When war broke out in the Far East, the Regiment was in
process of expansion . . . In consequence . . . like many other units of our
Imperial Forces, itwas not fully prepared for the ordeal which it was to face. Nevertheless, these young and untried
soldiers acquitted themselves in a way that bore comparison with the very best
troops in Malaya. In particular, by
their stubborn defence of the Pasir Panjang Ridge at the height of the Battle
of Singapore, they set an example of steadfastness and endurance which will
become a great tradition in the Regiment and an inspiration to future
-Lieutenant General A.E. Percival-
Above: Buena Vista Hill (left centre) from Blakang Mati (Sentosa) Island
The Malay Regiment
colonial authorities in pre-World War II Malaya were very hesitant about
starting a new infantry regiment of Malays because they doubted that the
apparently easy-going Malay men could accept military discipline and be
diligent in performing military duties.
In the event the Malay Regiment totally confounded the colonial
pessimists, particularly during the final few days before the British surrender
of Singapore in mid-February 1942.
about starting the Malay Regiment began in 1920 between Malay Sultans and the
British but it was not until 1st March 1933 that an experimental
Company was raised, starting with 25 men selected from 1,000 applicants. Luckily for all concerned the officer placed
in charge of the experiment was Major G.McI.S. Bruce MC of The Royal
Lincolnshire Regiment, as he quickly learned to speak Malay and sympathetically
familiarised himself with aspects of Malay culture and Islam.
expanded the project and enlisted a further 125 men; there was never a shortage
of applicants because they flocked to the Regiment’s barracks at Port Dickson. Training was based on a British Army syllabus
with sports included, and was accompanied by an excellent diet and good recreational
facilities. Nearly all words of command
and instruction were given in the Malay language. Competitions were held for the smartest man
on parade and for the best kit layout.
British officers and Senior Ranks were seconded to the Regiment until
Malays could be trained and promoted to replace them.
In 1934, after
exhaustive tests, the authorities declared the experiment to be a success and
agreed to the Company being expanded to Battalion strength and this was
completed in 1936. The initial
establishment figures were 17 British officers; 6 Malay officers; 11 British
Warrant Officers and Senior Ranks and 759 other ranks. There were three rifle companies, ‘A’, ‘B’
and ‘C’, plus a support Company of medium machine gunners. More Malay officer cadets were recruited
whenever suitable applicants came forward.
of the Federated Malay States accepted financial responsibility for the
maintenance of the Regiment. The
colonial authorities were pleased as they now did not need to pay for a
battalion of the Indian Army to be seconded for security duties in Malaya.
Left: Sculpture of a Malay Regiment 3-inch mortar team
Bruce devised a
Regimental mufti (non-uniform civilian clothes) that embodied national dress
and which showed that the wearer was a soldier of the Regiment. The sarong and tie had three colours: green
for Islam; yellow for Malay royalty; and red for the British Army connection. A
religious teacher was appointed in 1933 and a large Regimental Mosque was built
at Port Dickson. Morale within the
Regiment was high and between 1933 and 1938 there was only one recorded case of
such as rifle, light machine gun and anti-tank rifle marksmanship, medium
machine gunnery, 3-inch mortar procedures, signalling, pioneer, medical and
provost duties were taught to a high standard and a regimental band and corps
of drums were formed. Cooks, barbers and education staff were Malay. A
Carrier Platoon comprising ten Bren gun carriers was formed and trained by the
British Army 2nd Battalion The Loyal Regiment; the Loyals also
assisted with the training of young Malay officers in Singapore.
When war broke
out in Europe in 1939 additional Companies of the 1st Battalion were formed and
later withdrawn to form a 2nd Battalion The Malay Regiment on 1st
December 1941. The total strength of the
2nd Battalion was 453 men. One
week later both Battalions were at war with Japan.
