Singora (Songkla, Sangore; 100.601E 7.192N) is a small Thai fishing port on the northeast coast of the Kra Isthmus north of Malaya.  It was established in the 9th century by Chinese immigrants who had built a walled city by 1850. The port was the only point on the northeast coast of Malaya within range of Japanese fighter cover with a decent road across the peninsula to the developed corridor on the southwest coast. There was also an airfield that could be quickly seized for forward deployment of short-range aircraft. The British were aware of its strategic importance and developed a plan (MATADOR) to cross the border into Thailand in the event of war and block any Japanese landings.

On 8 December 1941 (local time), two hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Singora became the landing site for the main body of 5 Division and 5 Tank Regiment of 25 Army41 Regiment, 9 Brigade formed the first echelon and quickly secured the town and nearby airfield. Because the British were reluctant to violate the neutrality of Thailand, they failed to activate MATADOR, and the landings were unopposed. However, Force Z sortied in a desperate bid to attack the beachhead, only to be destroyed at sea by 22 Air Flotilla.

11 Regiment, 9 Brigade came ashore in the second echelon by 16 December. By then the forward elements of 5 Division were already moving against the west coast of Malaya. The final echelon, 21 Regiment, 21 Brigade, did not arrive until January 1942, while 42 Regiment, 21 Brigade came ashore at Patani.

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Hat Yai


Willmott (1982)

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