Java Campaign file photo

Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java

4 Feb 1942 - 31 Mar 1942

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Battle of Makassar Strait
4 Feb 1942

On 3 Feb 1942, the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command gathered a sizable task force to stop a Japanese invasion force sailing down the Makassar Strait. On the morning of 4 Feb, Japanese reconnaissance aircraft discovered this Allied fleet, and two-engine bombers were sent to attack. Without air cover, the Allied fleet suffered two damaged cruisers and was forced to turn back to Tjilitjap without making contact with the invasion fleet. Makassar fell shortly thereafter.

Battle of Badung Strait
19-20 Feb 1942

The invasion of Bali was carried out by a relatively small advance force of Japanese warships covering a pair of transports. The transports successfully disgorged their troops in Sanur Roads, but were attacked during the day by Allied airpower. One of the transports was severely damaged. The Japanese withdrew the majority of their force to the north, detailing one pair of destroyers (Michishio and Arashio) to escort the cripple, and another pair (Oshio and Asashio) to bring up the rear with the undamaged Maru. Just as this latter pair was getting underway, the first of two Allied squadrons charged with breaking up the landings appeared. Composed of a Dutch and Australian light cruiser and three destroyers, it heavily out-gunned the Japanese force. However, the Japanese bravely gave battle, first driving off the light cruisers through the channel northward, and then turning to attack the Allied destroyers. A successful torpedo attack resulted in the sinking of one of the Allied destroyers, which then shortly drew off to the south.

Shortly afterwards, however, the second Allied squadron of four U.S. destroyers and a Dutch light cruiser came up the Strait from the south as well. Oshio and Asashio again returned to defend the damaged transport against a second superior enemy force. In short order they had attacked the U.S. destroyers so fiercely as to force them to withdraw through the Strait to the north, leaving only the Dutch light cruiser Tromp to be dealt with. This they quickly did, hitting the cruiser eleven times in the superstructure in rapid succession. She, too, fled.

The final act was played out as some of the Allied warships retreating northward ran into Michishio and Arashio. A sharp fight developed, in which Michishio was heavily damaged. However, the Allied ships continued on their way without giving a serious fight.

The final result of this rather confusing action was that two superior Allied squadrons had been manhandled almost single-handedly by a lone pair of audacious Japanese destroyers. It was a most embarrassing performance by the Allies, who were admittedly heavily fatigued, but who possessed more than enough firepower to deal handily with their Japanese adversaries. This was the first of the impressive night-fighting performances the Japanese Navy would turn in throughout the war.

Special thanks to Kevin Denlay for his contributions to this section.

Battle of the Java Sea
27 Feb 1942

On 26 February, ABDA commander Admiral Karel Doorman gathered his multi-national task force and sailed from Surabaya at the east end of Java, his intention to intercept a Japanese convoy sailing towards Java from the Makassar Strait. Doorman's force consisted of every warship available to him, including two heavy cruisers HMS Exeter and USS Houston, three light cruisers Hr Ms De Ruyter (flagship), Hr Ms Java, and HMAS Perth, and nine destroyers; HMS Electra, HMS Encounter, HMS Jupiter, Hr Ms Kortenaer, Hr Ms Witte de With, USS Alden, USS John D. Edwards, USS John D. Ford and USS Paul Jones. The Japanese convoy was escorted by two heavy cruisers HIJMS’s Nachi and Haguro, two light cruisers Naka and Jintsu, and fourteen destroyers Yudachi, Samidare, Murasame, Harusame, Minegumo, Asagumo, Yukikaze, Tokitsukaze, Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Yamakaze, Kawakaze, Sazanami, and Ushio, all under the command of Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura of the Japanese 3rd Fleet.

After a fruitless overnight and morning search for the Japanese convoy, Doorman’s force was returning to Surabaya when he received an electrifying report that the invasion convoy had been sighted near Bawean Island. He immediately reversed course and the two opposing forces finally met in the Java Sea to the northwest of Surabaya at a little after 4pm on the 27th. The Allied ships immediately aimed to reach the troop transports approaching from the north, but the superior Japanese firepower kept the Allied Fleet, which sported some obsolete WW1-vintage ships, at bay. In one of the more rare occasions, the Allies actually had air superiority in the region, but bad weather prevented the aircraft from operating. The Allied inability to operate as a coherent unit, which was worsened by Japanese jamming of Allied radio frequencies, sealed their doom from the start.

At about 4.30pm the Japanese began launching salvos of their long range 24-inch torpedoes, but, surprisingly, despite the numbers fired there was little result. During the next three hours of battle only one allied destroyer was sunk by torpedoes from the 139 that had been fired! Japanese gunfire, also questionable at first, nevertheless scored an accurate hit on Exeter, critically wounding her in B Boiler Room; other cruisers where also hit but these were ‘duds’ which failed to explode. Moments after Exeter was hit and had sheared out of the battle line, Kortenaer was struck by a torpedo which broke her in two and sunk her quickly. As the damaged Exeter attempted to withdraw with a destroyer screen, the Japanese forces continued to exert pressure with gunfire and another torpedo salvo. Electra, in order to cover Exeter, charged through the smoke only to be quickly overwhelmed by gunfire from Jintsu and Asagumo which eventually led to an abandon ship order and her sinking soon after. Exeter, with her speed dramatically reduced but her luck holding, continued slowly to retire from the battle area towards Surabaya accompanied by the destroyer Witte de With.