The fighting on the Malaya peninsula
Japanese invaded Malaya in early December 1941 the Commander of The Malay
Regiment was Lieutenant Colonel J.T. Bretherton-Hawkshead-Talbot MC, who was
based at the Port Dickson Depot. The 1st
Battalion was commanded by Major J.R.G. Andre and the 2nd Battalion
by Lieutenant Colonel F.W. Young. The
only two sub-units to see action on the Malay Peninsula were ‘A’ and ‘D’
Companies of the newly raised and partially trained 2nd Battalion;
each company consisted of three rifle platoons.
experienced a reasonably straightforward withdrawal southwards from Kelantan on
the east coast as part of 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, then as part
of a Rearguard titled Macforce, and then as part of another grouping named Westforce.
The company came under air attack a few times and was involved in skirmishes in
Johore before it passed over the Singapore causeway in an exhausted condition
on 24th January 1942 to join the 2nd Battalion at
Normanton Camp. In Johore Corporal Napi had
been killed and three other men wounded.
commanded by Captain A.S. Taylor saw rather more action and exertion on the
west coast. After serving as ordnance
depot guards and convoy security escorts the men came under fire on the 18th
December on the south bank of the Krian River near Sungai Bakap in Province
Wellesley, repelling a Japanese attempt to cross the water using sampans
(flat-bottomed local boats).
The Company was
then withdrawn to Port Dickson, receiving enemy air attacks on the way, where
it performed area security patrols looking for Japanese sea or airborne landings
along the coast. By then the Japanese
had air superiority, and because of a panicky British retreat from Penang Island
during which many coastal craft were left intact, they had naval mobility which
was used for outflanking operations.
As the series of
Japanese tactical victories led to further British withdrawals down the west
coast ‘D’ Company moved south to Batu Pahat, where on 18th January
1942 it was incorporated into 6/15th Infantry Brigade’s defence of
the south bank of the Batu Pahat River.
That night was quite lively as all three platoons repelled Japanese
intruders. On the following night the
Japanese outflanked the defenders who fell back to Senggarang airstrip. Fighting here amongst coconut plantations and
mangrove swamps ‘D’ Company began to take casualties and lose men as prisoners
of war. By this stage of the campaign
the Japanese, although winning, were displaying streaks of cruelty when
exasperated and groups of British wounded and unwounded soldiers were sometimes
In this area
Lieutenant Ibrahim Bin Alla Ditta (Left) earned a Military
Cross with the citation:
At a time when this officer’s company was cut off,
in company with other British units, by the Japanese between Pahat and
Senggarang in Johore, Lieutenant Ibrahim Bin Alla Ditta, on more than one
occasion penetrated between the enemy’s positions and brought back extremely
valuable information; he showed great bravery in carrying out this dangerous
occasion Lieutenant Ibrahim led his platoon forward to recover and haul back
two British guns which had been hit but not severely damaged. The two other platoon commanders, Lieutenants
Mohammed Ali and Yazid Ahmad also performed outstandingly, their local
knowledge being used to good effect.
Mohammed Ali accompanied the Brigade Major and a senior rank of 6/15th
Brigade in a sampan 32 miles down the coast to request assistance from Divisional
HQ at Pontian Kechil, the 2,000 remaining men of the Brigade were evacuated off
a beach at Ponggor by HMS Dragonfly
and HMS Scorpion on the 28th
January. The Japanese were busily using
a main road 1,000 yards away but the steadiness and discipline of the men
awaiting embarkation ensured a quiet withdrawal. ‘D’ Company arrived on Singapore Island at
1400 hours on 29th January with men and weapons caked in mud from
the evacuation beach. Both Battalions of
The Malay Regiment were then on Singapore Island with the Depot staff and
trainees divided between them; that increased the 2nd Battalion’s
strength to 580 men.
Preparations for the Battle for Singapore Island
Battalions of the Malay Regiment had a combined strength of around 1,400 men
including raw recruits, and they were placed with the 2nd Battalion
The Loyal Regiment into the 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade. The Brigade, commanded by Brigadier G.G.R.
