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The Battle for Malaya and the Fall of Singapore

<< Troops in training in the jungle of Malaya in 1941 before the start of hostilities with Japan
Date: Year: Event:
28 November 1941
  • The 21st Minesweeping Flotilla is formed at Singapore with the corvettes HMAS Maryborough, Bendigo, Goulburn and Burnie.
29 November 1941
  • Air Headquarters at Singapore is warned to be ready to support Operation Matador  at 12 hours notice.
30 November 1941
  • The Commanding Officer of the Japanese 25th Division, Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita, receives orders to proceed with the invasion of Singapore.
  • 21 Squadron RAAF is based at Sungei Patani.
2 December 1941
  • HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse arrive at Singapore Harbour escorted by a number of ships including HMAS Vampire.
4 December 1941
  • The Japanese fleet leaves Samah Harbour at dawn.

5 December 1941
  • Sir Robert Brooke-Popham is ordered to launch Operation Matador.
6 December 1941
  • Percival returns to Singapore. Sir Shenton Thomas, Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and Percival agree not to launch Operation Matador.
7 December 1941
  • A British Catalina on a reconnaissance patrol is shot down. Later in the day, a Royal Australian Air Force Hudson spots the Japanese armada 115 kilometres off Singora.
8 December 1941
  • The Japanese Army lands at Kota Bharu, Singora and Pitina. They suffer heavy casualties.
  • Japanese Navy bombers attack Keppel Docks Naval Base. Air raids are also made on Tengah and Seletar air bases.
  • On the Northern Frontier, Japanese aircraft attack airfields at Alor Star, Sungei Patani, Butterworth, Penang Kuala Trengganu and Kuantan.
  • The Prince of Wales and Repulse and their four escort destroyers leave Singapore to intercept the Japanese landings.
  • Seven Royal Australian Air Force Hudson aircraft attack the enemy transports off Kota Bharu.
  • Aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force's No. 1 and No. 8 Squadrons engage in battle with the invasion force. No. 21 Squadron is ordered to withdraw from Butterworth airfield.
9 December 1941
  • British and Indian defences are forced back by the invading Japanese at Kota Bharu.
  • A squadron of British Blenheim bombers are destroyed at Butterworth by a Japanese air raid.
  • At Kuantan, the airfield is attacked by enemy aircraft and three Royal Australian Air Force Hudsons are destroyed on the ground.
  • The Japanese continue bombing at Butterworth, two Royal Australian Air Force Buffalo aircraft of No. 21 Squadron are lost in action. The squadron is ordered back to Ipoh.
10 December 1941
  • After a fierce battle, the British battleships, the Prince of Wales and Repulse are sunk by Japanese Navy bombers. HMAS Vampire picks up 225 survivors.
  • At Sembawang, four surviving Royal Australian Air Force Hudson aircraft arrive from Kuantan. A composite squadron is formed from No's 1 & 8 Squadrons.
11 December 1941
  • The Japanese begin the Battle of Jitra.
  • HMAS Goulbourn captures the Japanese vessel Kohfuku Maru. 
12 December 1941
  • The 3/16 Punjab Regiment comes under heavy attack from the Japanese at Kroh.
  • Heavy casualties on civilian population of Penang from Japanese dive bombers.
  • HMAS Vampire escorts the minelayer HMS Teviot Bank on mine laying sortie in South China Sea.
13 December 1941
  • The British north-western front retreats south of Jitra.
14 December 1941
  • The invading Japanese take Alor Star.
15 December 1941
  • Lieutenant General Yamashita sets up his headquarters at Alor Star.
  • Orders are issued to abandon the air base at Butterworth.
16 December 1941
  • British forces evacuate the island of Penang.
  • Heath orders a withdrawal from the Krian River area.
17 December 1941
  • The island of Penang is taken by the Japanese.
  • Six Royal Australian Air Force aircraft return to Singapore. Two aircraft of No. 21 Squadron are lost in a air raid.
18 December 1941
  • Percival and Heath meet at Ipoh.
19 December 1941
  • A battalion of Argyll and Southern Highlanders engage in fierce fighting with the Japanese at Grik.
