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  • In the previous week, we covered the fall of two  of the first places the Japanese had attacked,  

  • Hong Kong and Wake Island, and we also  watched General MacArthur's forces start their  

  • catastrophic withdrawal into Bataan, where they  would resist until reinforcements could arrive to  

  • save them. In Malaya, the British defenders were  also in a difficult position, nearly thrown off  

  • the center of the peninsula. Today, we are going  to continue our coverage over the events unfolding  

  • in the Malay Peninsula and in the Philippinesbut first, we are going to take a quick detour  

  • to China, where major combat resumed for the  first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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  • The outbreak of the Pacific War did not alter  the main objective of the Japanese operations  

  • against China, which was the overthrow of Chiang  Kai-shek's regime and the establishment of a  

  • puppet Chinese government . Most of the Japanese  forces had been allocated to China since 1938,  

  • but the opening of a new front to the south meant  that some divisions would have to be transferred  

  • to partake in the offensives launched in the  Pacific, although the Japanese position in  

  • the region would remain strong enough to continue  the occupation of most of the strategic locations  

  • that had been conquered. Tokyo also hoped  that the capture of Hong Kong, Burma and any  

  • other means for the Allies to supply China would  eventually force Chiang Kai-shek to surrender.  

  • But in the first weeks of the war, in  accordance with orders from the Allies,  

  • Chinese forces resumed vigorous  guerrilla warfare against the invaders,  

  • although the Japanese would quickly take the  upper hand and beat them off. The failures  

  • of the National Revolutionary Army during these  first few weeks of the war left Chiang Kai-shek  

  • unwilling to start any new major operations  during the start of the year 1942. The Japanese,  

  • focused on their southern expansion through the  Pacific, were also cautious from embarking on  

  • offensives against the fierce and numerous Chinese  defenders. And yet, there would be one exception

  • Back on December 13, Lieutenant-General Anami  Korechika of the 11th Army had ordered his forces  

  • to prepare for a sortie south of the Yangtze  River. After moving his forces south of Yoyang,  

  • the 6th and 40th Divisions began  their advance at dusk, driving the  

  • Chinese defenders towards Kuanwangchiao  and then expeling them from the town.  

  • The following day, Anami sent the 3rd Division to  travel along the Guangzhou-Hankou railway, then  

  • crossing the Ku Shui near Kueii and easily routing  the 99th Army. General Xue Yue of the 9th War Area  

  • quickly reacted by moving two armies to the left  bank of the Ku Shui, but by December 29, all  

  • Japanese divisions had crossed the river and had  started offensives against the Chinese defenders.  

  • At this point, Anami recognized that the Changsha  area was inadequately defended, so he decided to  

  • commit to a full-on attack to capture the cityThe next day, the Japanese divisions broke through  

  • the enemy lines one by one, routing the 37th Army  and then continuing their drive towards Changsha.  

  • While the 3rd and 6th Divisions were ordered  to directly continue against their objective,  

  • Anami ordered the 40th to take the town of  Mafengtsui to the southeast before capturing  

  • Chinching, another important city. By December  31st, the 6th had taken the town of Langlishih and  

  • the 3rd was already on the outskirts of Changsha . Japanese troops then started their attack on  

  • the city, managing to infiltrate the city's  castle but facing fierce Chinese resistance  

  • in the form of the 10th Army. Meanwhile, the  40th Division reached Chinching on January 1,  

  • starting its attack on the city one day later. The  remnants of the 37th Army were easily beaten off  

  • and by January 2, Chinching  had fallen into Japanese hands.  

  • At the same time, the 6th Division joined the  3rd in its assault against Changsha, slowly  

  • but surely overcoming the Chinese defenders. By  January 4, the city had fallen to the Japanese  

  • and the main objective of Anami's operation had  been achieved. But Xue Yue was now reuniting his  

  • forces for a general counterattack, and he was not  going to let the enemy take his city so easily.  

