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Bolt Action: Japanese Invasion of Malaya

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From the beaches of Dunkirk to the tropical shores of the Malay peninsular. Japanese landing craft emerges out of the mist – the invasion has begun!

Far East Invasion Plans

By 1941, the Japanese were embroiled in a brutal war of attrition for control of mainland China. Embargos from western colonial powers choked off imports of vital resources. Rather than pull out of China and lose face, the Japanese decided to strike southward at British, French and Dutch colonial possessions, including British Malaya. Prior to the invasion, the Japanese intelligence agencies recruited a small number of disaffected Malays into an anti-British guerilla organisation called the Tortoise Society.

8th December 1941. 00:30 local time. In just under an hour’s time, a fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers will annihilate the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. Just off the Malaysian coast, another Japanese fleet begins bombarding the British positions at Kota Bharu.

Centred around three hulking transport ships, the Japanese fleet consisted of several light cruisers, destroyers and sub-chasers. In the hold of the transports, troops from the 56th Infantry Regiment, supported by a battery of mountain artillery and engineers from the 12th Engineer Regiment prepared to board their landing craft and storm the beaches.

Dug in on the beaches, fortified with an intricate network of pillboxes, barbed wire and land mines were the men of the 9th and 11th Indian Divisions, supported by four 3.7inch mountain howitzers of the Indian Artillery. The chosen invasion beaches were split by two estuaries which led to the mouth of the Pengkalan Chepa river through a labyrinthine maze of swamps, lagoons and creeks.

Upon exiting their landing craft, the Japanese met with a barrage of machine-gun and artillery fire, which pinned down the first two assault waves until fierce hand-to-hand fighting eventually neutralised a pair of isolated pillboxes, allowing the attacking force to widen their breach and infiltrate between the British defenders.

By December 8th, with the threat of more landings to the south and Japanese troops massing for another assault, the British commander ordered a withdrawal.

Wargaming the Battle of Kota Bharu

The battle for Kota Bharu has the distinction of being the first land engagement of the pacific campaign, opening the door for the Japanese invasion of south-east Asia.

Recreate the Commonwealth defenders with our fantastic plastic box set – while designed to represent the 8th Army in the Western Desert, the tropical uniforms were used across multiple theatres, including the Far East.

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Storm the beaches with the Imperial Japanese Army. Our plastic kit puts a whole platoon loaded down with light machine guns, knee mortars and submachine guns at your disposal!

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Refight the battle by playing Scenario 9: Point Defence from the Bolt Action main rulebook. The Japanese player creates a force from the Fall of Singapore 1942 selector from Armies of Imperial Japan, while the Commonwealth player creates a force from the Fall of Singapore 1942 selector from Armies of Great Britain.

The Japanese player has a 50% points advantage (if the Commonwealth player has 1,000pts, the Japanese player gets 1,500pts.)

The Commonwealth player places a bunker (see the special rules on page 127) within 6″ of each objective.

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Tom Mecredy
Tom spends most of his time buying books and painting miniatures. He enjoys putting animals on the bases of his miniatures and half-finishing side projects. Some say that he lives in a tower on top of some windswept northern hill with his wife and cow-patterned cat, Spaghetti.