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,
became the landing site for the main body of 5 Division and 5 Tank Regiment
of 25 Army. 41 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
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
Brigade, did not arrive until January 1942, while 42 Regiment, 21 Brigade came ashore at Patani.
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