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THE BATTLE OF JITRA

INTRODUCTION

THE HONOURABLE COMMANDANT, CDS, HMC, HTD, DS BODY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

ASSALAMUALAIKUM AND A VERY GOOD MORNING,

1. LADIES AND GENTLEMENT, SUB SYNDICATE FIVE HAS BEEN GIVEN THE HONOUR
TO PRESENT YOU “THE BATTLE OF JITRA”. MOST OF US TODAY, COULD ONLY STUDY THIS
BATTLE FROM THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, BUT TO SOME OF OUR FATHER OR GRAND
FATHER, THEY WILL NEVER FORGET THEIR BITTER LIFE EXPERIENCE DURING JAPANESE
OCCUPATION IN THIS COUNTRY.

ACTUALLY THOSE EXPERIENCES, HAD MADE US A BETTER NATION TODAY. IN


FACT TO SOME EXTENT WE ARE BETTER THAN ANY THIRD WORLD NATION THAT HAVE
NEVER FACE SUCH HARD SHIP BEFORE! THUS, ON THE OTHER HAND WE SHOULD
ACCORD OUR GREAT APPRECIATION TO OUR EX- COLLONIAL MASTER FOR WHAT WE ARE
TODAY. THANK YOU.

LADIES AND GENTLEMENT,

NOW LET ME INTRODUCE TO YOU OUR SYNDICATE MEMBERS:

A. MEJ NOORUL AZRIL BIN ARIFFIN - LEADER


B. MEJ MOHD YUSOF BIN TAHIR
C. LT KDR MOHD SYAMIM BIN ABDULLAH TLDM
D. MEJ WAN IBRAHIM BIN WAN HARUN TUDM
E. MAJ ISIDRO PURISIMA

OUR SUPERVISING DS IS LT KOL ZAKARIA BIN HJ ABDUL KARIM

AIM

2. THE AIM OF THIS PRESENTATION IS TO ANALYZE THE BATTLE OF JITRA, WHICH


WILL FOCUS ON TACTICS, COMMAND AND CONTROL AS WELL AS THE LESSON LEARNT
FROM THE CAMPAIGN RELEVANT TO THE PRESENT ERA.

SCOPE
LADIES AND GENTLEMENT,

3. THE SCOPE OF OUR PRESENTATION IS AS SHOWN

A. BACKGROUND
B. THE BATTLE OVERVIEW
C. THE CONDUCT OF THE BATTLE
D. ANALYSIS OF THE BATTLE
E. LESSON LEARNT
F. CONCLUSION

4. COLONEL MASANOBU TSUJI ONCE SAID.

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“ EVEN THE LONG-LEGGED ENGLISHMAN COULD NOT ESCAPE OUR TROOPS ON


BICYCLES.........THANKS TO BRITAIN’S DEAR MONEY SPENT ON THE EXELLENT PAVED
ROADS, AND TO THE CHEAP JAPANESE BICYCLES, THE ASSAULT ON MALAYA WAS EASY”

BACKGROUND

LADIES AND GENTLEMENT,

5. THE BATTLE OF JITRA SAW THE SECOND DEFEAT OF THE MIGHTY BRITISH IN
MALAYA. MANY MORE FOLLOWED LATER AND FINALLY RESULTED IN THE DEFEAT OF
SINGAPORE. THE MALAYA CAMPAIGN WAS ANTICIPATED TO TAKE 100 DAYS TO COMPLETE
BY THE JAPANESE, HOWEVER MUCH TO THEIR SURPRISE, IT ONLY LASTED 70 DAYS. THE
BATTLE OF JITRA ITSELF LASTED ONLY 3 DAYS, STARTING ON THE 10 TH AND ENDED ON
THE 12TH DECEMBER 1941.

6. THE OPERATION WOULD BEGIN WITH SURPRISE LANDINGS AT THREE POINT:


SINGGORA AND PATANI IN THAILAND, AND FUTHER SOUTH AT KOTA BHARU IN
KELANTAN. THE CHOICE OF THESE TARGETS HAD BEEN PRACTICALLY DICTATED BY
MALAYA’S TERRAIN AND ROAD NETWORK, WHICH ADMITTED NO OTHER POINT OF ENTRY
FOR MILITARY FORCES WITHIN THE PROTECTIVE RANGE OF JAPANCESE LAND-BASED AIR
CRAFT.

7. DURING THE INITIAL STAGES OF THE ATTACK, JAPANESE AIRCRAFT WOULD


OPERATE FROM BASES IN SOUTHERN INDO CHINA. THE ARMY 3RD AIR GROUP WOULD
DESTROY THE BRITISH AIR POWER IN THE NORTHERN MALAYA, AND PROVIDE COVER TO
THE INVASION CONVOYS, WHILE ALL THESE WAS BEING ACCOMPLISHED, THE IMPERIAL
GUARD DIVISION, THE THIRD DIVISION ASSIGNED TO THE 25TH ARMY, WOULD BE MOVING
OVER-LAND INTO THAILAND FROM INDO CHINA. AFTER OCCUPYING BANGKOK AND
SEIZING LOCAL AIRFIELDS, IT WOULD SHIFT SOUTH ALONG THE RAILWAY IN STAGES TO
JOIN THE 25TH ARMY. IT WOULD SUPPORT THE 5 TH DIVISION IN THE MAIN AND THEN
DRIVE DOWN THROUGH THE WEST COAST OF MALAYA TOWARD SINGAPORE.

