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Japanese Invasion 1941-1945

Malayan Communist Party (M.C.P.)

On 8th December 1941, after the Japanese had landed at Kota Bahru the M.C.P. offered to fight on the side of the British Forces in Malaya but their offer was rejected by the Governor, Sir Shenton Thomas, because of their political sentiments. On 18th December when the situation worsened in northern Malaya, the party repeated its offer and this was accepted.

The M.C.P. had been active since 1928 in Malaya and it formed a party in Singapore in 1930. But it was an underground movement and some of its bolder members had been gaoled.

The government released these from prison and agreed to train and arm them. The M.C.P. recruited new members for training and the government then decided how they were to be used. At this time the British Oriental Mission had set up Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.) to train European officers to form stay-behind parties in occupied territories and to train locals in guerilla warfare and the ways to collect information about the enemy. By the end of 1941 they had already sent several European officers to set up dumps in the jungle. When the M.C.P. offered its members for training, the Special Operations Executives, the S.O.E., set up a training programme for them. These recruits were trained at the 101 Special Training School (S.T.S.) in Tanjung Balai in Singapore. They were given only short rush courses and the later ones could not even complete their courses and these were sent into the jungle without their European officers as planned. They went into the jungle with guides and had to contact their communist leaders themselves and were left on their own but with access to the caches set up by the Europeans earlier.

At the same time the S.O.E. also set up schools in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It recruited the seamen and students stranded in India or China. Chiang Kai Shek was persuaded to recruit young men to take part in the British counter-offensive in Malaya. Chiang readily agreed. These were given very rigorous training in the S.O.E. schools. These formed Force 136 but they were not sent back to Malaya until May 1943. Two European Officers, Richard Broome, from the Chinese Protecterate and John Davis of the F.M.S. police, both fluent in Cantonese, were to train the recruits in Singapore; they were joined by Spencer Chapman. Broome and Davis managed to leave Malaya before the Japanese overran Johore but Chapman was trapped and stayed in the jungle for the duration of the Japanese regime. He travelled in the jungle and met all the M.C.P. regiments except one and he was at the meeting with the Communist leaders, Chin Peng and his Plenipotentiary to make the agreement between the Allied High Command and the communists. He travelled in the jungle from Johore through Negeri Sembilan to Perak where he met up with Davis and Broome again when they managed to return via Pangkor. He stayed in the communist camps and was on very friendly terms with them although he was frustrated by the lack of facilities to harass the Japanese.

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