Dutch East Indies campaign


Dutch East Indies campaign
Dutch East Indies campaign
Part of the Pacific Theatre of World War II
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Japanse invasie op Java TMnr 10001990.jpg
Japanese forces land on Java.
Date 8 December 1941–9 March 1942
Location Dutch East Indies
Result Japanese victory;
Japanese occupation of Indonesia
Belligerents
ABDA Command
Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Netherlands Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer[3]
United Kingdom Archibald Wavell[4]
United States George Brett[5]
United Kingdom Henry Royds Pownall[6]
United States Thomas C. Hart[7]
Netherlands Hein ter Poorten  (POW)[8]
United Kingdom Richard Peirse[9]
Netherlands Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich[10]
Japan Hisaichi Terauchi
Japan Kiyotake Kawaguchi[11]
Japan Ibō Takahashi[12]
Japan Hitoshi Imamura[13]
Japan Shōji Nishimura[14]
Japan Masao Maruyama[15]
Japan Takeo Itō [16]
Japan Shizuo Sakaguchi[17]
Japan Yuitsu Tsuchihashi[18]
Empire of Japan Ruitaro Fujita[19]
Empire of Japan Kenzaburo Hara[20]
Empire of Japan Shintarō Hashimoto[21]
Empire of Japan Kouichiro Hatakeyama[22]
Empire of Japan Sueto Hirose[23]
Empire of Japan Kakuji Kakuta[24]
Empire of Japan Nobutake Kondō[25]
Empire of Japan Kyuji Kubo[26]
Empire of Japan Takeo Kurita[27]
Empire of Japan Chūichi Nagumo[28]
Empire of Japan Shōji Nishimura [29]
Empire of Japan Jisaburō Ozawa[30]
Empire of Japan Takeo Takagi[31]
Empire of Japan Ibō Takahashi[32]
Empire of Japan Raizō Tanaka[33]
Empire of Japan Nishizō Tsukahara[34]
Strength
33 warships[35]
41 submarines[36]
234 aircraft[37]
67,000 Dutch troops [38]
8,000 Anglo-American troops[39]
52 warships[40][41]
18 submarines[36]
50,000 troops[42]
Casualties and losses
62,116
2,383 killed[43]
59,733 captured[43]
671 killed[43]

The Dutch East Indies campaign of 1941–1942 was the conquest of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) by forces from the Empire of Japan in the early days of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Forces from the Allies attempted unsuccessfully to defend the islands. Indonesia was targeted by the Japanese for its rich oil resources, which would become a vital asset during the war. The campaign and subsequent three and a half years Japanese occupation was also a major factor in the end of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia.

Contents

Background

The East Indies was determined to be one of Japan's primary targets if and when it went to war because the colony possessed abundant valuable resources, the most important of which were its rubber plantations and oil fields;[44][45] the colony was the fourth-largest exporter of oil in the world, behind the U.S., Iran, and Romania.[45][A 1] The oil made the islands enormously important to the Japanese (see below), so they sought to secure the supply for themselves. They sent four fleet carriers and a light carrier, along with the four fast battleships of the Kongō class, 13 heavy cruisers and many light cruisers and destroyers, to support their amphibious assaults, in addition to conducting raids on cities, naval units and shipping, in both that area and around the Indian Ocean.[46]

Access to oil was one of the lynchpins of the Japanese war effort, as Japan has no native source of oil;[47] it could not even produce enough to meet even 10% of its needs,[45] even with the extraction of oil shale in Manchuria using the Fushun process.[48] Japan quickly lost 93 percent of its oil supply after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order on 26 July 1941 which froze all of Japan's U.S. assets and embargoed all oil exports to Japan.[49] In addition, the Dutch government in exile—after the urging of the Allies and with the support of Queen Wilhelmina—broke its economic treaty with Japan and joined with the embargo in August.[47] Japan's military and economic reserves included only a year and a half's worth of oil.[45] As a U.S. declaration of war against Japan was likely, if the latter took the East Indies, the Japanese planned to eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet, allowing them to occupy the islands. This led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.[50][51]

Campaign

The Japanese lines of advance in the Dutch East Indies, Sarawak and North Borneo(British), and Portuguese Timor.

