The Principles of War Podcast
12 What role did Morale play in Malaya?
Malaya Podcast

12 – What role did Morale play in Malaya?

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Good leadership, thorough training and success on operations will all contribute to high morale.  We contrast LT COL Stewart and with other units.

The Indian and Australian armies had a lot of new troops, with varying degrees of training.  This contrasts with battle hardened IJA troops, some who had many years of experience.

Kampar was the high point for the Allied morale.

The conduct of the withdrawal is difficult to do and it is difficult to maintain morale during the withdrawal.  This continually eroded Allied morale with many of the Brigades.

Lack of training in tank fighting was evident in most Brigades.  This led to poor performance against the Japanese tanks which eroded morale.

Too many senior officers weren’t team players.  Morale in BDE and DIV HQs was often poor because of the friction generated within the HQs.  This impacted decision making and lead to further defeats.

The way the Japanese fought neglected many of the principles of war.  Trust and co-ordination with units staying in place would have enabled fierce and effective counter attacks.

We look at the importance of fighting the battle in the enemy commanders mind and how that impacts the battle.

We look at Moral Dislocation, a concept that both Clausewitz and Liddell Hart had discussed.  The moral dislocation of the Indian troops.  The Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere wanted to deliver Asia for the Asians.  The Japanese were coming as liberators of the Indian people.  The Indian workers were underpaid. The evacuation of Penang helped dislocate the locals from the British morally.

Lastly the operationally tempo increased inversely with morale.

The moral dislocation by the Japanese was crowned with the creation of the Indian National Army, consisting of Indian troops wanting to fight the British.

The Japanese Army had troops, bought up on a modified Bushido code in school, that were successful, highly motivated and fighting for a cause that they all believed in.

What role does / should the education system play in a national defence strategy?

Lastly, despite Yamashita’s high tempo, he was still able to rotate troops out of the front line for a few days rest.  Fresh troops were able to continually harass defeated, depleted and over tired Allied troops with predictable results.

Check out the show notes for the podcast for images and more details for this and other podcast episodes.

Colourised image courtesy of Colours of Yesterday.  It is a great picture showing the moral of the Australian troops.

The picture is of GNR William Smith, 2/15 Fd Regt.  He fought in Malaya and was captured, I think, in Singapore.  His Service Record states that he was taken PoW on the 16th of Feb in Malaya, the day after the capitulation of Singapore.  This is a great photo that shows the high morale of the Aussie troops prior to and during the battles of Malaya and Singapore.

 

 

 

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