MWI 41090515 The Last Hong Kong Transfers

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Friday 05 September;

She was just another small convoy, in appearance, not unlike the others that had arrived here in Singapore before her, but SK.4 was different, she was planned as the last of the Hong Kong to Singapore, SK series. The redeployment was completing now, all the major units planned to be withdrawn, had been, with these arrivals, baring the two Rainbow class submarines patrolling out from there, which were periodically rotated from Singapore, and HMS Thracian.

There were still some men, mostly junior officers and NCO’s left, employed in training or mentoring roles, while the quickly expanding Hong Kong Chinese units gained knowledge and experience, but these men only numbered about 100 in total. They would trickle back as their individual roles became redundant, and there would still be a churn of OCTU cadets, transfers, promotions and medically unfit going home. But the Hong Kong garrison was smaller and less powerful now. There was no talk of holding the Gin Drinkers Line anymore, any Japanese attack would quickly see the garrison retreat to the island, and hopefully hold out for a month or so. She could effectively provide internal security, and if war came, an honourable defence would be mounted.

The convoy was led up the Johore Straits by HMCS Prince Henry, although to the casual eye, she could have been the Prince David, as the rebuilds were identical. And again, another group of Canadian air crew were on board, this time to form two new squadrons. RCAF 407 would be built around a cadre drawn from RAF 34 and 62 Sqns, joining some of the newly trained Canadians, flying Blenheim IV bombers. The second squadron was RCAF 414, spawned from RCAF 404, the number made up again with the new arrivals, and equipping with Fairey Battles. And as per all Article XV Squadrons, most of the ground crew would be British.

Following her in was a small troopship, with the rest of the Middlesex Regt, the last of the Indians transferring from the HKSRA to the Indian Army, and a small assortment of others including OCTU cadets and dockyard workers. HMS Cicala, an Insect class gunboat followed, and in her wake was a small chartered cargo ship, which apart from carrying an assortment of surplus military material, also had one of the two Supermarine Walrus’s that had been left in Hong Kong, dismantled, within her holds.

Last in line was HMS St Sampson, a Saint class tug that had been in commercial service for nearly 20 years. She had been bought back into the service, given a refit, and rearmed with an old 12 pounder gun, like all her sisters. And shepherding them all was HMS Tenedos, which just left a sister ship, HMS Thracian as the lone destroyer in Hong Kong waters.
 
I remember reading at the American Car & Foundry historical site, that the M3 also had rusting issues. This was addressed in subsequent manufacture alts. I don't know if this came about from the ocean transport or exposure to brackish coastal wetlands.

I remember that one of the NG units sent to the PI pre-war had operated with the M2A2, before the introduction of M3's. There is a photo of the NG unit operating their M2A2 with 3rd Army in the 1941 Summer(?) maneuvers. "Here's your new kit. It's called a tank. We have an agreement with our arms suppliers, like the Navy has with their torpedoes, about not firing any ordnance before war breaks out. It's all good. The manufacturer says so. "
My understanding is that the 2 tank battalions first saw their new M3s as they reached the port they were shipping out from.

I suspect that the guns were not mounted or the tanks had not been debugged when they were loaded
 

Ramp-Rat

Monthly Donor
Thank you Ramp Rat, you've given me a lot to mull over here.

There is a lot that can be debated about the advantages and disadvantages of the "Continental Regiment System" and the British equivalent, the Brigade. Personally i think the British system is better, but being British, it's probably to be expected that I would hold that view.

You may be right about FDR having to worry about successful generals , but I don't believe he was politically more vulnerable than Churchill, indeed the British Political system made any British Prime Minister accountable to its members of Parliment. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway_Debate#:~:text=At 23:00, the Speaker,speech, a vote of censure. to see how Chamberlain fell from office, and also note, that after the lost of Tobruk in June 1942, Churchill faced a vote of no confidence, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_capture_of_Tobruk
You are right that Churchill is politically vulnerable, but the principle difference is that he is vulnerable to members of Parliament, not to any general who can raise the money to campaign against him. And unless he loses a vote of no confidence, he is secure in his position, and unlike the American President, gets to choose when he calls for an election. Note as he wasn’t for a long time the Leader of his Party, I am not sure that there was any way other than losing a confidence vote, or becoming medically incapacitated, for Churchill to be removed from power. While in theory the King, could have asked him to stand down, or offered the position to another, I can think of no way that this would happen.
RR.
 
