The Malayan campaign started on the opening of hostilities in December 1941. This long battle started with a Japanese invasion at one end, and ended with the surrender of Singapore at the other end of the peninsula two months later. However the Japanese didn't have it all their own way. In Mid January 1942 with the Japanese forces crashing down the length of the country the Commonwealth defenders decided to try a large scale ambush. The province of Maur was chosen for this plan, and as it turned out it was the last major battle of the Malayan campaign.
On the 14th of January at the Gemencheh bridge a large force of Australian Infantry was well dug alongside the road, in with artillery support. As the Japanese column approached the company of Australians let the advance guard pass their positions and cross over the bridge. Then as the main column crossed the bridge the Australians detonated their explosives, shredding the head of the column. This was the signal to pour fire into the column. Caught utterly unaware the Japanese column started taking heavy casualties.
However their advanced guard upon hearing the firing dismounted from their bicycles, and by a stroke of luck found the telephone wire that ran between the Australians and their supporting artillery, so the gunners played no part in the battle. Japanese artillery began to land on the column, further raising the damage done. After the Japanese withdrew, the Australians broke contact and retreated.
Elsewhere along the river the Japanese managed to flank the dug in Indian forces, defending the river bank by dragging several barges further along the river and crossing unopposed. With their flank gone the Indians were forced to retreat.
The leader of the anti-tank guns was greeted by the battalion commander, and bluntly told:
"I have orders from the General that I should be accompanied by a troop of anti-tank guns, but as far as I am concerned, you’re not wanted. I don’t want you to interfere with us in any way. I don’t expect the Japanese to use tanks, so for my part you can go home."
However the platoon leader ignored his orders and set up his anti-tank guns covering the road. The first was about 400 yards from a bend in the road, the other was 400 yards further back. After dark both sides tried probing attacks; a Commonwealth armoured car was sent forward, but encountered an enemy machine gun, a short while later a Japanese patrol was repulsed by the Australians. Then the Japanese put in a much larger night attack with quite a large amount of mortar fire in support. After some frantic fighting, some of it close quarters the Japanese were forced to retreat.
However in the dark after the attack a truck bringing rations up to the front line drove through the front without realising it. It ran straight into a Japanese machine gun and was quickly knocked out.
Later on another three tanks tried to charge along the road, but met the same fate as the first five. At this point the Australians dropped several large trees onto the road to block any more tank assaults. Later on more Japanese infantry assaults were carried out, but all were repulsed.
"I’m so sorry that I acted as I did. Only for your persistence in defying my orders and positioning your guns where you did, there would have been wholesale slaughter”
The battalion commander died shortly afterwards of his injuries. The attack by the Japanese had been a holding attack, while that battle was raging they had infiltrated around the flank through thick jungle. With the Australian's position now cut off they had little chance, although they fought for several more days they were cut off. The survivors broke up into small detachments and filtered through the Japanese line before linking up with the main British force as they retreated further south.
Edit: Somewhere along the line I lost the footnote. So here it is.
*Japanese tank crew orders forbade dismounting in the face of the enemy under all circumstances. If the tank was disabled out of combat the orders were for the crew to dismount the tanks machine guns and continue the attack on foot.
Australian War Memorial via http://www.andrewwarland.com.au