|NapNuts Singapore Wargamers
The Final Assault on Singapore!
image for large map.
7 Feb 42 Japanese assaults begin against Pulau Ubin in the NE and along the NW coast near Kranji.
|8-9 Feb 42 Japanese break through the thinly-held perimeter and begin to assault the Jurong Line. 55th Division supported with tanks roll down from the Causeway and Mandai Road in an attempt to outflank the Jurong Line. Imperial Guards land at Changi Point.
|10-12 Feb 42 The Japanese break through the Jurong Line and push towards the city on all fronts. British defenders fall back to defend the island's reservoirs.
|13-15 Feb 42 The
reservoirs fall to the Japanese. The British are pushed back to
the final perimeter around Singapore city.
The problem is that while the British are reduced to 2 battalions of poor quality Fortress troops and 6 regiments of artillery, the Japanese are similarly reduced to 3 companies of infantry and 3 regiments of artillery!
| An Assessment of
the Campaign - The British did extremely well in the opening
stages of the campaign. The Japanese were too cautious and
failed to follow up on their initial successes at Kota Bahru and Jitra.
This allowed the British player to consolidate his forces and dig in
at Kota Bahru airfield and Gurun. The failure to capture the
Kota Bahru airfield early, meant that the superior Japanese airpower
could not be effectively deployed to support the ground troops.
Gurun was also a tactical failure on the part of the Japanese.
Instead of attacking weak points on the British line and employing
outflanking tactics, the Japanese persisted in trying to force their
way through the most strongly held part of the line. The failure
to break the British at Gurun led to several attempts by the Japanese
to turn the Gurun position by advancing down the Kroh road. By
concentrating the bulk of his forces in Northern Malaya, and through
skilful use of internal lines, the British player was able to shift
his reserves to the points under threat.
After 3 weeks of stalemate in the north, the Japanese decided to launch a seaborne invasion of Singapore. This was a total surprise to the British player - who was led to believe that the next major thrust would come through Gurun. The assault was preceded by aerial bombing of Singapore's coastal batteries and airfields and succeeded in gaining a bridgehead by capturing Singapore's port. Focusing all his efforts on the North, the British player had literally stripped Singapore bare! What resulted was a mad scramble to shift his reserves south to dislodge the Japanese bridgehead. The sudden "fall" of Singapore also mobilised the US Asiatic fleet (then taking refuge in the Dutch East Indies and comprising 2 cruisers, several destroyers and 30 submarines). Singapore was retaken, and many Japanese ships were sunk by US subs (including the Battleships Kongo and Haruna). Hasty redeployment of good quality Australian reserves succeeded in retaking Singapore.
However, the Singapore "raid" led to a dangerous weakening of the Northern British positions. This coincided with the arrival of fresh elements of the Japanese Imperial Guards Division. In a dramatic 2 week push south (with close air support from the newly repaired airbase at Alor Star), the Imperial Guards drove the British down from positions around Sungei Petani to Taiping, Kampar and Slim River. The Gurun line had been broken at last.
Simultaneously, the Japanese mobilised a fourth division. (Historically, Yamashita only used 3 divisions to invade Malaya - but he was offered the use of a fourth division - which he did not draw on.) This division - the 56th - was landed at Mersing-Endau and quickly established blocking positions at Johor Bahru, Muar and Segamat. The British in the north were effectively isolated by this move.
In a dramatic 3-day stand at Slim River, the British troops bought time for several British battalions to be "Dunkirked" out of Port Swettenham. The Malay peninsula fell to Japanese troops 2 weeks ahead of schedule on 18 January 42. But the Japanese had suffered horrendous casualties. 2 Divisions - the 18th and the Imperial Guards - were totally spent. 2 Battleships had been lost. Japanese air losses were also high. The need to ship in replacements and reinforcements led to a 2 week delay in mounting the final assault on Singapore. Also, aggressive British harrassing moves - ie shelling and bombing the landing craft concentration areas and suspected supply depots - resulted in a further 5 day delay.
The final assault on Singapore was launched on 7 Feb 42 (historical date) against a more or less historically deployed British defence. The limited knowledge of enemy intentions and deployments meant that the British did not know exactly where to expect the main thrust of the final assault. This meant that the entire perimeter had to be manned. The Japanese were able to concentrate their assault against the dispersed British defenders. The battle developed in a more or less "historical" fashion. The only difference being that the British exacted a heavy toll on the attacking forces - so that by the time the British were forced back to the final perimeter around the city - both attacking and defending forces had been totally spent.
With both sides unwilling to concede defeat - victory would go to the first side to ship troops into Singapore. Historically, the British were able to ship 2 Australian Divisions back from the Middle East by March. The British 7th Armoured Brigade was also on the way. But it is unlikely that they would make it to Singapore in time. The Japanese would most likely muster all his lines of communications troops, form them into 2-3 weak battalions and use them to assault the final British perimeter - held weakly by 2 battalions of "Fortress" troops - ie cooks, clerks, storemen, AA gunners. I think in our scenario, Singapore would have fallen a week or two behind schedule. The question is - given such weak troops holding Singapore - would the British have mounted an amphibious landing with the 2 fresh Australian divisions?
In the final analysis, the campaign must be judged a British tactical victory. They succeeded in exacting a heavy toll on the Japanese invaders, requiring them to call on the fourth Japanese division not historically used in the campaign. The Japanese also lost 2 battleships. The intervention of the US Asiatic Fleet was counterbalanced by several replacement cruisers and destroyers given to the Japanese over and above their historical allotment. However, the Japanese team must be commended for their bold and imaginative use of their forces, which enabled them to break the stalemate in the north. All in all, this was a very well-played campaign by both command teams!