8. THE JAPANESE WOULD JUST THROW A SMALL BUT LOCALLY SUPERIOR FORCES
AGAINST WIDELY SCATTERED POINTS ALONG THE THIN BRITISH DEFENCE LINE. ONCE
ASSURED OF AIR SUPREMACY, THEY WOULD DRIVE FOR SINGAPORE AS FAST AS
POSSIBLE. THE ADVANCE SOUTH WOULD BE PROTECTED ON BOTH FLANKS AND
OVERHEAD BY THE JAPANESE SEA AND AIR POWER. DECEMBER THE 8 TH WAS SET AS THE
DATE FOR OPENING HOSTILITIES.

THE BATTLE OVERVIEW

ORDER OF BATTLE

9. ORDER OF BATTLE FOR BRITISH FORCES COMPRISES OF 3 INFANTRY BRIGADE OF


THE 11TH INDIAN DIV AS SHOWN ON SLIDE. THE DIV COMD WAS MAJ GEN MURRAY LYON.

10. ORDER OF BATTLE FOR THE JAPANESE WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THIS BATTLE
COMPRISES OF ONE BATALION WHO WAS THE ADVANCE GUARD OF THE 5TH DIVISION. THE
BATALION WAS COMMANDED BY LT KOL SHIZUO SAEKI. THE UNITS ARE AS SHOWN ON
THE SLIDE.

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OPERATION MATADOR

11. EARLY AUGUST 1941, THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF FAR EAST, AIR-CHIEF-MARSHAL


SIR ROBERT BROOKE POPHAM, WHO HAD FOUR MONTHS BEEN CONSIDERING THE
POSSIBILITY OF OCCUPYING PART OF THE ISTHMUS OF KRA IN SOUTHERN THAILAND,
FORMULATED A PLAN TO ADVANCE INTO SOUTHERN THAILAND AND OCCUPY THE
SINGGORA-PATANI AREA. THIS WOULD ENABLE THE BRITISH FORCES TO MEET THE
ENEMY ON THE BEACHES TO FORESTALL THE JAPANESE POSSESSION OF TWO
AERODROMES, ONE AT SINGGORA AND THE OTHER AT PATANI. BASED ON THE ABOVE
GENERAL PLAN, AN OFFENSIVE PLAN CODE NAMED OPERATION MATADOR WAS
CONCEIVED. WHEN THE PLAN MATADOR DID NOT MATERIALISE, AT 1350 HR DECEMBER
THE 8TH , 11TH DIVISION WAS ORDERED TO OCCUPY THE JITRA POSITION IMMEDIATELY.

DISPOSITION

12. JITRA SITUATED IN THE STATE OF KEDAH, ABOUT 30 KM FROM THE BORDER OF
MALAYSIA/THAILAND. ON THE SCREEN SHOW THE BATTLE AREA OF JITRA, THE AREA
LAY ASTRIDE THE ROAD JUNCTION WHERE THE RD TO KANGAR BRANCHED FROM THE
MAIN TRUNK ROAD TO THAILAND. TO THE WEST IS RAILWAY LINE CONNECTING ARAU TO
SOUTH. THERE ARE TWO RIVERS RUNS FROM EAST TO WEST I.E. SUNGAI JITRA ON THE
NORTH AND SUNGAI BATA AT THE SOUTH.

13. THERE WERE TWO MAIN APPROACHES TO JITRA, THE SINGGORA ROAD AND
ANOTHER ROAD COMING DOWN FROM NORTH – WEST, INSTEAD OF CONCENTRATING HIS
DEFENSES IN DEPTH ALONG THESE AVENUE, MURRAY LYON TRIED TO COVER EVERY
POSSIBLE APPROACHES ACROSS MORE THAN 20 KM FROM JITRA.

A. THE PLAN FOR DEFENCE OF JITRA POSITION IN THE NORTH WAS TO HOLD I
T WITH TWO BRIGADES FORWARD, 15TH BRIGADE ON THE RIGHT, AND 6TH BRIGADE
ON THE LEFT, AND 28TH BRIGADE IN RESERVE.

B. 15 BDE WITH 2ND/9TH JATS REGT ON THE RIGHT AND 1 ST LEICESTERSHIRE


REGT ON THE LEFT, HELD A FRONTAGE OF SOME 10 KM FROM THE JUNGLE – CLAD
HILLS ON THE RIGHT, THROUGH FLOODED PADI FIELD, SWAMPS AND RUBBER
ESTATES.

C. THE 6TH BRIGADE TO THE LEFT WITH 2 ND EAST SURREYS REGT ON THE
RIGHT AND 2ND/16TH PUNJAB REGT ON THE LEFT, AND 1ST/8TH PUNJAB REGT IN
DEPTH, THE BDE’S FRONTAGE COVERED APPROXIMATELY 29 KM, MOSTLY THE
SWAMP.

