Japanese Expansion

British, Australian and Dutch forces were already thinned out due to the fighting in Europe, and so were unable to resist the Japanese advances. Hong Kong fell in the first month of the conflict. Japanese forces landed at Khota Baru in the British colony of Malaya, and soon began sweeping aside the poorly trained and badly led Indian and Malayan colonial troops there. Japanese tankettes, while inferior to Allied designs, proved decisive in the fighting - British doctrine stated that the tank was unsuited to jungle warfare, and so the thin armour on the Japanese vehicles proved irrelevant, as there wasn't a single Allied antitank gun in all of Malaya to stop them.

The battleships of the US Navy were crippled in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and American forces in the Philippines fared little better than the Allied troops in Malaya. In early 1942 massive defeats for the Allies were unfolding in the Pacific. The surrender of Singapore on February 15th 1942 yielded up 130,000 British, Australian and Dutch prisoners to the tender mercies of the Imperial Japanese Army. Later, in the Battle of the Java Sea the Imperial navy swept aside the American, Dutch and British warships defending Java - the conquest of Java itself soon followed. Burma was then invaded, under intense pressure British and Indian forces were pushed back to the Indian border and the last supply link with Chiangs forces in China, the Burma Road, fell under Japanese control. Filipino and US forces in the Philippines held out until May, but cut off from all hope of resupply or reinforcement were eventually forced to surrender, yielding another 80,000 prisoners.

By summer 1942 Japan had secured the resources she needed, but Allied determination for vengeance had not been dimmed. The entry of the United States into the war, and the diverting of war material from the European theatre to face the Japanese - particularly several elite Australian and New Zealander units which were veterans of the fighting in Africa - began to tilt the balance of military power towards parity.

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