Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

Holding Malaya doesn't help if the other wing rolls up the Philippines and DEI. You still have to pull out of Singapore.
Yeah, but at least a delay in Malaya (and hopefully Java) will allow a few tens-of-thousands to get out, rather than the virtually none of OTL. Hells, some of those troops could be used to reinforce Java.
 
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Yeah, but at least a delay in Malaya (and hopefully Java) will allow a few tens-of-thousands to get out, rather than the virtually none of OTL. Hells, some of those troops could be used to reinforce Java.

It would also alter the dynamic of the Anglo-American relationship as the Brits would look more formidable and less on the ropes.
 
Actually, I was more counting on it being the 5,500 British and 3,000 Australians who'd be bringing the tanks.

As to Malaya, given the leadership, and the fact that no-one's going to do anything until after the invasion has actually started, I don't think it can be saved, nor Singapore. What can be done though, is to delay the Japanese long enough to get some of the OTL 130K captured out of the trap.
I wouldn't be so sure of that. As soon as Japan goes into southern Indochina then that puts Britain on notice, OTL nothing much could be done because there was nothing spare to do anything with TTL could and probably will be different. It also makes sense for Britain to do something once things have wrapped up in North Africa for a few reasons. Firstly Australia and New Zealand will want their troops back so they are going. That can't be stopped and isn't worth actually trying to stop. Secondly while long term Britain will want to carry out major operations in Europe they wont be happening any time soon, sending troops to deter Japan in the interim makes a fair amount of sense.
If you mean in terms of Leadership, you are possibly correct to some degree. The thing is any reinforcements sent make the situation better and will help to buy time. In addition if the assessment is made early enough that Japan is heading south then a Theatre commander is being sent. That man will likely figure out Percival is not the man for the job and get things shaken up. Again though even if not removing or alleviating the other shortcomings the British faced in Malaya is likely to be enough to at least buy enough time for reinforcements to arrive and tip the Balance in Britain's favour.

Holding Malaya doesn't help if the other wing rolls up the Philippines and DEI. You still have to pull out of Singapore.
As long as Sumatra is held then Singapore is good, OTL the Sumatra invasion carried on from Malays so no collapse in Malaya then no invasion of Sumatra, at least not as soon as OTL. Holding Borneo as well would be nice but not a requirement. That being said it won't be easy but it is certainly possible.
 
I wouldn't be so sure of that. As soon as Japan goes into southern Indochina then that puts Britain on notice, OTL nothing much could be done because there was nothing spare to do anything with TTL could and probably will be different. It also makes sense for Britain to do something once things have wrapped up in North Africa for a few reasons. Firstly Australia and New Zealand will want their troops back so they are going. That can't be stopped and isn't worth actually trying to stop. Secondly while long term Britain will want to carry out major operations in Europe they wont be happening any time soon, sending troops to deter Japan in the interim makes a fair amount of sense.
If you mean in terms of Leadership, you are possibly correct to some degree. The thing is any reinforcements sent make the situation better and will help to buy time. In addition if the assessment is made early enough that Japan is heading south then a Theatre commander is being sent. That man will likely figure out Percival is not the man for the job and get things shaken up. Again though even if not removing or alleviating the other shortcomings the British faced in Malaya is likely to be enough to at least buy enough time for reinforcements to arrive and tip the Balance in Britain's favour.
Well at least if they can get resources there, they might be able to delay the Japanese long enough to get more troops withdrawn to Singapore, and then to actually defend Singapore while you evacuate.

As long as Sumatra is held then Singapore is good, OTL the Sumatra invasion carried on from Malays so no collapse in Malaya then no invasion of Sumatra, at least not as soon as OTL. Holding Borneo as well would be nice but not a requirement. That being said it won't be easy but it is certainly possible.
Well if you send troops to Java, that will also soak Japanese strength, which should help.
 