As light waned at dusk, Admiral Doorman tried on several occasions to double back and attack the Japanese transports, but was intercepted and driven back each time. After dark the four older American destroyers, low in fuel and out of torpedoes, retired eastward to Surabaya on their own initiative (the next evening they departed the area through the southern Surabaya channel and then the Bali Strait, eventually safely reaching Australia). Shortly after dark, as Doorman headed west along the Java coast – with the intention of turning north for another stab at the transports - the destroyer Jupiter was lost to an uncharted Dutch minefield. The allied fleet, or what was now left of it, turned north and soon passed though the area where Kortenaer had previously sunk. Survivors were seen in the water so Doorman dispatched his last destroyer, Encounter, to their rescue and ordered her to transport the survivors to Surabaya. Then, just before midnight on the 27th, as Dorman pressed on further north with only his four cruisers remaining, a spread of Long Lance torpedoes fired by the Japanese cruisers Nachi and Haguro struck both Dutch light cruisers, sinking Java almost immediately with De Ruyter sinking soon after. Admiral Doorman, aboard De Ruyter, chose to go down with his ship. Thus ended the engagement now known as the Battle of the Java Sea (or the Sea Battle off Surabaya to the Japanese). The Japanese had not lost a ship, and had fired 151 torpedoes that day for three allied ships sunk, (plus two others; one by gunfire, one by mine) making their overall torpedo kill ratio slightly more respectable. At this point the two remaining allied ships, cruisers Perth and Houston, acting on Doorman’s previous order not to stop for survivors, retired westward towards Batavia, i.e. present day Jakarta. (Unfortunately however both cruisers were themselves sunk just after midnight the next night, as was the Dutch destroyer Evertsen, as they attempted to exit the Java Sea via Sunda Strait. This engagement has since become known as the Battle of Sunda Strait.)

By the time the two Dutch cruisers had been overwhelmed late in the evening of the 27th, Exeter had limped into Surabaya. Anchoring overnight she made what repairs she could throughout the 28th. Late that afternoon and with repairs still ongoing she was ordered to retire that evening to Colombo, taking Encounter and the US destroyer Pope with her as escorts, and was to use the Sunda Strait as the exit point. However, on the morning of 1 March, while crossing the Java Sea to the north of Bawean Island and still several hundred miles from Sunda Strait – and unaware of the sinking of Perth and Houston there just several hours before - the trio was intercepted by four Japanese heavy cruisers (Nachi, Haguro, Ashigara and Myoko) and their attendant destroyers. After a running gun battle lasting almost two hours both Exeter and Encounter were finally sunk. A couple of hours later, having temporally escaped the loss of her two consorts, USS Pope, the last allied warship afloat in the Java Sea, was tracked down and sunk by a combination of aerial attack and gunfire. (This overall engagement on 1 March is often referred to as the Second Battle of the Java Sea, but in later years has been more factually called the Battle off Bawean Island, which also helped differentiate it from the previous engagement on the 27th.)

These three distinct and separate naval battles (Java Sea 1, Sunda Strait, Java Sea 2/Bawean Island) were the first large-scale engagements of the war between Japanese and Allied fleets, and they resulted in a decisive Japanese victory. (The Battle of the Java Sea – on the 27th - was in fact the largest naval engagement since the Battle of Jutland during WWI, some 26 years prior.) The ABDA fleet was essentially wiped out after these three sea battles, with 11 allied warships sunk and over 2,000 officers and sailors lost. Without a naval fleet to deter the Japanese invasion force, American and British forces began falling back to Australia, hence marking the practical fall of the Malay barrier. Unfortunately, the only strategic goal achieved by the decimation of the ADBA fleet was to delay the Japanese invasion of Java by just one single day; the remnants of Dutch and British troops eventually surrendering on 9 March. In just three tumultuous months Japanese forces had effectively overrun all of Asia.

Sources for Battle of the Java Sea:

The Battle of the Java Sea / F C Van Oosten / Naval Institute Press / 1976
Battle of the Java Sea / D Thomas / Andre Deutsch Ltd / 1968
The Fleet the Gods Forgot / W G Winslow / Naval Institute Press / 1982
The Dutch Navy at War /A Kroese / Allen & Unwin Ltd /1945
HMS Electra / T J Cain & A V Sellwood / Freerick Muller Ltd / 1959
Fight It Out / O Gordon / William Kimber & Co. / 1959
Ship of Ghosts / J Hornfischer/ Bantam Books / 2006

Battle of Sunda Strait
28 Feb 1942

Australian light cruiser Perth and American heavy cruiser Houston survived the Battle of the Java Sea and reached Tanjung Priok. On 28 Feb, they received orders to sail for Tjilatjap via Sunda Strait. On the night of 28 Feb, to both sides' surprise, the two Allied cruisers ran into the main Japanese invasion fleet for West Java at Bantam Bay off Batavia. At least three Japanese cruisers and accompanying destroyers engaged the two Allied cruisers, but because they were so widely dispersed that they could not converge on the Allied ships quickly. Houston and Perth immediately charged at the exposed transports guarded only by destroyer Fubuki. They were unable to sink any Japanese transports before the Japanese escort fleet closed in. Perhaps a bit trigger-happy as a result of the surprised engagement, the escort ships fired a total of 87 torpedoes against the two Allied ships, followed up by a hail of gunfire. The two Allied ships sank in short order. With torpedoes swimming in all directions, two Japanese ships, a minesweeper and a loaded troop transport, were struck and lost. Three other transports were also damaged by friendly torpedo fire.

