Far East ordered the battlecruiser HMS Repulse to cancel its trip to Darwin, Australia, and return to Singapore as quickly as possible. The invasion force was spotted again on 7 December by a Catalina flying boat of No. 205 Squadron RAF. The aircraft was shot down by five Nakajima Ki-27 fighters before it could radio its report to air headquarters in Singapore. Flying Officer Patrick Bedell, commanding the Catalina, and his seven crew members became the first Allied casualties in the war with Japan.
Tomoyuki Yamashita was an Imperial Japanese Army general during World War II. At the forefront of the invasion of Malaya and Singapore, his accomplishment of conquering Malaya and Singapore in 70 days led to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, calling the ignominious fall of Singapore to Japan the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British military history. The accomplishment earned Yamashita the sobriquet the Tiger of Malaya. Later in the war, he was assigned to defend the Philippines from the advancing Allied forces. While he was unable to stop the Allied advance, he was able to hold on to part of Luzon until after the formal Japanese surrender in August 1945.
The Japanese 25th Army 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.
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, part of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.
Prior to the invasion the Japanese had recruited a small number of disaffected Malays into a "Fifth column" organization called the "Tortoise Society". The Malayan police were aware of the society's existence and had arrested a number of its leaders just prior to the Japanese landings. At Kota Bharu members of the society provided assistance to the invasion army and acted as guides.
A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organised actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.
Air Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, commanding officer of the British Forces in the Far East, fearing that the Japanese Fleet was trying to provoke a British attack and thus provide an excuse to go to war, 3 km (1.6 nmi ; 1.9 mi ) off the coast. The ships were carrying approximately 5,200 troops of the Takumi Detachment (Major-General Hiroshi Takumi, aboard Awazisan Maru). Most of these troops were veterans of the war in China.hesitated to launch Operation Matador on 7 December. Matador was the British plan to destroy the invasion force before or during the landing. He decided to delay the operation, at least for the night. Shortly after midnight on 7/8 December, Indian soldiers patrolling the beaches at Kota Bharu spotted three large shadows: the transport ships Awazisan Maru, Ayatosan Maru , and Sakura Maru , dropping anchor approximately
The Japanese invasion force consisted of units from the 18th Division, the assault troops came from the 56th Infantry Regiment (Colonel Yoshio Nasu, aboard Sakura Maru), supported by one mountain artillery battery of the 18th Mountain Artillery Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Katsutoshi Takasu), the 12th Engineer Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Ichie Fujii), the 18th Division Signal Unit, one company of the 12th Transport Regiment, one company of the 18th Division Medical Unit and No. 2 Field Hospital of the 18th Division Medical Unit. They were escorted by a fleet (Kota Bharu Invasion Force) under the command of Rear-Admiral Shintaro Hashimoto, consisting of the light cruiser Sendai, destroyers Ayanami, Isonami, Shikinami, and Uranami, minesweepers No. 2 and No. 3, and submarine chaser No. 9.
The invasion began with a bombardment at around 00:30 local time on 8 December. (The Japanese carrier planes flying toward Pearl Harbor were about 50 minutes away; the attack on Pearl started at 01:18 local time, although it is usually referred to as the 7 December attack as it occurred in the morning of 7 December US time). The loading of landing craft began almost as soon as the transports dropped anchor. Rough seas and strong winds hampered the operation and a number of smaller craft capsized. Several Japanese soldiers drowned. Despite these difficulties, by 00:45 the first wave of landing craft was heading for the beach in four lines.
