Japanese Invasion

The Japanese conquest of the Netherlands East Indies involved a two-pronged attack. On the eastern flank, elements of the 16th Army's 48th Division, supported by naval forces, occupied strategic objectives in North Celebes (11 January), South Celebes (24 January and 8 February), Eastern and Southern Borneo (11 January-10 February) and Ambon (31 January). In addition to the occupation of the oilfields at Tarakan, Balikpapan and Bandjermasin, the objective of this assault was the capture of airfields that could serve as bases for further operations in the south. The Japanese Army's advance was supported by the strong naval forces of the Southern Fleet. Despite initial successes, the Allied navies were unable to check the Japanese advance. The sinking of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse on 10 December robbed the Allies of the only capital ships in their battle fleet. On 19 February the Japanese occupied Bali, completing the encirclement of Java. The destruction of the Allied fleet in the Battle of the Java Sea (26-27 February) left Java open for invasion. The main body of the Japanese 16th Army boarded the invasion fleet in Camranh Bay in Indochina and landed in Java on the early morning of 1 March 1942. On 8 March, the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on Java surrendered to the Japanese.
To the west, units of the Japanese 25th Army attacked Malacca on 8 December and moved on to take Singapore on 15 February. Units of the 16th Army's 38th Division occupied Sumatra between 14 and 17 February. On 12 March the 25th Army's Imperial Guard Division crossed the Malacca Straits and invaded Northern Sumatra. By 28 March they had completed the occupation of the island. On 20 February Japanese troops landed in Timor. Once the main islands had been secured, the Japanese moved on to smaller operations in Manokwari, Sarmi (12 April) and Hollandia (19 April) in New Guinea and the Aru and Kei islands and Tanimbar (31 July). Dutch and Australian forces continued to wage a guerrilla war on the island of Timor until December 1942.


John Keegan, Atlas of World War II (2006)

Information a.o. in:

Access Number nummer 2.22.21, inv.no. 663, 665, 666, 669, 667, 691 and 686
Access Number nummer 2.10.62, inv.no. 439, 440, 441, 442, 444, 445, 446, 447, 448, 449 and 459

See also:

- Allied Defence of the Netherlands East Indies

- War in the Pacific