  • For the Chinese counteroffensivewe'll have to wait until next week,  

  • because first we need to return to the Pacific to  take a look at the operations happening in Malaya  

  • and the Philippines. On December 28,  the situation was desperate for the  

  • Americans under General MacArthur, forced to  execute a difficult withdrawal into Bataan  

  • that required a great deal of coordination  between the North and South Luzon Forces.  

  • In the north, Japanese pressure had forced General  Wainwright's forces to abandon their second line  

  • and to retreat to a new defensive line between  the towns of San Miguel and Cabanatuan;  

  • and in the south, the Japanese 16th  Division had reached the Los Baños line,  

  • facing staunch American resistance  to continue their drive on Manila

  • The following day, the Japanese had already  gotten to the towns of Tarlac and Bongabon,  

  • so they were now applying heavy pressure on  Wainwright's new line with their tanks and  

  • superior firepower. At this point, General Homma  also realized the extent of MacArthur's plan,  

  • so he sent the 7th Tank Regiment asvanguard to move fast and capture any  

  • bridges and road junctions that would allow  them to entrap the retreating defenders.  

  • Among the 7th's targets were the vital  road junction of Plaridel and the steel  

  • bridges of Calumpit, where the South Luzon  Force needed to pass to get to Bataan.  

  • Meanwhile in Malaya, the Japanese 5th Division  had crossed the Perak River by December 26,  

  • later joined by the 4th Guards Regiment which  had taken part in the invasion of Thailand.  

  • They would then continue to press the  British rearguard in the next few days,  

  • preparing for a general offensive against KamparBack on December 24, General Murray-Lyon was  

  • sacked due to his incompetence, and was replaced  by Brigadier Archibald Paris as commander of the  

  • 11th Indian Division. By December 29, the 11th  had established defensive positions around Kampar,  

  • which was a key point for the defense of central  Malaya, as it was not easily outflanked inland.  

  • Paris then deployed the 15th Brigade north  of Kampar, with the 28th Brigade covering  

  • the Trunk Road from Dipang around the eastern  side of the Bujang Melaka and with the 12th  

  • Brigade at Bidor to cover possible Japanese  outflanking attempts via the Perak River

  • In turn, General Yamashita planned to capture  Kampar in three thrusts: a first direct attack on  

  • Kampar by the 41st Regiment; a second encircling  movement to the west by the 42nd Regiment,  

  • aimed against the 11th Indian Division's left  flank; and a third outflanking landing at the  

  • mouth of the Bernam River by the 11th Regiment  that would cut the British line of communications.  

  • On December 30, the 55th Regiment  had also landed at Kota Bharu,  

  • then starting to advance down the coast behind the  56th Regiment to launch a joint attack on Kuantan.  

  • In the first two days of the Kampar operationthe Japanese troops would move slowly to their  

  • designated objectives, trying to strike at the  British defenders with a surprise attack powerful  

  • enough to knock them off the battle. Furthermorethe 42nd got itself stalled by swamps and spent  

  • three days in a difficult march that prevented  them from participating in the offensive.  

  • At the same time that this was happeningHomma's forces finally managed to break through  

  • Wainwright's third line when they took the town of  San Miguel. The American defenders would then be  

  • forced to retreat to their last line, ranging  from Fort Stotsenburg to the Sibul Springs.  

  • Concurrently, the 7th Tank Regiment was also  traveling towards Gapan a short distance away  

  • from the last American line. By December 31,  the 7th had broken through this last line,  

  • getting itself in the vicinity of Baliuag,  a town that stood in the way to Plaridel.  

  • Homma's other forces were also rapidly pushing the  American defenders to the town of San Fernando,  

  • where Wainwright knew that he  needed to make a final stand

  • Back in Malaya, following a heavy artillery  barrage, the 41st Regiment started its attack down  

  • the Trunk Road. British resistance was fierce, yet  they barely managed to repel the enemy assault,  

  • although artillery of the 15th Brigade did  inflict many losses on the Japanese regiment.  

  • At this point, the small convoy of boats of  the 11th Regiment had also already passed off  

  • Pangkor Island, arriving at the mouth of the  Bernam River during the evening of January 1.  

