World War Two Key Maritime Choke Points Controlled by Royal Navy

British Empire Controlled Key Maritime Choke Points in World War Two
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21902) A depth charge explodes after it had been dropped from HMS CEYLON. The ship had just made a call at Colombo the capital of Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186946

 

Now Sri Lanka, in World War Two this was the British colony of Ceylon which controlled key maritime shipping lanes.

One of the reasons the British Empire had such a hold on the oceans of the world was their control of key choke points for maritime traffic. These included the southern tip of India, that entire country then ruled by the British. Close by, controlling a key passage into the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal was modern day Sri Lanka, then the British colony of Ceylon.

The Royal Navy had numerous ships stationed in several bases on Ceylon although at one point after a series of Japanese attacks the British Eastern Fleet withdrew to Mombassa. The island itself hosted large numbers of British military facilities.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 20199) Marines at drill with three 40 mm Bofors guns at the Royal Marine Group Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation Instructional Wing, Chatham Camp, Colombo, Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186779

 

SERVING IN THE EAST. MARCH 1945, ON BOARD THE ESCORT CARRIER HMS EMPRESS AND AT A ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION IN COLOMBO, CEYLON. FLEET AIR ARM PERSONNEL SERVING IN THE EAST. (A 28068) Hellcats of the Royal Navy, fitted with long-range tanks, just about to be catapulted off HMS EMPRESS. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205159472

 

TALLY HO LIMPS HOME. 9 MARCH 1944, COLOMBO, CEYLON. THE RETURN TO PORT OF THE SUBMARINE TALLY HO AFTER A SUCCESSFUL PATROL DURING WHICH SHE SUSTAINED DAMAGE WHEN A JAPANESE TORPEDO BOAT CRASHED INTO HER. (A 22887) General view of the damaged submarine showing how the Japanese torpedo-boats’s propellor sliced it like ‘crackling on pork’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205155033

 

WOMENS ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE IN CEYLON, 1943 (A 21442) Wren M Cooper, of London, at work plotting out the course of a ship on a chart in a Ceylon plotting room. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186904

 

THE WOMEN’S ROYAL NAVAL SERVICE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21441) Wren Plotters G Finlay, of Kenya (left) and A Colborne, of Liverpool moving ships on the plot in a Naval Operations Room in Ceylon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186903

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 21428) The Women’s Royal Naval Service: Wrens coming off watch spend a restful hour in their cajan roofed cabins at the WRNS Quarters in Ceylon. Note the mosquito nets tied up and hanging above each bed. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186901

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 24959) The Women’s Royal Naval Service: Admiral Sir James Somerville Commander -in-Chief Eastern Fleet inspecting Wrens serving with the Eastern Fleet in Colombo, Ceylon. To celebrate his sixty second birthday he held an inspection of Wrens, with nearly 250 of them were on parade. After the inspection they marched past the saluting base to music from a Royal Marine band. As the Admiral was leaving the Wr… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187245

“Slim Jim” Somerville was one of the Royal Navy’s most successful fighting admirals in WOrld War Two. Prior to being sent out to command the Eastern Fleet, at that time a collection of old World War One battleships, Somerville had command the famous “Force H” from Gibraltar.

Curiously, Somevile had been placed on the retired list before the war because of a misdiagnosed medical condition of tuberculosis which he did not have. When recalled to the colours, he remained on the retired list thus receiving both his pension and his active duty pay.

 

COLOMBO’S JUNIOR FLEET CLUB. JANUARY 1944, THE JUNIOR FLEET CLUB, COLOMBO, CEYLON HAS BEEN RUN FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS FOR THE MEN OF THE ROYAL NAVY UNDER 20, BY MRS G W HUNTER BLAIR, WIDOW OF A CEYLON PLANTER, WHO IS AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN AS GRANNY TO THE CLUB MEMBERS. (A 22274) Rev C L Martineau, RNVR, holds his weekly discussion group at the Junior Fleet Club, of which he is warden. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205154488

Junior ratings wore long black socks with tropical rig. Higher rates, petty officers, and officers wore white socks. The chaplain, although classified as an officer for purposes of pay and food and uniform and quarters, actually did not have a rank. The Royal Navy believed the men would more readily consult the chaplain about their personal issues, one of his main functions, if he wasn’t officially an officer.