Williams, late of the Loyals, was tasked with defending the western part of the
Southern Area of Singapore Island. The 1st
Battalion concentrated on beach defences in the sector west of Singapore City
to the Jurong River; the 2nd Battalion occupied positions on the
line of the Jurong River with forward troops west of the River. The Loyals were deployed on Blakang Mati Island
(now named Sentosa Island) off the south coast of Singapore Island.
On the night of
8th February around 13,000 troops from two Japanese divisions
crossed over from the mainland onto the north-west coast of Singapore
Island. The Australian defence in that
sector did not hold and soon demoralised Australian soldiers were retreating
without orders. The Japanese were well
outnumbered by the British but they fought harder and more ruthlessly and soon
gained a moral superiority over some Indian Army battalions as well as
Australian units. When a third Japanese
division crossed over onto the island the men holding the British succession of
defensive lines kept retreating as they were outflanked in turn.
February Brigadier Williams had concentrated his battalions with 1st
Malay Regiment holding a line starting on the southern coast in Pasir Panjang
village and running uphill 1,200 yards north to Hill 125; 2nd Malay
Regiment extending this line further north but occupied positions west of
Reformatory Road (which ran from Pasir Panjang village to Bukit Timah Village) to
the junction with Ayer Rajah Road; then 2nd Loyals held positions
north and south east of that road junction.
The feature that the 1st Malay battalion was holding was
known as Pasir Panjang Ridge, and the advancing Japanese troops intended to
seize it. A section of Loyals Bren
carriers moved to Pasir Panjang village where they assisted the 1st
Malay in deterring Japanese patrols from advancing. The 1st Malay medium machine guns
were sited on the high ground above the village and they also were used to
break up advancing enemy groups.
Night-time enemy “jitter” patrols using noisy firecracker grenades kept
everyone in the Brigade awake, leading to exhaustion creeping in.
Above: British defence map of Singapore Island
day in the evening, seeing that his Brigade was exposed to the north because of
withdrawals by other units, Brigadier Williams withdrew 2nd Malay
and 2nd Loyals to the east of Reformatory Road. 2nd Malay was positioned in depth
from Ayer Rajah Road south to The Gap Ridge.
1st Malay was left were it was in its good defensive
positions. Deserters and demoralised
stragglers from other units now passed from west to east through the Malay
Battalions’ positions, but the discipline of the two Battalions stayed firm and
positions were held without hesitation.
Demolition fires had been started in the Normanton depot south-east of
The Gap crossroads, and flames illuminated the night sky.
Not all British
stragglers passed through the positions as some groups of men rallied and took
up defensive posts in support of the Malays on Point 270 and along the ridge
from there to The Gap. These unofficial
reinforcements included 60 survivors of an anti-aircraft unit under a Captain
Pool who manned Point 270 and the ridge to The Gap, and three Australian Bren
gun carriers that supported the 1st Malay ‘B’ Company in Bueno Vista
Village. Similarly the gunners from the
Buena Vista Battery had disabled their guns as ordered and then joined 2nd
Loyals as reinforcements. To the north
the British defence of Singapore was crumbling, but on Pasir Panjang Ridge it
stood waiting to be tested.
The fighting on Pasir Panjang Ridge
of February started ominously with heavy enemy bombardments of the 1st
Malaya Brigade’s positions. Japanese
observation officers were aloft in a tethered balloon to the west of the island
and they adjusted their artillery fire very accurately (the Royal Air Force was
by this time impotent or had evacuated itself); the HQs of both Malay
Battalions received direct hits that killed key personnel and severely
disrupted communications. At least five
officers were killed by artillery and mortar fire and seven others were wounded
before the Japanese moved forward.
