These orders to disband were actually passed on by Malaya Command, and when the CO pointed out that the Company was part of Command Troops, and asked since when had Corps been given power to disband Command Troops, no little consternation followed. The CO had an interview with General Percival who instantly countermanded the orders of 3 Corps and said some rude things to the officer in Malaya Command who had passed on the orders!
However, it was agreed in a discussion with the Army Commander that under the new condition in Singapore it would be better to make two raiding parties of the Company for use in the Johore Straits and for a special mission in BATU PAHAT, should that town fall into the enemy’s hands. A plan was prepared with the Navy by which the Company was to be used in work for which it had trained so arduously in the months before the war.
Of what followed, the writer can only speak through others’ mouths, as he himself left the Company on the 25th January to take over command of the combined 1st and 5th Battalions 14th Punjab Regiment, still on the mainland.
The Company was only employed three times after the Commanding Officer left:
- BATU PAHAT: – The raiders set out with the object of landing at BATU PAHAT and causing havoc in the rear of the Japanese forces. The scheme came to nought when half-way to their destination, the Company’s boats were commandeered by the Navy to assist in evacuating survivors of the BATU PAHAT battle from the coast south of BATU PAHAT.
- JOHOR STRAITS: – Two of the Company’s boats raided the Japanese craft crossing the Straits of Johore for the landing on Singapore on the night of 8 December(??). They sank two enemy craft and escaped unharmed.
- PULAU BUKUM: – For the rest of the Campaign the Company was employed on the destruction of the oil installations at PULAU BUKUM. This work was carried out in an extremely satisfactory manner, the whole island being a mass of flames when the Company finally withdrew.
It is considered very unfortunate, and very short sighted on the part of Malaya Command, that after completion of its work at PULAU BUKUM, the Company was not allowed to make good its escape. This would have entailed no difficulties as the Company had its own boats and enough fuel to get it to Australia.
It consisted of valuable men, with highly specialised training; men who had seen the enemy close to, and who had learned many of his tricks. They would have been invaluable as a nucleus for forces such as General WINGATE made famous in Burma.
However, it was not to be. The Independent Company was recalled to Singapore on the 14h of February 1942.This entry was posted in Blog, Uncategorized