Battle of Java
1-12 Mar 1942

With the waters near Java secured after Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese ground forces arrived at the island of Java in two groups. The Eastern Force, with its headquarters at Jolo Island in the Sulu Archipelago, included the 48th Division and the 56th Regimental Group; the Western Force, based at Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, included the 2nd Division and the 230th Regiment of the 38th Division. The two groups totaled about 35,000 men.

The Allied forces were headed up by Royal Netherlands East Indies Army General Hein Ter Poorten, with 25,000 Indonesian under his command; although the number was impressive, most of the men were poorly trained. The Dutch forces were divided up so that two regiments guarded the Jakarta region, and one regiment guarded each of the north central, southern, and eastern regions of the island. A garrison of 7,000 men, British, Australian, and American, under the command of British Major General H. D. W. Sitwell, was available to assist. The 3,500 British were predominantly anti-aircraft units, though one armored unit, the British 3rd Hussars, was present. The 2,500 Australians were of Blackforce of Brigadier Arthur Blackburn. The 1,000 Americans were of the 2nd Battalion of the 131st Field Artillery, a Texas National Guard unit, was attached to Blackforce.

The Japanese troops landed at three points on the Java shore on 1 Mar 1942. The victors of the Battle of the Sunda Strait delivered the Western Force, and the victors of the Battle of the Java Sea delivered the Eastern Force.

One group of the Western Force landed at Bantam Bay near Merak at 2320 on 28 Feb. Captain F. A. M. Harterink's Royal Dutch Indies Army 12th Infantry Battalion raked the beach with machine gun fire, but the overwhelming invasion force quickly wiped aside the resistance. Landing operations completed at 0200 on 1 Mar. After daybreak, the Japanese set up headquarters at Serang overseeing three detachments. The Nasu Detachment under Major General Yumio Nasu was ordered to capture Buitenzorg to cut the escape route from Batavia (where Jakarta was located) to Bandoeng, while the Fukushima and Sato Detachments, under Colonels Kyusaku Fukushima and Hanshichi Sato, respectively, attacked Batavia through Balaradja and Tangerang. On 2 Mar, the Nasu Detachment arrived at Rangkasbitung and continued to Leuwiliang, 24-kilometers west of Buitenzorg. The Australian 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion and 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion were positioned along a riverbank at Leuwiliang and put up a vigorous defense, pinning down the Japanese tanks and trucks for D Company of the 2nd Battalion of the American 131st Field Artillery to destroy. The Blackforce managed to delay Japanese advance for two days before withdrawing to Soekabumi. Meanwhile, Fukushima and Sato Detachments maneuvered their troops for Batavia, but progress was delayed by blown bridges. On 4 Mar, the main Dutch defense moved from Batavia to Buitenzorg, and the remaining pockets of resistance surrendered to the Sato Detachment by that evening. At the dawn of 6 Mar, Japanese troops attacked Buitenzorg, wiping aside the 10th Company of the Royal Dutch Indies Army 1st Infantry Regiment and the 10th Company of the Royal Dutch Indies Army 2nd Infantry Regiment, occupying the city by the end of the morning. As the Allied units fled for Bandoeng, the Nasu Detachment gave chase.

Meanwhile, Shoji Detachment under Colonel Toshishige Shoji of the Western Force landed at Eretan Wetan near Soebang on the northern coast of West Java, also on 1 Mar. On that morning, 12 Dutch aircraft and 12 British aircraft attacked the beachhead, though to little effect. The town of Soebang, the Kalidjati airfield, and the road connecting Kalidjati airfield and Batavia all fell on the day of the landing. In the morning of 2 Mar, 20 Dutch tanks commanded by Captain G. J. Wulfhorst and 250 men of the Dutch 5th Infantry Battalion commanded by Major C. G. J. Teerink counterattacked near Soebang, but the attack was repulsed by the afternoon. Later that day, the Japanese 3rd Air Brigade arrived at Kalidjati airfield. As Shoji's units arrived at Lembang, only 8 kilometers from Bandoeng, he dispatched a small unit to assist the Nasu Detachment in eliminating the Dutch troops fleeing from Buitenzorg. At 1000 on 8 Mar, less than a day after Shoji's troops arrived at Lembang, Major General Jacob J. Pesman surrendered Bandoeng to Shoji at the Isola Hotel in Lembang.

The Eastern Force, consisted of the Japanese 48th Division under Major General Yuitsu Tsuchihashi landed at the village of Kragan, approximately 160 kilometers west of Surabaya. Dutch troops of the 3rd Cavalry Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Regiment resisted the landing, but were quickly defeated despite assistance from American horizontal and dive bombers and British torpedo bombers. After the beachhead was secured, the Japanese 48th Division was divided into the Imai Unit under Colonel Hifumi Imai, Abe Unit under Major General Koichi Abe, Tanaka Unit under Colonel Tohru Tanaka, and Kitamura Unit under Lieutenant Colonel Kuro Kitamura. The Tanaka Unit occupied Tjepoe and secured the oil fields there, while the Kitamura Unit occupied nearby Bodjonegoro, with the conquests completing on 2 and 3 Mar, respectively. The two units continued to move east and defeated Dutch defenders at the Ngawi Regency, Tjaroeban, Ngandjoek, Kertosono, Kediri and Djombang. At the city of Porong, near Surabaya, Dutch and American troops gave fierce resistance, but could only hold the line for so long before the numerically superior Japanese forces overwhelmed them. After destroying the city's infrastructure, they fled to the island of Madura on 8 Mar. On 9 Mar, Major General Gustav A. Ilgen surrendered eastern Java to the Japanese at Madura.

