BATTLE OF JITRA
Some two months before the fall of Singapore, the history of East Asia was forever transformed by the surprising attack across the Malay Peninsular. The sole objective was the capture of Singapore by land. Within a few days of the landing of the invasion forces, the fate of Asia will be played out on the field nearby a town called Jitra.
The Battle of Jitra which lasted less than two days will ultimately foretell the density that waits that the British and combined Commonwealth Forces in Malaya. The battle deserves a place in modern military history as it represent the first time ever an Asian power has subdued white troops in ground combat. It was also the first time that the Allies witnessed the explosive and penetrative power of a combined arms Army in Asia. All of which will happen first in the Battle of Jitra. The final outcome of which would testify to the supremacy of the army of the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Supremacy at Jitra was shown in the manner where the Japanese reinforce battalion infantry supported by armour, engineers, artillery and air working in harmony as one team utilising exceptional tactics decimated the British defending forces. The operational art of the Japanese forces allowed them to further dictate the term and condition of battle. Japanese supremacy also showed in their deftness in devising a military strategy guaranteeing their tactical and operational advantage on the fields of Jitra. British Forces did have successes at the operational and tactical level but all of them, as this study will show, pale in comparison to the Japanese accomplishments across the spectrum of warfare.
The value of the Battle of Jitra as a lesson for the Malaysian Army cannot be overstated. The battle itself provides an in depth and concise tutorial on conventional warfare tactics executed brilliantly by unconventional minds. Moreover, the invaders 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.
In 1941, the strength of the Japanese reconnaissance aircraft was increased from 100 to 250. In addition to this, Japanese had conducted mass recruitment to boost their manpower, establishing the biggest and strongest army in the region. The Japanese Army was well motivated and committed to the course of “ freeing all East Asia”. Their plan was superb, immaculate and perfectly executed. It was indeed a masterpiece, which was held in high esteem even in the military circle of modern times. The troop selected was well trained and had been active in China. They spearhead the attack on Jitra and Kota Bharu. They were well conditioned to undertake jungle warfare and familiar with the terrain of Malaya.
The aim of this paper is to analyze the battle of Jitra, which will focus on tactics, command and control as well as the lesson learnt from the campaign.
The scope of this paper will encompass the following aspects:
The Japanese strategy and plan.
The British strategy and plan.
Analysis of the battle
The Battle of Jitra saw the first defeat of the mighty British in Malaya. Many more followed later and finally resulted in the defeat of Singapore. The Malayan 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 4 days, starting on the 10th and ended on the 13 December 1941.
Jitra became relevant in the defence of Northern Malaya as it was north of the Alor Setar aerodrome, which became the main reason for the defence location. In addition, it controlled the critical junction which fork towards the state of Perlis and the main road to Thailand. Thus, for lack of a better...
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