NOEL COWARD ENTERTAINS THE MEN OF THE EASTERN FLEET, HMS VICTORIOUS, TRINCOMALEE, CEYLON, 1 AUGUST 1944 (A 25390) Noel Coward standing at the microphone on a flag-bedecked stage on the aircraft lift aboard HMS VICTORIOUS with Norman Hackworth at the piano. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187321

Royal Indian Navy Fighting World War Two

 

The Royal Indian Navy was one of the armed forces of British India. Created by the East India Company in the early 1700s, it was subsequently absorbed into the armed forces of British India. The British expanded the Royal Indian Navy in World War Two. This navy formed the basis of the modern Indian Navy.

 

C IN C EASTERN FLEET VISITS HIS SHIPS. 2 OCTOBER 1944, COLOMBO, CEYLON. ADMIRAL SIR BRUCE FRASER, GCB, KBE, COMMANDER IN CHIEF EASTERN FLEET PAID HIS FIRST VISIT TO SHIPS UNDER HIS COMMAND, INCLUDING SHIPS OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY, AND INSPECTED OFFICERS AND MEN. AMONG THE SHIPS VISITED WAS THE CARNATIC OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY. (A 26325) The C in C inspecting members of the CARNATIC’s company. Left to right: Able Seaman Muhammed Yusuf Khan, of Murree, Rawalpindi; Able Seaman (ST) James Vanspall, of Madura, Trichnopoly; Able Seaman (ST) Karunskaran Maniath, of Dharmadam, Malabar; Able Seaman Amarijit Singh Bakshi, of Ghun Grila, Rawalpindi. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205157938

 

TWENTY-THREE YEARS WITH THE INDIAN NAVY. 21 OCTOBER 1943, LONDONDERRY. TWO MEN OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY WHOSE SERVICE TOTALS 46 YEARS; ABBAS TAJUDDIN, CHIEF STOKER (LEFT) AND YUSUF ALI, CHIEF MECHANIC. THEY ARE BOTH FROM RATNIGARI, AND HAVE BOTH SERVED IN THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY FOR 23 YEARS. THEY ARE AT PRESENT SERVING IN THE INDIAN SLOOP KRISTNA. (A 19998) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152520

 

ON BOARD THE INDIAN SLOOP KRISTNA. 21 OCTOBER 1943, LONDONDERRY. (A 19999) The Shipwright Abdol Khalio, who comes from Gujrat, Punjab, with a wooden model of HMIS KRISTNA, the sloop in which he is serving. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152521

 

THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (IB 1535) A portrait by Cecil Beaton of an Indian naval rating operating a signal lamp on the sloop SUTLEJ at the Royal Indian Naval Station at Calcutta. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125435

 

ROYAL INDIAN NAVY AND EASTERN FLEET HARASS JAPANESE FORCES, BURMA, FEBRUARY – MARCH 1944 (A 23453) A Royal Indian Navy rating, Vincent, of Travencore, sitting on the deck of a ship collects up empty 20 mm cartridge cases and puts them into a hessian bag. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187050

 

DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR INDIA, VISITS MEMBERS OF HM ROYAL INDIAN NAVY, AT A BASE. 1941. (A 3307) The Duke of Devonshire inspecting sailors of the Royal Indian Navy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137710

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 23449) As darkness falls the bombardment of Japanese positions begins during a typical operation by Coastal Forces of the Royal Indian Navy, which include units of the Royal Navy, South African Naval Forces and Burma RNVR. Here the forward gun of one of the coastal forces boats is being fired. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187049

 

INDIAN WRENS VISIT ROSYTH, 3 JUNE 1945 (A 29070) Chief Officer Margaret L Cooper, Deputy Director of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS), with Second Officer Kalyani Sen, WRINS at Rosyth during their two month study visit to Britain. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187585

 

 

 

 

 

British Army in Burma


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 1824) Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, with Major General G N Wood in a jeep during a visit to the 25th Indian Division, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205135

Frightfully unqualified for anything, Mountbatten made numerous ghastly mistakes. His appointment in South East Asia did increase morale of the “Forgotten Army of Burma” since he was a member of the royal family and enjoyed massive press coverage.  In fact, Mountbatten made the “forgotten army of Burma” quite famous. Very keen on publicity was Dickie Mountbatten. His HQ in Ceylon had a staff of 7,000 men and women a number of whom spent their time getting him publicity.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2358) A 25-pdr field gun and its crew about to start their journey on a pontoon raft down the Kalapanzin River from Buthidaung, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205199