D. TO GAIN TIME FOR THE OCCUPATION OF THE MAIN DEFENCE POSITION,


1ST/14TH PUNJAB REGIMENT FROM 15 BRIGADE WAS DEPLOYED FORWARD TO
DELAY THE JAPANESE AT CHANGLUN (ABOUT 18 KM FORWARD). THE 2 ND/1ST
GURKHA FROM 28 TH BDE OCCUPIED POSITION AT ASUN (ABOUT 6 KM FROM
JITRA).

THE CONDUCT OF THE BATTLE

14. A FEW HOURS BEFORE DAWN OF DECEMBER 10TH, 9 BRIGADE AN ADVANCE GUARD
TH
TO 5 DIVISION OF IMPERIAL ARMY, SUPPORTED BY A BATTALION OF TANK AND A
BATTALION OF FIELD ARTILLERY, PUSHING DOWN THE SINGGORA – JITRA ROAD, CROSSED
THE BORDER INTO MALAYA. THEIR OBJECTIVE WAS THE PERAK RIVER. GENERAL
MATSUI’S IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE WAS THE 11 TH INDIAN DIVISION AT JITRA. FIRST
CONTACT CAME EARLY ON THE DECEMBER 10TH, LT COL SAEKI’S ARMOURED
RECONNAISSANCE DETACHMENT, THE LEADING ELEMENT OF THE ADVANCE, MEET

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FORWARD ELEMENT OF 1ST/14TH PUNJAB ASTRIDE THE SINGGORA ROAD JUST SOUTH OF
THE BORDER AND FORCED THEM TO WITHDRAW. THE PUNJABIS HAD BLOWN UP SMALL
BRIDGES AND CAUSEWAY AS THEY FELL BACK. BUT IT WAS CLEAR THAT DEMOLITION
ALONE COULD NOT STOP THE JAPANESE. COLONEL SAEKI KEPT UP THE PRESSURE
DURING THE DAY, AND BY EVENING WAS HALTED BY 1ST/14TH PUNJAB NEAR CHANGLUN,
ABOUT 18 KM NORTH OF JITRA.

15. MEAN WHILE MAJOR GENERAL SANRO KAWAMURA, COMMANDER OF THE


JAPANESE 9TH INFANTRY BRIGADE AND OVERALL IN CHARGE OF THE ATTACK ON JITRA,
WAS BECOMING INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE DELAYS CAUSE BY BRITISH
DEMOLITION. HE ATTACHED ADDITIONAL TANKS AND ENGINEERS TO SAEKI’S FORCES,
AND ORDERED HIM TO DRIVE FORWARD AS RAPIDLY AS HE COULD, CAPTURING BRIDGES
AND OTHER CRITICAL POINTS BEFORE THEIR DEFENDER HAD TIME TO BLOW THEM UP.

16. FURTHER ADVANCE BY THE JAPANESE HAD MANAGE TO OVER RUN THE 2 ND/1ST
GURKHA, HOLDING THE BRIDGE AT ASUN, BY EVENING THE JAPANESE HAD REACHED THE
MAIN POSITION IN JITRA.

17. TO THE WEST, MEANWHILE, FORWARD ELEMENTS OF THE 6 TH BRIGADE, WHILE


NOT UNDER PRESSURE, WERE FALLING BACK TO AVOID BEING OUT FLANKED AND TO
JOINT IN THE JITRA DEFENCE. THE PREMATURE DEMOLITION OF A BRIDGE BY AN
EXPERIENCE AND NERVOUS YOUNG OFFICER FORCED THE WITHDRAWING TROOPS TO
LEAVE MOST OF THEIR VEHICLES, WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENTS BEHIND.

18. PROBBING ATTACK WAS CONDUCTED ON THE DEFENCE, AND AT ABOUT 2030 HR,
THE JAPANESE OUT FLANKED THE RIGHT AND ATTACK THE CENTRE OF 15 TH BDE
POSITION. WITH THE FIGHTING HEAVY AND CONFUSED IN THE CONTINUING RAIN AND
EXAGGERATED REPORTS ENEMY PROGRESS LED BY BRIGADIER GARRET, COMMANDER
OF 15TH BRIGADE TO BELIEVE THAT THE SITUATION WAS MUCH WORST THEN IT WAS. IN
HIS CONCERN HE DID NOT CHECK WITH GENERAL MURRAY LYON, BUT CALLED
IMMEDIATELY ON BRIGADIER WILLIAM LAY, COMMANDER OF 6 TH BRIGADE FOR
REINFORCEMENT. DURING THE COURSE OF THE NIGHT, BRIGADIER LAY SENT HIM TWO
COMPANIES OF 1ST/8TH PUNJAB AND TWO COMPANIES OF 2ND/16TH PUNJABI TROOPS.
BRIGADIER GARRET COMMITTED THEM, PRACTICALLY AS SOON AS THEY ARRIVED, TO
MEET RENEWED AND HEAVIER JAPANESE BLOWS. COLONEL SAEKI BY NOW HAS ALSO
DEPLOYED HIS ENTIRE FORCE INCLUDING RESERVES. DESPITE THIS THE JAPANESE HAD
SOME WHAT INCREASED THEIR PENETRATION OF GARRET LINE, BUT COULD GO NO
FURTHER. BRIGADIER GARRET HAD MANAGE TO HALT THE ENEMY.

19. DURING THE MORNING OF DECEMBER 12TH, THE FIGHTING AT JITRA WAS
CONFUSED, BLOODY INDECISIVE. BY MID AFTERNOON, THE JAPANESE ADVANCE
APPEARED TO BE HALTED. NEVERTHELESS, A LARGE AND DANGEROUS GAP HAD BEEN
TORN IN THE JITRA LINE. JAPANESE PRESSURE CONTINUED, CONFUSSION AND DOUBT
WERE GROWING AMONG THE DEFENDERS. ATTEMPTS WERE MADE TO CLOSE THE GAP
BUT FAILED, ATTEMPTS TO FORM A NEW LINE BELOW IT, BROUGHT MORE CASUALITIES
AND INCREASED DISORDER. FALSE REPORTS OF A JAPANESE ARMOURED ATTACK DID
NOTHING TO IMPROVE MATTERS.

20. THIS MARKED THE DEFEAT OF BRITISH AT JITRA WHICH FORCE THEIR
WITHDRAWAL TO SUNGAI KEDAH AT ALOR STAR.

21. THE JAPANESE SUFFERED 27 KILLED AND 83 WOUNDED.

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ANALYSIS OF THE BATTLE

THE JAPANESE SUCCESS

22. SOME OF THE FACTORS CONTRIBUTED TO THE JAPANESE VICTORY THAT


CONFIRMED TO CERTAIN PRINCIPLE OF WAR AND BASIC CONSIDERATION OF ADVANCE IN
JITRA BATTLE WERE:

A. ACQUISITION OF INFORMATION. THE JAPANESE HAD PLANTED AND


SENT THEIR INTELLIGENCE PERSONNEL TO STUDY AND ACQUIRE DETAIL
INFORMATION ON MALAYA WELL BEFORE THE OCCUPATION. THIS MOVE HAS
PROVIDED THEM A COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATION ABOUT THE TERRAIN OF
MALAYA, BRITISH DISPOSITION AND STRENGTH, LOCAL SUPPORT, CUSTOM AND
TRADITION OF THE MALAYAN . WITH ALL THE INFORMATION GATHERED THE
JAPANESE MANAGED TO PLAN THEIR TACTICS AND ADVANCE MORE EFFICIENT
AND EFFECTIVE.

B. SURPRISE. THE BRITISH WERE TAKEN BY SURPRISE WHEN THE JAPANESE


OFFENSIVES WERE SPEARHEADED BY MEDIUM AND LIGHT TANKS. THE BRITISH
HAD APPRECIATED THAT THE MALAYA TERRAIN IS GENERALLY ‘UNTANKABLE’
COUNTRY. ALTHOUGH CONTINGENCIES HAD BEEN ADOPTED TO DEAL WITH THE
TANK THREAT IN THE FORM OF MAKING AVAILABLE ANTI TANK WEAPONS, THERE
WAS NO THOUGHT GIVEN TO BRING IN TANKS WHICH ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE
WEAPON TO COUNTER OR COMBAT TANKS.

C. FLEXIBILITY AND MAINTENANCE OF MOMENTUM. JAPANESE FORCES


USED ORGANIC AND LOCAL TRANSPORTATION TO GET TO THEIR OBJECTIVES. THE
USED OF ENGINEER AHEAD OF TANKS TO REPAIR OR BUILD BRIDGES AND BREACH
OTHER OBSTACLES ALSO HELPED TO MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM OF ADVANCE.
FLEXIBILITY WAS EXERCISED IN VARIED FORM. THEY AVOIDED FRONTAL ATTACKS
INSTEAD RESORTED TO FLANKING MANEUVERS WADING THROUGH SWAMPS ,
DIFFICULT TERRAIN OR NIGHT ATTACK. GROUND COMMANDERS WERE ALSO
GIVEN FREEDOM OF ACTION TO BE UNDERTAKEN WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE
HIGHER COMMANDERS. FRESH TROOPS WERE EJECTED FOR EACH NEW ATTACK

D. MAINTENANCE OF MORALE. THE JAPANESE TROOP WERE HIGHLY


MOTIVATED, DISCIPLINED AND SPURNED ON BY THEIR SUCCESSES IN THE OTHER
THEATRE OF WAR. CONSTANT ROTATION OF ASSAULTING TROOPS IN THE ATTACK
AND THE LOW CASUALTIES SUFFERED ALSO HELPED TO MAINTAIN HIGH MORALE
WHICH RESULTED HIGH TENACITY FOR COMBAT.

E. WEATHER AND TERRAIN. THE DARK NIGHT AND HEAVY RAIN DURING
THE NIGHT ATTACK WAS HIGHLY EXPLOITED BY THE JAPANESE FORCE. BY DOING
THIS IT HAS CAUSED CONFUSION TO THE BRITISH TROOPS OF THE EXACT
STRENGTH OF THE JAPANESE ATTACKING FORCE. BECAUSE OF THE CONFUSION
AND FEAR OF THE GREAT STRENGTH OF THE ENEMY. THE BRITISH TROOPS
WITHDRAWN AND LEFT BEHIND VALUABLE ASSETS SUCH AS AMMUNITION, FOOD
AND GUNS. THE BAD WEATHER HAS GIVEN GREAT ADVANTAGE TO JAPANESE
FORCE TO COVER THEIR ATTACK.

23. OTHER FACTORS WHICH HELPED IN THE JAPANESE SUCCESS WERE AS FOLLOWS:

A. JAPANESE CHARACTERISTICS. THE JAPANESE TROOPS BY NATURE WERE


VERY HUMBLE, WHILE THE BRITISH BOASTED THE IMPREGNABILITY OF
SINGAPORE AND THEIR SUPREMACY IN THE FAR EAST. JAPANESE HUMILITY
ENSHROUDED AVAIL OF SECRECY ON THEIR INTENTIONS AND AT THE SAME TIME

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PROPPED THEIR DETERMINATION TO DEFEAT THE BRITISH. SURVIVAL INSTINCTS


AND STRONG SENSE OF PATRIOTISM AND LOYALTY TO THE COUNTRY AND THE
EMPEROR FURTHER SHORED UP THE JAPANESE POLITICAL WILL. THE TROOPS
THEMSELVES WERE MAINLY DRAWN FROM THE BUSHIDO CLAN KNOWN FOR
THEIR FIERCE TRADITIONAL SAMURAI FIGHTING SPIRIT.

B. SURVIVABILITY. THE JAPANESE ARE USED TO TOUGH LIFE DUE TO


SCARCITY EVEN IN GETTING THE STAPLE DIET. WITH A LITTLE TRAINING, THE
JAPANESE SOLDIER CAN EASILY ADAPT THEMSELF TO SURVIVE ON A LIMTED
FOOD. AN ELABORATE LOGISTICAL BACK UP TO SUSTAIN THE JAPANESE INVASION
WAS THEREFORE NOT REALY NECESSARY EXCEPT FOR THE SUPPLY OF
AMMUNITION AND OTHER BATTLE PARAPHERNALIA.

C. COMPETENT LEADERSHIP. THE HIGHER LEVEL COMMANDERS OF THE


JAPANESE IMPERIAL ARMY TASKED TO INVADE MALAYA WERE HANDPICKED BY
GENERAL STAFF. THE COMMANDER OF THE JAPANESE INVASION FORCE FOR
MALAYA WAS GENERAL TOMOYAKI YAMASHITA, A BOLD AND RELIABLE
COMMANDER NOTED FOR THIS DETERMINATION, VISION AND COURAGE. HE HAD
BEEN TRAINED IN GERMANY TO LEARN THE TECHNIQUE OF CONDUCTING A
"BLITZ", WHICH HE JUDICIOUSLY EMPLOYED IN THE MALAYAN CAMPAIGN WITH
REMARKABLE SUCCESS. HE WAS ASSISTED BY A GROUP OF EQUALLY DEDICATED
AND EXPERIENCED GENERAL AT THE LOWER FORMATIONS.

THE BRITISH FAILURE

24. THE STUDY HAS REVEALED THAT, CERTAIN BASIC PRINCIPLES OF WAR AND BASIC
CONSIDERATIONS OF DEFENCE WERE IGNORED BY BRITISH WHICH HAD RESULTED
DISASTER.

A. SELECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF AIM. THE BRITISH UNDER MURRAY


LYON WERE NOT SURE WHETHER TO GO ON THE OFFENSIVE OR DEFENSIVE UNTIL
THE CANCELLATION OF MATADOR TWO DAYS BEFORE THE ACTION AT JITRA6. THE
OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE OPERATION NEEDS DIFFERENT PREPARATIONS. THIS
FORCED MURRAY LYON TO DEPLOY TWO BATTALIONS FORWARD OF JITRA
POSITION. BOTH OF THEM WERE DEFETED THUS REDUCED THEIR COMBAT
POWER AT THE MAIN POSITION.

B. OFFENSIVE ACTION. EVEN IN THE DEFENCE, THE BRITISH FORCES AT


JITRA DID NOT THINK AND ACT OFFENSIVELY. IT REQUIRES COMMANDERS AT ALL
LEVEL TO BE ALERT TO OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNEXPECTED OFFENSIVE ACTION,
SUCH AS LOCAL COUNTER ATTACK, THAT WILL SET BACK TO THE ATTACKER AND
DETER HIM.7 THE SHORTAGE OF AVAILABLE FORCES WAS ANOTHER REASON FOR
THE LACK OF OFFENSIVE ACTION. THE UNEXPECTED AND UNAUTHORISED
DEPLOYMENT OF THE UNENGAGED LEFT FORWARD BRIGADE TO THE RIGHT
FORWARD WITHOUT CONCERNING MURRAY LYON'S OFFENSIVE ACTION PLAN.

C. CONCENTRATION OF FORCE. THE FORCE LEVEL REQUIRED FOR THE


DEFENCE OF JITRA WAS GROSSLY INADEQUATE. IN THE LIGHT OF SHORTCOMING,
THE 11TH DIVISION WAS GIVEN AN AREA THAT TOO WIDE TO DEFENCE RESULTING
A DISPERSAL OF TROOPS, WHICH COULD HARDLY PUT UP A CREDIBLE DEFENCE.
THE JAPANESE ADVANCE WAS MADE RELATIVELY EASY AS THEY WERE ABLE TO
EXPLOIT WEAKNESSES CAUSED BY LACK OF DEPTH IN BRITISH DEFENCE.

D. ECONOMY OF EFFORT. THE BRITISH FAILED TO USE THE ADVANTAGES AS


A COLONIAL MASTER OF MALAYA. THEY DID NOT EXPLOIT THE LOCAL SUPPORT

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BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO WIN THE HEART OF THE LOCAL POPULACE. THE
LOCAL COULD BE A GREAT USED FOR INTELIGENCE.

E. SURPRISE. THE JAPANESE WERE VERY UNPREDICTABLE DURING THE


CAMPAIGN. THE ATTACKS CONDUCTED WERE PLANNED IN SUCH WAY TO DECEIVE
THE BRITISH BY USING THEIR SURPRISE TACTICS THROUGHOUT THE OPERATION.
IN MOST CASES THE BRITISH FORCES WERE CAUGHT BY SURPRISE AND NOT
PREPARED TO FACE THE SITUATION. THE CLASSIC EXAMPLE WAS WHEN THE
BRITISH POSITION WERE ATTACK FROM THE FLANK AND RESULTED THEM TO
WITHDREW.

F. ADMINISTRATION. THE BRITISH FORCES WERE DISORGANISED AND THE


SOLDIERS MORAL WERE LOW. THE COMMANDERS FAILED TO BOOST UP THE
SPIRIT OF THEIR SOLDIERS. MANY COMMANDERS FAILED TO PROVIDE THE BASIC
NECESSITIES TO THE SOLDIERS, WHEREAS THE JAPANESE COMMANDERS WERE
VERY ANTICIPATED AND DETERMINED.

G. USE OF GROUND. THE STUDY ALSO LOOKED AT THE LAYOUT OF THE JITRA
DEFENCE WHICH LACKS OF ALL ROUND DEFENCE. THE JAPANESE FREQUENTLY
LAUNCHED ATTACKED FROM THE FLANK. THIS MOVE ONLY TO DEAL WITH THE
BRITISH TROOPS IN THE SELECTED OBJECTIVES WITH LITTLE OR NO ADDED
WEIGHT OF FIRE OR INTERFERENCE FROM OTHER NEIGHBOURING DEFEND
POSITIONS OR UNITS. THERE WERE ALSO LARGE GAPS BETWEEN UNITS LIKE FOR
EXAMPLE BETWEEN 15TH BRIGADE AND 6TH BRIGADE ASTRIDE THE MAIN ROAD
OF CHANGLUN-JITRA. THE JAPANESE WERE ABLE TO PENETRATE RIGHT THROUGH
THE BRITISH DEFENSIVE AREA WITH THEIR MOBILITY AND ARMOURED
PROTECTION TO SPLIT THE BRITISH DEFENCE FORCES AND THAN LAUNCHED
SMALLER SCALE ATTACKS ON THE DIVIDED FORCES.

LESSON LEARNT

25. THE BATTLE OF JITRA PROVIDES SOME LESSONS WORTH LEARNING THAT
RELEVANT TO THE PRESENT ERA. THESE CANNOT ONLY BE DERIVED FROM THE BRITISH
SHORTCOMINGS AND FAILURES BUT ALSO FROM THE SUCCESS OF THE JAPANESE FORCES
AND THEIR STRONG POINTS. THE LESSON LEARNT THAT WE COULD DERIVE AND
CONSIDER IN THE PRESENT ERA ARE AS FOLLOWS:

A. NIGHT ATTACK AND CLOSE COMBAT. THE JAPANESE WERE WELL


PREPARED AND TRAINED FOR NIGHT ATTACK AND CLOSE COMBAT WHILE THE
BRITISH FORCES HAD VERY LITTLE TRAINING OR EXPERIENCE IN THESE TWO
ASPECTS. A POST MORTEM OF THE JITRA BATTLE BY THE JAPANESE AUTHORITY
CONCLUDED THAT IF NOT BECAUSE OF THESE TWO FACTORS, THEY WOULD HAVE
TAKEN A LONGER TIME AND SUFFERED MORE CASUALTIES TO BREAK THROUGH
THREE LINES OF THE BRITISH DEFENSIVE POSITION. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO
UNDERSTAND THAT IN ORDER TO PERFORM IN UNPREDICTABLE AND HOSTILE
ENVIRONMENT, OUR SOLDIERS NEED TO BE TRAINED IN ALL PHASES OF WAR
EQUALLY EITHER IN CONVENTIONAL WARFARE OR COUNTER INSURGENCY
WARFARE ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE EXISTENCE OF OUR TERRAIN. WE
SHOULD MAKE USE OF THEM TO OUR ADVANTAGES.

B. FLANKING MOVE AND ATTACK. THE SAME POST-MORTEM ALSO


CONCLUDED THAT IT IS MORE DESIRABLE TO MOVE INTO THE ENEMY’S FLANK BY
PASSING THROUGH JUNGLES AND MARSHY AREAS WHERE THE ATTACK WOULD
BE LEAST EXPECTED BY THE OPPOSITION. AS SUCH, THIS WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE RATHER THAN COULD HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED BY A

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FRONTAL ATTACK. IN THE MODERN WARFARE, WE MUST ALWAYS CONSIDER ALL


APPROACHES WHEN PLANNING THE ATTACK. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO CONDUCT
PROPER APPRECIATION BEFORE ANY OPERATION TO CONSIDER ALL ASPECT OF
APPROACHES. OF ALL WE KNOW, IN CERTAIN SITUATION, THE HARDER APPROACH
WILL BE THE BEST APPROACH WHERE IT IS LESS EXPECTED.

C. COMMITMENT OF LOCAL. THE BRITISH, DESPITE BEING THE COLONIAL


MASTER OF MALAYA TOTALLY DISREGARDED THE ROLE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN
UNDERTAKEN BY THE LOCALS. LOCALS CAN PROVIDE VALUABLE ASSISTANCE
SUCH AS INTELLIGENCE ON THE ENEMY AND TERRAIN, GUIDE AND EVEN
MANPOWER. THE JAPANESE ON THE OTHER HAND BEFRIENDED THE LOCAL WELL
BEFORE THE INVASION AND SUBSEQUENTLY RELIED ON THE NATIVE POPULATION
FOR THE BATTLE REQUIREMENTS. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT WHEN
WE CONDUCT OPERATION AT PRESENT, WE MUST NOT FORGET THE ROLE THAT
THE LOCAL CAN PROVIDE.

D. INTELLIGENCE OPERATION. IN ORDER TO STUDY AND FORMULATE A


GOOD PLAN FOR CERTAIN OPERATION IN THE MODERN ERA WE MUST NOT
FORGET THAT INTELLIGENCE PLAYS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE. IT WAS PROVEN
WHEN THE JAPANESE INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVES HAD INFILTRATED AND
FREELY MINGLED IN THE MALAYAN ENVIRONMENT AS EARLY AS 1930S. THEY
WERE MAINLY THE RETIRED SOLDIERS WHO ESTABLISHED THEMSELVES AS
BUSINESSMAN, PHOTOGRAPHERS, BARBERS AND OTHERS. THROUGH SHREWD
ORCHESTRATIONS OF THEIR ACTIVITIES, THEY MANAGE TO INFILTRATE EVERY
LEVEL OF MALAYAN LIFESTYLES THAT THEY, BECAME A FAMILIAR SIGHT
FORMING PART OF MALAYAN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUND.

E. PRE-POSITIONING OF LOCAL RESOURCES. IT IS WISE TO CONSIDER


DEPLOYING LOCAL RESOURCES FORWARD CLOSE TO THE ADVANCE FORCES. THIS
WOULD INCLUDE BRIDGING ASSETS, MINE CLEARING EQUIPMENT AND OTHERS.
THIS WOULD SAVE TIME AND COULD MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM OF ADVANCE.
THIS ACTION COULD BE ANTICIPATED AFTER CONSIDERING THE APPRECIATION
AND INTELLIGENCE OPERATION. THIS ACTION WAS PROVEN SUCCESS WHEN THE
JAPANESE OPERATIVES IN MALAYA HAD MADE ADEQUATE PREPARATION ON
THE GROUND FOR THE LOGISTIC REQUIREMENTS FORESEEN PARTICULARLY FOR
ENGINEER TASKS. THESE INCLUDED PRE-POSITIONING LOCAL RESOURCES SUCH
AS TIMBER NEAR RIVER OR BRIDGES TO ENABLE THE ENGINEER TO CONSTRUCT
IMPROVISED BRIDGES OR REPAIRING BRIDGES DAMAGED BY DEMOLITION.
JUNGLE ROUTES WERE ALSO CLEARED TO ENABLE VEHICLES TO PASS AND
CONTINGENCIES PREPARED BESIDES MUDDY TRACKS WHICH WOULD BOG
VEHICLES.

F. REALISM IN TRAINING. THE JAPANESE EMPHASIS ON TRAINING WAS


APPROACH IN A REALISTIC MANNER. IT WAS CONDUCTED IN INDOCHINA AND
DESIGNED TO ACCLIMATIZE TROOPS TO THE MALAYA ENVIRONMENT. AS TO
FAMILIARIZE THEM TO THE TYPE OF TERRAIN EXPECTED WHICH INCLUDE
MOUNTAIN, JUNGLE AND SWAMPY TERRAIN AS WELL AS TO CONDITION TROOPS
TO LIVE OF THE TERRAIN AND SURVIVE ON MEAGER RATION. THE TRAINING ALSO
INCLUDED SIMULATION OF THE ACTUAL INVASION, WHICH WERE THOROUGHLY
REHEARSED. THE BEST LESSON THAT WE COULD CONSIDER FROM THIS POINT IS
THAT IN PRESENT SITUATION, EVERY TIME WE CONDUCT EXERCISES, WE NEED TO
USE THE REAL ASSETS THAT WE HAVE IN THE INVENTORY RATHER THAN
CONSIDERING ‘NOTIONAL’ ASSETS. THIS WOULD PORTRAY THE REAL SITUATION
OF OUR STRENGTH TO OUR SOLDIER AND TO GIVE THEM REALISM IN THEIR
TRAINING RATHER THAN GIVING THEM VIRTUAL ASSETS WHICH SOMETIME THEY
NEVER SEE AND DO NOT KNOW HOW TO OPERATE.

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G. USE OF TECHNOLOGY. WE CANNOT DENY WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY, THE


PLANNING OF OPERATION IN MODERN WAR WOULD BE DIFFICULT AND
ORTHODOX. WITH TECHNOLOGY, EVERYTHING SEEMS SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE.
THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON ENEMY EXISTENCE IN OUR TERRITORY CAN BE
DETECTED MILES AWAY AND WELL AHEAD. ENEMY OPERATION PLANNING .COULD
ALSO BE DETECTED AND INTERCEPTED THROUGH THEIR RADIO CONVERSATION
AND JAMMING ACTION. AT PRESENT, IT IS VITAL TO USE FULL TECHNOLOGY IN
PLANNING OUR STRATEGIC OPERATIONS. DURING THE SECOND GULF WAR, THE
AMERICAN COULD HAVE EASILY PICK UP THE VITAL TARGET FOR AIR STRIKE
SIMPLY BY USING SATELLITE. THEY ALSO CAN OPERATE DAY AND NIGHT BY
ISSUING NIGHT VISION GOGGLE EQUIPMENT TO THEIR SOLDIERS. DURING THE
BATTLE OF JITRA, THE TECHNOLOGY WAS NOT HIGHLY USED BUT WE CANNOT
DENY THAT IF ADVANCE TECHNOLOGY EXISTS DURING THE TIME OF THE BATTLE,
THE OUTCOME OF THE BATTLE WOULD NOT BE THE SAME AS WHAT WE ARE
READING TODAY.

H. NATIONALISM. THE SPIRIT TO DIE FOR THE COUNTRY WITH PRIDE AND
DIGNITY WAS SO STRONG PLACED IN EACH AND EVERY SOLDIER IN THE JAPANESE
TROOPS. SOME WERE SO FANATIC TO THIS SPIRIT AND THEY WERE WILLING TO
SACRIFICE THEMSELVES AS ‘KAMIKAZE’. THIS MIGHT BE A GREAT CHALLENGE
FOR OUR COUNTRY AT PRESENT TO INSTALL THE NATIONAL SPIRIT IN EACH AND
EVERY MALAYSIAN TODAY PARTICULARLY THE ARMED FORCES PERSONNEL. THE
INTRODUCTION OF NATIONAL SERVICE MIGHT BE A GOOD START TOWARDS
REALIZING THIS ACTION. CONTINUOUS STIMULATION AND CONCENTRATED
EFFORT TAKEN BY ALL RESPECTIVE MINISTRY ESPECIALLY MINISTRY OF
DEFENCE, MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIR AND MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND SPORT
AND OTHERS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED GRADUALLY AND EFFECTIVELY SO THAT
EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US WILL HAVE THE SPIRIT TO LOVE OUR COUNTRY AND
GREAT COOPERATION TOWARDS DEFENDING NATIONAL SECURITY FROM
EXTERNAL THREAT.

CONCLUSION

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN,

26. AS THE CONCLUSION, THE SIGNIFICANCE VALUE OF THE BATTLE OF JITRA AS A


LESSON FOR THE MALAYSIAN ARMY CANNOT BE DENIED. THE BATTLE ITSELF PROVIDES
AN INDEPTH AND CONCISE TUTORIAL ON CONVENTIONAL WARFARE TACTICS EXECUTED
BRILLIANTLY BY UNCONVENTIONAL MINDS. MOREOVER, THE JAPANESE WERE FIGHTING
ON A TERRAIN AND ENVIRONMENT QUITE DISSIMILAR TO THEIR NATIVE LANDS. THUS, IT
IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE MALAYSIAN ARMY UNDERSTANDS THE UNDERLYING FORMULA
AND ART WHICH BROUGHT VICTORY TO THE JAPANESE.

27. IN THIS BATTLE, THE JAPANESE SHOWED THEMSELVES RESOURCEFUL AND


MASTERS OF INFILTRATION TACTICS. THEY ATTACKED IN THE TRADITIONAL JAPANESE
MANNER WITHOUT REGARD TO LOSE. THE BRITISH WAS GROSSLY DISORGANIZED AND
ILL-TRAINED TO BE PUT INTO EFFECTIVE USE WHEN HOSTILITIES BROKE OUT. THE
SUCCESS OF THE JAPANESE WAS MAINLY DUE TO THEIR THOROUGH PLANNING AND
DETERMINED EXECUTION. THEY MAXIMIZED ON THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE, SPEED,
DECEPTION, MOBILITY, AGGRESSIVENESS AND CONCENTRATION OF FORCE.

28. IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, WE COULD CONCLUDE THAT THE FAILURE OF BRITISH
FORCES IN JITRA WERE DUE TO THEIR FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THE PRINCIPLE OF WAR.

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EVEN THOUGH THE DEFENCE POSITION WAS WELL PREPARED AND COULD SUSTAIN FOR
THREE MONTH, IT WAS DEFEATED ONLY IN 3 DAYS THE JAPANESE VISION AND
MOTIVATION THROUGHOUT THE OPERATION HAS LED TO THE MOST HUMILIATING
DEFEAT OF THE BRITISH FORCES.

WITH THAT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE END OUR PRESENTATION, THANK YOU.

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