In the early afternoon
elements of the Japanese 18th Division advanced under supporting
fire from mortars, artillery, aeroplanes and tanks. All the battalions in 1st Malaya
Brigade were hit hard but the 2nd Malay received the hardest
knocks. The enemy attack cut through 2nd
Malay and its gunner reinforcements on Point 270 and seized Point 177. The undergrowth on the ridge was aflame and
smoke filled the air. 2nd
Malay fell back through the blazing Normanton fuel depot to the Alexandra
Brickworks area. Regrettably a unit of
Indian Sappers & Miners mistook the 2nd Malay soldiers for
Japanese troops and fired at them and the Loyals who were west of the
Malays. Some casualties occurred before
order was restored and then 2nd Malay was withdrawn into Brigade
Reserve on Bukit Chermin Hill.
then turned on 1st Malay in Pasar Panjang Village and the slopes
above it. Bren gun carriers from the
Loyals and an unknown Australian unit supported the Malays, as did some British
gunners fighting as infantrymen. Fires and
smoke altered the battlefield to a series of independent actions where
defenders had little knowledge of anything except the enemy manoeuvring to
their front. Ammunition shortage and
casualty evacuation were big problems for the young platoon commanders and the
gunners acting as riflemen. Some positions
were held until midnight when a withdrawal was made.
In this area No.
189 Private Yaakob Bin Bidin (right) earned a Military
Medal for taking the fight to the Japanese, as his citation shows:
On 13th February 1942 No. 189 Private Yaakob
Bin Bidin was in charge of a Bren Gun.
The enemy attacked and outflanked his Company’s position, at the same
time setting fire to the undergrowth in the vicinity. Regardless of personal safety this soldier
advanced through the burning undergrowth until he was in a position from which
he could open fire on an enemy mortar, which was causing casualties to his
company. This enemy mortar he succeeded
in completely neutralising.
When his platoon
position was overrun by the Japanese Yaakob escaped death because he was
unconscious from a wound, and the enemy attackers assumed that he was dead.
‘C’ Company 1st
Malay, the defender of Pasir Panjang Village, was extracted at midnight by Bren
gun carriers and moved back through ‘B’ Company 1st Malay which was
holding a strong road block at Buena Vista Village. ‘C’ Company was then deployed 500 yards
inland to a position at the end of Pasir Panjang Ridge near the Government
Opium Factory. Throughout the day Major
Andre and his 2nd in Command, Major G.T. Denaro, had visited the 1st
Malay Companies to see the situation for themselves and to direct
reorganization after a fight. These
visits continued until hostilities ceased.
The Final hours of the Battle for Singapore
Valentines’ Day, 14th February, saw ‘B’ Company 1st Malay
under serious pressure at their roadblock in Buena Vista Village, and in the
afternoon Japanese tanks broke through the block resulting in the defenders
fighting hand to hand with the enemy infantry that followed the tanks. During the action the ‘B’ Company Commander,
Major G.P. Richards, became trapped when his carrier was disabled by an enemy
tank. Lieutenant A.G. McKenzie earned a Military Cross by rescuing him:
2nd Lieutenant (Acting Lieutenant) A.G.
McKenzie, General List seconded Malay Regiment. During the afternoon of 14th February
1942 Lieutenant McKenzie was at ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion the Malay
Regiment HQ. While there firing broke
out from one of the forward platoons.
The Company Commander went forward in a Bren Carrier to reconnoitre the
situation. The carrier had gone about
one hundred yards down the road when it encountered an enemy tank at 50 yards
range. The carrier was twice hit and
ditched. Lieutenant McKenzie seeing this, and believing the
Company Commander and driver to be wounded, went forward single handed to help
them. He crept along the hedges and
walls at the side of the road until he heard some shouting and looking over the
hedge saw a party of Japanese bringing an Infantry gun into action supported by
a tank. He engaged the gun team with his
tommy gun killing or wounding the whole team.
His action in doing so enabled the Company Commander and carrier driver
to get away unharmed. Throughout the
time that the Battalion was engaged with the enemy Lieutenant McKenzie showed
the greatest coolness and courage.
