The Kota Bahru Landings on 8 December 1941


The war in Malaya began with the Japanese landings at Kota Bahru, on Malaya's northeastern coast.  The Japanese objective was to seize the three airfields in the vicinity of Kota Bahru.   The defence of Kota Bahru was assigned to the 8th Indian Brigade of the 9th Division.  This comprised 4 Indian infantry battalions.  The Japanese landed the 56th Inf Regt which was 3 battalions strong.  The sector where the Japanese landed was defended by the 3/17th Dogras, which was very thin on the ground as it had to cover 10km of coastline.  According to Tsuji, there were wire-entanglements and mines on the beaches.  The British could also rely on close air support from the nearby airbases.

Order of Battle

British: 8th Indian Brigade

3/17th Dogras

2/10th Baluch

1/13th Frontier Force Rifles

2/12th Frontier Force Regiment

21st Mountain battery

73rd Field battery

Japanese: 56th Infantry Regt (totalling 3 battalions) with 1 cruiser and 4 destroyers in support.

Special Scenario Instructions

As the landings took place only on the left half of the 3/17th Dogra sector, the British player will only have 2 Rifle companies in this scenario.  The British will begin the game hidden.  He may also place wire entanglements and mines.  Artillery and air support may be requested during the course of the game.

The Japanese player will land in 3 waves of 1 battalion each.  The time between each wave will be determined by the umpire at the start of the scenario.  Before the landings commence, the Japanese player will be allowed to put down a preparatory bombardment (roll 2D6 to determine the number of fire missions).  During the course of the game, he may request for naval bombardment.


The British player wins if he can prevent the Japanese from securing a beachhead.

The Japanese player wins if he can force the British player to withdraw.

Historically, the landings were costly to the Japanese.  According to Tsuji, Japanese casualties were heavy at around 30%.  However, they managed to secure a beachhead.  Despite attempting a counterattack with their reserve, the British were unable to dislodge the Japanese beachhead.

A view of Kota Bahru beach in the 1980s.