The defending force was the 8th Indian Infantry Brigade (Brigadier B. W. Key) of Indian 9th Infantry Division (Major General A. E. Barstow), supported by four 3.7 inch Mountain Howitzers of the 21st Mountain Battery (IA) (Major J. B. Soper). The 3/17th Bn, Dogra Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Preston, 10 mi (16 km) stretch of coast which was the chosen landing site. The British fortified the narrow beaches and islands with land mines, barbed wire, and pillboxes. They were supported by the 73rd Field Battery of the 5th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, deployed adjacent to the nearby airfield. The area defended by the 3/17th Dogras consisted of the narrow beaches of Badang and Sabak at Kota Bharu. The beaches were split by two estuaries that led to the mouth of the Pengkalan Chepa River through a maze of creeks, lagoons and swampy islands, behind which was the Kota Bharu airfield and the main road inland.had responsibility for the
The Dogras immediately opened intense fire on the invasion force with artillery and machine guns. By midnight, the first waves of Japanese troops were heading toward the beach front in landing craft. Colonel Masanobu Tsuji wrote in his book about the Malaya Campaign:
|“||The enemy pillboxes, which were well prepared, reacted violently with such heavy force that our men lying on the beach, half in and half out of the water could not raise their heads.||”|
The first and second waves of Japanese soldiers were pinned down by the intense fire from the Dogra's pillboxes and trenches but after vicious hand-to-hand fighting a breach was made in the defences on the south bank of the estuary.On the northern bank the Japanese were pinned down on an island where dawn found them trapped in the open. Allied aircraft from the nearby airfields began attacking the invasion fleet and the soldiers trapped on the island. Japanese casualties in the first and second waves were heavy. The Japanese managed to get off the beach only after the two pill box positions and supporting trenches were destroyed. Despite their heavy resistance, the Dogras were forced to retreat to their defences in front of the airfield. Brigadier Key brought forward his reserves; the 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment and the 1/13th Frontier Force Rifles to support the Dogras. At 10:30, Key ordered an attempt to retake the lost beaches with the 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment attacking from the south and the 1/13th Frontier Force Rifles attacking from the north. The fighting on the beaches was heavy with both sides suffering more casualties. The British forces made some progress but were unable to close the breach. In the afternoon, a second attack went in but failed again to close the breach.
The airfield at Kota Bharu had been evacuated and by dusk on 8 December, with very low visibility, and Japanese troops were now able to infiltrate between the British units and with possible threats of landings further south, Brigadier Key asked for permission from Major-General Barstow (9th Division commander) and Lieutenant General Heath (III Corps commander) to withdraw if it became necessary.
No. 1 Squadron RAAF based at RAF Kota Bharu launched 10 Lockheed Hudson bombers to attack the Japanese transports, each loaded with four 250 lb (113 kg) bombs. In the 17 sorties flown, they lost two Hudsons shot down and three badly damaged. One Hudson, flown by Flight Lieutenant John Graham Leighton Jones, crashed into a fully laden landing craft after being hit while strafing the beachhead, killing some 60 Japanese soldiers on board. Only five Hudson bombers remained airworthy at the end of the battle.
All three Japanese troopships were significantly damaged, but while the Ayatosan Maru and Sakura Maru were still able to sail, the Awazisan Maru was left burning and abandoned.The attacks by No. 1 Squadron RAAF killed or wounded at least 110 of its crew. The wreck later sunk on its own or was torpedoed by the Dutch submarine K XII on 12 December.
Despite the strong defence, Takumi had three full infantry battalions ashore by mid morning of 8 December. Counter attacks launched by Brigadier Key failed and the Japanese took Kota Bharu town on the 9th. After fierce fighting during the night, threatening the airfield, Lt Col Arthur Cumming's 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment attempted to hold the airfield and put up a brilliant rearguard action.Cumming would later receive the Victoria Cross during the fighting at Kuantan. Key asked for and was given permission to withdraw from Kota Bharu.
The Japanese claim that the landings at Kota Bharu were some of the most violent of the whole Malayan Campaign. It is estimated that they suffered an estimated 300 killed and 500 wounded.
The Southern Expeditionary Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It was responsible for all military operations in South East Asian and South West Pacific campaigns of World War II. Its military symbol was NA.
The 8th Division was an infantry division of the Australian Army, formed during World War II as part of the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force. The 8th Division was raised from volunteers for overseas service from July 1940 onwards. Consisting of three infantry brigades, the intention had been to deploy the division to the Middle East to join the other Australian divisions, but as war with Japan loomed in 1941, the division was divided into four separate forces, which were deployed in different parts of the Asia-Pacific region. All of these formations were destroyed as fighting forces by the end of February 1942 during the fighting for Singapore, and in Rabaul, Ambon, and Timor. Most members of the division became prisoners of war, waiting until the war ended in late 1945 to be liberated. One in three died in captivity.
