Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Malayan Campaign

70 years ago this month the Japanese, led by Tomoyuki Yamashita invaded Malaya with the ultimate goal of conquering Great Britain's prized Asian colony of Singapore. For his effort and inspired leadership Yamashita would gain the nickname "Tiger of Malaya."

The campaign began on December 8th, 1941 when the Japanese 25th Army landed in northern Malaya. Making generous use of bicycles to move quickly through the jungle Japanese troops surged southwards towards Singapore.

For Great Britain, the situation took a critical turn for the worse on December 10th. Force Z, a naval battlegroup composed of the battleship Prince of Wales, battlecruiser Repulse and four destroyers was overwhelmed by Japanese aircraft. Losing both the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, the British were left without a naval force to counter the invasion.

Operating with impunity in the air and at sea the Japanese arrived at Singapre in less than two months. On January 31, 1942 British engineers blew the causeway connecting Singapore with the mainland. Singapore would only hold out until February 15th.

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