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2355) A 25-pdr field gun and jeep being transported on a pontoon raft down the Kalapanzin River from Buthidaung, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205198

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2188) Sherman tanks moving forward to support infantry in the Myebon area, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205180

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3167) A Daimler scout car, Sherman tank and Dodge weapons carrier disembarking from a pontoon raft after crossing the Irrawaddy at Ngazun, 28 February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205470

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 1931) Men of the 6th Gurkha Rifles go into action at Singu on the Irrawaddy bridgehead, with Sherman tanks in support, February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205147
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3111) The crew of a jeep take stand ready with Sten guns beside their vehicle during an encounter with the Japanese in the advance on Mandalay, February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126435
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3342) The .50-inch machine gun of a Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205504

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3335) The crew of ‘Deepcut’, a Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, have a cup of tea and play a hand of cards during a lull in fighting, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205503

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3346) Priest 105mm self-propelled gun in action, 7 March 1945 Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205505

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3361) Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205506

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3074) Sherman tanks of Probyn’s Horse (5th King Edward VII’s Own Lancers), 255th Armoured Brigade, advancing on the road between Myaungyu on the Irrawaddy bridgehead and Meiktila, March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205451

British Indian Army, British Army and British Commonwealth Troops Reclaim Burma from Japanese

The largest all-volunteer fighting formation of the British Empire in World War Two was the British Indian Army which was recruited in British India then comprised of modern day Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. More than 2.5 million men served in the British Indian Army and they fought all over the world.

 

 

ALLIED FORCES IN NORTHERN BURMA, JUNE 1945 (HU 87180) Mandalay fell to the 19 Indian Division after fierce fighting during the drive on Mandalay from the north. Picture shows: Tanks with infantry speeding along the road to attack a village near Madaya, 12 miles north of Mandalay. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205085629

 

THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87182) Mule convoy carrying supplies into Burma. Photo shows: Mule convoy crossing a stream, the water is muddy and leech infested. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205088016
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88980) Imphal to Kohima: the meeting at MS 109 of the 7th Cavalry and 33 Corps. Jemader Karnail Singh of 7th Cavalry shakes hands with Major AC T Brotherton, a 33 Corps Staff Officer. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205219276

 

THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88979) Wingates Expedition: Air Supply Dropping of Rations. View from an aircraft of a message written on the ground with parachutes. It reads ‘Plane land here now’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205219283
BURMA VICTORY: 4TH CORPS CAPTURE MEIKTILA (IND 4447) Men of an Indian Regiment charge burning remnants of Seywa during the drive on Meiktila. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205225485

 

BURMA: BRITISH TROOPS CROSS SHWELI RIVER (SE 1790) After the heaviest air and land bombardment in this sector of the Burma front, British and Indian troops of the 36th Division forced a crossing in assault craft over the Shweli river to Myitson. The Shweli is the last river barried to the 36th Division’s advance into central Burma, and the Japanese opposed the ferry crossing fanatically. This image shows men of the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205225496
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87183) Tanks of the 25th Dragoons near Fort White. 25-pounders re-established in the gunners box on Kennedy Peak open fire again on the retreating Japanese. Picture shows: General Lee tank on Hill 8225. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205088015
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4470) British troops in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205584

Defensive measures for Burma were never put into place by the British because they did not believe Burma was under much threat. By the time they did, it was too late. After a series of small engagements with invading Japanese, British Army, British Indian Army and Commonwealth troops under General Sir Harold Alexander (later Field Marshal, Earl Alexander of Tunis) made a fighting retreat to British India where the Japanese were halted. The climate made fighting even more miserable than fighting could be.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4459) General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief India, inspecting troops, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205588

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4463) 4.2-inch mortars of 33rd Anti-tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205582

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4468) 5.5-inch guns of 63rd Medium Battery firing on Satthinagyon, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205583

Spitfires to Malta

AChtung! spitfire!

Attention! Spitfire!

This was not a warning German pilots liked hearing over the headphones during air battles over England.

