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Kuantan

Kuantan (103.336E 3.8016N) is a port on the north coast of Malaya. There was an airfield here equipped with SCR-270 radar when war broke out in the Pacific. The area was defended by 22 Indian Brigade and there were 8 Blenheim I bombers of 60 Squadron and 8 Hudson II bombers of 8 Squadron based at the airfield.

The British hoped to hold Kuantan against the Japanese advance at least until 10 January 1942. However, the rapid advance of the Japanese on the west coast of Malaya threatened Kuantan's communications, and the defenders were ordered to make a fighting retreat on 3 January. The ground crews at the airfield panicked and fled in disorder (Hastings 2011):

At Kuantan airfield, hundreds of ground personnel fled in panic. "How is this possible? They are all sahibs," a bemused Indian driver of the Royal Garwhal Rifles asked his officer as the two contemplated a chaos of equipment, personal baggage, tennis rackets and debris strewn around airfield buildings. The young lieutenant snapped back crossly, "They are not sahibs, they're Australians." But British soldiers and airmen were also fleeing. Some Indian units collapsed in panic; the British commander of a Sikh battalion was believed to have been shot by his own men before they bolted....

References

Hastings (2011)



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