A smaller group, the Sakaguchi Detachment consisted of three battalions, landed in eastern Java as well in early Mar 1942. After landing, they occupied Tjilatjap by 8 Mar to prevent the harbor being used to evacuate Allied troops to Australia. On 9 Mar, Major General Pierre A. Cox of the Dutch Central Army District surrendered at Wangon near Tjilatjap.

At 0900 on 8 Mar, Ter Poorten surrendered all of Java to the Japanese. The Dutch Governor, Jonkheer Dr. A.W.L. Tjarda Van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, along with Lieutenant General Ter Poorten and Major General Pesman, met with Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura at Kalidjati in the afternoon to finalize the surrender. At 2300, the Dutch radio station NIROM broadcasted for the last time from a temporary transmitter at Ciumbuluit, with Bert Garthoff ending his broadcast with "Wij sluiten nu. Vaarwel tot betere tijden. Leve de Koningin!" ("We are closing now. Farewell until better times. Long live the Queen!") On 10 Mar, Imamura was named the military governor of Java and Madura and remained in this role until 11 Nov 1942. On 12 Mar 1942, at Bandung, the British, Australian, and American commanders joined the Dutch government in the official surrender ceremony; Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama accepted the Allied instrument of surrender.

At the end of the land campaign at Java, the Allies suffered about 5,000 casualties, with the Dutch and Indonesian troops making up the bulk of that number.

Invasion of Christmas Island
31 Mar 1942

Christmas Island was a British possession 300 kilometers south of Java. It was a strategic location for the control of the northwestern approach to Australia. On 14 Mar 1942, the Imperial General Headquarters issued orders for Operation X as the concluding operation for the conquest of the Java region. The island was defended by a garrison of 32 men (most ethnically Indian) commanded by 5 British officers and non-commissioned officers, with the only heavy weapons available to them being one WW1-era 6-inch naval gun and two or three anti-aircraft guns.

Although the Japanese knew they wielded a force that could easily wipe aside the defending garrison, a propaganda campaign was mounted to make the invasion even easier. They announced that the arrival of the Japanese in South and Southeastern Asia would be the liberation of Asian peoples from western imperialism, and many of the Indian troops believed it. On 10 Mar 1942, the Indian troops murdered their British superiors and jailed the few European inhabitants on the island.

On 31 Mar 1942, the invasion force arrived. Nishimura was the naval commander for this operation, with his flag on the light cruiser Naka. Light cruisers Nagara and Natori and destroyers Minegumo, Natsugumo, Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Satsuki, Minatsuki, Fumitsuki and Nagatsuki, supported by three smaller craft, made up Nishimura's fleet. The invasion force was made up by the 850 men from the 21st Special Base Force, 24th Special Base Force, and the 102nd Construction Unit. At dawn, 12 Japanese bombers destroyed the radio station on the island as a safety precaution, and at about 0800 Japanese troops landed at Flying Fish Cove without opposition. At 0949, American submarine Seawolf fired four torpedoes at Naka, but they all missed. At 0949 on 1 Apr, Seawolf launched three torpedoes at Natori, missing again. That evening, with the final two torpedoes, Seawolf managed to hit Naka on her starboard side, requiring her to be towed to Singapore by Natori for temporary repairs.

Christmas Island never held an important role for the remainder of the war, despite some Japanese Army reconnaissance flights originated from the island to gather intelligence on Australia's northern and western coasts. On 3 Apr, three days after the invasion, the Japanese garrison was reduced to 20 men, and the only valuable natural resource, in the form of a large phosphate deposit, was taken back to Japan on a transport. After the war, the Indian troops who aided the Japanese were prosecuted by a military court in Singapore in 1947; five were given death sentences, though they were commuted to life imprisonment after protest from India and Pakistan.

Aftermath of the Campaign

The termination of the Java area battles saw the Japanese securing the vast resources of the Southwest Pacific and establishing a defensive perimeter along the arc of large islands stretching from Singapore south and east through Sumatra, Java, the northern shore of New Guinea, and Rabaul in New Britain. The Japanese Navy proved itself as equals to their western counterparts, but in retrospect Captain Mitsugo Ihara, staff officer of the Japanese 3rd Fleet, lamented that the

"[Allied] opposition [in the Java area] was so light that the Japanese forces were not put to a severe test and consequently they concluded that equipment available and the tactics used were satisfactory for future operations. It would have been better for the Japanese if they had encountered more opposition."

Sources: Interrogation of Japanese Officials, Nihon Kaigun, Wikipedia.

Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java Interactive Map

Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java Timeline

18 Dec 1941 Dutch and Australian troops occupied Portuguese Timor to establish a defense against advancing Japanese forces.
24 Jan 1942 Battle of Makassar Strait: Off Balikpapan, four Japanese transports were sunk as the result of this battle.
2 Feb 1942 Japanese warships began to patrol in waters near Java, Duth East Indies paving way for the invasion fleet. Ahead of the warships were Japanese bombers, which attacked Surabaya, Java and other military targets. Meanwhile, cruiser USS Houston, cruiser USS Marblehead, and 7 Dutch and American destroyers departed Surabaya to intercept a detected Japanese troop convoy sailing toward Java.
3 Feb 1942 Japanese naval land attack planes bombed ABDA operating base at Surabaya.
4 Feb 1942 The American-Dutch fleet which departed Surabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies on the previous day was detected by the Japanese aircraft at 0949 hours in the Bali Sea. The Japanese aircraft, originally flying to bomb Surabaya, attacked the fleet instead, hitting US cruiser USS Marblehead with 2 bombs (killing 15), US cruiser USS Houston with 1 bomb (killing 48), and Dutch destroyer HNLMS De Ruyter (7 killed); 4 Japanese aircraft were lost during the attack. The Allied fleet abandoned its original plans to intercept a Japanese invasion convoy due to the damage suffered.
5 Feb 1942 Japanese aircraft attacked Allied shipping off Sumbawa Island and Bali Island in the Dutch East Indies; several P-40 Warhawk fighters of the USAAF 20th Provisional Pursuit Squadron were destroyed at Bali.
14 Feb 1942 The British Royal Navy riverboat HMS Li Wo, evacuating military personnel from Java, ran into part of the Japanese invasion fleet and was blasted to pieces by destroyers. In a last desperate show of defiance, the little boat rammed one of the enemy transports (which would sink on the following day) before going down. Only 13 of the 120 aboard Li Wo survived. The commander, Lieutenant Thomas Wilkinson, who went down with his vessel, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in 1946.
15 Feb 1942 An Allied troop convoy consisted of four transports (with Australian and American troops aboard) departed from Darwin, Australia for Timor, escorted by cruiser USS Houston, destroyer USS Peary, sloop HMAS Swan, and sloop HMAS Warrego.
16 Feb 1942 46 Japanese aircraft based in Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies attacked an Allied troop convoy (carrying Australian and American troops) intended for Timor; although the attack was driven off, the convoy was turned back in fear of further attacks.
17 Feb 1942 9 Japanese troop transports departed Ambon for Timor in the Dutch East Indies at 0800 hours. Later in the evening, Japanese transports Sasego Maru and Sagami Maru departed Makassar, Celebes, Dutch East Indies with invasion troops for Bali.
17 Feb 1942 Nachi provided support for the landings at Dili, Portuguese Timor.
18 Feb 1942 Japanese aircraft sank Dutch coastal defense ship Surabaya and Dutch submarine K7 at Surabaya Harbor, Java, Dutch East Indies.
19 Feb 1942 Japanese troops landed at Denpasar, Bali in the Dutch East Indies unopposed before dawn. At 0700 hours, as the Japanese troops transports departed Bali and began to sail for their home ports, 20 American aircraft attacked the convoy, damaging transport Sagami Maru. At 2200 hours, as the Japanese convoy sailed through the Badung Strait, it was engaged by Dutch cruiser De Ruyter, Dutch cruiser Java, and 3 US and Dutch destroyers; Dutch destroyer Piet Hein was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in the battle, killing 64.
20 Feb 1942 At 0130 hours, a fresh ABDA force consisted of a Dutch cruiser and four US destroyers attempted to intercept a Japanese transport fleet in the Badung Strait in the Dutch East Indies for the second time. Dutch cruiser Tromp (10 killed) and American destroyer Stewart were damaged on the Allied side, while Japanese destroyers Asashio (4 killed) and Oshio (7 killed) also suffered damage. At 0220 hours, Japanese destroyers Arashio and Michishio joined in the action; Michishio became the target of all four American destroyers, suffering several hits and 13 killed, but was able to be towed away from battle. Elsewhere, at dawn, Japanese troops landed at Dili, Portuguese Timor and Koepang, Dutch Timor. Portuguese defenders at Dili was overrun and Portugal accepted the Japanese occupation for the duration of the war; Australian defenders at Koepang resisted, however. At 1045 hours, 323 Japanese paratroops were delivered to Koepang airfield, but most of them did not land in the drop zone, and 245 of them were killed by the Australians.
22 Feb 1942 US 5th Air Force bombers attacked de Pasar airfield, Bali, Dutch East Indies, destroying a number of Japanese aircraft. On the same day, Japanese bombers attacked Allied airfields on Java, destroying 4 US B-17 bombers on the ground at Pasirian airfield and 1 Liberator bomber at Jogjakarta airfield.
23 Feb 1942 Japanese aircraft struck Allied airfields on Java, Dutch East Indies. Meanwhile, Colonel William Leggatt's Australian troops surrendered at Koepang, Dutch West Timor at 0900 hours, while the Australian troops outside of Koepang were bombed by Japanese aircraft at 1000 hours.
24 Feb 1942 At Java, Dutch East Indies, the headquarters of the Allied ABDA Command was relocated with intention of dissolution. On the same day, Japanese aircraft attacked Allied airfields on Java, destroying 3 US B-17 bombers on the ground; the remaining US 5th Air Force aircraft were evacuated to Australia.
25 Feb 1942 In the Dutch East Indies, the second of two Japanese invasion fleets for Java departed from Balikpapan, Borneo; the fleet was consisted of 41 troop transports and escorted by 5 cruisers and 16 destroyers.
26 Feb 1942 Allied ABDA Command warships departed Surabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies in search of a detected Japanese invasion fleet; the search would be uneventful.
27 Feb 1942 American seaplane tender USS Langley with 32 P-40 fighters aboard, en route to Java, was sunk by Japanese Navy land-based aircraft. On the same day, at the Battle of the Java Sea, Japanese fleet sank Allied 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers without any losses.
27 Feb 1942 At the Battle of the Java Sea, Nachi launched scouting missions with her two floatplanes. She was surprised by the Allied Striking Force in the evening, but was able to escape without damage.
28 Feb 1942 In the Dutch East Indies, Allied cruisers USS Houston and HMAS Perth were ordered to sail through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap, where they would participate in the Battle of Sunda Strait, and USS Houston would sink with the loss of 693 men. Meanwhile, Japanese troops landed at Bantam Bay and Eretan Wetan, west and east of Batavia, respectively; another force landed 100 miles east of Surabaya.
1 Mar 1942 At the Battle of the Java Sea, slightly damaged cruiser HMS Exeter, destroyer HMS Encounter, and destroyer USS Pope at 0850 hours. At 1245 hours, Nachi fired once again on HMS Exeter by gunfire. She departed the area at the end of the day with 90 Allied prisoners of war on board.
1 Mar 1942 HMS Encounter, HMS Exeter, and USS Pope were sunk at the Second Battle of the Java Sea; the ships suffered 7, 54, and 1 killed, respectively. Meanwhile, at the Battle of Sunda Strait, Allied cruisers USS Houston and HMAS Perth intercepted a Japanese invasion force but were both sunk as they attacked; four Japanese transports and a minesweepers were sunk, but two of the transports were later refloated. Also on this date, Japanese troops landed on Java and immediately began marching for Batavia, with the Japanese 2nd Division capturing Serang and the 230th Infantry Regiment capturing Kalidjati airfield at Soebang en route. Finally, Japanese air raids at Surabaya damaged destroyer USS Stewart and Dutch destroyer Witte de With.
2 Mar 1942 Japanese troops advancing toward Batavia, Java, Dutch East Indies were halted by Australian troops at Leuwiliang. At Soebang, 250 Dutch troops with 20 tanks attacked Kalidjati airfield, but the attack was repulsed. East of Batavia, Japanese troops captured the oilfields at Tjepoe (now Cepu). As the Japanese troops approached, the Dutch colonial government relocated to Bandoeng, US personnel began evacuation by aircraft, and the Dutch Navy continued to scuttle destroyers, submarines, minesweepers, and other warships at Surabaya to prevent capture.
3 Mar 1942 Australian troops continued to hold against Japanese attacks at Leuwiliang west of Batavia, Java, Dutch East Indies. In eastern Java, Japanese captured Bojonegoro.
4 Mar 1942 All Dutch troops evacuated Batavia and Leuwiliang, Java, Dutch East Indies after sundown for Bandoeng 70 miles to the southeast.
5 Mar 1942 Japanese 2nd Division captured Batavia on the island of Java, the capital of Dutch East Indies.
6 Mar 1942 Japanese aircraft attacked Surabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies, damaging Dutch minesweeper Jan van Amstel, killing 23. Dutch sailors scuttled minesweepers C and Pieter de Bitter, also at Surabaya, to prevent capture.
7 Mar 1942 Japanese troops reached Tjilatjap, Java, Dutch East Indies during the day and captured Lembang in the evening, which overlooked Bandoeng. Dutch sailors scuttled minelayer Gouden Leeuw at Surabaya, Java to prevent capture.
8 Mar 1942 Dutch troops at Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies surrendered at the Isola Hotel in Lembang at 1000 hours between Dutch General Jacob J. Pesman and Japanese Colonel Toshishige Shoji. In the afternoon, Dutch Governor Tjarda Van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, General Hein Ter Poorten, and Major General Jacob Pesman surrendered all Dutch forces on Java to Japanese General Hitoshi Imamura.
12 Mar 1942 British General Sitwell, Australian Brigadier Blackburn, and US Colonel Searle formally surrendered to Japanese General Maruyama at Bandung, Java, Dutch East Indies at 0730 hours.
11 Apr 1942 American submarine USS Searaven evacuated 33 Australian Army personnel from Timor Island.
17 Apr 1942 American submarine Searaven began evacuating Australian troops from Timor, Dutch East Indies.
27 Apr 1942 Troops of the Australian Sparrow Force on Portuguese Timor, now waging a guerrilla war against the Japanese, received supplies by Australian aircraft.
15 May 1942 The Australian Sparrow Force conducted a raid on Japanese barracks at Dili, Portuguese Timor.
2 Jun 1942 Australian auxiliary patrol boat HMAS Kuru arrived at Portuguese East Timor from Australia, delivering supplies to the Sparrow Force.
23 Sep 1942 Australian destroyer HMAS Voyager ran aground at Betano Bay, East Timor at 1830 hours as she attempted to disembark Australian 2/4th Independent Company.
24 Sep 1942 A Japanese fighter detected Australian destroyer HMAS Voyager in Betano Bay, East Timor at 1330 hours, which ran aground on the previous day. At 1600 hours, a wave of Japanese bombers attacked, heavily damaging the ship.