Flames roar from the exhaust of a Spitfire as it starts its engine. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images. August 2015. Courtesy of the Guardian.

spitfires to malta

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9580) Securing Spitfires on the flight deck of HMS EAGLE. On the port side of deck are more planes ready for their flight to Malta. In the background is the island of HMS EAGLE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143392

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9586) One of the Spitfires taking off on its way to Malta. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143396

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9584) Spitfires on the deck of HMS EAGLE on their way to their flying off destination. In the background can be seen HMS ARGUS and the cruiser HMS HERMIONE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143395

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7953) The aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS which acted as fighter escort, with HMS EAGLE (centre) and the battleship HMS MALAYA (right distance) prior to flying off to Malta of the Spitfires. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141947

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7954) The aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS which acted as fighter escort, with HMS EAGLE (centre) and the battleship HMS MALAYA (right distance) prior to flying off to Malta of the Spitfires. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141948

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7956) Left to right: HMS ARGUS, EAGLE and MALAYA seen under the guns of HMS HERMIONE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141950

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS IN MALTA, GIBRALTAR AND THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1940-1945. (CM 3215) Ground crew of No. 249 Squadron RAF take a break from maintaining their Supermarine Spitfire Mark VCs at Ta Kali, Malta, to observe the activity on the airfield. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208952

 

Arrive in Malta at last. If the Spitfire pilots didn’t keep an eagle eye on their fuel mixture and fly in such a way as to conserve fuel they coulnd’t make it to Malta from their flying off point and over the years a number of them crashed into the Med never to be heard from again.

Baldwin Eviscerated by Churchill

War_Industry_in_Britain_during_the_First_World_War_Q84077

Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown’s filling works near Glasgow during a visit on 9 October 1918. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

“…they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent…”

 

Stanley_Baldwin_resize

The incompetent Stanley Baldwin in the 1920s. He served as Prime Minister of Great Britain on three occasions: 1923 to 1924, 1924 to 1929 and 1935 to 1937. 

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was a wealthy man, quite out of his depth, entirely out of touch with his times, and possessed of a foolish rigidity of thought which ill-prepared Great Britain for the coming war. His nickname, “the Vicar” will give you an idea of how he was seen. (And it was a compliment). Worse, his personal and his campaign slogan was ‘Safety First.’  This actually meant, ‘don’t do anything which might rock the boat’ which was manifested by his not doing anything.

Baldwin still saw England as a nation of small villages, inspired by the narrow values and philosophies of small villages. He did not understand and could not understand the threat Hitler and other totalitarian states were to Great Britain and the British Empire.

churchill11

Winston Churchill in full cry on the campaign trail during a speech in Uxbridge, Middlesex, during the general election campaign on 27 June 1945. (photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

On 12 November 1936, in a debate in the House of Commons over what Winston Churchill believed was a far-too-casual and much-too-small initial rebuilding of the armed forces of the Crown, he excoriated Baldwin and his cabinet for their timidity and indecision about rearmament.
“The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence has argued as usual against a Ministry of Supply. The arguments which he used were weighty, and even ponderous… But then my right hon. friend went on somewhat surprisingly to say, ‘The decision is not final’. It would be reviewed again in a few weeks. What will you know in a few weeks about this matter that you do not know now, that you ought not to have known a year ago, and have not been told any time in the last six months?….
The First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech the other night went even farther. He said, ‘We are always reviewing the position. Everything, he assured us is entirely fluid. I am sure that that is true. Anyone can see what the position is.

The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”

 

churchill from NPR

Churchill speaking during the General Election campaign of 1945 which took place after the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.

Churchill,_uniform resize

21 year old Winston Spencer Churchill of the 4th Queens Hussars. 1895

One of the reasons so many of Churchill’s speeches are remembered is he rarely spoke off the cuff. He always carefully prepared his remarks, usually spending hours and hours of labor upon the drafts.  He dictated his speeches to a secretary then revised then over and over before delivering them.

A fascinating article about Churchill’s speeches can be found here:

www.winstonchurchill.org/his-speeches-how-churchill-did-it

 

Malay Emergency Instead of War So Insurers Will Pay

Headline from New York Times 16 August 1951

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (BF 48) British 25 pounder field guns of the Royal Artillery in position outside a Malayan village during the Malayan Emergency. They are ready to give fire support if called for by the infantry. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212425

 

The Communist insurgency and successful counter-insurgency by British, Commonwealth and Malaysian troops became known as the “Malayan Emergency,” or “Malay Emergency.”

Had the British government used the word “war” then Lloyds of London and other property insurers would have been able to avoid paying out damage claims on policies written on tin mines, rubber plantations, and manufacturing plants destroyed or damaged in war. Insurance policies written for property exclude from recompense damages caused by war and “Acts of God.” These are defined as natural catastrophes over which no human agency could exert control or caused. Tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, tidal waves etc are “Acts of God” in the legal sense of the term.

