The Battle Of Malaya

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Jun 1, 2004
The Battle of Malaya


When the history of this titanic struggle comes to be written in mature perspective, none of its many sides will, we believe, excite more wonderment and more ungrudging admiration than the part the Sikhs soldiers have played in it.

As of December 7, 1941, the summary of the strength of the Allied army in Malaya was 86,895 troops. Two third o f the total force were Indian soldiers. Sikhs represented more than 60 percent of the total Indian force.

December 8, 1941 at 12.15 am local time, Japanese 18th Divisions troops hit the beaches of Sabak-Badang, Kota Bahru and at 4 am (Tokyo Time) Japanese 5th Divisions forces splashed ashore unopposed at Singora (now Songkhla) and Patani.

As the first disgorging invaders hit the junction of the Badang and Sabak beaches, they came under withering machinegun fire from pillboxes manned by the Indians. The invaders lost one third of their initial assault forces of 5300 men in fearful beach fighting before annihilating the Indian defenders who died in their pillbox positions, refusing either to withdrawnor to surrender.

An armored train, with 30 men from the 2/16th Punjab Regiment and some engineers, advancing into Thailand from Padang Besar in Perlis reached Khlong Ngae, in southern Thailand, and successfully destroyed a 200 foot bridge before withdrawing back to Padang Besar.

On December 22, the 3/2nd Punjab Regiment engineered an ambush on the Japanese at Grik Road, Perak which resulted heavy casualties on the invaders. The regiment fought fierce delaying actions against the Imperial Guards.

From December 30, 1941 to January 2, 1942, a battle between 3000 British personnel and over 6000 Japanese soldiers erupted. The 11th Indian Division managed to delay the Japanese advance at Kampar for a few days, in which the Japanese suffered severe casualties in terrain that did not allow them to use their tanks or their air superiority to defeat the British.

A Sikh company of the 1/8th Punjab Regiment throw back a furious attack with a classic bayonet charge through massive mortar and machine-gun fire. Only 30 members of the company survive the action but the position held. The Japanese lost more then 500 men here and Japanese commanders, for the first time in the war, consider retreating.

On January 30, 1942, a Sikh Battalion made an ambush on a strong Japanese party north of Kluang, Johor. The Japanese squealed with absolute panic when charged with bayonets. Sikhs captured 250 motor cycles and 150 bicycles when they charged the Japanese positions and machine-gun post. Further details of the attack made by the Sikh Battalion North of Kluang reveals that the enemy casualties numbered at least 400..Two small field guns and many mortars which were tied on their bicycles and tommy-guns were also destroyed.

During the Battle of Muar, members of both the Australian 8th Division and the 45th Indian Infantry Brigade were making a fighting withdrawal when they became surrounded near the bridge of Parit Sulong. The Allies fought the larger Japanese forces for two days until they ran low on ammunition and food. Able-bodied soldiers were ordered to disperse into the jungle, the only way they could return to Allied lines.

The wounded prisoners of war were kicked and beaten with rifle butts by the Imperial Guards. At least some were tied up with wire in the middle of the road, machine-gunned, had petrol poured over them, were set alight and, "after their incineration - were systematically run over, back and forwards, by Japanese driven trucks." Anecdotal accounts by local people also reported POWs being tied together with wire and forced to stand on a bridge, before a Japanese soldier shot one, causing the rest to fall into the Simpang Kiri River and drown. 110 Australians and 35 Indians were massacred by the Japanese. In the face of death, the Sikh prisoners sat with dignity.

History speaks for itself on the valour and bravery displayed by the Sikhs. The never-say-die spirit of the Sikhs gave us the impetus and inner strength and resilience to face any challenges that came our way. Sikh soldiers adhered to the faith and never flinched nor surrendered in the face of adversity.


Top - Sikh troops disembarkimg from ships into Malaya.

First from bottom -This photograph was found among Japanese records when British troops re-entered Singapore. It depicts the inhuman brutality practiced by the Japanese on Sikh prisoners of war.

Second from bottom - Sikh gunners in a rubber plantation in Sahum, Kampar Perak.

May 19, 2010


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Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
This and most other battles of Sikh Valour have almost disappeared off the Offical Malaysian History Books used in Schools as not "politically correct" towards the role of the Majority Community....sad case of forgetting your benefactor..or akirtghannism..

The reasoning being..its MY Country, I am the Majority Community..then how come so few of MY died serving MY country !! Rightly said..victors and winners write History !!

Even those who fought the Japanese Occupation..Gurcharan Singh SINGA..the LION of Malaya who singlehandedly made lightning gureilla raids against japanese interests and made life hell for the occupying forces... is seldom mentioned in Malaysian History curriculum...or an Ceylones Nurse who nursed and gave medical attention to allied soldiers/anti-japanese fighters at great cost to her safety and life is almost out of history..whereas a person who ran away and merely survived the still a hero...

Similarly India seeks to dilute Sikh Contribution to Indian history simply because this embarasses the Majority community's insignificant contribution towards Indian teh Victors in Indian Independence turned out to be different from those that sacrificed the most...
May 6, 2008
I studied CBSE board in India, there were plenty of Chapters in History about the Mughal empire, and Maurya and Chandragupta empire in BC, hardly any thing about Sikh empire or the Sikh Guru's, or Banda Singh bahadur. Not sure what is there in Punjab board education, at least the kids in punjab should know the real history.

so much is in the hand of the historians, Sikh's history has been distorted.

It is very disappointing, not to see any mention of the brave sikh fighters/soldiers/martyrs in the Indian history books.

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