Improve the Singapore Strategy

People often forget that at Gallipoli the nation with significantly the highest casualties for the Allies was the UK not the Anzacs with the Lancashire Fusiliers being involved in by far the heaviest fighting of the whole campaign the main thing is for the Australia this was thier primary war effort at the moment so it counted for a very high percentage of thier total war fighting ability for the UK it didn't as they simply had more people committed on multiple operations the Gallipoli figures for the Allies are as it can be clearly shown the UK casualties were higher than all the other Allies groups combined. And as bad as the Gallipoli Campaign was its numbers are small compared to the main UK battles like Somme of any of the Battles of Ypres etc
Dead Wounded Missing/Pow Total
United Kingdom34,07278,5207,654120,246
France9,79817,37127,169
Australia8,70919,44128,150
New Zealand2,7214,7527,473
British India1,3583,4214,779
Newfoundland4993142
 
'Improve the Singapore Strategy' ..
POD 1 - 1920 or so ... Political instability in Malaya / natives v Chinese v Indian makes it impossible to get local co-operation over the building of a major new naval base ...
POD 2 - 1920 or so - locals in Australia hear that the RN have a few £ million for a Fleet Base .. they offer various places on the north east coast (Darwin is too isolated and a rail line is not going to be attractive to the locals == they will want a working ship yard .. so expansion / development of an existing commercial port is more likley)
RN wants Singapore, locals say 'no', Australians sweeten the deal by offering to provide ground troops to defend the port ... that leads to access improvements up the east coast (plus, in the fullness of time, an airfield to protect the port with reconnassance, fighter and aerial torpedo bombers) ..
POD 3 = In the mid. 1930's run-up to WW2, when USA is being difficult about arms sales, Australia starts geting serious about it's own arms manufacturing industry (to turn a profit from the British)
 
People often forget that at Gallipoli the nation with significantly the highest casualties for the Allies was the UK not the Anzacs with the Lancashire Fusiliers being involved in by far the heaviest fighting of the whole campaign the main thing is for the Australia this was thier primary war effort at the moment so it counted for a very high percentage of thier total war fighting ability for the UK it didn't as they simply had more people committed on multiple operations the Gallipoli figures for the Allies are as it can be clearly shown the UK casualties were higher than all the other Allies groups combined. And as bad as the Gallipoli Campaign was its numbers are small compared to the main UK battles like Somme of any of the Battles of Ypres etc
Dead Wounded Missing/Pow Total
United Kingdom34,07278,5207,654120,246
France9,79817,37127,169
Australia8,70919,44128,150
New Zealand2,7214,7527,473
British India1,3583,4214,779
Newfoundland4993142
This is a bit behind, as I’ve been off the board for awhile, doing other things, until the new post notice for a recent post.

I don’t particularly want to get into a war of words, but while Australia, and New Zealand, may have less casualties at Gallipoli, there’s another factor that needs to be considered.

What makes these figures critical, is their percentage of the respective overall populations. These losses had a significant effect on population, especially when WW11 casualties are added, it leaves population void, that was only corrected by large post WW11 immigration programs.

The cumulative casualties had an effect on the UK, but in a larger population base, were less of an economic result.
 
This is a bit behind, as I’ve been off the board for awhile, doing other things, until the new post notice for a recent post.

I don’t particularly want to get into a war of words, but while Australia, and New Zealand, may have less casualties at Gallipoli, there’s another factor that needs to be considered.

What makes these figures critical, is their percentage of the respective overall populations. These losses had a significant effect on population, especially when WW11 casualties are added, it leaves population void, that was only corrected by large post WW11 immigration programs.

The cumulative casualties had an effect on the UK, but in a larger population base, were less of an economic result.
Yes, but I'm not sure where this is leading ... my suggestion to 'Improve the Singapore Strategy' is to get the Australians more involved ... even if the Australian public is 'anti-British' they might still be convinced to look to their own ship-building capability / economy first and later their own defence, whilst at the same time getting the British to fund it ...
Offering to 'protect the Fleet Base' is a way for the Aussie to take de-facto control over the facilities (should the British propose taking some actinon that they, the Aussies, disagree with)
YES I know Australia is 3,000 miles away from the 'action', but Scapa Flow is 5 or 6 times further away (and the 'send the Home Fleet' plan was seen as a 'believable deterent' ....)
The only other alternative I can come up with is to build up a Base on east coast of India ...
The problem is, Singapore is, in fact, the ideal position for a base to control the region ... IF the 'send the Home Fleet' idea can be scotched and more ships be based at Singapore in the first place (along with a proper land defence plan) maybe that would do the trick ..
 
