Under Attack At Kluang (Jan 1942)

Kluang, January 1942Under Attack At Kluang – Jan 24 – 27 1942

‘The 88th Field Regiment, RA, which had just been in action for three consecutive days, in three different places, under three different brigadiers, had been hoping that the end of the action around Yong Peng would mean a brief respite. Whatever rest there was was brief indeed, for within seven hours of halting orders had come through for them to move north west to Kluang where they would support a counter attack by 22nd Infantry Brigade. Matters were somewhat complicated by the fact that 5th Field Regiment was already in the locality; and the commanding officers of the two regiments therefore agreed to leave the communication cables laid by the 5th Field Regiment in place, their cable being made up  from an equivalent amount that the 88th signallers had on their drums.’

Source: Lancashire Gunners at War – The 88th Field Regiment, 199 – 1945 by Stephen Bull, Pgs 72

“Thanks to their control of the skies, the Japanese were able to project the battlefront beyond their foremost troops, strafing and bombing the roads to harass and delay troop movements. The Japanese planes frequently caught civilians, exposed and defenceless on the roads, and strafed them mercilessly with machine – gun fire, ‘like a lawnmower cutting down grass’.”

Source: The Long Road To Changi, Ewer Peter, 2013, pg 163

The Aircraft: Nakajima Ki.27 ‘Nate’ (possibly a Aichi D3A Type 99 ‘Val’)

‘Originally designed in the mid 1930s as a fighter., the Nate was used in the dive bombing role in Malaya. It also saw service in Burma, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. It was armed with two machine guns and carried small 25kg bombs.’

Source: httpwww.fortsiloso.com thanks to Peter Stubbs and Graham Bettany

“In all of Malaya, of all types – Tiger Moths, antiquated bombers, inferior fighters – there were only 141 aircraft, none of them, by Japanese standards, first line.”
(General Percival’s Report on the Malayan Campaign)
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 285

As in Singapore, Australia’s RAAF was also ill prepared following the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. An inventory revealed they had Hudson bombers, Catalina flying boats, Seagulls/Walrus sea planes and the fastest of them all the Wirraways able to attain a top speed of 220 miles per hour, 110 miles per hour slower than the Japanese Zero’s. Australia had in total on it’s home shores a total of just 177 aircraft, Japan had 1,500 high performance aircraft based on aircraft carriers and on islands to the north.

Source: Catalina Dreaming, pg 7

‘We weren’t exactly told that our aircraft in Malaya and Singapore weer obsolescent, inadequate and no match for the Japs, but it became obvious very soon. And while those responsible for that state of affairs are, no doubt, smugly drawing retirement pensions, we are stuck with the consequences of their unbelievable incompetence. We take this very personally; we do not accept that it was unavoidable but are in fact convinced that it need not have happened. There was too much complacent political fooling around and refusal to look at facts, too much wishful thinking instead of determined resolve in the years before the war. And too much irresolution and plain disastrous strategy after it began.’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant, by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, Pg 426

Extracts from One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek reprinted by permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Copyright © Ian Denys Peek 2003