Many policies also include exemptions from paying claims by civil unrest, riot and other events of mass violence. What constitutes such events area the kinds of things which keep lawyers busy.

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 35) Men of the Malay Police Field Force wade along a river during a jungle patrol in the Temenggor area of northern Malaya. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212413
“Don’t you think, sir, you should have an escort,” said a policeman to the British Adviser to the Sultan of Perak, then part of the British colony of Malaysia. A Communist insurgency had recently broken out and the Adviser had come to inspect a rubber plantation where several British estate managers had just been murdered by Communist thugs.
“Escort? Good God! Why on earth should I need an escort? I’ve got my walking stick and my wife.”

[Source: War of the Running Dogs: Malaya, 1948-1960 by Noel Barber, foreign correspondent of the London Daily Mail in the 1950s and 1960s who later became a bestselling novelist including several romance novvels the most famous of which was “A Farewell to France.”

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948 – 1960 (GOV 3828) Soldiers of 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment patrol in the jungle shortly after arriving in Malaya, c 1951. A patrol spreads out across the ‘lallang’ (tall grass) as they move into the jungle after leaving the shelter of their armoured vehicles. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205189572

The Communist insurgency in Malaya was heavily supported by the Communist Government of the People’s Republic of China. In spite of the immense difficulties involved in chasing down the Communist guerrillas and killing or capturing them in some of the most forbidding terrain in the world, this was the only successful anti-Communist campaign won by any of the Western powers in Asia that did not involved either outright defeat or a partition of the original nation.

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 304) A soldier practicing stalking in the Malayan jungle in preperation for jungle patrols as part of the counter-insurgency campaign of the Malayan Emergency. He is using an air rifle and has a fencing mask to protect his face and eyes from pellets. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212410

After the defeat of the Japanese, the British re-occupied Malaysia which had been a British crown colony before World War Two, that is, a colony ruled by a Governor appointed by the Crown as advised by the sitting Prime Minister. The British wanted the opportunity to re-open tin mines and rubber plantations because of their desperate need of foreign currency.

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (MAL 157) British and Malay infantry being transported up river on an armed launch of the Malayan Naval Force during a sweep to locate communist guerillas hidden ain the jungle along the riverside. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212404

 

The British were also determined to hand over a stable, democratic, free and independent nation to the native Malay officials and Parliament. It was a very long haul. This conflict began in 1948 and continued until the destruction of Communist forces in 1960.

Through the use of Malaysia soldiers and police, British and Commonwealth troops, and funds and supplies from the USA, the British succeeded and after they succeeded, they left. This was one of the few success stories of a country emerging intact from its days as a colony of the British Empire. Malaysia was and continues to be a multi-ethnic state because over the decades the British glued different pieces of territories into one colony. So it wasn’t as if one large piece of territory was just sitting there and they came along and snatched it.

 

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY, 1948-1960 (MAL 2) A patrol of the Security Forces, possibly from either the Malayan Police Field Force or the Malayan Regiment, prepare to travel by raft down a river in the Temenggor area of northern Malaya. The local men accompanying the troops were employed as armed trackers, scouts, guides and boatmen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212411

The British Empire was built on trade and the suppression of ethnic violence. In many colonies the ethnic mix was such that these different groups had been warring with each other for endless amounts of time. The British usually imposed order by recruiting native police and military units under British command backed up by British troops and the Royal Navy. Hence, there was an unspoken social contract. The British ruled the colony and made money from it and in return provided order and stability so that native elites could also make money and maintain their traditional powers.

The British preferred to rule through native elites and these groups were often among their strongest supporters.

Malaysia was never a “settlement” colony such as Canada or Australia.  At its peak the white population before World War Two might have number 10,000 people. The brutally hot climate of Malaysia was such that few white Europeans wanted to go there for any length of time. It was a trading colony exporting raw sap from rubber trees as well as an immense amount of tin from mines that had been opened up. Because of this, Malaya earned large amounts of foreign currency, especially dollars for the British and this became more and more important as the twentieth century went on.

 

 

BRITISH FORCES IN THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (DM 138) Members of the Malay Regiment inspect equipment, supplies and documents captured in a raid on a communist terrorist jungle camp. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205127197

 

BRITISH FORCES IN THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (DM 179) Sergeant A J Foster of the Malayan Police sets up a trip-wire across a path on a rubber plantation known to be used by communist terrorists. When touched the wire would set off a flare to illuminate the surrounding area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205127194