Eyewitness to Malaya

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This 2-part story is condensed from an article that ran in The West Australian newspaper on Saturday, 7 March 1942.  It is the report of Major General Henry Gordon Bennett:

 

General Bennet

General Bennet

The first defensive position in country near Gemas was covered by young rubber trees 4′ or 5′ high and the ground was fairly open and hilly.  The Australian line was covered by the guns of a very efficient artillery regiment from Queensland and New South Wales.  It was some miles in advance of this position at Gemas that the 30th New South Wales Battalion decided to ambush the enemy.

Far East/Malaya map

Far East/Malaya map

Click image to enlarge.

 

The 30th inflicted heavy casualties.  It was our first clash with the Japanese… LtCol. Galleghan was awarded the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order), for his conduct in this battle… He led his men personally.  On one occasion, Brigadier Duncan Maxwell sat beside him while a captain sent back ball-to-ball description of the fight, “They are coming at us now.  They are attacking from the left.  They are holding their hats in their hands.  They are shouting not to shoot because they are Indians.”  Maxwell replied, “Tell them to shoot – there are NO Indians in that front sector.”

There was dog-fighting for 2 days.  We had strong patrols on each flank preventing infiltrating parties of the Japanese.  It had just been decided to replace the tired 30th with the 29th when the situation at Muar on the west coast became critical.  The 45th Indian Brigade could not stop the Japanese who crossed the Muar River.  As a consequence, the 29th was hustled into lorries and driven to that front.  They arrived just in time to stop the advance.

The Argylls in Malaya

The Argylls in Malaya

Realizing that the position was vital and its loss would threaten our line of communications well to the rear, we withdrew the 19th Battalion from Mersing to help the 29th.  This left me with 2 battalions at Mersing, 2 at Gemas in the centre of the peninsula and 2 at Muar.  Soon after the 19th arrived near Muar, the Japanese attacked with tanks.  Our gunners realized they had to make sure they were completely destroyed.  Some of the disabled tanks were finished off with Molotov cocktails.

To be continued….With many thanks to Trove.com

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POLITICAL CARTOONS of 1942 – 42edit

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bonvetti Sr. – Wilmington, DE; US Army WWII

Malcolm Dewar – Vancouver, CAN; Royal Air Force, WWIIOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jesse Dyess – Jacksonville, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 270th Field Artillery Battalion

Marlene Graham – Colorado Springs, CO; FBI, WWII

Geoffrey Hardwick – Mitchell, AUS; RA Navy, WWII

Eric Larsen Sr. – Kiln, MS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Christ Rink – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Herbert Stanley – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Thomas Tyson – Taumarunui, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, #EC15591, Captain

Lionel Violette – Palm Beaches, FL; US Air Force, LtColonel (Ret. 25 years), pilot

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on November 24, 2014, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Interesting reading gp, I recall having to do a lecture on Blamey for my Warrant officers course, there appears to be varying thoughts on his returning to Australia hidden in a boat.
    Seems some think he deserted his men and others who think it was vital he return with important war information.
    Regards
    Ian

    Like

    • Ah yes, Ian, many felt that way and MacArthur himself always acted guilty about it [IMO]. But, he was also a career soldier following orders of his C-in-C and FDR sent the order because he knew he wasn’t sending help to the Philippines [it was ALL going to Europe], but he also didn’t dare lose the general the US people loved. FDR NEEDED him ALIVE!!
      Thanks for coming by, Ian!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. California born Japanese citizens… Lol! But the fighting that was described must have not only tested courage but physical endurance to beyond its limits.

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  3. It was a nightmare, with so few experienced troops and an awful lot of rookies being thrown in the deep end.

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  4. Here in Great Britain, we tend to forget the Indians, who performed valiantly in many different theatres of the conflict, as did many African troops. It’ nice to see the 45th Indian Brigade getting a mention.

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    • They’ll be mentioned in the future as well of course. Most people just think of the ETO because of the overwhelming danger of England’s demise. I’m very happy to hear that you enjoyed this, John.

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  5. This describes the chaos of the battleground so well . Who can really know who was shooting at who sometimes – there are frequent friendly fire deaths… Made me wonder about those guys shouting that they were Indians. The photo of the Argylls struggling through the mud is amazing.

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  6. There are bones out there on the trial that have laid there for years. No one claims them and they are unknown. They were braved and they were scared. The earth itself is a giant graveyard to many who sacrificed their lives so we can write of their existence. May they be remembered.

    Like

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