On 8 December 1941, the Netherlands declared war on Japan.[52] General Hisaichi Terauchi (also known as Count Terauchi)—who was the commander of the Southern Expeditionary Army Group—began the campaign with attacks against Borneo: on 17 December. Japanese forces successfully landed on Miri, an oil production centre in northern Sarawak, with support from a battleship and aircraft carrier, along with three cruisers and four destroyers.[53]

The action started when the Japanese forces launched air strikes on key areas and gained air superiority. Following these airstrikes, landings were made at several locations targeting airfields and other important points in the area. In addition to the landings at Miri, the Japanese forces made landings at Seria, Kuching, Jesselton and Sandakan between 15 December 1941 and 19 January 1942.[54] After these main objectives in Borneo were completed, the Japanese forces planned a three-pronged assault southwards, using three forces named as Eastern Force, Centre Force and Western Force. The aim of this assault was to capture the oil resources in the East Indies. The Eastern Force was to advance from Jolo and Davao, and move on to capture Celebes, Amboina and Timor while protecting the Centre Force's flank. The Centre Force was to capture oil fields and airfields in Tarakan Island and Balikpapan. Both these forces would support the Western Force, which was to attack and capture the oil refineries and airfields at Palembang.[55] The Japanese forces launched the assault on 11 January and landed at Tarakan.[56]

To co-ordinate the fight against the Japanese, the American, British, Dutch, and Australian forces combined all available land and sea forces under the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM or ABDA) banner. This command was activated on 15 January 1942, with the overall commander being British Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell.[57] The command structure had the American Army Air Force Lt. General George Brett as deputy commander, with the British Lt. General Henry Royds Pownall as chief of staff: under this came the American Admiral Thomas C. Hart as naval commander, the Dutch Lt. General Hein ter Poorten as ground forces commander, and the British Air Chief marshal Sir Richard E.C. Peirse as the air commander.[58] Although the forces were combined, they had differing priorities: the British believed the defense of the territory of Singapore and the eastern entrances to the Indian Ocean (the route to Ceylon and British India) to be paramount, the Americans and Australians did not want a total penetration of Southwest Asia that would take bases necessary for any serious counter-attack, and the Dutch considered Java and Sumatra, their "second homeland where [they] had been trading and living for over three centuries", to be the most important place to defend.[59]

Even the combined forces could not stop, or even slow, the Japanese advance, due to their much greater numbers. To face the Japanese attacking naval forces, the ABDA command had a conglomerate of ships drawn from any available units, which included the U.S. Asiatic Fleet (fresh from the fall of the Philippines), a few British and Australian surface ships, and Dutch units that had previously been stationed in the East Indies. Major forces included two seaplane tenders (USS Langley and Childs), two heavy cruisers (USS Houston and HMS Exeter), seven light cruisers (HNLMS De Ruyter, Java and Tromp, USS Marblehead and Boise, HMAS Hobart and Perth), 22 destroyers, and, perhaps their greatest strength, 25 American and 16 Dutch submarines (although the Dutch submarines were geriatric and short of spare parts).[35] Being based on Java, these ships had to take on the central and western prongs of the three-headed Japanese assault; the central force's combat ships, the light carrier Ryūjō, the seaplane tenders Sanyo Maru and Sanuki Maru, three light cruisers and sixteen destroyers, while the western force contained five heavy cruisers, and seven destroyers. In addition, four fleet carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū and Sōryū) and the four Kongō-class battleships.[41]

The manner of the Japanese advance resembled the insidious yet irresistible clutching of multiple tentacles. Like some vast octopus, it relied upon strangling many small points rather than concentrating on one vital organ. No one arm attempted to meet the entire strength of the Abda fleet. Each fastened on a small portion of the enemy and, by crippling him locally, finished by killing the entire animal. [...] The Japanese spread their tentacles cautiously, never extending beyond the range of land-based aircraft, unless they had carrier support. The distance of each advance was determined by the radius of fighter planes under their control. This range was generally less than 400 miles, but the Japanese made these short hops in surprisingly rapid succession. Amphibious operations, preceded by air strikes and covered by air power, developed with terrifying regularity. Before the Allies had consolidated a new position, they were confronted with a system of air bases from which enemy aircraft operated on their front, flanks and even rear.[60]