This is a bit behind, as I’ve been off the board for awhile, doing other things, until the new post notice for a recent post.

I don’t particularly want to get into a war of words, but while Australia, and New Zealand, may have less casualties at Gallipoli, there’s another factor that needs to be considered.

What makes these figures critical, is their percentage of the respective overall populations. These losses had a significant effect on population, especially when WW11 casualties are added, it leaves population void, that was only corrected by large post WW11 immigration programs.

The cumulative casualties had an effect on the UK, but in a larger population base, were less of an economic result.
Only as a percentage of population the UK suffered higher casualties in WW1 than either NZ or Australia

(and actually the same was true in WW2 as well)

What you say is true of Gallipoli specifically, but well the same would be true in reverse for many other battles. And yes because of the smaller numbers overall and less than even deployment specific battles and campaigns will figure more greatly in ANZAC losses than others.




don't get me wrong none of this means Australia and NZ should be happy about this (and FWIW multiple members of my family were ANZACs)
 
Last edited:
The cost to build the Sembawang Naval Base and (I believe) its surrounded fortifications and guns was £28 million (1938 GBP). This is equal to £1,870 million (£1.9 billion) in 2019. We should add another £8 million for the construction of the RAF bases throughout Malaya. As a point of reference, a single KGV class battleship cost £7 million. HMS Ark Royal cost £3 million, not including aircraft.

So, you've got £35 million for a Singapore strategy. What would you do differently?
1. Train a competent naval general staff.
2. Develop a British plan to protect India and forget the Singapore Bastion Defense. IOW write Singapore off.
3. Institute policy changes in the Settlements to actually make it practical to mount a "return to liberate". Improve the relations with the Malaysians and quit being the actual people the "ruling class elites" in Malaya were. Goes for India, too.
4. Quit trying to pretend the means to power project fleet alone exist. It does not. Not since WNT and LNT.
5. 35 million £ does not even begin to cover what is needed. 10 times that amount would not be enough to hold Singapore. Geography matters.

One would be better off building a Class II base in the Andaman Islands.
 
IF the 'send the Home Fleet' idea can be scotched and more ships be based at Singapore in the first place (along with a proper land defence plan) maybe that would do the trick ..
But GB/RN simply can't do that post German rearmament and WNT/LNT, they simply don't have the ships.
1. Train a competent naval general staff.
2. Develop a British plan to protect India and forget the Singapore Bastion Defense. IOW write Singapore off.
3. Institute policy changes in the Settlements to actually make it practical to mount a "return to liberate". Improve the relations with the Malaysians and quit being the actual people the "ruling class elites" in Malaya were. Goes for India, too.
4. Quit trying to pretend the means to power project fleet alone exist. It does not. Not since WNT and LNT.
5. 35 million £ does not even begin to cover what is needed. 10 times that amount would not be enough to hold Singapore. Geography matters.

One would be better off building a Class II base in the Andaman Islands.
The problem is that in 20s and early 30s it would work fine, the problem is that it doesn't work from about 35 after Italy stops being considered an ally and the balance of power in Europe move ever more against GB.

1) I don't think matters it's not a RN problem it's a HMG/FO/HMT problem?
2&3) You simply can't write off Singapore and indeed don't need to until 10 years after the base is designed and started and the political bits with the empire are simply impossible without simply walking away IMO?
4&5) I would suggest that Geography is actually good for defending Malaya long range amphibious operations are hard, but GB simply doesn't have the forces once the war in Europe starts?

The problem is that GB can't fight three major powers (G/I/J) at the same time, especially post FoF. It needs to win against one of them earlier so that preferably the others don't choice to join in, Taranto in 35 or The 38 European war?
 
But GB/RN simply can't do that post German rearmament and WNT/LNT, they simply don't have the ships.

The problem is that in 20s and early 30s it would work fine, the problem is that it doesn't work from about 35 after Italy stops being considered an ally and the balance of power in Europe move ever more against GB.

1) I don't think matters it's not a RN problem it's a HMG/FO/HMT problem?
2&3) You simply can't write off Singapore and indeed don't need to until 10 years after the base is designed and started and the political bits with the empire are simply impossible without simply walking away IMO?
4&5) I would suggest that Geography is actually good for defending Malaya long range amphibious operations are hard, but GB simply doesn't have the forces once the war in Europe starts?

The problem is that GB can't fight three major powers (G/I/J) at the same time, especially post FoF. It needs to win against one of them earlier so that preferably the others don't choice to join in, Taranto in 35 or The 38 European war?

All of which is why one builds the Class II base in the Andaman Islands. (^^^) Islands, with naval bases just a wee bit far away from an enemy's reach radius, are HARD to take or neutralize, That is the PEARL HARBOR Lesson.
 