You are right that Churchill is politically vulnerable, but the principle difference is that he is vulnerable to members of Parliament, not to any general who can raise the money to campaign against him. And unless he loses a vote of no confidence, he is secure in his position, and unlike the American President, gets to choose when he calls for an election. Note as he wasn’t for a long time the Leader of his Party, I am not sure that there was any way other than losing a confidence vote, or becoming medically incapacitated, for Churchill to be removed from power. While in theory the King, could have asked him to stand down, or offered the position to another, I can think of no way that this would happen.
RR.
Prime ministers are often more vulnerable to the multiplicity of factions in their own party than they are to a parliamentary no confidence vote. In essence losing a non confidence vote means that you have already lost your own party and not realised it. Thatcher's downfall was a classic case. Chamberlain tried to hang on until Leo Amery from his own side did for him. party politics is both MPs as well as other influencers, business, court, military etc.

Not quite as blunt as the US model but certainly party management to prevent/buy off rivals is a key part of any cabinet formation, especially if the parliamentary majority is small.
 
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and

Hi vl100butch and gallen95, was this some hang over from the US Civil war?
The Temporary promotions was a hold over from WW1 and the civil war until the 70's thus when a cut back of troops was announced the oldest cadre was retained in their permanent ranks until all slots were filled. Still active in the Army where you are appointed to a position that carries a higher rank, you get to pin on the higher while holding the position (ah all the times I had a Major's slot while a Captain or 1st Lt. in the Marines (just tough shit).
 
My understanding is that the 2 tank battalions first saw their new M3s as they reached the port they were shipping out from.

I suspect that the guns were not mounted or the tanks had not been debugged when they were loaded
IIRC, factory fresh in shipping containers, on the pier.
 

Ramp-Rat

Monthly Donor
Just how much will the numerous small changes in British preparedness effect the eventual Japanese invasion of Malaya. Let us start with what is probably the least costly, but in all probability the most significant and effective change that has taken place. And the one that will have a major effect on any invasion, and do more to defeat it than any other. This is the change in the administrative process, with the Governor General, now having a regular, every Monday morning minuted meeting with first his inner war council, followed by a similar recorded and minuted meeting with his general council. I am of the opinion that this action will have the greatest impact for minimum cost, on future events, and will be the precursor to all the subsequent changes that take place. The modernisation of the administration, has made the colonies Malaya and Singapore both more defensible, resilient and equipped to cope with the invasion. Were as IOTL, once the Japanese invaded, the civil and military authorities began to collapse and lost all control over the countries. ITTL, those same authorities will retain the control, and thus be far more effective, and less liable to panic. This will come as major surprise for the Japanese, who have previously only faced ineffectual or corrupt civil authorities during their conflict in China. The improvements made to both the basic civil infrastructure and civil defence, will ensure that the collapse of civil society, seen in China and Malaya and Singapore IOTL. Which while they did occur initially in all nations subjected to air attacks, as long as the authorities maintain their own internal control, the general population will become used to air attacks, and generally continue to live the lives as best they can. And if the government can maintain control, the Japanese will find that the mostly easy advance that the enjoyed IOTL, will become instead become an difficult.

The reorganisation of the civil administration that has taken place under the new Governor, his replacement of a number of stuck in the mud colonial fossils, addicted to ridged processes, at the expense of immediate pressing needs. Is not only improving the defence environment, but is also the first step in turning what are at present, a collection of semi independent states, into what will become a unified Federation post war. While on the military front, the forces are being turned from a colonial police force, into a first rate force, capable of fighting against any local enemy and beating them. By the time of the Japanese invasion, other than those units that are slated for internal security duties only. All of the infantry, and the majority of the artillery, engineers and other support personnel, will have completed their basic training, and moved onto the more advanced training including operations in the jungle. While there will be very little armoured support, what there is will also have been trained in local conditions, and have been exposed to the local forces if only so that they have at least seen a tank/armoured car, before meeting it in action. The old trick of making infantry lie down in the path of a tank, and touch the tracks before being able to roll away, might seem like a waste of time. But it does remove some of the fear and mystery, that tanks induce into troops that have only recently seen motor vehicles. The exercises being performed by the new anti aircraft gunners along with the civil defence organisation, police, fire brigade, and other military and government organisations will pay big dividends when inevitably Singapore in particular come under air assault. And remember that unlike the British who had no first hand experience of air assault with advanced aircraft, there are a number of men overseeing these exercises, that have been at the shape end, and very much know what works and what doesn’t.

