QuickCheck: Did the Federated Malay States fund construction of a battleship in the 1910s?

OVER the years, it has been claimed online that the four Federated Malay States – Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Pahang – funded the construction of a Royal Navy battleship that was named HMS Malaya. Is this true?



This is indeed true, with the then-Perak Ruler Sultan Idris Murshidul Adzam Shah proposing at a Federated Malay States meeting in 1912 that the four states should present the British government with a first-class warship as a sign of their support.

The suggestion was supported by the Sultan of Selangor at the time, and the council of the Federated Malay States approved the expenditure of £2,945,709 or 2.5 million Straits Dollars for the construction of the ship.

HMS Malaya was built by Armstrong-Whitworth in its Walker-on-Tyne Yard in the United Kingdom; the ship was launched on March 18, 1915, and commissioned on Jan 28, 1916 with a wartime crew of 1,100 officers and men and a main armament of eight 15-inch guns.

This ship would be the last of the five Queen Elizabeth-class battleships of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, and like the other four had an action-packed history – first seeing combat in World War 1 as part of the Grand Fleet's Fifth Battle Squadron at the Battle of Jutland at the end of May 1916.

HMS Malaya sustained eight hits in the battle, and 65 sailors were killed.

Following this, the ship would visit Malaya for the first time in early 1921; it docked at Port Swettenham, Singapore, Malacca, Port Dickson and Penang.

HMS Malaya would then be modernised in 1937, and was in the Mediterranean when World War II started in 1939.

Following this, the ship fought in action against the Italian Navy – the Regia Marina – and then supported the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, France in 1944.

HMS Malaya was then relegated to the Royal Navy's Reserve Fleet in October 1944 before being ultimately retired and scrapped in 1948.

Several elements of HMS Malaya still survive to this day, though. The ship's second watch bell was given to Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur in 1948 as its original school bell had been removed by the Japanese armed forces during their occupation of Malaya and subsequently misplaced.

The bell remained at the school until it was handed over to the Royal Malaysian Navy in 2007.


1. https://www.orangperak.com/kapal-perang-hms-malaya-kurniaan-dari-sultan-perak.html

2. https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-01BB-HMS_Malaya.htm

3. http://viweb.school/HMSMalaya.htm

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