All of which is why one builds the Class II base in the Andaman Islands. (^^^) Islands, with naval bases just a wee bit far away from an enemy's reach radius, are HARD to take or neutralize, That is the PEARL HARBOR Lesson.
I disagree a base for no ships get you little advantage, you need to spend the money at home on subsidizing shipyard work (and more shadow factories) in the depression, preferably on warships and merchants but if the treaty doesn't allow that why not just build some "coastal defence guns" and spare "turbine engine sets"....

A larger RN home/med fleet come 39/40 is far better even if it has no good bases in far east as it will have damaged KM and RM more, so it's safer to even move than the extra numbers of ships east. If you save Norway, Crete or clear North Africa even better.....
 
Last edited:
I disagree a base for no ships get you little advantage, you need to spend the money at home on subsidizing shipyard work (and more shadow factories) in the depression, preferably on warships and merchants but if the treaty doesn't allow that why not just build some "coastal defence guns" and spare "turbine engine sets"....
RIKKO. After 1935, if you are not thinking Ostfreisland, then you do not belong on staff.
 
RIKKO. After 1935, if you are not thinking Ostfreisland, then you do not belong on staff.
Yes and no, even in 35 aircraft are mostly day only systems and the RN by some accident ended up fighting mostly at night as surprisingly the enemy didn't actually want to fight them in daylight. They need heavy units that can fight in North Atlantic night and if you have them you can win in day anyway over anybody but IJNs KB that isn't coming to UK anyway so is lesser priority. I would add that thats all on HMG and interservice issues as well not really RNs staff ability or job to work out.

But the real issue is that RN could have under the LNT/WNT laid down 2 sisters for Ark Royal in early 30s..... three CV strike on Taranto anybody?
 
Last edited:
All of which is why one builds the Class II base in the Andaman Islands. (^^^) Islands, with naval bases just a wee bit far away from an enemy's reach radius, are HARD to take or neutralize, That is the PEARL HARBOR Lesson.
With such perfect hindsight why not instead start rearming earlier and introduce the draft in 1935?

This see off Germany before they can even start

Italy is better able to id the only winning move (that is to not play) and Japan does not get the opportunity of a massive and very sudden geopolitical shift to even start to think about threatening war with the Western powers.

As for the Pearl Harbour lesson - which I assume you mean its too far away from Japan to be invaded? - Singapore is almost as far from Tokyo (5300 kms) as Pearl Harbour is (6200 kms)

Without French Indochina being occupied by Japan in mid 1940 Singapore is a fairly safe base - as safe as Pearl Harbour - from invasion anyway.

And before France and the Netherlands was defeated (removing the French fleet from the balance sheet and in some respects possibly adding elements of it to the other side) and the Italians (adding their fleet to the other side of the balance sheet) the RN and RAF probably could have sent a sizable force to the Far East along with greater ground forces along with France and the Netherlands.

And Japan has to keep its eye firmly to the East at the USA - the main threat.

And even with the Dutch and French effectively removed from the equation and the British badly distracted and over stretched - one does have to wonder what the Japanese leaders were smoking?
 
But the real issue is that RN could have under the LNT/WNT laid down 2 sisters for Ark Royal in early 30s..... three CV strike on Taranto anybody?
The WNT allowance was for 135,000 tons of aircraft carriers and that's enough for 6 Ark Royals. They could have got away with ordering 3 ships in the 1931-32 Estimates to be completed in 1935 and replace Argus, Eagle and Hermes. Plus 3 ships in the 1934-35 Estimates to be completed in 1938 to replace Courageous, Glorious and Furious which became overage in 1937. Ark Royal cost about £4 million so the 5 extra ships would cost £20 million that would be spread over 8 years for an average of £2.5 million a year.

The Americans and Japanese couldn't retaliate by building more aircraft carriers because they were building these ships up to Treaty limits in the first place.

Such a move would not result in fewer armoured carriers being built because the RN increased its aircraft carrier requirement to 14 ships after the tonnage quotas were abolished. It might accelerate the completion of Formidable, Illustrious, Indomitable and Victorious because the UK would have had maintained more shipbuilding capacity in the early 1930s by building 6 aircraft carriers between 1931 and 1938 instead of one.

The FAA would be larger at the start of the war because the size of the FAA was a function of the capacity of the aircraft carriers. Therefore, the RAF and HM Treasury would have to provide the extra aircraft that six 22,000 ton aircraft carriers with a combined capacity of 288 aircraft required.
 
