Malaya Command

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.[1] It consisted mainly of small garrison forces in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Taiping, Seremban and Singapore.

Malaya Command
Active1924–1942
1945–1957
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeCommand
Garrison/HQSingapore
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival (16 May 1941 – 15 February 1942)

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the command reinforced its strength in anticipation of an attack. With the bulk of British forces being tied down in Europe and North Africa, the command was mainly augmented by units from India.

On 18 November 1940, the command was placed under the command of the British Far East Command and later, on 7 January 1942, under the short-lived South West Pacific Command or ABDACOM, which was tasked to maintain control of the "Malay Barrier" (or "East Indies Barrier"), a notional line running down the Malayan Peninsula, through Singapore and the southernmost islands of the Dutch East Indies. The command was disbanded on 15 February 1942 with the surrender of all Commonwealth forces in the conclusion of the Battle of Singapore.

With the Surrender of Japan, the command was re-formed from the 14th Army with its HQ based in Singapore on 1 November 1945. The command was divided and downgraded to the Malaya District and Singapore District in August 1947 but was upgraded again into a full command in August 1950 due to the Malayan Emergency.

With the independence of Malaya on 31 August 1957, the command was disbanded and succeeded by Overseas Commonwealth Land Forces (Malaya).

Formation and StructureEdit

In November 1940, the total strength of Malaya Command was 17 battalions. The Indian Army contingent was mainly organised as III Corps with their HQ based in Kuala Lumpur.

When Japanese forces invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya in charge of Malaya Command, with a force of 88,600 faced the 70,000 strong Twenty Fifth Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Allied Land Forces (8 December 1941)Edit

As of 8 December 1941

Indian III CorpsEdit

  • As of 7 December 1941

Commanding Officer III Indian Corps – Lt Gen Lewis Heath

Maj-Gen Arthur Barstow, 28 January 1942 at Layang-Layang near Bota)
HQ: Kuala Lumpur
Brig Bethold Key
HQ: Kota Bharu
Brig Gordon Painter
HQ: Kuantan
  • Command Troops
  • 4th Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Pahang) – Lt. Col. James Oliphant Mackellar (d.12 March 1945)
  • 88th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Regiment RA – Lt. Col. Sylvain Claude D'Aubuz
  • 42nd Field Park Company (Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners)- Major Thomas Wilfried Nash[2]
Maj-Gen David Murray-Lyon/Brig Archibald Paris/Maj-Gen Berthold Wells Key
HQ: Sungai Petani
Brig William Oswald Lay/Lt. Col. Henry Sloane Larkin
HQ: Jitra
  • 2nd Battalion, East Surrey Regiment – Lt. Col. George Edward Swinton
  • 1st Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment – Lt. Col. Ronald Charles Sidney Bates ( , 12 December 1941)
  • 2nd Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment – Lt. Col. Henry Sloane Larkin (Died as a POW on 1 January 1944)
  • 22nd Mountain Artillery Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. George Leonard Hughes
  • 3rd Field Company (King George V's Bengal Sappers and Miners) - Major A.R. Beattie RE[2]
Brig Kenneth Alfred Garrett/Brig. William St.John Carpendale
HQ: Jitra
Brig William St J. Carpendale/Lt. Col. Wallace Raymond Selby
HQ: Ipoh
  • 11th Division Command Troops
Lt. Col. Henry Dawson Moorhead
  • 5th Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment (3 Companies) – Lt. Col. Cyril Lovesy Lawrence Stokes (  in captivity on 15th February 1942 following the Battle of Slim River) [3]
  • 3rd Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment – Lt. Col. Henry Dawson Moorehead (  at Battle of Muar)
  • 2/3rd Australian Motor Company - Capt. George Arthur Carrick Kiernan
  • Line of Communications Brigade
Brig Robert Gifford Moir
  • 1st Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Perak) - Lt Col. J.E.G. "Jim" Staley
  • 2nd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Selangor) - Lt. Col. W.M. "Jimmie" James
  • 3rd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Negeri Sembilan) – Lt. Col. C.F.H. Riches
  • 1st (Light) Field Regiment, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Equipped 4 x 3.7" How)
  • Armoured Car Squadron, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Equipped 9 Armoured Cars) – Major C.E. Collinge
  • Signals Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces - Lt. Col. Stanley P. Moreton
  • Fortress Penang
Brig Cyril Arthur Lyon
HQ: Penang
  • Support Units
  • Corps Troops

Australian 8th DivisionEdit

Maj Gen Gordon Bennett
HQ: Kluang
  • 2/10th Field Regiment (Equipped 8 × 18-Pdr and 16 × 4.5" How. / re-equipped with 24 × 25-Pdr between 9–12 January 1942) - Lt.Col. A.W. Walsh
  • 2/15th Field Regiment (Equipped 24 × 25-Pdr) - Lt. Col. J.W. Wright
  • 4th Anti-Tank Regiment (Equipped 12 × 2-Pdr / 24 × 75mm) – Lt. Col. Cranston Albury McEachern
  • 2/10th Field Company - Major K.P.H Lawrence
  • 2/12th Field Company - Major J.A.L. Shaw
  • 2/6th Field Park Company - Capt. T.T. Lewis
Brig Harold Burfield Taylor
HQ: MersingEndau
Brig Duncan Maxwell
HQ: Kluang