Photographs

Bombs from a Japanese aircraft falling around the Dutch cruiser Java in the Gasper Strait east of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, 15 Feb 1942Cruiser Exeter under air attack, 15 Feb 1942; note bombs falling astern of the cruiserHMS Exeter sinking south of Borneo, Dutch East Indies, 1 Mar 1942HMS Exeter under attack during the Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 Mar 1942
See all 8 photographs of Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java

Maps

Map noting Japanese landings on Java, 1 Mar 1942Map noting the operations of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet/Carrier Striking Force, 7 Dec 1941-12 Mar 1942Map showing Japanese offensives in the Dutch East Indies, Dec 1941-Apr 1942




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  1. Anonymous says:
    23 Mar 2007 09:40:03 AM

    Your assertions regarding the Battle of Sunda Straits are contentious highly inaccurate and cursory in detail. A clear indication of this is exampled by Japanese media reports of the time:“....In all the Japanese had lost fifteen ships and could not believe that a Battleship was not present. A report in the Syonan Times in Japan in 1942 read - In the terrific battle in Sunda Strait many ships on both sides were sunk. It must be remembered, however, that the lighter Nipponese ships were fighting a superior force which included a battleship.The Japan Times made a similar admission.”
    For a more detailed, accurate account I suggest you refer to this link: http:www.gunplot.netperthww2Perth.htm
  2. Anonymous says:
    10 Feb 2009 07:55:59 AM

    You have left out some key facts and battles and your article is rather erroneous implying the Allies did not fight decisively- they were simply beaten by superior forces.

