The Java Campaign
JAVA - General
An island 1,200 miles long and mountainous. The climate is healthy in the mountains. It is very fertile, producing 90% of the world's supply of Quinine, also producING rubber, tea, coffee, fruit and vegetables etc. It is inhabited by a native race similar to the Malays - equally shiftless and unreliable. The natives were disaffected under excellent Dutch Administration, especially in the North West Area. There was a revolution in 1935. Road and rail communications are excellent. On the whole, the island is well developed. Huge quantities of Quinine were taken out of the island before its capture.
EVENTS PRIOR TO JAPANESE INVASION
HQ South Pacific opened at BANDOENG (the capital) in mid-January. Representatives of Dutch, British and US Navy, Army and Air Forces and Chinese Air Force met for talks. BURMA was later taken from the SW Pacific Command so it was decided to liquidate HQ as SW Pacific Command then only embraced SUMATRA and JAVA.
It was originally decided to send the 1st Australian Corps from the MIDDLE EAST to JAVA. There was an alternative scheme to send them to MALAYA and transfer the 3rd Corps (9th and 11th Ind. Div) to JAVA but the fall of SINGAPORE prevented this.
After the fall of SINGAPORE it was decided not to send Allied troops to JAVA. After much heartburning with the Dutch, it was decided to keep all Imperial Troops landed before the 20th February, but to send away all non-effectives - eg. RAF evacuated from MALAYA.
1st Australian Corps Vanguard was already in harbour but, except for a few troops, it was sent away. RAF, together with other non-effectives, were sent by train to CHILLICHAP in the SE of the island for embarkation.
TROOPS ON THE EVE OF THE EVACUATION
- 2 Light AA Regiments - Used for the defence
- 2 Heavy AA Regiments - of BATAVIA
- 1 Squadron 3rd Hussars - Newly arrived from MIDDLE EAST. Landed SUMATRA 14th February. Re-embarked 15th February and landed at JAVA with their Armoured Cars on the 16th February.
- 1 Bn Australian MG's - Formed into
- 1 Bn Australian Pioneers - Australian
- Misc.Australian troops (Inc RAF) - Brigade
6,000 (approx) plus 1 Bty American Fd Artillery (12 Guns - 75mm)
- Few white troops
- Large number of native troops with European Officers.
On 26th February, large convoys were sighted by plane coming S. HMAS "PERTH" and USS "HOUSTON" cruisers in BATAVIA were ordered to proceed to CHILLICHAP via SUNDA STRAITS. On NW of the island they ran into a Japanese Fleet landing 4 Divisions. They took the Japanese by surprise and, without hesitation, attacked. They sunk 6 Japanese cruisers and damaged other craft before being sunk themselves. Survivors swam ashore and were taken prisoner, later being ill-treated by the Japanese.
On the night 28th February/1st March, the Japanese landed in four places and immediately made great headway against the Dutch. The Australians and Hussars, however, gave them such a hiding that they were driven back 20 miles, re-embarked and landed again 50 miles down the coast.
BATAVIA was entered on the 2nd March. Our original intention was to retreat, fighting into an 'Iron Ring' round BANDOENG, 120 miles SE in the mountains, with supplies and planes inside. The Japanese advanced towards BANDOENG and the British took up their positions but already rumours of speedy Dutch capitulation were circulating. On 5th March the British were ordered out of BANDOENG. They retreated to the SE of the island where there was a strong, natural position round the port of POMANTORP with a 'drome where, it was hoped, contact would be made with the Royal Navy and other reinforcements brought in for evacuation.
The Heavy AA Regiment blew up its guns and, with the remnant of the RAF, formed into two Infantry Battalions. They arrived at POMANTORP on Friday 6th March. On Saturday 7th March, they split into small parties to carry out guerilla fighting. The Dutch also had a similar scheme but on Sunday 8th March they capitulated, forcing the British to do the same. The British wirelessed to LONDON for permission to continue but could not get a reply before it was necessary to destroy their radio sets.
A submarine came in on two nights, taking off 24 people.
The British Force capitulated on 9th March without contacting the enemy in their final position.
There was the usual Japanese mal-administration of the island. No attempt was made to organise industry and nothing was done about the Quinine crop. There was widespread looting. It was evident that the Japanese were not getting their own way at sea as many crippled ships were seen entering the harbours.
This was held by 1,300 Australian and 200 UK Troops.
The Japanese landed 25,000 men, taking the island in three days.
Kranji Hospital30th October 1944G.B.B.