Malaya Command

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Malaya Command
Active 1924 to 1942; 1945 to 1957
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Command
Garrison/HQ Singapore

The Malaya Command was a formation of the British Army formed in the 1920s for the coordination of the defences of British Malaya,[1] 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.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the command reinforced its strength in anticipation. With the bulk of British forces being tied down in the war in Europe and the Near East, 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 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 two separate military districts; 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 Structure[edit]

In November 1940, the total strength of Malaya Command was at 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 Corps[edit]

  • As of 7 December 1941

Commanding Officer Indian III Corps – Lt Gen Lewis Macclesfield Heath

Maj-Gen Arthur Edward Barstow, 28 January 1942 at Layang-Layang near Bota)
HQ : Kuala Lumpur
Brig Berthold Wells Key
HQ : Kota Bharu
Brig G.W.A.Painter
HQ : Kuantan
  • Command Troops
  • 88th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Regiment RA – Lt. Col. Sylvain Claude D'Aubuz
  • 42nd Field Park Company (Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners)- Capt. Thomas Wilfried Nash
Maj-Gen David Murray-Lyon / Brig Archibald Charles Melvill Paris / Maj-Gen Berthold Wells Key
HQ : Sungai Petani
Brig William Oswald Lay / Lt. Col. Henry Sloane Larkin
HQ : Jitra
Brig Kenneth Alfred Garrett/Brig. William St.John Carpendale
HQ : Jitra
Brig William St J. Carpendale / Lt. Col. Wallace Raymond Selby
HQ : Ipoh
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Gurkha Rifles – Lt. Col. John Oswald "Jack" Fulton ( , 8 January 1942 at Slim River)
  • 2nd Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles – Lt. Col. Geoffrey Harley Douglas Woollcombe (Died Indian Ocean, 28 Feb. 1942)
  • 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles – Lt. Col. Wallace Raymond Selby / Lt. Col. Maurice Bryer Allsebrook DSO MC
  • 11th Division Command Troops
Lt. Col. Henry Dawson Moorhead
  • Line of Communications Brigade
Brig Robert Gifford Moir
  • 1st Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Perak)
  • 2nd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Selangor)
  • 3rd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Negeri Sembilan) – Lt. Col. C.F.H. Riches
  • 4th Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Pahang) – Lt. Col. James Oliphant Mackellar (d.12 March 1945)
  • 1st (Light) Field Regiment, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces
  • Armoured Car Squadron, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces – Major C.E. Collinge
  • Signals Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces
  • Fortress Penang
Brig Cyril Arthur Lyon
HQ : Penang
  • Support Units

Australian 8th Division[edit]

Maj Gen Gordon Bennett
HQ : Kluang
Brig Harold Burfield Taylor
HQ : MersingEndau
Brig Duncan Maxwell
HQ : Kluang

Fortress Singapore[edit]

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
  • Artillery Brigade
Brig Alec Warren Greenlaw Wildey
  • 1st (Heavy) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Indian Artillery - Lt. Col. John Rowley Williamson DSO
  • 1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery - Lt. Col. Archer Edwards Tawney
  • 2nd 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
  • 35th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. John Bassett
  • 7th Coastal Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. Hereward Douglas St.George Cardew
  • 9th Coastal Regiment, Royal Artillery – Lt. Col. Charles Philip Heath
  • 16th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • Support Units

Malaya Command Reserve[edit]

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 Island[edit]

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

  • 6" Gun, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery[2]

Reinforcements[edit]

Arrived January – February 1942[edit]

  • Line of Communication Troops
  • 13th Indian Field Company S&M
  • 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
  • 1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment – Lt. Col. Gerald Goodwin Carpenter
  • Divisional Troops
  • 186th Field Ambulance
  • 196th Field Ambulance
  • 197th Field Ambulance[3]
  • 287th Field Company
  • 288th Field Company
  • 560th Field Company
  • 251st Field Park Company

Allied Air Force units in Malaya December 1941[edit]

There were 161 front line aircraft, including 3 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[4] took command.

Based on Singapore Island[edit]

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 Malaya[edit]

  • Gong Kedak;
  • Detachment from No. 36 Squadron RAF[7] – 6x Vickers Videbeest

Commanders-in-Chief[edit]

Commanders-in-Chief have included:[10][11][12]
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 also[edit]

Japanese Order of Battle, Malayan Campaign

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ George Ernest Morrison 'The correspondence of G.E. Morrison'
  2. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "The Mystery of Christmas Island – March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. 
  3. ^ http://www.cambridgeshirehistory.com/Military/cambsactions.html
  4. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Paul (Copeland) Maltby". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. 
  5. ^ 453 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial 
  6. ^ 21 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial 
  7. ^ a b c Niehorster, Leo (2000). "Order of Battle-Royal Air Force-Far East Command-Norgroup". World War II Armed Forces. 
  8. ^ 1 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial 
  9. ^ 8 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial 
  10. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1924 – 1957
  11. ^ Malaya Command at Regiments.org
  12. ^ Army Commands
  13. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]