    The Exeter was the only ship in the battle equipped with radar at the time.
    "The battle consisted of a series of attempts over a seven hour period by Doorman's Combined Striking Force to reach and attack the invasion convoy each was rebuffed by the escort force with heavy losses being inflicted on the Allies.

    The fleets sighted each other at about 16:00 on February 27 and closed to firing range, opening fire at 16:16.
    Both sides exhibited poor gunnery and torpedo skills during this phase of the battle. The exception was Exeter being critically damaged by a hit in the boiler room from an 8-inch shell.
    The ship then limped away to Surabaya, escorted by Witte de With.
    The Japanese launched two huge torpedo salvoes, 92 in all, but scored only one hit, on Kortenaer.
    She was struck by a Long Lance, broke in two and sank rapidly after the hit.
    Electra, covering Exeter, engaged in a duel with Jintsu and Asagumo, scoring several hits but suffering severe damage to its superstructure.
    After a serious fire started on Electra and its remaining turret ran out of ammunition, abandon ship was ordered.

    Only Asagumo was forced to retire because of damage.

    The Allied fleet broke off and turned away around 18:00, covered by a smoke screen laid by the 4 destroyers of U.S destroyer division (DesDiv) 58. They also launched a torpedo attack but at too long a range to be effective.
    Doorman's force turned south towards the Java coast, then west and north as night fell in an attempt to evade the Japanese escort group and fall on the convoy. It was at this point the ships of DesDiv 58, their torpedoes expended, left on their own initiative to return to Surabaya

    21:25, Jupiter ran onto a mine and was sunk, while about 20 minutes later, the fleet passed where the Kortenaer had sunk earlier, and Encounter was detached to pick up survivors.
    Doorman's command, now reduced to 4 cruisers, again encountered the Japanese escort group at 23:00 both columns exchanged fire in the darkness at long range, until De Ruyter and Java were sunk, by one devastating long lance salvo.

    Doorman and most of his crew went down with De Ruyter only 111 were saved from both ships.

    Cruisers Perth and Houston remained low on fuel and ammunition, and following Doorman's last instructions, the two ships retired, arriving at Tanjung Priok .

    The Allied fleet did not reach the invasion fleet, the battle did give the defenders of Java a one-day respite.

    Battle of Sunda Strait

    Perth and Houston were at Tanjung Priok
    Neither were able to rearm or fully refuel.
    Departing at 21:00 on February 28 for the Sunda Strait, by chance they encountered the main Japanese invasion fleet for West Java in Bantam Bay. The Allied ships were engaged by at least three cruisers and several destroyers. In a ferocious night action that ended after midnight on March 1, Perth and Houston were sunk. A Japanese minesweeper and a troop transport were sunk by friendly fire, while three other transports were damaged and had to be beached.

    Java Sea
    After emergency repairs the badly damaged Exeter left for Ceylon, escorted by Encounter and Pope. However all 3 were sunk by the Japanese heavy cruisers Nachi and Haguro

    Bali Strait
    The 4 U.S destroyers of DesRon58, Edwards, Ford, Alden and Jones, were also at Surabaya they left at nightfall February 28 for Australia. After a brief encounter with a Japanese destroyer in the Bali Strait they were able to evade them and reached Fremantle

    Consequences
    A further two American, and one Dutch destroyer were sunk as they attempted to escape to Australia. The main ABDA naval force had been almost totally destroyed: 10 ships and approximately 2,173 sailors had been lost.

    The Battle of the Java Sea ended significant Allied naval operations in South-East Asia in 1942, and Japanese land forces invaded Java on February 28. The USAF and RAF retreated to Australia. Dutch troops aided by British remnants fought fiercely for a week.



    Your spellings are incorrect, these are Dutch era spellings and now obsolete.

    Tjepoe Cepu
    Batavia IS Jakarta- not where it was located
    Bandoeng Bandung
    Bodjonegoro Bojonegoro
    Ngawi Regency correct
    Tjaroeban Caruban
    Ngandjoek Nganjuk
    Djombang Combang

    You omit that the Japanese were ecstatically welcomed as liberators from the hated oppressive and supremely racist Dutch. I refer you to "No Dogs or Natives" by Stef Scagliola

    Furthermore, perhaps beyond the scope of your article is the Chinese collaboration to retain the status of overlord over the oppressed Indonesian natives, Chinese funded anti-Japanese and anti-Nationalist espionage, Chinese funding of Kwo Min Tang in Java and their anti-Japanese guerrilla tactics and Chinese Force 136 operations from Singapore to re-establish ABDACOM (Australian, British, Dutch American COMmand) overlordship again.

