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Re: Marmon Herrington MkIII armoured cars, Malaya-Singapore

January 25 2018 at 7:59 PM
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Nelson  (no login)

Response to Marmon Herrington MK III Armoured Cars Malaya - Singapore 1941 - 1942


Although you provide some interesting additional details, I think the gist was previously known to us. The projected color and/or livery of the vehicles at various times is of significance. I have comments, questions, and/or requests on three points in your posting:

> There are two photographs I am aware of showing the long line of brand new Marmon Herrington MK III Armoured Cars on Singapore. They are IWM FE 481 and IWM FE 482. Both show a single line of some of the brand new 175 Marmon Herrington MK III that reached Malaya Command during WWII. These vehicles appear not to have fitted yet with their standard armament of a .303 inch Vickers MMG and a Boys Anti-Tank rifle. Also, they appear to me to be painted an overall dark green. >

I went to the IWM site and was readily able to pull up FE 481, the (more) familiar photo of the line of Marmon Herrington armored vehicles. Try as I might, however, the site would not yield up FE 482 (FE 480 is of burning oil storage tanks; FE 483 likewise failed to appear). Entering “Marmon Herrington armoured cars, Malaya-Singapore” under the general heading of the Second World War did not pull anything up, including FE 481. Viewing FE 481, I cannot deduce a dark green paint, so I assume that must come from viewing FE 482. Any way you can post the latter image? One of our long-existing questions is in the allocation (issuance) of these 175 vehicles to the various units that ultimately made use of them, viz., on what basis allocated and how many each? Were all of them issued, or did some/many remain behind at the depot unissued?

> There are two other photographs I am aware of showing Malaya Command Marmon Herrington MK III Armoured Cars in Malaya - Singapore. One, the turned-on-its-side armoured car in the striking camouflage pattern, as part of the road block at Bakri on 18 January 1942. This is the 4th Australian Anti-Tank Regiment road block, and as well as still photographs of the road block there is movie film. >

Aye, there’s the rub. There are two or three detailed descriptions of the action at Bakri, but none of them mentions the overturning of an armored car, Marmon Herrington or otherwise. Just beyond the capsized Marmon Herrington are a couple of burned out trucks, as shown in the attached photo. A couple of sites claim they were from 45th Indian Brigade, although with no further explanation for their being there. I can find no account for the circumstances of the armored car or the two soft vehicles. But, yeah, there they are, in the midst of those knocked-out enemy tanks…

[linked image]

> As for The 100th Independent Light Tank Squadron of The British - Indian Army it was equipped with 23 Light Tanks MK IV A and MK VI B Indian pattern and arrived safely on Singapore Island in two convoys BM-10 and BM-11. On the morning of 29 January 1942, there were 23 MK IV A and MK VI B Indian pattern Light Tanks safely on Singapore Island. The 100th Independent Light Tank Squadron would fight on the lower slopes of the Swiss Hill and the cemetery near the village of Bukit Brown. >

It is my understanding that all of these old Vickers light tanks were badly in need of maintenance, whatever their recent origin. The conditions then existing on the island did not permit their prompt turnaround from the repair shop, and only a handful or even fewer actually saw combat. Postwar, few of the survivors from the fighting on Singapore remember seeing any British tanks—much less being aware of such having been in action—and of course virtually all detailed histories of the campaign erroneously claim that Commonwealth forces lacked tanks, with but a few armored cars managing to return from the Malayan mainland, and their role thereafter negligible.

Thanks if you can expand a bit on these various points.


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  • for the sake of completeness - Nelson on Jan 25, 2018, 11:56 PM
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