Some ‘B’ Company
men escaped east along the beach and joined men of 1st Malay on
Labrador Hill; others were captured and a few continued fighting as they
withdrew. 2nd Lieutenant
Khalid Bin Hashim, supported by Sergeant Hussein Mat Som, got together 15 men
of ‘B’ Company and defended a house, expecting a British counter-attack. They were shelled by their own side and after
killing six Japanese stragglers for the loss of three of their own men (Privates
Hamid Bin Man, Pilus Bin Aris, and Yassin Bin Hajji Latif) they withdrew to
Above: Artist's impression of The Malay Regiment in action
‘C’ Company was located
slightly inland on a hill near the Opium Factory but its isolated position was
west of a big drain running from the Normanton oil depot, and the drain was
full of burning oil that sometimes was an impassable wall of fire. After receiving enemy shell fire in the
morning a column of soldiers dressed as Indian Army Punjabi troops advanced
towards ‘C’ Company. But seeing that the
‘Punjabis’ were marching in four ranks instead of the British three ranks the
Malays opened fire with Lewis guns and killed over 20 of them; this incensed
the Japanese who had been masquerading as Punjabis.
Two hours later
a heavy enemy attack hit the Malays and penetrated the defence. The Malays stood their ground, fighting until
they were over-run, all the officers except Lieutenant Adnan
Bin Saidi and 2nd Lieutenant Abbas Bin
Abdul Manan were killed. Lieutenant Adnan
Bin Saidi was taken alive and bayoneted to death along with several of his men;
his body was then hung by its feet from a tree and burial was denied. Lieutenant Adnan, commanding No. 7 Platoon,
although wounded had handled a Lewis gun as the Japanese approached and he had
exhorted his men to fight to the death, which many of them did. The Japanese had not anticipated such a level
of aggression and sacrifice from fellow Asians.
Lieutenant Abbas Bin Abdul Manan and four survivors from his platoon attempted
to escape, two of the men being badly burned in the drain fire before the three
others got back to Labrador Hill and reported the demise of ‘C’ Company. Both Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi and 2nd
Lieutenant Abbas Bin Abdul Manan were later awarded a Mention in Despatches, Adnan’s being posthumous. The two burned men crawled away and hid
themselves overnight before being found and recovered by ‘B’ Company men the
Above: The Malay Regiment at bayonet practice, Singapore
Right: Sculpture of Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi
The last serious
action between the Malay Regiment and the Japanese took place in the evening of
the 14th February when a column of around two companies of Japanese
openly marched towards ‘D’ Company 1st Malay. Why the Japanese moved like that is not known,
nor why they did not use tanks – perhaps they had been given false
information. ‘D’ Company and Bn HQ were strongly
entrenched on a low hill overlooking the brickworks and the Battalion’s 3-inch
mortars were in position. In the words
of Lieutenant McKenzie:
“Imagine our surprise and delight when the
Nips appeared marching straight down the Pasir Panjang Road – in fours! We let them get to within 100-150 yards of
‘D’ Company HQ and let them have it with machine guns first and then
mortars. Almost every man of the first
company was slaughtered and a lot further back too. A Loyals officer up on the right counted 94
bodies on that part of the road that he could see alone.”
Private Sulong Ahmed, later stated that every available weapon was used against
the Japanese – rifles, Lewis guns, rifle grenades, revolvers, anti-tank rifles
and mortars. Sulong was wounded
seriously in the neck and sent to hospital.
The surviving Japanese took cover and returned fire then withdrew after
darkness fell. Regimental Sergeant Major
(RSM) Ismail Bin Baba corroborated Sulong Ahmed’s account stating that the enemy
bodies lay piled on top of each other.
RSM Ismail had
been a tower of strength to Major Andre and later he was admitted as a Member of The Order of The British Empire
(MBE) with this citation:
During the period 11th to 15th
February 1942 when the Battalion were in close contact with the enemy No. 88
Regimental Sergeant Major Ismail Bin Baba carried out his duties with great
devotion, loyalty and courage. His
courage and coolness while under fire was the greatest value in steadying and
encouraging the Malay other ranks. Even
at the most critical moments he showed great coolness and loyalty and complete
disregard for personal safety.
