Tradegy: Major Kelly Killed – Buloh Kasap, Malaya ( 19th January 1941)

Bulok Kasap

Major Kelly Killed – Buloh Kasap, Malaya – 19th Jan 1941

Des had great respect for Major Kelly. This painting depicts the crew of a quad tractor attempting to shift Major Kelly’s upturned vehicle at Buloh Kasap while being defended by artillery (25 pounder gun) and light arms cover.

‘Kelly J.E. (Major 464, Killed in Action, Buloh Kasp when armoured car turned over, 19/1/1942.’

‘The next day the gun lines were pulled back to 1,000 yards in front of Buloh Kasap, and despite the fact that both the British and Australian gunners had separate commands, and some scrambling for the best battery positions, the retirement was worked out amicably. The pressure continued: 464 Battery had to fire a heavy programme in answer to enemy fire, and later ‘E’ Troop had to be withdrawn a further mile. ‘F’ Troop followed on a little later, by which time there were fires burning fiercely in Segamat. Unfortunately Major Kelly’s armoured car, which was acting as a mobile observation post, turned over, and he was killed. Finally that evening news came that the Japanese threat down the coast was serious and the whole force fell back on Labis, Here a new position was set up on the road, flanked by dense jungle, and it was hoped that the Japanese could be surprised here, as they had been at Gemas.’

‘Denis Houghton became acting Major of 8th Brigade, after the loss of Major Kelly.’

Source: Lancashire Gunners at War – The 88th Field Regiment, 199 – 1945 by Stephen Bull, Pgs 69, 70 and 144

“When, before the war, a Government official, now Lord Llewellyn, queried Major – General Dobbie about the complete absence of fortifications on the north coast of Singapore, though the east and the west and the south bristled with armaments, the General replied simply: ‘The north needs no fortification. No one could get through the jungle that leads to it’
Unfortunately, the Japanese were never informed of this fact!”
(Sir John Dill, May 6th, 1941)
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 284