World War II Pacific
Japanese Conquest of the East Indies : Jan - Mar '42.
In a two month period, the Japanese conquered the Netherlands East Indies,
(now Indonesia) and destroyed the combined American, British, Dutch and Australian surface
naval forces in the area. The chronology that follows takes place south of concurrent advances
in the Philippines and SE Asia and northwest of simultaneous activities in New Guinea and the
Solomon Islands which are later resolved in the battles of Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, and New Guinea.
11. Japan declares war on the Netherlands; invasion of Netherlands East Indies begins as Japanese Central Force
lands Army and Special [Naval] Landing Force at Tarakan; naval paratroops occupy
Menado. Eastern Force then follows up the airborne assault on Menado with 1st Special Landing
Force going ashore at Menado and Kema, Celebes. These operations will secure control of the northern
approaches to the Java Sea.
12. Dutch army shore battery sinks Japanese minesweepers off Tarakan, Borneo.
15. The previously agreed American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Supreme Command is established at
Lembang, Java. General Sir Archibald Wavell, British Army, assumes supreme command of all forces in area;
LtGen George H. Brett, USAAF, is deputy commander; Adm Thomas C. Hart is to command naval forces.
17. Japanese submarine I-60 is sunk by British destroyer HMS Jupiter 25 miles NNW of Krakatoa, Java.
20. Submarine S-36 (SS-141) is damaged when she runs aground on
Taka Bakang Reef, Makassar Strait, Celebes and is scuttled by her crew in Makassar
21. In response to the movement of the Japanese convoy sighted the previous day in
Makassar Strait, a U.S. task force (RAdm William A. Glassford), consisting of light
cruisers Boise (CL-47) (flagship) and Marblehead (CL-12) and four
destroyers sails from Koepang, Timor, to engage it. En route, however,
Boise steams across an uncharted pinnacle in Sape Strait, N.E.I., and
suffers sufficient damage to eliminate her from the force. Turbine trouble limits
Marblehead (the ship to which Glassford transfers his flag) to only 15 knots,
so the admiral orders the destroyers ahead.
23. Japanese land at Balikpapan, Borneo, N.E.I.
24. Battle of Makassar Strait off Balikpapan occurs when four U.S. destroyers
(Cmdr Talbot, DesDiv 59) attack Japanese Borneo invasion convoy.
Destroyers John D. Ford (DD-228), Parrott (DD-218), Paul Jones
(DD-230) and Pope (DD-225) sink four transports and a patrol boat.
John D. Ford (DD-228) is damaged by gunfire.
USAAF B-17's and Dutch Martin 139's [B-12] and Brewster 339's [F2A Buffalo]
bomb invasion shipping, sinking two transports.
27. USAAF B-17's bomb and damage Japanese seaplane carrier off Balikpapan, Borneo.
28. Japanese troops land on Rossel Island off New Guinea.
29. Japanese troops land at Badoeng Island and Mampawan, Celebes.
31. Japanese troops land on Amboina Island, N.E.I.
2. Japanese minesweeper sunk and two minesweepers damaged, by Dutch mines off Ambon, N.E.I.
3. Japanese naval land attack planes bomb ABDA operating base at Surabaya; other naval land attack
planes bomb Malang, Java. These raids indicate for the first time that substantial Japanese air
forces have been moved south. En route home from Malang, aircraft report presence of Allied naval
force (RAdm Karel W.F.M. Doorman, RNN) off Madoera.
4. Japanese reconnaissance flying boats contact and shadow the allied force of four cruisers and
accompanying destroyers attempting transit of Madoera Strait
to attack Japanese Borneo invasion fleet. Japanese naval land attack
planes bomb Doorman's ships, damaging heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30) and light cruiser
Marblehead (CL-12). Dutch light cruisers De Ruyter and Tromp are slightly
damaged by near-misses. Marblehead's extensive damage (only by masterful seamanship and
heroic effort does she reach Tjilatjap after the battle) results in her being sent back to the
United States via Ceylon and South Africa. Houston remains despite the loss of
one-third of her main battery.
U.S. Asiatic Fleet (Adm Thomas C. Hart) ceases to exist organizationally.
Units of Asiatic Fleet are organized into Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific Area
(VAdm William A. Glassford).
Submarine Sculpin (SS-191) torpedoes Japanese
destroyer as the latter patrols off Staring Bay, south of Kendari, Celebes.
5. Japanese planes bomb Allied shipping off Soembawa Island, N.E.I.; after destroyer
Paul Jones (DD-230) is damaged by near-miss, she then rescues survivors of Dutch merchantman
Tidore, which had run aground avoiding Japanese bombs.
7. Commander Naval Forces Southwest Pacific Area (VAdm Glassford)
establishes headquarters at the port of Tjilatjap, on Java's south coast.
8. Japanese troops land at Gasmata, New Britain.
Submarine S-37 (SS-142) attacks Japanese convoy in Makassar Strait,
and torpedoes destroyer Natsushio south of Makassar City, Celebes; it sinks the next day.