Note these changes haven’t made the defence of Malaya an easy task, it is going to be a hard fought, brutal and bloody campaign. The civilian population both those who end up under Japanese occupation, and those who stay under British rule, are going to suffer what to them is unimaginable tribulations. Malaya wasn’t conquered in a series of colonial wars, but was essentially bought, Singapore, or entered into originally trading agreements with the local rulers. While there was some very savage civil disturbances, remember the British term, to run amok, comes from Malaya. The various regions have existed mostly peacefully for some time, and Malaya has suffered in the way others have from internal conflicts, or the ravages of the Great Depression. What is coming down the road, is going to be a serious shock to the Malayan community, both ethnic Malay, Chinese, European and others. But after the initial shock and given the preparations made and time to adjust, it’s going to be the Japanese who have the greatest shock. Used up until now to being able to completely dominate the local population and the military opposition, they are going to find themselves fighting a formidable military and competent administration. This opposition will come as a complete blow to the Japanese self belief in their superiority over everyone else, and how they thanks to their Bushido spirit, can overcome any opposition. As the Japanese have compleat control over all the sources of information, unfortunately neither the troops or the Japanese civilian population, will receive any reports of the events in Malaya. They are only going to fed glowing reports of the fantastic success in defeating the hated oppressive European regimes that have been subjugating their fellow asiatics.

RR.
 
The AC&F Berwick. PA plant was producing the M series at the rate of one unit every forty (40) minutes or 36 tanks per day. I guess that would meet the definition of "slapping together". Debugging was probably minimal at best.

Those numbers are most likely post 1942. For summer fall 1941, I would imagine far less.
There were only 1723 Gasoline powered M-3s produced between January through November 1941.

 
MWI 41090611 The 6th Imperial Conference

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Saturday 06 September;

Prime Minister Konoye had called for the Imperial Conference, following the Cabinet meeting the day before. President Roosevelt had responded to his statement sent 27th August, the reply simply reiterating the stance of ‘respect for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of each and all nations and support of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries’. There seemed no prospect of any agreement with the Americans, and most of the cabinet was of the opinion that it had to be war. But this wasn’t a mere formality to be rubberstamped by the Emperor, no, all the reasons had to be trotted out and stated, explaining why, because yesterday, something extraordinary had happened.

On Friday, Prime Minister Konoe, and Chiefs of Staff, General Hajime Sugiyama and Admiral Osami Nagano had met with the Emperor to brief him of the cabinet’s decision, and provide a draft of tomorrow’s meeting. The Emperor had been quite alarmed, what had happened to the negotiations with the Americans, he’d asked. When Konoe explained, the Emperor asked him to change the emphasis from war to negotiation, but he’d explained that politically that would be impossible now, and military preparations were being made. The Emperor asked why he had been kept in the dark over these matters, what chances of success was there in open warfare with America.

General Sugiyama assured him, they were good, but the Emperor, completely angered by this, turned on Sugiyama, “at the time of the China Incident, the Army told me that we could achieve peace immediately after dealing them one blow with three divisions, but you still can’t beat Chiang Kai-shek even today! Sugiyama, you were Army Minister at that time”. Taken aback, Sugiyama had replied “China is a vast area with many ways in and many ways out, and we met unexpectedly big difficulties”. His face turning red, the Emperor raised his voice at the General, “You say the interior of China is huge; isn’t the Pacific Ocean even bigger than China? Didn’t I caution you each time about those matters? Sugiyama, are you lying to me?

And so, today, chastened by yesterday’s reprimand, Konoe, Nagano and Sugiyama, along with the rest of the cabinet met with the Emperor at the Imperial Conference, to explain why it had to be war. Konoe began, firstly revising how the path they were on had led them here, before introducing the National Planning Board Director, Teiichi Suzuki, who stated “At this stage our national power with respect to physical resources has come to depend entirely upon the productive capacity of the Empire itself, upon that of Manchuria, China, Indochina . . . and upon vital materials stockpiled so far. Therefore, as a result of the present overall economic blockade imposed by Great Britain and the United States, our Empire’s national power is declining day by day. Our liquid fuel stockpile, which is the most important, will reach bottom by June or July of next year, even if we impose strict wartime control on civilian demand. Accordingly, I believe it is vitally important for the survival of our Empire that we make up our minds to establish and stabilize a firm economic base”. The Empire was in peril.

Admiral Nagano, Chief of the Naval General Staff, spoke next, likening Japan to a patient who was certain to die if nothing was done, but might be saved by a dangerous operation. They had to prepare for war now, needing to set a target date for readiness. However, under questioning by Baron Yoshimichi Hara, President of the Imperial Council and the Emperor's representative, both Nagano and General Sugiyama, conceded that a war with the United States would likely be prolonged, but they also contended that the U.S. embargo had made war necessary, and the sooner, the better, because Japan’s national defense capability was declining vis-à-vis that of the United States. The Emperor rose, and clapped his hands, they all quickly stood, in stunned silence, as he spoke, reciting a poem written by his grandfather, Emperor Meiji.
“The seas of the four directions,
All are born of one womb;
Why, then, do the wind and waves rise in discord?”

