Malaya, 1939 – 1942
The 2nd Battalion arrived in Singapore in August 1939. After two years intensive training, its first contact with the Japanese occurred on the 15th of December, 1941, at Baling, a week after the Japanese landed at Kota Bahru in north east Malaya.
It was then in almost continuous action as it retired through north and central Malaya, until the fall of Singapore in February, 1942.
The most important engagement in the British withdrawal down the Malay Peninsula was the defence of the causeway over the River Perak which temporarily halted the Japanese advance.
In January 1942, the final action took place at the River Slim where the Argylls were overwhelmed by superior numbers of the enemy. The Battalion was tasked with defending the Singapore causeway which was the only crossing between Singapore Island and the mainland.
Almost 30,000 British and Allied troops crossed the causeway before it was prepared for demolition. The Argylls then withdrew and marched out with the pipes playing.
The Battalion was eventually ordered to surrender on the 15th February, 1942, however some managed to escape. In all 60 Officers and 880 Other Ranks served with the 2nd Battalion in Malaya and Singapore, of whom 17 Officers and 227 Other Ranks were killed in action.
The remainder became prisoners of the Japanese and 5 Officers and 182 Other Ranks died in captivity whilst working on the infamous Burma Railway.