    Also you neglect to mention the Dutch KNIL soldiers were exclusively Malukan and Ambonese (Christians).
    Batak and Javanese as a rule rarely ever served KNIL- the Dutch did not trust them to not establish an anti-Dutch army using learnt Dutch tactics, weaknesses and methodology.
    Also the role of Javanese as PETA, Gokkutotai, Kempetai (ahgainst the Chinese) and the first generation of Kamikaze style suicide brigades against the Australian invaders of Biak and Irian Jaya.
    (http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id7428, Rickleff: A History of Modern Indonesia, http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Battle_of_the_Java_Sea)
  3. Lou Dorny says:
    9 Dec 2011 09:49:05 PM

    From your account of the Battle of the Java Sea:

    “As light waned at dusk, Admiral Doorman tried on several occasions to double back and attack the Japanese transports, but was intercepted and driven back each time. After dark the four older American destroyers, low in fuel and out of torpedoes, retired eastward to Surabaya on their own initiative (the next evening they departed the area through the southern Surabaya channel and then the Bali Strait, eventually safely reaching Australia).”

    The statement is incorrect in a couple of details. After their torpedo attack, as directed by Admiral Doorman, they were out of torpedoes. At 1900 Doorman directed them by voice radio signal, logged in the JOHN D. EDWARDS log book at 1422Z / 2152 local time, shortly after HMS JUPITER hit a mine at 2125, to retire to get more torpedoes and rejoin. Evidently, the Admiral was not aware that there were no more torpedoes in Java for the American ships. Destroyer tender BLACK HAWK (AD 9) had given up her last seventeen to JOHN D. FORD and POPE on 22 February in the Indian Ocean. Commander Thomas H. Binford, USN, was Commander Destroyer Division 58, Asiatic Fleet, was serving under Dutch command, and only withdrew from the Combined Striking Force when directed to do so.

    Accordingly, propose replace the statement with the following:

    “As light waned at dusk, Admiral Doorman tried on several occasions to double back and attack the Japanese transports, but was intercepted and driven back each time. After dark Admiral Doorman detached Commander Binford and his four destroyers, now out of torpedoes after their attack, to reload their torpedo battery and rejoin. Commander Binford retired eastward to Soerabaya, but no torpedoes were available. The following day, the battle in the Java Sea over and lost, Admiral Helfrich released allied forces to retire. The four sailed from Soerabaja via Madura and then Bali Straits, reaching Australia safely.”

    Thanks much for your interest in accuracy, and in presenting your work for others to enjoy.

    Please respond.

    L. B. Dorn˙, Commander, U. S. Navy (ret.)
    Seattle, WA, USA «NPO@Dornys.com»

  4. Anonymous says:
    28 Aug 2012 01:57:11 PM

    Peter,

    I would make four points:

    1. In the major thrust by Shoji Detachment, the final and telling battle, March 5-7, 1942, permitted the Japanese to force Tjiater (or Ciater) Pass and gain the Bandoeng Plateau, thus capturing Lembang. You fail to mention this critical battle, although you do provide details of the immediately earlier fighting at Soebang.

    2. The artillery component of mostly Australian Blackforce, as you mention, was the American 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment (not long previously, Texas National Guard). Present with Blackforce were D and F Batteries, and you are mostly correct, it was D Battery (NOT D Company) that fired most critically during the battle at Leuwiliang (F Battery was subjected to sniper fire, withdrew farther rearward, and did little during the battle).

    E Battery of this field artillery battalion was back in east Java and did fight well on the outskirts of Soerabaja.

    3. Contrary to an earlier critic, who posted on 10 February 2009, I find no problem with the earlier Dutch place spellings, because they were the spellings in use when these wartime events occurred. The Allied force, after all, was under Dutch command and the Dutch spellings are appropriate in an historical sense.

    4. I do agree with that critic, however, that the native Javanese welcomed the arrival of Japanese with ecstatic open arms as saviors from Dutch oppression. That ecstasy would soon cool, however, when the Javanese learned their new oppressors ruled with an iron and all too often bloody hand.

    Nelson
  5. Anonymous says:
    19 Aug 2013 08:05:15 PM

    Hello,

    CDR Binford himself ordered the flushdeckers to retire to Surabaja, with the realization that without torpedoes his ships--already low on fuel--were virtually useless, and highly vulnerable. He was not ordered by RADM Doorman of the CSF to retire to Surabaja. He received no instructions at all from Doorman after sunset, in fact.

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More on Dutch East Indies Campaign, Java
Participants:
» Evans, Ernest
» Hara, Tameichi
» Ihara, Mitsugo
» Kurita, Takeo
» Nishimura, Shoji
» Ozawa, Jisaburo
» Poorten, Hein ter
» Soji, Akira
» Takagi, Takeo
» Tanaka, Raizo
» Tokuno, Hiroshi

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» Abukuma
» Amagiri
» Aoba
» Arashio
» Asagumo
» Ashigara
» Atago
» Chikuma
» Haguro
» Haruna
» Houston
» Hyuga
» Ikazuchi
» Ise
» Isuzu
» Jintsu
» Kaiyo
» Kinu
» Kumano
» Maya
» Mikuma
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» Mogami
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» Nachi
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» Natori
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» Oyodo
» Perth
» Ryujo
» Suzuya
» Takao
» Tone
» Yukikaze

Documents:
» Interrogation Nav 17, Captain Kawakita Ishihara
» Interrogation Nav 7, Vice Admiral Kayutaka Shiraichi

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Bombs from a Japanese aircraft falling around the Dutch cruiser Java in the Gasper Strait east of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, 15 Feb 1942
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