  • They would then land at Utan Melitang, driving  a small British patrol there and securing  

  • possession of this vital crossroad. This was  very bad for the Malayan defenders, posing a  

  • huge threat to their line of communicationsIn response, Paris moved one battalion of the  

  • 28th Brigade to the Slim River, where he  began to build a secondary defensive line.  

  • Yet this left Percival concerned for the safety  of the Kuantan airfield, which he needed to  

  • hold at least until January 10 to be able to  receive reinforcements, as the fall of the  

  • airfield would give Japanese fighters the chance  to jeopardize their arrival. In defense of Kuantan  

  • was the 22nd Brigade, and Percival urged them  to at least hold the airfield until January 6,  

  • something that seemed near impossible. At the same  time, the 7th Tank Regiment finally took the town  

  • of Baliuag and then advanced to engage M3 Stuart  light tanks at Plaridel. In this tank battle,  

  • the M3s, supported by artillery of the 71st  Division, managed to push the Ha-Gos back

  • Concurrently, the South Luzon Force of General  Jones had reached the Calumpit steel bridges.  

  • While his troops crossed it, Jones also sent  two tank platoons to engage the Japanese tanks  

  • at Baliuag and thus create enough time for the  Americans to pull out. The American armor would  

  • engage the 7th in the afternoon, disrupting the  Japanese force and successfully delaying their  

  • advance. By the end of the day, the last of the  South Luzon Force moved past Calumpit, blowing up  

  • the twin bridges behind them so the 16th Division  couldn't follow them. The next day, units of the  

  • 16th occupied Manila, with Homma moving his  headquarters to the Philippine's capital.  

  • Other units of the 16th were also already  crossing the Pampanga River at Calumpit,  

  • while the 48th Division was concentrating around  San Fernando, where the 11th and 21st Divisions  

  • made a last stand in front of the entrance to  Bataan. Homma launched costly attack after attack  

  • against the battered divisions, but the Filipino  forces would hold their ground until January 4,  

  • then starting to withdraw towards Layacwhere they formed a new defensive line.  

  • January 2 would also see the  end of the Battle of Kampar,  

  • although it wouldn't have the same outcome  of the successful American withdrawal.  

  • At daybreak, the 41st again started an attack  against the 15th Brigade, suffering heavy losses  

  • while overrunning a British platoon. Yet the  British defenders organized a strong counterattack  

  • that at first was met by heavy machine-gun firebut eventually managed to drive the Japanese off

  • Despite the heroic resistance of the 15th Brigadeto the west, the 4th Guards Regiment landed  

  • at Teluk Anson and engaged the battered 12th  Brigade by mid-afternoon. Heavy fighting ensued,  

  • but the Japanese threat of encirclement was enough  for Paris to order a withdrawal to the Slim River.  

  • At Kuantan, the two Japanese regiments had  also crossed the river and were now heading  

  • towards the airfield. The 22nd Brigade was  preparing for a difficult confrontation,  

  • but when the news of Paris' retreat reached themthe entire 9th Indian Division of General Barstow  

  • was forced to withdraw through the  Kuala Lipis-Jerantut-Raub area.  

  • The 22nd immediately proceeded to demolish all  buildings and installations in Kuantan before  

  • starting their retreat, but at night, their  rearguard would be caught in the midst of  

  • the Japanese attack. The Indians were demolished  in the assault, losing a third of the brigade's  

  • strength , but the rest of the 22nd managed to  retreat without further incidents by January 3.  

  • That same day, the 4th Guards Regiment advanced  up to the Selangor River and then turned inland  

  • towards the bridges at Batang Berjuntai, thus  threatening the key city of Kuala Selangor and  

  • its valuable airfield. At the same time, General  Percival received his first reinforcement at  

  • Singapore, the 45th Brigade, immediately sending  it to repel the enemy advance on Selangor.  

  • But would it succeed? And would Paris' new  defensive line hold the Japanese invaders? For  

  • these answers, join us next week as we cover the  Battle of the Slim River and the continuation of