20 December 1941
  • Japanese troops move south on rafts on the Perak River. The Argyll and Southern Highlanders inflict heavy casualties on the invaders.
21 December 1941
  • British troops are ordered to withdraw from Perak River area.
22 December 1941
  • The 3/2nd Punjab Regiment ambush a Japanese advance party, casualties are heavy.
23 December 1941
  • The British withdraw across the Perak River.
  • All flyable aircraft of 453 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force return to Sembawang.
24 December 1941
  • Heavy losses on both sides as Indian forces clash with Japanese Imperial Guards at Ipoh.
  • HMAS Vampire is part of the escort for a ship evacuating the survivors of the Prince of Wales and Repulse from Singapore.
25 December 1941
  • British forces at Ipoh destroy all they can before leaving the area.
  • 21 Squadron and 453 Squadron are merged to form 21/453 Squadron.
26 December 1941
  • The Japanese Army's 6th Division occupies Ipoh.
27 December 1941
  • Intelligence reports of Japanese vessels of Singapore and others on the southern Kedah coastline.
28 December 1941
  • British, Indian and Gurkha forces construct defensive positions around Kampar.
29 December 1941
  • At Kampar frequent skirmishes throughout the day. Late in the evening the battle begins.
  • At Sembawang there is heavy damage to Royal Australian Air Force aircraft due to enemy air raids.
30 December 1941
  • At Kampar, British artillery fire inflicts heavy casualties on the Japanese.
  • Percival leaves Singapore to meet his frontline commanders.
  • At Moore, Percival and Bennett discuss plans for the withdrawal to Singapore and the demolition of the causeway.
  • The 1st Independent company is sent to meet the Japanese seaborne invasion off Telok Anson.
  • Japanese aircraft attack the ferry crossing at the Kuatan River.
31 December 1941
  • The Gurkha troops at Kampar stop the Japanese thrust throughout the day.
  • Percival and Heath drive from Kuala Lumpur to the headquarters of the 11th Indian Division at Tapah.
  • The Royal Navy sends five patrol craft from Singapore to the Straits of Malacca. All craft are sunk by the Japanese Air Force.
1 January 1942
  • After heavy fighting all day at Kampar, the defences remain in British hands.
2 January 1942
  • At Kampar, the 1/8 Punjab Regiment, through heavy mortar and machine gun fire, launch a bayonet attack. The British begin their withdrawal at midnight.
  • Percival arrives back in Singapore.
3 January 1942
  • The first British reinforcements arrive in Singapore with HMAS Hobart and HMAS Vampire forming part of the escort.
4 January 1942
  • At the Slim River, British Forces destroy bridges and lay minefields as the Japanese continue their advance.
5 January 1942
  • Percival, Heath and Bennett meet with senior staff officers in Segamat.
  • HMAS Vampire assists with escort duties of merchant ships through the Banka and Sunda Straits.
6 January 1942
  • General Sir Archibald Wavell decides to inspect the Malayan battlefront.
7 January 1942
  • After heavy fighting at the Slim River area, the Argyll and Southern Highlanders retreat.
  • The Slim River bridge is taken by the Japanese.
  • The Indian 11th Division and the 12th and 28th Brigades suffer heavy casualties. After heavy fighting about 32,000 troops surrender.
8 January 1942
  • Heath receives orders to withdraw his forces from Buta Caves to Johore.
9 January 1942
  • Westforce is established under the command of Major General Bennett.
10 January 1942
  • Serendah falls to the Japanese
  • The Gurkha position to the north of Kuala Lumpur is attacked by the Japanese. There are many casualties.
  • Percival, Heath and Bennett go to the Gemencheh River Bridge. Bennett selects the area for a major ambush of the Japanese invading force.
  • A unified American-British-Dutch-Australian Command is set up with Headquarters at Bandung.
11 January 1942
  • British Indian forces withdraw through Kuala Lumpur.
  • The Japanese take control of both airfields at Kuala Lumpur.
  • Japanese forces carry out air strikes at Muar.
12 January 1942
  • Japanese aircraft continue their bombardment on Singapore.
13 January 1942
  • United States merchant ships arrive at Singapore with the 53rd British Infantry Brigade. They also carry two anti-tank regiments and 50 hurricane fighter aircraft.