S-37 survives resultant depth-charging.
9. Japanese planes bomb Batavia, Surabaya, and Malang, Java.
10. USAAF LB-30s [B-24 Liberators built to British specifications] bomb and
damage Japanese seaplane carrier in Makassar Strait south of Celebes.
12. USAAF B-17's bomb Japanese shipping off Surumi, damaging two transports.
14. Adm Thomas C. Hart, USN, is relieved as Commander in Chief
Allied Naval Forces in Southwest Pacific by VAdm Conrad E. L. Helfrich, RNN.
Japanese army paratroopers assault Palembang, Sumatra.
During ensuing Allied air attacks on Japanese invasion convoy, RAF Blenheims bomb
and sink merchant ship off Palembang.
ABDAFloat orders task force (RAdm Doorman) to proceed
and attack Japanese Palembang-bound expeditionary force. As Doorman's ships
-- two Dutch light cruisers, a Dutch flotilla leader, one British heavy cruiser,
one Australian light cruiser, four Dutch destroyers and six American -- heads toward its objective,
Dutch destroyer Van Ghent runs aground on a reef north of Banka Island and is scuttled;
sistership Banckert takes off the crew.
15. Singapore falls, releasing Japanese troops and shipping.
Japanese army paratroops secure vital oil refineries at Palembang, on southeast Sumatra, N.E.I.;
enemy capture of this territory establishes sea and air control of the Karimata Channel and Gaspar Strait.
Having proceeded through Gaspar Strait to the north of Banka and
failed to contact the Japanese force (which has already reached Banka Strait), ABDA striking force
(RAdm Doorman, RNN) is attacked by Japanese naval land attack planes as well as carrier attack planes
from carrier Ryujo. Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart is straddled,
while near misses damage U.S. destroyers
Barker (DD-213) and Bulmer (DD-222), which will need to retire to Australia for repairs.
19. Japanese forces land on Bali, N.E.I.
Battle of Badoeng Strait begins as Allied naval force
(RAdm Doorman, RNN) of three cruisers and accompanying destroyers attacks retiring Japanese Bali
occupation force in Badoeng Strait. Destroyer Stewart (DD-224) is damaged by gunfire of
Japanese destroyers. Dutch destroyer Piet Hien is sunk. Dutch light cruisers Java and
Tromp are damaged by Japanese gunfire. Two Japanese destroyers are damaged
by Allied gunfire.
Japanese carrier striking force attacks Darwin, Australia, and
Japanese naval land attack planes bomb the airfield at Darwin.
Darwin is abandoned as an Allied naval base.
20. Japanese invade Timor Island, N.E.I
Stewart (DD-224), damaged by shellfire in the
Battle of Badoeng Strait the previous night, suffers further damage when,
improperly shored and placed on blocks, she rolls on her port side in a Dutch
floating drydock at Surabaya, Java.
23. Submarine Tarpon (SS-175) is damaged when she runs aground in Boling Strait,
Netherlands East Indies, and becomes stranded.
24. Submarines Pike (SS-172) and Pickerel (SS-177) are sent to assist
Tarpon who manages to work herself free.
25. Japanese force lands on Bawean Island, 85 miles north of Surabaya, Java, and
sets up a radio station.
26. Submarine S-38 (SS-143) bombards Japanese radio station on enemy-occupied Bawean Island.
27. Battle of Java Sea is fought as Allied naval force (RAdm Doorman, RNN) of five cruisers and
11 destroyers in Java Sea near Surabaya attack Japanese support force covering Java invasion
convoy. Japanese gunfire proves ineffective 1,271
8-inch rounds achieve only five hits; of those five, four are duds. The only shell
that does explode reduces HMS Exeter's speed. Japanese heavy cruiser
Haguro torpedoes and sinks Dutch destroyer Kortenaer.
Japanese destroyer gunfire sinks British destroyer HMS Electra;
while British destroyer HMS Jupiter is sunk by mine laid earlier that
day by Dutch minelayer Gouden Leeuw.
Allied gunfire damages two Japanese destroyers ; U.S. destroyers' torpedo attack
Seaplane tender Langley (AV-3),
carrying 32 USAAF P-40's earmarked for the defense of Java, is bombed by Japanese naval land
attack planes 75 miles south of Tjilatjap, Java.
Irreparably damaged, the ship that had once been the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier
(she had been converted to a seaplane tender in 1936) is put under by destroyer
U.S. freighter Sea Witch delivers 27 crated USAAF P-40's to
Tjilatjap, Java, but the planes will be destroyed on the docks to deny their use
by the victors.
28. Battle of Java Sea, begun late the previous afternoon, concludes.
Japanese heavy cruisers torpedoes and sinks Dutch light cruiser De Ruyter
(Doorman's flagship, in which he is lost) and Dutch light cruiser Java.
Remnants of the Allied force flee to Surabaya, sheltering briefly there before
trying to escape to Australia.
