I. The Campaign in Malaya I N October 1940 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham was appointed Commander-in-Chief Far East and G.H.Q. Far East opened at Singapore on the 18th November 1940. The Commander-in-Chief was responsible for the operational control and direction of training of British land and air forces in Malaya Burma and Hong Kong and for the co-ordination of plans for the defence of these territories also for the control and training of British air forces in Ceylon and of reconnaissance squadrons in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. His headquarters was an operational one not administrative and had no control over any naval forces. In November 1940 the army strength in Malaya was 17 battalions with 1 mountain regiment of artillery. Reliance for the defence of the Far East was to be placed on air power until the fleet was available but it was the Governments policy to avoid war with Japan. The strength of the air forces in Malaya in November 1940 however, was only 88 first-line aircraft of which only 48 could be counted as modern. The previous month the Singapore Conference had recommended a strength of 582 aircraft for the Far East but it was admitted that this was an ideal and far beyond the bounds of practical possibility. When in July 1941 the Japanese spread into southern Indo-China the potential danger to Malaya and Burma increased as the move gave them a naval base within 750 miles of Singapore and airfields only 300 miles from Kota Bharu the nearest point in Malaya. By the latter part of November 1941 information accumulated which showed that an early Japanese attack was likely despite the negotiations in progress in Washington. Both land and air reinforcements had been reaching Malaya, and by 7th December the eve of the Japanese attack there were 158 first-line aircraft available with 88 in reserve the land forces counted 31 infantry battalions plus the equivalent of 10 volunteer battalions with some artillery engineers and a small armoured car unit and 5 battalions of Indian States forces with 7 field regiments, 1 mountain regiment 2 anti-tank regiments 4 coast defence regiments and five antiaircraft regiments of artillery and 10 field and 3 fortress companies of engineers— a total strength of close on 87000 men. Almost one quarter of them were British, about one-sixth Australians nearly one-half Indian Army and the remainder local forces. Even then the R.A.F. Far East Command was not in a position to fulfil its responsibility of being the primary means of resisting Japanese aggression while the
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