Fortress SingaporeEdit

Commanding Officer – Maj Gen Frank Keith Simmons HQ: Singapore

  • Fortress Singapore Division
Maj Gen F. K. Simmons
Brig George Giffard Rawson Williams
Brig Francis Hugh Fraser
  • Straits Settlements Volunteer Force Brigade
Col Francis Reginald Grimwood
  • Royal Engineers Brigade
Brig Ivan Simson
  • 30th Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
  • 34th Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
  • 35th Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
  • 41st Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
Commander, Air Defences, Singapore – Brig Alec Warren Greenlaw Wildey
  • 1st (Heavy) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Indian Artillery - Lt. Col. John Rowley Williamson DSO
  • 1st Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery - Lt. Col. Archer Edwards Tawney
  • 2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. Howard Wincent Allpres
  • 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery - Lt. Col. Denis Vivian Hill
  • 3rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt. Col. Francis Edgar Hugonin
  • 5th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. R.A.O. Clarke
Commander, Fixed Defences, Singapore – Brigadier A.D. Curtis
  • 7th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. Hereward Douglas St. George Cardew
  • 9th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. Charles Philip Heath
  • 16th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. M.S.H. Maxwell-Gumbleton
  • Support Units

Malaya Command ReserveEdit

Commanding Officer: Brig.A.C.M. Paris/Lt. Col. I.M. Stewart HQ: Port Dickson

HQ: Port Dickson

Sarawak Force (SARFOR)Edit

Commanding Officer: Lt-Col Charles Malet Lane HQ: Kuching

  • SARFOR
Lt-Col C. M. Lane
HQ: Kuching

Christmas IslandEdit

Commanding Officer: Capt Leonard Walter Thomas Williams HQ: Christmas Island

  • 6" Gun, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery[5]

ReinforcementsEdit

Arrived January 3rd 1942 – February 5th 1942Edit

In addition to the units listed below a number of replacement drafts were sent to Singapore on convoys MS2 from Melbourne arriving 24/1/1942 and BM12 from Bombay arriving 5/2/1942
  • 13th Indian Field Company (Madras Sappers and Miners) (Arrived 3-Jan-1942 Convoy BM9A) - Major B.E. Whitman RE[2]
  • 100th Light Tank Squadron (Arrived 29-Jan-1942 Convoy BM11) – Major Jack Alford (  12 Feb 1942) equipped Carden Lloyd Tankettes
  • 5th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment – Lt. Col. Eric Charles Prattley
  • 6th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment – Lt. Col. Ian Conway Gilford Lywood (  at Alexandra Hospital Massacre)
  • 2nd Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment – Lt. Col. Gordon Calthorpe Thorne (Died, Indian Ocean while attempting to escape)
  • 4th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment – Lt. Col. Alfred Ernest Knights
  • 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment – Lt. Col. Alec Albert Johnson
  • 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment – Lt. Col. Lionel John Baker
  • Divisional Troops
  • 186th Field Ambulance
  • 196th Field Ambulance
  • 197th Field Ambulance[6] (Arrived 5 February 1942 Convoy BM12)
  • 287th Field Company
  • 288th Field Company
  • 560th Field Company
  • 251st Field Park Company (Arrived 5-Feb-1942 Convoy BM12)

Allied Air Force units in Malaya December 1941Edit

There were 161 front line aircraft, including three Royal Netherlands Air Force Catalina flying boats, based in Malaya and on Singapore Island on 8 December 1941. These units came under the control of Far East Air Force (Royal Air Force) under the command of Air Vice Marshal C.W.H.Pulford until February 1942 when Air Vice Marshal P.C.Maltby[7] took command.

Based on Singapore IslandEdit

 
Brewster Buffalo Mark Is from No. 453 Squadron RAAF being inspected by RAF personnel at Sembawang Airfield, Singapore on 12 October 1941.

Based in Northern MalayaEdit

Commanders-in-ChiefEdit

Commanders-in-Chief have included:[13][14][15]
GOC Troops in the Straits Settlements

GOC Malaya Command

Note from 1943 to 1945 Malaya was under Japanese control

GOC Malaya District

GOC Malaya

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ George Ernest Morrison 'The correspondence of G.E. Morrison'
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sandes (1956). The Indian Engineers 1939–1947. Kirkee, India: The Institute of Indian Engineers. p. 183.
  3. ^ a b c Stokes, Cyril Lovesy Lawrence. "Commonwealth War Graves". Commonwealth War Graves.
  4. ^ Farndale, Annex A.
  5. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "The Mystery of Christmas Island – March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  6. ^ "Cambridgeshire History - Military - Table of Actions". Archived from the original on 8 February 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  7. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Paul (Copeland) Maltby". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012.
  8. ^ 453 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial
  9. ^ 21 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial
  10. ^ a b c Niehorster, Leo (2000). "Order of Battle-Royal Air Force-Far East Command-Norgroup". World War II Armed Forces.
  11. ^ 1 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial
  12. ^ 8 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial
  13. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1924 – 1957
  14. ^ Malaya Command at Regiments.org
  15. ^ Army Commands Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times. No. 36889. London. 3 October 1902. p. 8.
  17. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. Archived from the original on 24 September 2011.

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit