Malaya Command

Malaya Command
Malaya Command
Active 1924 to 1942; 1945 to 1957
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Command
Garrison/HQ Singapore

The Malaya Command was a command of British Commonwealth forces formed in the 1920s for the coordination of the defences of Malaya and Singapore.



This command of British Commonwealth forces was formed in the 1920s for the coordination of the defences of Malaya and Singapore.[1] It consisted mainly of small garrison forces in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Taiping, Seremban and Singapore.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the command reinforced its strength in anticipation. With the bulk of British forces being tied down in the war in Europe, the command was mainly augmented by units from India.

On 18 November 1940, the command was placed under the command of the British Far East Command and later on 7 January 1942 under the short-lived South West Pacific Command or ABDACOM which was tasked to maintain control of the "Malay Barrier" (or "East Indies Barrier"), a notional line running down the Malayan Peninsula, through Singapore and the southernmost islands of Dutch East Indies.

The command was disbanded on 15 February 1942 with the surrender of all Commonwealth forces in the conclusion of the Battle of Singapore.

With the Surrender of Japan, the command was re-formed from the 14th Army with its HQ based in Singapore on 1 November 1945. The command was divided and downgraded to two separate military districts; the Malaya District and Singapore District in August 1947 but was upgraded again into a full command in August 1950 due to the Malayan Emergency.

With the independence of Malaya on 31 August 1957 the command was disbanded and succeeded by Overseas Commonwealth Land Forces (Malaya).

Formation and Structure

In November 1940, the total strength of Malaya Command was at 17 battalions. The Indian Army contingent was mainly organised as III Corps with their HQ based in Kuala Lumpur.

When Japanese forces invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya in charge of Malaya Command, with a force of 88,600 faced the 70,000 strong Twenty Fifth Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Allied Land Forces (8 December 1941)

As of 8 December 1941

Indian III Corps

  • As of 7 December 1941

Commanding Officer Indian III Corps - Lt Gen Lewis Heath

  • Indian 9th Infantry Division
Maj-Gen Arthur Edward Barstow, 28 January 1942 at Layang-Layang near Bota)
HQ : Kuala Lumpur
  • 8th Indian Infantry Brigade
Brig Berthold Wells Key
HQ : Kota Bahru
  • 22nd Indian Infantry Brigade
Brig G.W.A.Painter
HQ : Kuantan
  • 5th Battalion, 11th Sikh Regiment - Lt.Col John H.D.Parkin
  • 2nd Battalion, 18th Royal Garhwal Rifles - Lt.Col.G.E.R.S.Hartigan
  • 5th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt.Col.Edward W.F.Jephson
  • Command Troops
  • 88th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Regiment RA - Lt.Col Sylvain Claude D'Aubuz
  • 42nd Field Park Company (Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners)
  • Indian 11th Infantry Division
Maj-Gen David Murray-Lyon / Brig Archibald Paris / Maj-Gen Berthold Wells Key
HQ : Sungai Petani
  • 6th Indian Infantry Brigade
Brig William Oswald Lay / Lt Col Henry Sloane Larkin
HQ : Jitra
  • 2nd Battalion, East Surrey Regiment - Lt Col George Edward Swinton
  • 1st Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment - Lt Col Ronald Charles Sidney Bates ( , 12 December 1941)
  • 2nd Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment - Lt.Col. Henry Sloane Larkin (Died as a POW on 1 January 1944)
  • 22nd Mountain Artillery Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt.Col G.L.Hughes
  • 15th Indian Infantry Brigade (III Corps Reserve)
Brig Kenneth Alfred Garrett/Brig.W.St.John Carpendale
HQ : Jitra
  • 28th (Gurkha) Infantry Brigade
Brig W. St J. Carpendale / Lt Col W.R. Selby
HQ : Ipoh
  • 2nd Battalion, 1st Gurkha Rifles - Lt.Col John Oswald "Jack" Fulton ( , 8 January 1942 at Slim River)
  • 2nd Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles - Lt.Col G.H.D. Woollcombe (Died Indian Ocean, 28 Feb. 1942)
  • 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles - Lt.Col W.R. Selby
  • 11th Division Command Troops
  • 3rd Cavalry (IA) - Lt.Col C.P.G.De Winton
  • 100th Light Tank Squadron - Major Jack Alford (  12 Feb 1942)
  • 137th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Regiment RA - Lt Col Charles Holmes (  at Slim River)
  • 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment RA - Lt Col Augustus Murdoch (  at Slim River)
  • 80th Anti-Tank Regiment RA - Lt.Col. William E.S. Napier
  • 85th Anti-Tank Regiment RA - Lt.Col A.J. Lardner-Clarke
  • 1st Independent Company - Major Sheppard Percy Fearon
  • 23rd Field Company (Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners)
  • 43rd Field Park Company RE
Lt Col H.D. Moorhead
  • Line of Communications Brigade
Brig R.G. Moir
  • 1st Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Perak)
  • 2nd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Selangor)
  • 3rd Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Negeri Sembilan) - Lt.Col C.F.H.Riches
  • 4th Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces (Pahang) - Lt.Col.James Oliphant Mackellar (d.12 March 1945)
  • 1st (Light) Field Regiment, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces
  • Armoured Car Squadron, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces - Major C.E.Collinge
  • Signals Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces
  • Fortress Penang
Brig C.A. Lyon
HQ : Penang
  • Support Units
  • 3rd Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment (assigned to Krohcol) - Lt.Col.Henry Moorhead (  at Battle of Muar)
  • 5th Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment (assigned to Krohcol)
  • 1st Battalion Mysore Infantry (Indian States Forces) - Lt.Col K.H. Preston
  • 1st Battalion Bahawalpur Infantry (Indian States Forces) - Lt.Col H.E.Tyrell
  • 1st Battalion, Hyderabad Regiment (Indian States Forces) - Lt Col Charles Albert Hendricks ( , 10 December 1941 at Kota Bharu)
  • 11th Indian Division Signal Regiment

Australia Imperial Force

Commanding Officer Australia Imperial Force - Maj Gen Gordon Bennett HQ : Kluang

  • Australian 8th Division
Maj Gen Gordon Bennett
HQ : Kluang
  • Australian 22nd Brigade
Brig Harold Burfield Taylor
HQ : Mersing - Endau
  • Australian 27th Brigade
Brig Duncan Struan Maxwell
HQ : Kluang
  • 2/26th Australian Infantry Battalion - Lt.Col. Arthur Harold Boyes  (12 Feb. 1942)/Richard Oakes
  • 2/29th Australian Infantry Battalion - Lt.Col. James Robertson  (18 Jan. 1942 during Battle of Muar)/ Lt.Col. Pond
  • 2/30th Australian Infantry Battalion - Lt.Col. Frederick Gallagher "Jack" Galleghan
  • 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion - Lt.Col. M.J.Anketell
  • 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment - Lt.Col. Cranston Albury McEachern

Fortress Singapore

Commanding Officer - Maj Gen F. Keith Simmons HQ : Singapore

  • Fortress Singapore Division
Maj Gen F. K. Simmons
  • 1st Malaya Brigade
Brig G. C. R. Williams
  • 2nd Battalion Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) - Lt.Col.Mordaunt Elrington
  • 1st Battalion Malay Regiment - Lt.Col.J.P.G.Andre
  • 2nd Battalion Malay Regiment - Lt.Col.F.W.Young
  • 2nd Malaya Brigade
Brig F. H. Fraser
  • 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment - Lt.Col.Edward Barclay Holmes
  • 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders - Lt.Col.J.H.Stitt / Richard Gilbert Lees
  • 2nd Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment - Lt.Col.Sidney Clermont Scott
  • Straits Settlements Volunteer Force Brigade
Col R G Grimwood
  • Royal Engineers Brigade
Brig I. Simson
  • Artillery Brigade
Brig Alec Warren Greenlaw Wildey
  • 1st (Heavy) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Indian Artillery
  • 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery
  • 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery - Lt.Col.R.M.M.More
  • 3rd (Light) Anti-Aircraft Battery, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery
  • 3rd (Heavy) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 35th (Light) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt.Col.John Bassett
  • 7th Coastal Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt.Col H.D.St.G.Cardew
  • 9th Coastal Regiment, Royal Artillery - Lt.Col C.P.Heath
  • 16th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • Support Units
  • Half Strength Jind Infantry Battalion (Indian States Forces) (½ Strength)
  • Half Strength Kapurthala Infantry Battalion (Indian States Forces) (½ Strength)
  • Dalforce - Lt.Col.John Dalley

Malaya Command Reserve

Commanding Officer : Brig.A.C.M.Paris / Lt.Col.I. M. Stewart HQ : Port Dickson

HQ : Port Dickson
  • 122nd (West Riding) Field Regiment, RA - Lt.Col.George St.John Armitage Dyson (  22 November 1942)

Sarawak Force (SARFOR)

Commanding Officer : Maj C. M. Lane HQ : Kuching

Maj C. M. Lane
HQ : Kuching
  • 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment - (this battalion took part in the Battle of Borneo where it surrendered).
  • Sarawak Coastal Marine Service
  • Sarawak Volunteer Corps
  • Sarawak Rangers
  • Sarawak Armed Police
  • 35th Fortress Company, Royal Engineers
  • 6" Guns Battery, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery

Christmas Island

Commanding Officer : Capt J. Williams HQ : Christmas Island

  • 6" Gun, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery[2]