Fubuki was the lead ship of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War. Fubuki was a veteran of many of the major battles of the first year of the war, and was sunk in Ironbottom Sound during the Battle of Cape Esperance in World War II.
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 Battle of Tarakan took place on January 11–12, 1942, beginning a day after the Empire of Japan declared war on the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although Tarakan was only a small marshy island off northeastern Borneo in the Netherlands East Indies, the island's 700 oil wells, oil refinery, and airfield made it a crucial objective for Japan in the Pacific War.
The 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, also known as "The Sparrows", was a Royal Artillery unit of the British Army that fought with distinction in the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Java, and the Battle of Timor.
Shirakumo was a Fubuki-class destroyer and the eighth in a class of twenty-four vessels built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.
The 9th Indian Infantry Division was an infantry division of the Indian Army during World War II. The division formed part of Indian III Corps in the Malaya Command during the Battle of Malaya. It was commanded by Major-General Arthur Edward Barstow.
Mikuma was the second vessel in the four-vessel Mogami class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after the Mikuma river in Oita prefecture, Japan. Commissioned in 1935, it participated in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June 1942. It was sunk the last day of the battle, June 6.
The Japanese invasion of Thailand occurred on 8 December 1941. It was briefly fought between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Empire of Japan. Despite fierce fighting in Southern Thailand, the fighting lasted only five hours before ending in a ceasefire. Thailand and Japan then formed an alliance, making Thailand part of the Axis' alliance until the end of World War II.
Malaya was gradually occupied by the Japanese between 8 December 1941 and the Allied surrender at Singapore on 16 February 1942. The Japanese remained in occupation until their surrender to the Allies in 1945. The first Japanese garrison in Malaya to lay down their arms was in Penang on 2 September 1945 aboard HMS Nelson.
The Malaya Command was a formation of the British Army formed in the 1920s for the coordination of the defences of British Malaya, which comprised the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States. It consisted mainly of small garrison forces in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Taiping, Seremban and Singapore.
The Dutch East Indies Campaign of 1941–1942 was the conquest of the Dutch East Indies by forces from the Empire of Japan in the early days of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Forces from the Allies attempted unsuccessfully to defend the islands. The East Indies were targeted by the Japanese for their rich oil resources which would become a vital asset during the war. The campaign and subsequent three and a half year Japanese occupation was also a major factor in the end of Dutch colonial rule in the region.
The Battle of Borneo was a successful campaign by Japanese Imperial forces for control of Borneo island and concentrated mainly on the subjugation of the Kingdom of Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo, and the western part of Kalimantan that was part of the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese main unit for this mission was the 35th Infantry Brigade led by Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi.
The Battle of Java was a battle of the Pacific theatre of World War II. It occurred on the island of Java from 28 February – 12 March 1942. It involved forces from the Empire of Japan, which invaded on 28 February 1942, and Allied personnel. Allied commanders signed a formal surrender at Japanese headquarters at Bandung on 12 March.
This article concerns the naval and land battles of Balikpapan in 1942. For information on the 1945 landings by Australian forces in the same area, see Second Battle of Balikpapan.
The Battle of Palembang was a battle of the Pacific theatre of World War II. It occurred near Palembang, on Sumatra, on 13–15 February 1942. The Royal Dutch Shell oil refineries at nearby Pladju were the major objectives for the Empire of Japan in the Pacific War, because of an oil embargo imposed on Japan by the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. With the area's abundant fuel supply and airfield, Palembang offered significant potential as a military base to both the Allies and the Japanese.
The Awazisan Maru, also known as Awajisan Maru or Awagisan Maru was a 9,794 gross ton freighter that was built by Tama Shipbuilding Co., Tamano for Mitsui & Co. Ltd. launched in 1939 and was notable for being the most advanced freighter of its time. It was commissioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy to transport troops in World War II and was part of the Japanese Invasion of Malaya on 8 December 1941.
The Invasion of Sumatra was the assault by Imperial Japanese forces on the Dutch East Indies that took place from 14 February to 28 March 1942. The invasion was part of the Pacific War in South-East Asia during World War II and led to the capture of the island. The invasion of Sumatra was planned to occur prior to the invasion of Java to destroy the west flank of the allies and to give access to Java.