Although the day
finished on a high note for 1st Malay, elsewhere for the British it
had been a bad day, especially for the patients and staff of Alexandra
Hospital. After a group of Indian
soldiers had fired on the enemy from within the hospital grounds Japanese
troops stormed into the hospital and in an orgy of killing massacred over 200
patients and staff. A corporal of the
Loyals was bayoneted to death whilst lying on the operating table.
Above: Pasir Panjang Village machine gun pillbox
On the final day
of fighting, the 15th February, the Japanese confronting 1st
Malay Brigade threw most of their weight against the Loyals who were now defending
Gillman Barracks, their peace-time home. Both Malay Battalions had a relatively
quiet day, re-organising and searching for battlefield casualties. By 2000 hours that evening all British units were
being informed through their chain of command that they had surrendered to the
Major Andre then
gave a very prescient order to the Malay officers in the 1st
Battalion, telling them to put on non-regimental mufti and vanish into the
civilian population; he saved their lives.
On the 15th and 16th February the survivors of
both Battalions gathered on the Keppel Golf Links area where the Japanese
segregated the Malay personnel – eight officers and around 600 men – before
marching them off to join the Indian troops in the Farrer Park concentration area. The British personnel were eventually marched
to and interned in Changi Military Camp.
were disappointed in the fact that Malays had fought against them instead of
rising up to fight against the British, but generally after a short period of
imprisonment or forced labour the Malay prisoners of war were released to
return home. Some of the Malay prisoners
were unlucky and were sent to labour camps in Thailand and Indonesia, and a few
were amongst a group of nearly 100 Malay prisoners, probably mostly of Chinese
extraction, who were massacred by machine gun fire near The Gap. The Japanese were ruthlessly determined to destroy
any Chinese ability to fight back through resistance movements, and the easiest
way to do that was to murder as many young Chinese men as was possible.
Above: The wooded slopes in the foreground and centre were the final positions of 1st Malaya Brigade
officers of 2nd Malay fell foul of their captors whilst prisoners of
war, and they paid the ultimate price.
The officers were Lieutenants: Mohd Ariffin Bin Haji Sulaiman; Abdul
Wahid Bin Judin; Ibrahim Bin Sidek; Abdullah Bin Saat and Abbas Bin Mohd Saaid. These five honourable men, along with three Malay
Volunteer Forces officers: Captain Raja Aman Shah; 2nd Lieutenant
Abu Bakar and Lieutenant Osman Bin Kring, refused to either work for the
Japanese or remove their British uniforms and badges of rank. All eight brave men were executed by the
Japanese. Lieutenant Abbas Bin Mohd
Saaid posthumously received a Mention in
The award of two Distinguished Service Orders
Andre later was awarded Companionship of The Distinguished Service Order (DSO):
During the fighting at Singapore Island between the
11th and 15th February 1942, this officer commanded his
Battalion with great gallantry combined with extreme calmness and
judgement. The Battalion, which had not
previously been under fire and which was largely officered by inexperienced
personnel, took a prominent part in the successful defence of the western
outskirts of Singapore. The casualties,
both in officers and men were numerous, but throughout Major Andre maintained a
high standard of efficiency and morale.
It was due to his own personal courage and personality that the
Battalion under his Command played its part well. He was invariably cheerful and cool in
emergency, and at all times inspired those under him by his example.
His Battalion 2nd
in Command, Major G.T. Denaro also received a DSO:
This officer served with great distinction during
the fighting on Singapore Island between 11th and 15th
February 1942. On one occasion, as 2nd
in Command of the 1st Battalion he went along to the assistance of
one company in which three officers had been killed and which had become
disorganised. Under intense fire he
rallied the remnants of the Company and part of another Company which had also
received heavy casualties. By his
personal courage and determination he restored the situation at a critical
time. Although wounded on 14th
February he remained at duty and continued to inspire all ranks by his cheerful
and gallant conduct throughout the operations.