A compromise was presented, the military would continue with their war preparations, to be complete by the end of October, but negotiations would continue, giving a peaceful outcome every chance, and that war should be a “last resort”. Japan would present terms of peace to China, but would insist that the United States and Britain would not interrupt the settlement of the “China Incident, and furthermore, USA and Britain would close the Burma Road, and provide no military or economic support to Chiang Kai-shek. The Emperors face was saved, but the military would have their way!
 
And so the boulder rolls on down the hill, picking up momentum as it goes, in a manner grimly reminiscent of the July Crisis of 1914. They know what they're planning is at best reckless and at worst hopeless, they don't have a real answer to the Emperor's question about picking a fight with a stronger and more distant enemy when they can't even win their current war in China, but this is the only plan they can find that lets them hope for a win so this is the plan they're going to go with.

And no-one is seriously going to try and stop it, because the only alternative to the reckless gamble is the certainty of a humiliating climbdown and a catastrophic loss of face. And no-one, not the generals, not the politicians, not the Emperor, wants to be the one who stands up and suggests that.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
And so the boulder rolls on down the hill, picking up momentum as it goes, in a manner grimly reminiscent of the July Crisis of 1914. They know what they're planning is at best reckless and at worst hopeless, they don't have a real answer to the Emperor's question about picking a fight with a stronger and more distant enemy when they can't even win their current war in China, but this is the only plan they can find that lets them hope for a win so this is the plan they're going to go with.

And no-one is seriously going to try and stop it, because the only alternative to the reckless gamble is the certainty of a humiliating climbdown and a catastrophic loss of face. And no-one, not the generals, not the politicians, not the Emperor, wants to be the one who stands up and suggests that.
Hi Merrick, yes I agree, its hard to see how the Japanese could turn away from war after this, especially after setting the conditions for any peace with China. Thank you to everyone who liked post 1,982, The 6th Imperial Conference, but I have to confuse to being very disappointed with my writing, this was simply a stunning storyline, with the Emperor questioning his military advisors, berating them even, speaking publicly, something he never did! and I failed to do it justice. But hopefully you got the idea, and as always the ship sails on.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
Just how much will the numerous small changes in British preparedness effect the eventual Japanese invasion of Malaya. Let us start with what is probably the least costly, but in all probability the most significant and effective change that has taken place. And the one that will have a major effect on any invasion, and do more to defeat it than any other. This is the change in the administrative process, with the Governor General, now having a regular, every Monday morning minuted meeting with first his inner war council, followed by a similar recorded and minuted meeting with his general council. I am of the opinion that this action will have the greatest impact for minimum cost, on future events, and will be the precursor to all the subsequent changes that take place. The modernisation of the administration, has made the colonies Malaya and Singapore both more defensible, resilient and equipped to cope with the invasion.
RR.
Hi Ramp Rat, thank you for this, a very nice summary of the political aspect of my timeline, within the colony, something we speak little of, the focus always on the military. A consequence of these changes, and the harmony they bring is that there is no need now for Duff Cooper to be sent, see https://winstonchurchill.hillsdale.edu/alfred-duff-cooper/, for more on him. Historically, Cooper was sent to sort things out, but typical of the British mismanagement of Malaya, not given the powers to do so, although I think Cooper was very much a square peg in a round hole. Once war broke out, he was made Minister Resident, but was withdrawn mid January 1942, much to his relief.

However, this does bring up a future problem, because with the outbreak of war, and the probable forming of ABDA, I'm going to need a Minister Resident.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_minister for a general understanding of this position,
and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minis...er-Resident for the,member of the war cabinet. the Minister Resident Middle East, which is more closer to what I will need in the Far East.
This was a powerful position, and would hold a post in Churchill's war cabinet, the inner ring, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchill_war_ministry, and Oliver Lyttleton (who is the present minister historically). Its also worth noting that with the Allied invasion of French North West Africa, Operation Torch, another Minister Resident was appointed, the rising, talented, Harold Macmillan.