  • HMAS Vampire forms part of the escort.
14 January 1942
  • Bennett takes command of the Malayan front.
  • The Gemencheh River Bridge is blown, about 700 Japanese are killed in an ambush planned by the 2/30th Battalion of the Australian 27th Brigade.
15 January 1942
  • Japanese Reinforcements are seen arriving at the Gemas River area.
  • Japanese troops take the northern bank of the Maur River.
  • Japanese forces land at Pait Joura.
16 January 1942
  • Percival and Bennett meet at the Australian commander's headquarters.
  • HMAS Maryborough rescues 39 survivors from SS Senang mined south off Singapore.
17 January 1942
  • At Gemas, the 2/30th Battalion comes under heavy fire.
  • The 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment engages Japanese tanks near Bakri..
18 January 1942
  • In Singapore, Percival and Bennett decide to withdraw Westforce behind the Segamat River.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel C.G.W Anderson, temporary commanding officer of the 2/19th Battalion, wins the Victoria Cross for deeds between the 18th and 22nd. 
19 January 1942
  • All communications between the Australian and Indian divisions cut.
20 January 1942
  • Bennett orders Westforce headquarters back to Yong Peng.
  • A general retreat south is ordered.
  • A convoy MS2, consisting of the liner Aquitania escorted by HMAS Canberra arrives at Ratai Bay in Java. The troops are transhipped to seven smaller merchant ships for the journey to Singapore. HMAS Vampire forms part of the escort.
21 January 1942
  • An attack on the Japanese along the Yong Peng-Parit Road is planned, deferred then cancelled.
22 January 1942
  • Bennett and his commanders are concerned with the rescue of the 2/19th Battalion.
23 January 1942
  • Percival meets with Bennett, they decide to hold the line at Jemaluang - Kluang - Ayer Hitom - Patu Pahat.
  • The rearguard of the British 53rd Brigade and Westforce pass through Yong Peng.
  • The 21st Flotilla in Singapore is reinforced by the corvettes HMAS Wollongong, Toowoomba and Ballarat.
24 January 1942
  • The Australian 2/4 Machine-Gun Battalion and 2000 reinforcements arrive in Singapore.
25 January 1942
  • Percival, Heath and Bennett meet at Johore Bharu. They decide to withdraw the British Forces at Buta Pahat to Singapore.
26 January 1942
  • Westforce continues to withdraw south.
  • Two Japanese transport ships, escorted by four cruisers and six destroyers land 18th Division troops at the mouth of the Indian River at Endau.
  • Orders are issued for the retreat to Johore Bharu.
27 January 1942
  • The Indian 9th Division suffers heavy losses at Johore. The commanding officer of the Indian Forces, Major General A.E. Barstow, is killed.
  • The Australian 22nd Brigade retreats through the jungle.
28 January 1942
  • Bennett is provided with updated schedules of the withdrawal of forces across the Causeway.
  • Two defensive outer bridgeheads are planned, the outer is to be manned by the 22nd Australian Brigade and the2nd Gordons. The responsibility for the inner is given to the Argyll and Southern Highlanders.
  • Bennett arrives at the Imperial Palace for a meeting with the Sultan of Johore.
  • Aircraft of the Flying Club of Singapore try to locate the missing Indian 22nd Brigade.
29 January 1942
  • The British 18th Division arrives at Singapore Harbour.
  • Heavy fighting begins along the withdrawal route between the Australian 27th Brigade and Japanese forces.
  • Bennett moves his headquarters to Johore Bharu, Straits View Hill.
  • HMAS Vampire escorts a convoy through the Banka Strait. The convoy is bombed but suffers little damage.
30 January 1942
  • Percival makes arrangements with the Royal Navy to rescue the Indian 2nd Brigade.
  • Plans for the retreat across the causeway get underway.
31 January 1942
  • The retreat across the causeway begins.
  • Bennett watches as the troops begin their journey.
  • The last force to cross the causeway is the Argyll and Southern Highlanders.
  • Indian troops blast a wide crater in the road.
  • Malaya is lost to the Japanese.

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