Tarakan was captured on the 13th[61], the Japanese forces were using Tarakan airfield as a forward airbase by the 17th and Balikpapan was captured by the 26th of January.[62] However, the Dutch garrisons had destroyed the oil fields before they were captured by the Japanese in both cases. Several Japanese vessels were destroyed or damaged due to naval and air counterattacks from the Allied forces,[63][64] but the defending Dutch battalions were overrun by the Japanese forces. By 28 January, the Japanese forces had taken control of the airfields at Balikpapan and their aircraft were operating from them.[56] To the east on Celebes, Menado was captured on 11 January,[65] Kendari on 24 January,[66] and Makassar on 9 February.[67] On 10 February Bandjermasin, the capital of Dutch Borneo, was captured.[68] The island of Bali, east of Java, was occupied on 19 February.[69] Its airfield could be used to interdict the sea route from Australia to Java.[70] By February, Japanese forces had landed on Sumatra and encouraged a revolt in Aceh.[71]

Most of the naval components of the allied force were crushed in the battles of Java Sea,[72] Sunda Strait[73] and Second Java Sea;[47][74] the only American ship larger than a destroyer to survive was the old cruiser Marblehead.[75] In addition, the land forces on the islands were quickly overwhelmed and most major resistance was overcome within two months of the initial assaults, although a guerrilla campaign in Timor was successfully waged for a time.[47][74] The ABDA command fell apart at about 01:00 on 1 March, less than two months after its inception, when Admiral Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich—Governor-General of the East Indies—dissolved the command.[76]

Allied operations in Indonesia (except Sumatra) were later controlled by the South West Pacific Area command, under General Douglas MacArthur.

Aftermath

Allied forces did not attempt to re-take the islands of Java, Sumatra, Timor, or Bali during the war. Japanese forces on those islands surrendered at the conclusion of World War II. Most of the Japanese military personnel and civilian colonial administrators were repatriated to Japan following the war, except for several hundred who were detained for investigations into war crimes, for which some were later put on trial. About 1,000 Japanese soldiers deserted from their units and assimilated into local communities. Many of these soldiers provided assistance to Indonesian Republican forces during the Indonesian National Revolution.[77][78]

Battles of the campaign

Notes

  1. ^ The statistics given are for 1935. The top five oil exporters that year were, in order, the United States, with 6,958 kt, Persia (Iran), with 6,860 kt, Romania, with 6,221 kt, the Dutch East Indies, with 5,139 kt, and the Soviet Union, with 3,369 kt. See: The Way to Pearl Harbor: US vs Japan, accessed 27 February 2009. Full citation given below.

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Bibliography

  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1948). The Rising Sun in the Pacific; 1931–April 1942. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. OCLC 7361008. 
  • Peter Post, William H. Frederick, Iris Heidebrinki and Shigeru Sato, ed (2010). "The War in the Pacific". The Encyclopedia of Indonesia in the Pacific War. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 9004168664. 

Further reading

  • L, Klemen. "The Netherlands East Indies 1941-1942". http://www.dutcheastindies.webs.com/. 
  • Burton, John (2006). Fortnight of Infamy: The Collapse of Allied Airpower West of Pearl Harbor. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 159114096X. 
  • Cull, Brian (2004). Hurricanes Over Singapore: RAF, RNZAF and NEI Fighters in Action Against the Japanese Over the Island and the Netherlands East Indies, 1942. Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 978-1904010807. 
  • Cull, Brian (2008). Buffaloes over Singapore: RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and Dutch Brewster Fighters in Action Over Malaya and the East Indies 1941-1942. Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 978-1904010326. 
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0. 
  • Kelly, Terence (2008). Hurricanes Versus Zeros: Air Battles over Singapore, Sumatra and Java. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1844156221. 
  • Krancher, Jan A. (2003). The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942-1949: Survivors Accounts of Japanese Invasion and Enslavement of Europeans and the Revolution That Created Free Indonesia. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786417070. 
  • Shores, Christopher (2002). Bloody Shambles: Volume One: The Drift to War to the Fall of Singapore. London: Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 094881750X. 
  • Shores, Christopher (2009). Bloody Shambles: Volume Two: The Complete Account of the Air War in the Far East, from the Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma, 1942. London: Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 0948817674. 
  • Womack, Tom (2006). Dutch Naval Air Force Against Japan: The Defense of the Netherlands East Indies, 1941-1942. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786423651. 


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