Japanese land on north coast of Java.
Battle of Sunda Strait begins shortly before midnight as
heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30) and Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth,
attempting to retire from Java, accidentally encounter Japanese transport force
and escorting ships in Banten Bay, Java, and engage them.
1. Battle of Sunda Strait continues as heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30)
and Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth heading for Sunda Strait, are
attacked by three Japanese cruisers and nine destroyers. In the melee, Houston
and Perth are sunk by torpedoes and gunfire of Japanese heavy cruisers.
Japanese minesweeper and four transports are sunk ; a landing ship and two
destroyers are damaged by gunfire.
Japanese oiler Tsurumi is torpedoed by Dutch submarine
K-XVeast of Nicholas Point, Banten Bay, Java.
In another action in the wake of the Battle of the Java Sea,
four Japanese heavy cruisers engage three Allied ships fleeing Java, sinking British heavy
cruiser HMS Exeter [of Graf Spee fame] and destroyer HMS Encounter.
U.S. destroyer Pope (DD-225), the third ship, escapes the cruisers but is located and
damaged by floatplanes from two seaplane carriers and carrier Ryujo; scuttling is in
progress when two heavy cruisers deliver the coup de grace with gunfire.
Japanese planes bomb Surabaya, Java; destroyer Stewart (DD-224),
previously damaged on 19-20 February 1942, is damaged again.
Japanese naval forces sweep the waters south of Java.
Destroyer Edsall (DD-219) encounters Japanese
battle fleet consisting of battleships Hiei and Kirishima,
heavy cruisers Tone and Chikuma, and planes
from carriers Akagi and Soryu; the nimble Edsall evaded
297 15-inch and 844 eight-inch main battery shells before stopped by aircraft.
Edsall's five enlisted survivors are subsequently executed at Kendari.
Oiler Pecos (AO-6), with Langley (AV-3) survivors on board as well as evacuees
from Java, is bombed and sunk by carrier bombers from Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and
Soryu, south of Christmas Island [Australian island south of Java].
Submarine Perch (SS-176) is depth-charged and damaged by two
Japanese destroyers, 73 miles west of Bawean Island, Java Sea.
As Japanese invasion of Java proceeds, Allied planes bomb enemy ships
off the beaches: RAF Wildebeests damage light cruiser, transport, and army cargo ship.
Dutch Martin 139s [B-10], RAF Blenheims, RAAF or RAF Hudsons also claim damage to
ABDA Command is dissolved as the fall of Java looms.
2. Japanese Main Body, Southern Force overtakes fleeing Allied ships southwest of
Bali; sink British destroyer HMS Stronghold and destroyer
Pillsbury (DD-227), which is lost with all hands. Stewart destroyed to prevent capture.
Submarine Perch (SS-176) is depth-charged and damaged by
Japanese destroyer, Java Sea.
Submarine S-38 (SS-143) attacks Japanese light cruiser
Kinu which evades all four torpedoes fired.
Submarine Sailfish (SS-192) torpedoes and sinks Japanese
aircraft transport north of Lombok Strait.
3. Submarine Perch (SS-176), depth-charged and irreparably damaged by Japanese
destroyers is scuttled by her crew in Java Sea. All hands (59 men) survive the boat's
loss and are taken prisoner.
Gunboat Asheville (PG-21) is sunk by gunfire of Japanese destroyers
south of Java. Asheville's sole survivor will perish in POW camp in 1945.
4. Submarine S-39 (SS-144) torpedoes and sinks Japanese oiler Erimo south of
RAN sloop Yarra and convoy sunk by Japanese cruiser sweep.
5. Submarine Salmon (SS-182) torpedoes Japanese transport north of Lombok, N.E.I.
9. Dutch surrender the East Indies to the Japanese.
Lost in the week of Feb 27-Mar 4:
Netherlands: CL De Ruyter, CL Java ; DD Korteaer ; DE Evertsen
Australian: CL Perth ; PG Yarra
English: CA Exeter ; DD Jupiter, Encounter, Stronghold
American: CA Houston ; DD Pope, Edsall, Pillsbury, Stewart ;
SS Perch ; PG Ashville
AO Pecos ; AV Langley
11. MacArthur departs Corregidor and transits the area to Australia.
17. United States, in agreement with Allies, assumes responsibility for the strategic
defense of entire Pacific Ocean.
27. Japanese collier is sunk by Dutch planes off Koepang, Timor.
30. Pacific War Council representing United States, Great Britain, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, and China is established in Washington, D.C.,
to plan war policy in the Pacific.
Joint Chiefs of Staff order Pacific Ocean divided into two commands:
Pacific Ocean Areas (Admiral Chester W. Nimitz) and Southwest Pacific Area (General Douglas
Japanese forces occupy Christmas Island south of Java.
Submarine Sturgeon (SS-187) sinks Japanese transport off
Makassar City, Celebes.
31. Submarine Seawolf (SS-197) is damaged by depth charges off Christmas Island.
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