Even if the Japanese switch the orientation of the centrifugal offensive after facing a stouter British force in Malaya, that doesn't guarantee that they'll have the exact same experience they had in OTL. Take Java for example, in OTL the Japanese needed airbases in both Sumatra and Bali to grind down the defending forces. If they're approaching from Bali alone, that would allow the defenders to focus their interceptor squadrons far more than they were able to in OTL. It also would require completely redrawing plans for the assault. True they'd probably take the island, but it likely wouldn't automatically be the resounding success it was in OTL. There's a good chance that in such a scenario the Allies could successfully withdraw to Bandung and tie up Japanese forces there for several more weeks. This in turn gives defenders elsewhere more time to prepare particularly in Sumatra. The longer the campaign goes on, the worse it is for the Japanese.
 
Given the shoestring the Japanese operated on I would think that holding the Japanese up in Malaya would greatly delay the fall of the DEI, resources would need to be pumped into Malaya to try to defeat the British there.
 
Given the shoestring the Japanese operated on I would think that holding the Japanese up in Malaya would greatly delay the fall of the DEI, resources would need to be pumped into Malaya to try to defeat the British there.
The rains start in Late April (and in 1942 in Burma they lasted until November IIRC)
 
The rains start in Late April (and in 1942 in Burma they lasted until November IIRC)
So if the British can delay the fall of Singapore until April, there's going to be no advance in Burma until nearly the end of the year? That should give the British a major advantage.
 
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So if the British can delay the fall of Singapore until April, there's going to be no advance in Burma until nearly the end of the year?
It would greatly slow things down and 'dampen' the effectiveness of airpower and if the Japanese can be held in Malaya - might possibly also result in the colony not falling but that's a big ask - however given how logistically weak the Japanese were at the end how much worse off would they be if their Blitzkriegs had failed in the face of better quality opposition with superior AFVs?
 
Part of the Malaya problem was the lack of what is now described as Joint ops. The RAF was told they needed to defend Malaya by air. Singapore to the likely landing beaches was too far for the aircraft of the day. So the RAF sensibly built new airfields closer to the beaches. What did not happen is that the selection of airfields location was not discussed with the Army, who would have to defend them. The airfields were ideally suited for flying, large open flat areas with no nasty things like hills around them, which made them impossible to defend unless you detailed a bde or better to each airfield. if you do that, then you have little deployable field force as the troops are all guarding airfields and are thus liable to be defeated one by one.
Also Plan matador looked good. race into Siam and block the roads south at that cutting whose name escapes me. But it had one fatal flaw. The Foreign office! The plan needed to be executed as soon as landing ships were detected at sea, to give the troops time to reach the defensible obstacle and entrench. BUT, you can't just invade a neutral country (well, you can if you are Germany, Russia, Italy or Japan) because you SUSPECT the Japanese are going to attack. You have to convince the Foreign Office this is not just a rumour before you fight your way across the border. And that takes time to get approval. And if you can't get there before the Japanese, you are now stuck on a long thin poorly maintained road out of position. So if you can't execute Matador as planned, you have to fall back on other plans, which probably haven't been properly practiced or examined.
 
It would greatly slow things down and 'dampen' the effectiveness of airpower and if the Japanese can be held in Malaya - might possibly also result in the colony not falling but that's a big ask - however given how logistically weak the Japanese were at the end how much worse off would they be if their Blitzkriegs had failed in the face of better quality opposition with superior AFVs?
Well I don't know how quickly, or how well Malaya can be reinforced. My thought though, was that, with tanks in play, Singapore could be held for a month or more (rather than just a week), not only allowing thousands to be evacuated, but also tying up significant Japanese forces for as long as the position could be held. Some of the evacuated troops could be pumped into Java, and others into Sumatra, reinforcing both against Japanese incursions.

That would not only slow down the Japanese advance in the South Pacific, but also delay the Burma Campaign into December, which would not only allow the British to reinforce the area, but also significantly mitigate the OTL Bengal Famine. In addition, with Wavell's success in North Africa, command in India will be retained by Auchinleck, so the Japanese, when they finally come, will be rather roughly handled.
 
