December 30, This Day during the World War ll

December 30, 1941 – The Battle of Kampar was an engagement of the Malayan Campaign during World War II, involving British and Indian troops from the 11th Indian Infantry Division and the Japanese 5th Division. On 27 December, in an effort to prevent the capture of RAF Kuala Lumpur, the 11th Indian Infantry Division occupied Kampar, which offered a strong natural defensive position. In doing so they were also tasked with delaying the advancing Japanese troops long enough to allow the 9th Indian Infantry Division to withdraw from the east coast. The Japanese intended to capture Kampar as a New Year’s gift to Emperor Hirohito and on 30 December the Japanese began surrounding the British and Indian positions. The following day fighting commenced. Nevertheless, the Allied forces were able to hold on for four days before withdrawing on 2 January 1942, having achieved their objective of slowing the Japanese advance. On 30 December Kawamura’s brigade arrived and began encircling and probing the British positions. On the 31 December Kawamura launched probing attacks on the 28th Gurkha Brigade’s position on the right flank with a battalion from Watanabe’s 11th Regiment. Once the well concealed Gurkhas’ positions were found the Japanese formed up to attack and the howitzers of the 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Artillery opened up a concentrated fire on the Japanese troops. All through 31 December the 11th Regiment attacks were beaten off by the Gurkhas and the close support artillery fire. On midnight of New Year’s Eve the commander of the 155th Field Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Murdoch, “ordered a twelve gun salute to be fired at the Japanese”. At seven in the morning, on 1 January 1942, Kawamura launched his main attack against the western side of the Kampar position. This attack was carried out by the 41st Regiment and the brunt of it was against the area held by Lieutenant Colonel Esmond Morrison’s British Battalion. The 41st Regiment attacked straight into the British Battalion’s positions, supported by heavy mortar fire. The fighting became fierce with Japanese and British positions taken and retaken at the point of a bayonet. Japanese casualties were heavy with a continuous stream of wounded passing Colonel Okabe’s headquarters. Combined with the infantry assaults the Japanese poured continuous artillery fire and bombed and strafed the British positions with impunity (the Japanese had nearly complete air superiority by this stage in the campaign). Matsui brought in fresh soldiers to replace his mounting casualties. The well concealed and dug in 15th/6th Brigade, supported by the 88th (2nd West Lancashire) Field Artillery, held on to their positions throughout the two days of fierce fighting on the western slopes of Kampar Hill without relief. The ferocity and confusion of the close-quarter fighting around the British Battalion was especially violent in the forward positions. Lieutenant Edgar Newland, commanding a platoon of 30 Leicesters, held the most forward position of the battalion. His platoon was surrounded and cut off for most of the battle but Newland and his men fought off all attacks and kept hold of their isolated position throughout the two days. For his actions Newland later received the Military Cross. During the two day battle Japanese troops managed to capture trenches on the eastern sector of Thompson Ridge. After two counter-attacks by D Company of the British Battalion and a third by the Jat-Punjab Battalion failed, a reserve mixed company of 60 Sikhs and Gujars from the Jat-Punjab Battalion was brought in to attempt to retake the trenches. This half company under the command of Captain John Onslow Graham (1/8th Punjab) and Lieutenant Charles Douglas Lamb fixed bayonets and charged the Japanese position. The Japanese fire was so heavy that 33 men, including Lamb, were killed in the charge. Graham continued to lead the attack after being wounded and only stopped when a grenade mangled both his legs beneath the knees. Nevertheless, he continued to shout encouragement to his men and was seen throwing grenades at the Japanese trenches. Altogether 34 Indians died in the attack but they retook the position. Graham died of his wounds a day later and was subsequently Mentioned in Dispatches for his actions on Thompson Ridge. Matsui realised that the British position at Kampar was too strong for him to take, so General Yamashita ordered landings on the west coast south of Kampar near the 12th Brigade positions at Telok Anson in order to out flank and cut off the line of retreat of the 11th Division. The 11th Infantry Regiment were to land at Hutan Melintang and attack Telok Anson from the south and a force from the Imperial Guards Division headed overland, following the Perak River to attack Telok Anson from the north. The landings were successful and Telok Anson was taken after a brisk battle with the 3rd Cavalry and 1st Independent Company on 2 January 1942. Once Telok Anson had fallen the 3rd Cavalry and 1st Independent Company fell back to the 12th Brigade which successfully delayed the Japanese from taking the main north–south road. Major-General Paris, with his line of retreat threatened, ordered the positions at Kampar to be abandoned. The 12th Brigade covered the retreat of 11th Division and the British pulled back to the next prepared defensive position at Slim River.

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