3 - Malaya Campaign Terrain and comparing Japanese and Allied Doctrine | The Principles of War Podcast
Listen on Apple iTunes

Get it on iTunes


The British planned to use Artillery and Air Power to defend Malaya.

Malaya is hot and humid and it has the 29th longest coastline (lots of areas for conducting amphibious operations).  There is a steep mountain range splitting the country between the East and West, and there are very few laterals over the ranges.

The road infrastructure improved over time to support the rubber and tin industries in Malaya and this enabled easy road movement.  They are often 2 lane highways and in a large number of places the roads are cut into the hills forming defiles, perfect for the defence.

The Air Force constructs a number of airfields. Little consideration was given to the provision of local defence for these airfields.  This dictates the ground that the Army is required to defend.

The human terrain consists of British expats, Chinese, Malays, and Indians.  The Chinese are very co-operative with the British, but the Malays, who are exploited as cheap labour, are more co-operative with the Japanese.  Cheap wages for labourers create discontent among the Malays and Indians.  The Indians, being exploited for labour, this increased feelings of Indian Nationalism.

Racism exacerbated the tensions between the Indians and the British.  Britain relied on a massive expansion of the Indian Army.  The IIIrd Indian Corps had a lot of junior, poorly trained troops.

In Australia, there was a pool of 80,000 in the Commonwealth Military Force.  This pool created 6th Division, 7th Division and 8th Division.  Eighth Div would provide the troops from Australia who would serve in Singapore and Malaya.

The Japanese had been our allies in WW1.  We discuss the Marco Polo incident and the experience that the Japanese troops had prior to the invasion.  The Japanese had been on a war footing for a long time and their Army was much better trained and equipped.

We ran out of time for Doctrine.  Next episode we will try to make the doctrine interesting, if not fascinating!