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North Africa is highly likely to be wrapped up sufficiently early for troops and equipment to be sent to Malaya early enough to make a difference to the fighting. From the end of July Japan is a fairly significant threat and Australia and New Zealand will want something to be done. As soon as their troops are freed up in North Africa they are heading east, to Malaya to prepare for and hopefully deter any Japanese aggression. Why Malaya, that is the front line, and the idea Japan will be able to launch the naval campaign it did won't be considered. As for Britain they will also want to see Japanese aggression deterred, the difference ITTL is they will be able to do something to try and make that happen. No major action in Europe by Britain will be possible for several months at a minimum due to the logistics of preparing for amphibious operations. The Italians can't pull anything major off alone by this stage and the Germans will be a bit distracted in Russia. The only imminent threat is Japan so while Britain is preparing it's next move it may as well do what it can to deter Japan. That means sending Ground, Air and Naval reinforcements.

When looking at the Malayan campaign Britain was deficient in several areas. Several of these are interlinked but in no particular order they are.

  • The army units are deficient in equipment in several key areas
  • The army units are outnumbered
  • The army units are inexperienced
  • The Japanese are using tanks, the British aren't.
  • The Japanese have air superiority
  • The RAF are inexperienced and using poor quality planes.
Now with a sufficiently early finish to the fighting in North Africa, something that is entirely possible suddenly the situation changes quite a lot. Britain will be sending reinforcements to Malaya as a deterrent to the Japanese. Even if this is just the Australian and New Zealand troops it will make a big difference, in addition aircraft will again be sent to try and deter the Japanese.

  • The Australian and New Zealand troops will be better equipped even if no British troops are sent (unlikely).
  • Those troops sent reduce and perhaps even reverse the Japanese superiority in numbers
  • In addition they are also experienced, battle hardened troops by the time they reach Malaya so they stiffen the resolve significantly
  • The tank situation may be resolved by directly sending tanks (Matilda I anyone) or offset somewhat by the fact the experienced troops are better able to deal with them.
  • Any air assets sent reduce Japanese superiority in numbers and experience so that fight is less one sided.
  • Those air assets sent will be experienced again reducing Japanese advantages somewhat though the experience gained fighting German and Italian aircraft is not beneficial to fighting the Japanese.
  • The experienced troops will also be less rattled by air attack further diminishing that Japanese advantage.

The Japanese also had the benefit of momentum during the campaign, as they started winning they got more and more unstoppable because of the deficiencies mentioned. Reducing those deficiencies makes it far more likely that the Japanese can be stopped ,do that once and they have to build up which they cant afford to do if they want to keep advancing or risk taking very heavy casualties they can't afford if they want to keep advancing.
For Britain to win in Malaya they only need to do enough to blunt then stop the Japanese advance. Doing that is, while not easy, much easier than people seem to believe.
 
Still not sure you can actually save Malaya and Singapore, but delaying the final collapse by a few months, and getting a good portion of the troops out will help immeasurably. The delay would put a kybosh on any advance in Burma in 1942 (thus preventing, or at least mitigating, the Bengal famine), in addition to throwing off the Japanese schedule.
 
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How much AirPower is saved by ending the fighting in North Africa? Can those aircraft go east, also I think the Japanese and Italian aircraft had some similarities lighter weight and more manoeuvrable.
 
How much AirPower is saved by ending the fighting in North Africa? Can those aircraft go east, also I think the Japanese and Italian aircraft had some similarities lighter weight and more manoeuvrable.
Wikipedia says ~1,400 aircraft total, but that was up to 1943, so fewer than that, though I'm not sure how many. Maybe 1,200 - 1,300 aircraft. And they're mostly going to be more modern aircraft than what's available out east too.
 
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That puts a lot of squadrons in Malaya, enough to put a squadron over POW and Repulse which results in the landings getting squashed or at least rather disrupted, that’s without bringing a few more cruisers.
 
Sending any tank to the D.E.I. depends on whether the Dutch are willing to divert any they may buy from defending their already invaded homeland. That would be a very hard thing for the Dutch Government to explain to it's electorate. If anything the D.E.I. are going to have less to fight with than they did Otl, as if it's a choice between defending an already invaded homeland and a distant colony there's really no contest.
Bugger, looks like I made the mistake of thinking I was posting in a different but very similar thread. Everything I said here applies the Forge of Weyland.
 