Arrived January - February 1942

  • Line of Communication Troops
  • 44th Indian Infantry Brigade Brigadier George Cecil Ballentine
  • 5th Battalion 18th Royal Garhwal Rifles - Lt.Col. James H.C.Woolridge (  at Battle of Muar)
  • 7th Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles- Lt.Col. James Albert Lewis (  at Battle of Muar)
  • 4th Battalion 9th Jat Regiment - Lt.Col. John Whittaker Williams (  at Battle of Muar)
  • 13th Indian Auxiliary Pioneer Battalion
  • 53rd Infantry Brigade- Brig.C.L.B. Duke
  • 5th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment - Lt.Col.E.C. Prattley
  • 6th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment - Lt.Col.Ian C.G. Lywood (  at Alexandra Hospital Massacre)
  • 2nd Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment - Lt.Col. Gordon Calthrop Thorne (Died, Indian Ocean while attempting to escape)
  • 54th Infantry Brigade - Brig.E.K.W. Backhouse
  • 4th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment - Lt.Col.A.E.Knights
  • 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment - Lt.Col.A.A.Johnson
  • 5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment - Lt.Col. Lionel John Baker
  • 55th Infantry Brigade - Brig.Tristram Hugh "Tim" Massy-Beresford
  • 5th Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment - Lt.Col. D.Rhys Thomas
  • 1/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters - Lt.Col.H.H.Lilly
  • 1st Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment - Lt.Col.Gerald Goodwin Carpenter
  • Divisional Troops
  • 9th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (Machine gun battalion) - Lt.Col.Lechmere.C.Thomas
  • 18th Division Recce Corps (5th Bn Loyal Regiment) - Lt.Col.Henry Arnold Fitt
  • 88th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Regiment, RA (TA) - Lt.Col.S.C.D'Aubuz
  • 118th (8th London) Field Regiment, RA (TA) - Lt.Col.C.E.Mackellar
  • 135th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry)Field Regiment, RA - Lt.Col.Philip John Denton Toosey
  • 148th (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA - Lt.Col.S.W.Harris
  • 85th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA - Lt.Col.A.J.Lardner-Clarke
  • 125th (Northumbrian) Anti-Tank Regiment, RA - Lt.Col.J.Dean
  • 287th Field Company
  • 288th Field Company
  • 560th Field Company
  • 251st Field Park Company

Allied Air Force units in Malaya December 1941

There were 161 front line aircraft, including 3 Royal Netherlands Air Force Catalina flying boats, based in Malaya and on Singapore Island on 8 December 1941. These units came under the control of Far East Air Force (Royal Air Force) under the command of Air Vice Marshal C.W.H.Pulford until February 1942 when Air Vice Marshal P.C.Maltby[3] took command.

Based on Singapore Island

Brewster Buffalo Mark Is from No. 453 Squadron RAAF being inspected by RAF personnel at Sembawang Airfield, Singapore on 12 October 1941.

Based in Northern Malaya

  • Gong Kedak;
  • Detachment from No. 36 Squadron RAF[6] - 6x Vickers Videbeest


Commanders-in-Chief have included:[9][10][11]
GOC Troops in the Straits Settlements

  • 1903 - 1905 Major-General Arthur Dorward
  • 1905 - 1907 Major-General Inigo Jones
  • 1907 - 1910 Major-General Thomas Perrott
  • 1910 - 1914 Major-General Theodore Stephenson
  • 1914 - 1915 Major-General Raymond Reade
  • 1915 - 1921 Major-General Sir Dudley Ridout
  • 1921 - 1924 Major-General Sir Neill Malcolm

GOC Malaya Command

  • 1924 - 1927 Major-General Sir Theodore Fraser
  • 1927 - 1929 Major-General Sir Casimir van Straubenzee
  • 1929 - 1931 Major-General Harry Pritchard
  • 1931 - 1934 Major-General Sir Louis Oldfield
  • 1934 - 1935 Major-General Ernest Lewin
  • 1935 - 1939 Major-General Sir William Dobbie
  • 1939 - 1941 Lieutenant-General Sir Lionel Bond
  • 1941 - 1942 Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival[12]
Note from 1943 to 1945 Malaya was under Japanese control
  • Nov - Dec 1945 Lieutenant-General Sir Miles Dempsey
  • 1945 - 1946 Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Messervy
  • 1946 - 1947 Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Galloway

GOC Malaya District

  • 1947 - 1948 Major-General Ashton Wade
  • 1948 - 1950 Major-General Sir Charles Boucher

GOC Malaya

  • 1950 - 1952 Major-General Roy Urquhart
  • 1952 - 1954 Major-General Sir Hugh Stockwell
  • 1954 - 1956 Lieutenant-General Sir Geoffrey Bourne
  • 1956 - 1957 Lieutenant-General Sir Roger Bower

See also

Japanese Order of Battle, Malayan Campaign


  1. ^ George Ernest Morrison 'The correspondence of G.E. Morrison'
  2. ^ L, Klemen (1999-2000). "The Mystery of Christmas Island - March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  3. ^ L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Paul (Copeland) Maltby". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  4. ^ 453 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial, 
  5. ^ 21 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial, 
  6. ^ a b c Niehorster, Leo (2000). "Order of Battle-Royal Air Force-Far East Command-Norgroup". World War II Armed Forces. 
  7. ^ 1 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial, 
  8. ^ 8 Squadron RAAF, Australian War Memorial, 
  9. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1924 - 1957
  10. ^ Malaya Command at
  11. ^ Army Commands
  12. ^ L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 


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