Page 06 – 07 / 1941 – 42

Left Hand Page

Application form for joining the Territorial Army

Right Hand Page

Precis of lecture given by Lt. Gen. Sir Lewis Heath.

The Malaya Campaign (Nov. 1941 Feb 1942)

Precise of a lecture given by Lt-Gen. Sir Lewis Health, K.B.E., C.B., C.L.E., D.S.O., M.C., Commander Indian Corps.


The Malay Peninsula consisted of a conglomeration of states under different types of rule.

  1. The Straits Settlements of SINGAPORE, PENANG, & PROVINCE WELLESLEY.
  2. The Federated Malay States of [unknown], PAHANG, SELANGOR & NEGRI SEMBILAN under British Protection.
  3. The Unfederated States of [unknown], KEHAD, KELANTAN, PERLIS & JOHORE, which although not under direct British rule, were each assisted by a British adviser responsible to the Governor in Singapore. Of these underrated states, JOHORE, situated immediately to the North of Singapore, possessed a government a little more advanced than the others.

It will be appreciated that the lack of uniformity in the government of the various states greatly complicated the problem of the defence of the Peninsula, especially in the case of the unfederated states, a policy of advice and protection, rather than control, had to be adopted.

The predominating topographical feature of the Peninsula is the range of mountains which bisects it from North to South. The average height of the range is 4,000 feet with some peaks running up to 7,000 feet. The mountains are almost completely covered with thick jungle which, although not entirely impenetrable, is very nearly so, unless jungle paths are used and the traveler is equipped with a machet or similar instrument for cutting undergrowth. At one time the jungle extended right down to the Coastal Belt, but on the West side of the Peninsula during the last 40 to 50 years this jungle has been replaced by belts of rubber, palm-oil, and [unknown] and the process is still continuing. Rice fields are found in [unknown] and [unknown] and there is open country in the surface tin-mining [unknown] of PERAN and in SELANGOR round the KUALA LUMPUR district. The [unknown] side of the Peninsula is much less developed than the West [unknown] entirely jungle with rice-fields in the coastal areas of KELANTAN. It will therefore be seen that, generally speaking, visibility is limited to no more than 100 yards throughout the Peninsula.

As may be expected, the central range of mountains greatly interferes with the communications of the Peninsula. There is a metre railway that connects SINGAPORE with BANGKOK, the capital of THAILAND. This railway bifurcates at GEMAS and runs on either side of the central ridge, eventually meeting again at HADYAI near the important port of SINGGORAH in THAILAND. On the West side is a trunk road running right through from SINGAPORE to SINGGORAH, NEGRI SEMBILAN, the KUALA LUMPUR area of DELANGOR, the IPOH district of PERAK and S. KEDAH. On the East the road system peters out at Kuala Lipis, and communication with KELANTAN and the important KOTA BHARU area depends entirely on the railway. Two main roads connect the East with the West, one in JOHORE on the live JEMALUANG – KLUANG – BATU PAHAT, and the FRASER’S GAP road connecting KLUANTAN with the important towns in the West. It was hoped that this road would have important strategic value in operations but it was not possible to use it to its fullest advantage. In the North there is an important road which starts at PANTANI IN THAILAND and crosses the frontier at KROH. Formerly a very indifferent road, it had recently been improved and further improvements there were in progress when hostilities commenced. This road links up with the S. KEDAH network, and there is a further road through GRIK to KUALA KANSAR near IPOH, which, if captured by the enemy, would directly threaten our communications in the North.

Almost all the rivers in the Peninsula are not more than 100 yards broad in the lower level country, although S. PERAK in half-a-mile broad as far inland as KUALA KANSAR. The longest river in the country is the S. PAHANG, which is navigable for motor or landing craft, such as were used by the Japanese, until it reaches the eastern branch of the railway leading to KELANTAN.

By aero-plane, the distance from SINGAPORE to KHOTA BHARU is 350 miles and ALOH STAR in the North is 400 miles. By road the latter distance is 600 miles.