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North Africa is highly likely to be wrapped up sufficiently early for troops and equipment to be sent to Malaya early enough to make a difference to the fighting. From the end of July Japan is a fairly significant threat and Australia and New Zealand will want something to be done. As soon as their troops are freed up in North Africa they are heading east, to Malaya to prepare for and hopefully deter any Japanese aggression. Why Malaya, that is the front line, and the idea Japan will be able to launch the naval campaign it did won't be considered. As for Britain they will also want to see Japanese aggression deterred, the difference ITTL is they will be able to do something to try and make that happen. No major action in Europe by Britain will be possible for several months at a minimum due to the logistics of preparing for amphibious operations. The Italians can't pull anything major off alone by this stage and the Germans will be a bit distracted in Russia. The only imminent threat is Japan so while Britain is preparing it's next move it may as well do what it can to deter Japan. That means sending Ground, Air and Naval reinforcements.

When looking at the Malayan campaign Britain was deficient in several areas. Several of these are interlinked but in no particular order they are.

  • The army units are deficient in equipment in several key areas
  • The army units are outnumbered
  • The army units are inexperienced
  • The Japanese are using tanks, the British aren't.
  • The Japanese have air superiority
  • The RAF are inexperienced and using poor quality planes.
Now with a sufficiently early finish to the fighting in North Africa, something that is entirely possible suddenly the situation changes quite a lot. Britain will be sending reinforcements to Malaya as a deterrent to the Japanese. Even if this is just the Australian and New Zealand troops it will make a big difference, in addition aircraft will again be sent to try and deter the Japanese.

  • The Australian and New Zealand troops will be better equipped even if no British troops are sent (unlikely).
  • Those troops sent reduce and perhaps even reverse the Japanese superiority in numbers
  • In addition they are also experienced, battle hardened troops by the time they reach Malaya so they stiffen the resolve significantly
  • The tank situation may be resolved by directly sending tanks (Matilda I anyone) or offset somewhat by the fact the experienced troops are better able to deal with them.
  • Any air assets sent reduce Japanese superiority in numbers and experience so that fight is less one sided.
  • Those air assets sent will be experienced again reducing Japanese advantages somewhat though the experience gained fighting German and Italian aircraft is not beneficial to fighting the Japanese.
  • The experienced troops will also be less rattled by air attack further diminishing that Japanese advantage.

The Japanese also had the benefit of momentum during the campaign, as they started winning they got more and more unstoppable because of the deficiencies mentioned. Reducing those deficiencies makes it far more likely that the Japanese can be stopped ,do that once and they have to build up which they cant afford to do if they want to keep advancing or risk taking very heavy casualties they can't afford if they want to keep advancing.
For Britain to win in Malaya they only need to do enough to blunt then stop the Japanese advance. Doing that is, while not easy, much easier than people seem to believe.
Good analysis.
In fact the difference in numbers was much less than believed - both sides had about 88,000, although the numerical advantage swung back and forwards as the campaign went on. I looked that up last night, damned if I can find it again.

As for the threat not being realised, it was, but the hot war in europe & north africa took precedence.
In 1937 the malaya garrison was 3 battalions of british, and 1 of indian troops.
By november 1940 it was 17 battalions, plus supporting artillery etc.
By december 1941 it was 47 battalions, plus supporting stuff, with more on the way.
Source (yes I know its wikipedia, but other sources don't disagree): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaya_Command#Allied_Land_Forces_(8_December_1941)

An increase of that magnitude, while there was strong demands for troops elsewhere, doesn't indicate to me that the threat was ignored.
With a lower level of crisis in the middle east, getting 1 experienced division with competent leaders, and a battalion of tanks, into Malaya from the off is probably enough.

The japanese had 3 divisions in the assault, and not enough transport capacity or available reserves to bring in very much more.
I had a look at the Japanese OOB for 1941/42 a year or so ago, and there was very little in reserve, anywhere.
My OOB file is in a format I can't attach, but I got it from here: http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/oob/jap_1.htm

In late 41/early 42 they were spread very thinly, with china as top priority, plus all the other invasions and stuff going on.
They were relying on swift and relatively low cost victories to free up troops, ships, aircraft and resources for use elsewhere.
Very hand-to-mouth, and run on either a tight budget, or a shoestring, depending on how you look at it.
And either military and logistical masterpiece, or a long string of successful gambles with the winnings reinvested, also depending on how you look at it.
 
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