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Title: Institutional Forces in the Making of the British Tactical Disaster in Malaya 1941-1942
Keywords: Malayan Campaign, British Army, Imperial Japanese Army, World War II, Fall of Singapore
Issue Date: 20-Aug-2010
Citation: TAN SHIH LUNG MALCOLM (2010-08-20). Institutional Forces in the Making of the British Tactical Disaster in Malaya 1941-1942. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The British defence of Malaya and Singapore was seriously jeopardized once Germany conquered France in June 1940, as this event encouraged both Italy and Japan to join the Axis Powers and opened the way for Japan to occupy the air and naval bases in French Indochina. Yet how does one explain the speed and scale of the British surrender at Singapore? How did the British Army lose Malaya and Singapore so easily, even though it had an overall numerical superiority of two to one over the Imperial Japanese Army? Why did British Empire troops not put up a better and longer fight in the Malayan Campaign? How did strategic defeat turn into tactical disaster? This thesis seeks to answer these questions by focusing on the tactical aspects of the Malayan Campaign. Relatively few authors have specifically looked at how British military disaster happened on the Malayan battlefields. They typically mention British Malaya Command?s weaknesses vis-a-vis the Japanese 25th Army?s strengths in command, control, communications and intelligence, tactical doctrines, training, experience, ethos, morale, organisation and equipment in isolation, without making the connections between them to identify the main overarching problem. This thesis fills an important gap by examining the institutional forces that influenced, shaped and caused the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese and British armies respectively, while, not discounting the role of circumstantial factors and personalities. This thesis argues that institutional forces in the form of the British military system were the decisive and prime mover influencing and affecting most, if not all, of the weaknesses of the British Army in 1940-1942. They were, hence, the main determinant of the British tactical disaster in the Malaya Campaign. It makes three assertions. First, the British military system was primarily responsible for the many flaws of the British Army in the Malayan Campaign. Second, the British military system is more responsible for the British Army tactical disaster in Malaya than adverse circumstantial and personality factors. Third, the British Army?s tactical disaster in Malaya was not an isolated case but was part of a global chain of failures, revealing the general failure of the British military system from 1940-1942.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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