Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife

By John A. Nagl | Go to book overview

5
The Empire Strikes Back:
British Army Counterinsurgency in
Malaya, 1952–1957

TEMPLER TAKES OVER

On his return from Malaya, Colonial Secretary Oliver Lyttelton met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery on 23 December 1951. Lyttelton notes in his memoirs that at the end of the meeting, “I summed up by saying that we could not win the war without the help of the population, and of the Chinese population in particular; we would not get the help of the population without at least beginning to win the war.” Afterward, Montgomery sent Lyttelton a note:

Dear Lyttelton,

Malaya

We must have a plan.

Secondly we must have a man.

When we have a plan and a man, we shall succeed: not otherwise.

Yours Sincerely,

Montgomery (F.M.)

Lyttelton notes in his memoirs, “I may, perhaps without undue conceit, say that this had occurred to me.”1

The man Lyttelton selected was General Sir Gerald Templer, who had commanded the Fifty-sixth Division and the Sixth Armoured Division in Italy in World War II and served as the director of military government in the British zone of occupied Germany after the war. Because of an injury he suffered in an accident involving a minefield and a piano owned by the

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