Malayan Volunteer Forces
Like many of his planter colleagues, Walter joined the Malayan Volunteer Forces, specifically the Perak Battalion of the 1st Federated Malaya States Volunteer Force (1FMSVF), to undertake semi-regular army training.
Perak Battalion 1FMSVF Volunteers 1940
(believe Walter Pollock is shown second from the right, very back row)
The Volunteer Forces, which originated in 1854 at the time of the Crimean War2, were similar in concept to the British Territorial Army and comprised personnel from:
- all branches of the Malayan Government Service
- the Mines and Plantations
- business communities
- the Medical Profession and
- the Church
Whatever their background, they were motivated by a profound sense of wanting to do everything in their power to defend the Crown Colony of Malaya and her dependants.
1st Independent Infantry Company (Malaya)
The men remained in their civilian employment and received military training at night and on weekends3.
At the outbreak of hostilities, Walter was a Corporal with the 1st Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF), but it is not clear when he joined, presumably volunteered for, the 1st Independent Company, officially known as the 1st Independent Infantry Company (Malaya), which was formed on the 1st of April 1941.
Under the command of Major Sheppard Percy Fearon (previously 14th Punjab Regiment)4, the 1st Independent Company consisted of volunteers from all British army units then serving in Malaya, including twenty four men from the Argyll and Southern Highlanders5, and volunteers from most Indian Units also serving in Malaya.
Its total strength was 301 men6, comprising 75% Indian, 25% British, with 60 men in each of the 5 Platoons.
The 1st Independent Company was to be a self contained fighting unit, using guerrilla tactics similar to units that had already seen action at home (UK) and the Middle East.7
Despite agreeing to its formation, senior military officers in Malaya Command seemed unable to agree on its proper role. Eventually it was agreed with Major Fearon that it would be given intensive training for two types of operations:
- amphibious warfare with the Navy
- jungle warfare for possible fighting on the Northern flank of the Armed Forces should they decide to enter Thailand.
Regardless, much to the frustration of Major Fearon, the company was never used to its full potential, as, during the 76 days of the Malayan Campaign, the 1st Independent Company was placed under the orders of no less than 21 higher commanders and formations.
4 - From Richardson diary (p5); (Independent Coy Officers : C.O. Major Fearon; 2nd in Charge Capt Hoffman; Daniels, Bramstor:, Proctor, Newton, Simpson (Q.M.), Nunelly, Holland, Smith (MTO); C.S.M.Kemp)
5 Moon Over Malaya P75
6 Fearon diary, p
7 Fearon Diary