OK, so now we're all as clear as mud about what a Minister Resident is, its time to start thinking about who I might pick, yes folks, step right this way, here's your big change to have a say in my Timeline, oh you wanted to pick a tank, oh well never mind, find me a politician!
Now for a starter, sending Duff Cooper to a war zone, (we're going to assume the Minister Resident is appointed after the Japanese attack), is a non starter, Churchill wouldn't pick him. The afore mentioned Harold Macmillan, too junior, plus he did quite a bit helping De Gaulle establish himself as leader of the French, while they were in Tangiers. Harry Crookshank was the first choice for the post Macmillan took, but he turned it down, and if he's going to turn that down, he most certainly will the one in Singapore, plus again, I think he's too junior. Safe options might be Oliver Lyttleton, currently Minister Resident Middle East, or Richard Casey, who replaced him, who's currently Australia's ambassador to the US, that could be interesting. Or really interesting is using Sir Josiah Crosby, currently British Minister to Thailand, if i can get him out of there, who is quite a character to say the least!

OK, so I welcome ideas, we have plenty of time, won't happen until sometime in December, which is a considerable amount of posts away yet, but we're going to need someone.
 
In 1941 Gordon Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister traveled to the UK to take part in an Imperial Defence Conference. While there, he was courted by Churchill opponents who made him believe he had a chance to depose Churchill and become the English Prime Minister. Of course, it played to his ambitions, he'd once charactised himself as, "British to his bootstraps", to the Australian Parliament. Menzies toyed with the idea for a few months before returning to Australia only to discover his party had disentegrated in his absence and he subsequently lost a vote of no- confidence there. John Curtin replaced him after an election was called. What about an Australian becoming an English minister?
 

Mark1878

Donor
In 1941 Gordon Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister traveled to the UK to take part in an Imperial Defence Conference. While there, he was courted by Churchill opponents who made him believe he had a chance to depose Churchill and become the English Prime Minister. Of course, it played to his ambitions, he'd once charactised himself as, "British to his bootstraps", to the Australian Parliament. Menzies toyed with the idea for a few months before returning to Australia only to discover his party had disentegrated in his absence and he subsequently lost a vote of no- confidence there. John Curtin replaced him after an election was called. What about an Australian becoming an English minister?
An error here don't you mean Robert Menzies

It is less than 20 years since the UK had a Canadian Prime Minister (albeit he grew up in the UK).

The Empire leaders were in part of the Cabinet (That was what Menzies was doing when he was in London) so they were ministers. Becoming a full UK minister would be more difficult, the PM would probably have to be in the House of Commons, making the Prime Minister of Australia a Lord would be interesting, but after he lost the PM I can see no problem. However what benefit would the UK government have in appointing him?
 

Ramp-Rat

Monthly Donor
Not having the required knowledge of the people involved, I will refrain from suggesting someone to assume the position and responsibility of Minister Resident. I will however make two points, the first is that other than a woman being appointed to this position, which at this time would be unthinkable. The appointment of a man from any off the British Dominions, or even a British Nationalised subject, born outside the Empire, wouldn’t be unusual. The second point is that while I have no idea on who to appoint to this position, I do know one man that I wouldn’t want to see given the job, Sir Stafford Cripps, thankfully his well known health problems mean that he would be unwilling to accept the position.

RR.
 
1941, Saturday 06 September;



General Sugiyama assured him, they were good, but the Emperor, completely angered by this, turned on Sugiyama, “at the time of the China Incident, the Army told me that we could achieve peace immediately after dealing them one blow with three divisions, but you still can’t beat Chiang Kai-shek even today! Sugiyama, you were Army Minister at that time”. Taken aback, Sugiyama had replied “China is a vast area with many ways in and many ways out, and we met unexpectedly big difficulties”. His face turning red, the Emperor raised his voice at the General, “You say the interior of China is huge; isn’t the Pacific Ocean even bigger than China? Didn’t I caution you each time about those matters? Sugiyama, are you lying to me?
Did the Emperor ever say such a thing to any of his military chiefs that they were lying to him? That would constitute a direct insult almost unpardonable in Japanese society. The loss of face for General Sugiyama would be so great he'd have to resign for losing the confidence of the emperor.
 
Not having the required knowledge of the people involved, I will refrain from suggesting someone to assume the position and responsibility of Minister Resident. I will however make two points, the first is that other than a woman being appointed to this position, which at this time would be unthinkable. The appointment of a man from any off the British Dominions, or even a British Nationalised subject, born outside the Empire, wouldn’t be unusual. The second point is that while I have no idea on who to appoint to this position, I do know one man that I wouldn’t want to see given the job, Sir Stafford Cripps, thankfully his well known health problems mean that he would be unwilling to accept the position.

RR.
Possibly Smuts, or is that too much of a stretch?
 
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