Dalley and the Malayan Security Service, 1945–48: MI5 vs. MSS

Dalley and the Malayan Security Service, 1945–48: MI5 vs. MSS
Leon Comber, author
Date of publication:  2018
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  157
Code:  BM565
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814818735
Check Price


Alexander Nicholas Shaw,War in History, 27(3).

"This book contributes to debates surrounding one of the most researched wars of decolonization: the communist insurgency in Malaya (1948 - 1960). .... Building on his previous book, Malaya's Secret Police, 1945 -1960: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency (2008), Leon Comber's new work intervenes in a significant secondary debate. To wit, the effectiveness, nature and impact of intelligence in the Malayan conflict. 

In Dalley and the Malayan Security Service, Comber explores the history of the precursor to the Special Branch. The Malayan Security Service (MSS) produced security intelligence in both Malaya and Singapore 1946 - 1948. As Comber reminds us, the post-1946 MSS was not completely new but a development of previous iterations: an MSS set up in 1939 and a nascent organization re-established by the British Military Administration in 1945.

Comber brings the character of Dalley to life, fleshing out a backstory which is absent from most accounts. Equally, he highlights the organizational problems which beset Dalley's intelligence service. .... Drawing on Comber's personal experience in the Malayan Special Branch, Malaya's Secret Police remains a key text for historians and students interested in the Malayan Emergency and colonial intelligence services more broadly."

About the publication

This book fills an important gap in the history and intelligence canvas of Singapore and Malaya immediately after the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945. It deals with the establishment of the domestic intelligence service known as the Malayan Security Service (MSS), which was pan-Malayan covering both Singapore and Malaya, and the colourful and controversial career of Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley, the Commander of Dalforce in the WWII battle for Singapore and the post-war Director of MSS. It also documents the little-known rivalry between MI5 in London and MSS in Singapore, which led to the demise of the MSS and Dalley’s retirement.


Similar Publications