Above: A wing of the Singapore Memorial
A successful escape to India and the award of two Military
officers escaped from Singapore and eventually reached India to continue
serving in the British Forces. Their
citation tells their tale:
Captain (acting Major) G.P. Richards, The South
Staffordshire Regiment (attached The Malay Regiment). 2nd Lieutenant (acting Captain) E.H.S.
Bretherton, General List (attached The Malay Regiment). These two officers were captured at Singapore on 15th
February 1942, and were imprisoned on the top floor of Gillman Barracks in very
over-crowded conditions. Four days
later, owing to the guard’s inattention, they managed to slip downstairs
unobserved, and after hiding in an unused room until late at night they crept
out of the barrack area. For three days
they travelled over the island looking for food to supplement the scanty ration
they had brought away with them. They
discovered that two Japanese were quartered in every village, and that daily
house to house searches were made, during which all iron implements and a good
many clothes were taken and that in houses where there were women, trouble
generally took place.
On the 22nd February they made their way
to the River Pandan estuary where they had arranged to wait for any other
escapers. Here they could see the masts
of two Chinese schooners which had been beached to block the estuary. On the following day, when they had given up
hope of being joined by others, they went upstream where they found a 12 foot
Malay sailing boat], which they took down
to the estuary to board the Chinese schooners.
In these they found tins of water, ropes and a pole, from which it was
possible to fit out and rig the “bedar”. At about midnight, after the “bedar” had nearly
sunk through its gunwale having become stuck under one of the schooners, they
set sail and next morning they reached one of the Northern Merlimau islands
where they found the villagers scared, but not unfriendly. The Japanese had previously ransacked the
place, and as they were due back that morning, the villagers were anxious for
the party to leave. They thereupon headed for the Rhio islands where
they hoped to be picked up by someone friendly.
Whilst idling across the main Singapore Straight they passed within 400
feet of a Japanese destroyer and later very close to six Japanese
mine-sweepers, but they were not stopped, presumably because of the Malay hats
and coats which they were wearing.
At midday on 26th February they reached
Tanjong Bali on Karimoen Island, where they received assistance from the Dutch
and from where they were ultimately able to reach India.
Richards and Captain Bretherton were awarded the Military Cross.
Left: Detail from the Singapore Memorial
The price that was paid in blood by The Malay
Regiment at Singapore
War Graves Commission commemorates a total of 264 men of the Malay Regiment who
died of all causes during World War II.
These dead are listed on the Singapore Memorial, the Singapore
(Unmaintainable Graves) Memorial, the Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial, and
on individual grave markers in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
Because of the
breakdown of regimental record keeping due to the British surrender in
Singapore it is not possible to be accurate about how many men were killed or
died of wounds in the final days of fighting.
Dol Ramli’s excellent article comments that during the fighting on 12th,
13th and 14th of February The Malay Regiment lost 6
British officers, 7 Malay officers and 146 other ranks killed in action. A large but unspecified number of men were
wounded and a number of them appear to have died from their wounds in the
aftermath of the British surrender
Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Singapore are strongly recommended to see the military museum titled Reflections at Bukit Chandu which is up
on the ridge above Pasir Panjang Village.
This is an absorbing World War II interpretive centre commemorating the
stand of the Malay Regiment on the actual ground where the museum is located. Nearby on a coastal hill are the interesting
remains of the Labrador gun battery and on Sentosa Island is another military
museum based around the battery of guns that were located there.
Army Museum Port Dickson, Malaysia
visitors to the Kuala Lumpur area of Malaysia should see the Army Museum at
Port Dickson, a pleasant coastal resort.
The Museum can easily absorb two or three hours of your time and The
Malay Regiment is strongly featured in the exhibits.
After World War
II ended The Malay Regiment was reformed and survivors of the wartime unit were
invited to return to its ranks.