Last edited:
People often forget that at Gallipoli the nation with significantly the highest casualties for the Allies was the UK not the Anzacs with the Lancashire Fusiliers being involved in by far the heaviest fighting of the whole campaign the main thing is for the Australia this was their primary war effort at the moment so it counted for a very high percentage of their total war fighting ability for the UK it didn't as they simply had more people committed on multiple operations the Gallipoli figures for the Allies are as it can be clearly shown the UK casualties were higher than all the other Allies groups combined. And as bad as the Gallipoli Campaign was its numbers are small compared to the main UK battles like Somme of any of the Battles of Ypres etc.
I've tidied up the casualty table to make it easier to read.

Gallipoli Casualties.png
 
Such a move would not result in fewer armoured carriers being built because the RN increased its aircraft carrier requirement to 14 ships after the tonnage quotas were abolished.
Yes and realistically you can keep the old hulks anyway post 1 Jan 37 as accommodation ships and then training carriers so F,C & G at least will be still sailing and probably the others as well........ might easily have 6 new + 3 old in service + 3 training and aircraft transport only by 39 with the armoured decks building? But I think 3 new is more realistic than 6 personally as that's only replacing the really old ships.
 
Last edited:
Singapore was lost when Britain signed up to treaties that reduced the Royal Navy below the level it was able to meet all it's commitments without having to rob Peter to pay Paul. For those who say that Singapore can only be defended from the land, the best way to do that is for the Navy to prevent an enemy landing in Malaya or Siam but the treaties ensured there weren't the ships available to do the job.
 
Yes and realistically you can keep the old hulks anyway post 1 Jan 37 as accommodation ships and then training carriers so F,C & G at least will be still sailing and probably the others as well........
I agree about The Three Follies surviving because their replacements won't be completed until 1938. I think Courageous and Glorious will be operational aircraft carriers in September 1939 ITTL and Furious will be the deck landing training ship. That's exactly what they were doing in September 1939 IOTL.

I think that Hermes which was only 11 years old in 1935 would be converted to a seaplane carrier to replace Pegasus (ex-Ark Royal Mk II) and I think the conversion would have been completed before the Second WNT was negotiated. Argus would still be converted to a depot ship for Queen Bee target drones. I think the best thing to do with Eagle is convert her into a depot ship for the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation (MNBDO) or an interim aircraft maintenance ship pending the construction of what became HMS Unicorn.
 
Singapore was lost when Britain signed up to treaties that reduced the Royal Navy below the level it was able to meet all it's commitments without having to rob Peter to pay Paul.
I would argue its more not signing defence treaties (or abandoning issues as somebody else problem to deal with), GB can't afford to fight a European war and in the far east at the same time it simply needs allies and to build a grand coalition rather than not want to stay uncommitted and isolated like it could do in 1800-1900 when it was far more powerful and rich relative to the other powers?

GB ended up trying to be world police at LON making enemies of Italy and Japan over Ethiopia and Manchuria that did not affect it personally much, without forming a coalition that would then stand against them, then Germany reamed, and it became unmanageable fast.

It needs to destroy one of the opposition powers early and fast ie over Rhineland so they don't/can't play, or it needs to buy them off with appeasement type policies, the issue is that they tried appeasement but could not actually stop the moral statements that annoyed the powers they were trying to ignore/appease (Italy/Japan) and then they tried it on Germany that was mad and determined to go to war anyway....
 
Last edited:
........ might easily have 6 new + 3 old in service + 3 training and aircraft transport only by 39 with the armoured decks building? But I think 3 new is more realistic than 6 personally as that's only replacing the really old ships.
OTL it was 5 operational ships (Ark Royal, Courageous, Eagle, Glorious and Hermes), one deck landing training ship (Furious) and the Queen Bee depot ship (Argus) plus 2 seaplane carriers (Albatross and Pegasus). There were 162 first-line carrier aircraft 15 squadrons (with 9-12 aircraft each) but the capacity of the 5 operational ships was 198 aircraft.

ITTL I think it would be 8 operational ships (6 Ark Royals, Courageous and Glorious), one deck landing training ship (Furious) and the Queen Bee depot ship (Argus) plus 2 seaplane carriers (Albatross and the converted Hermes) and Eagle as either an aircraft maintenance ship or MNBDO base ship. There would be 324 first-line carrier aircraft in 27 squadrons (with 12 aircraft each) but the capacity of the 8 operational aircraft carriers was 528 aircraft.
 
Italy is better able to id the only winning move (that is to not play).
That's too much to ask in June 1940. It was all over bar negotiating the peace treaty. The only person who wasn't reading the script was Winston Churchill.

With apologies to Kenneth Wolstenholme...
"The Italians have declared war! They think it's all over!" Then Churchill persuades the British Cabinet to fight on after France surrenders. "It isn't now!"
 
Top