“1st Malay was an experiment that
now vindicated its champions.”
Brian Farrell in The Defence and Fall of Singapore 1940-42.
APPENDIX 1 Awards to The Malay Regiment for service in World
Distinguished Service Order:
Major James Richard Glencoe
ANDRE (17888), The Lincolnshire Regiment (Chichester).
Major George Tancred DENARO,
The York & Lancaster Regiment.
Lieutenant Alister George
MACKENZIE (225856), General List (Northampton). (Attached The Malay Regiment). Lieutenant IBRAHIM BIN ALI DITTA, The Malay Regiment. Captain (acting Major) Griffith Powell RICHARDS, (41421), The South
Staffordshire Regiment (attached the Malay Regiment). Second-Lieutenant (acting Captain) Edward Howard Stanley BRETHERTON
(26935), General List (attached The Malay Regiment).
No. 182 Private YACOB BIN
BINDIN, The Malay Regiment.
Member of The Order of The British Empire (MBE):
No. 88 Regimental
Sergeant-Major ISMAIL BIN BABA, The Malay Regiment.
Mention in Despatches:
Lieutenant Colonel J.T. BRETHERTON-HAWKSHEAD-TALBOT MC (8257). Lieutenant ABBAS BIN MOHD SAIID (since died). Lieutenant ADNAN (90) (since died). 2nd Lieutenant ABBAS BIN ABDUL MANAN (283). 2nd Lieutenant NOOR DIN (315) (since died). 63 Sergeant ALI HASHIM BIN HASHIM. 246 Corporal ABDUL RANI BIN MAY HUSSEIN. Private ABDUL WAHUB.
Medal awarded to No. 12766 Private BAN TSAN CHUAN In Supplement to The London
Gazette No. 37671 appears to be wrongly attributed to The Malay Regiment as
Private BAN’s unit as written on his citation was 3rd Malayan
Volunteers Field Ambulance; also his Regimental Number does not fit in with
Malay Regiment numbers. The citation is
copied here for general interest:
This man was attached to 1 Argyll & Sutherland
Highlanders with his ambulance during the fighting in Malaya from 14th
December 1941 until 8th January 1942, when the unit was cut off at
SLIM RIVER. He showed marked gallantry, initiative and energy
in transporting back wounded; in particular at GOPENG-DIPANG when Jap tanks had
appeared and shot up some of the Argyll’s armoured cars, and the situation was
much confused with heavy fighting in progress, he repeatedly drove his
ambulance close up to the front, then some 200 yards away, to collect wounded.
Ø K.D. Bhargava MA & K.N.V. Sastri PhD. Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in
the Second World War 1939-45. Campaigns in South-East Asia 1941-42.
(Pentagon Press reprint, Delhi 2012). Ø Captain C.G.T. Dean MBE. The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) 1919-1953. (Regimental HQ The
Loyal Regiment, Preston 1955). Ø Brian P. Farrell. The Defence and Fall of Singapore 1940-1942. (Tempus paperback
edition 2006). Ø Major General S. Woodburn Kirby. UK
Official History. The War Against Japan. Volume 1: The Loss of Singapore.
(Naval & Military Press softback reprint). Ø Jeff Partridge.
The Alexandra Massacre. https://web.archive.org/web/20051018131718/http://www.nesa.org.uk/html/alexandra_massacre.htm Ø Dol Ramli. History of The Malay Regiment 1933-1942.
(Article in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society,
Vol.38, Pt.1, (No. 207). Available on the internet on JSTOR. Ø London Gazette Supplements No. 35670 dated Tuesday
18th August 1942, No. 37386 dated 13th December 1945, and
No. 37671 dated Thursday 1st August 1946. Ø Reflections at Bukit Chandu. https://www.nhb.gov.sg/museums/reflections-at-bukit-chandu Ø Army Museum Port Dickson, Malaysia: http://army.mod.gov.my/muziumtd/index.php Ø The author’s own photographs.