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  • After an entire month of fighting, and with both Malaya and the Philippines thrown against

  • the ropes, the time had finally come for the final step of the Japanese advance.

  • Now, the Dutch East Indies, the final link in their planned defensive chain across the

  • Pacific, stood open for a Japanese attack.

  • And as the Japanese prepared to execute one of their most bold and brilliant plans of

  • invasion, the Malayan and Philippinean fronts saw the start of strong Allied resistance.

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  • The year of 1942 didn't start as a normal and regular year for the Dutch.

  • Their homeland, ravaged by war, was under the occupation of the enemy Germans; their

  • government and their queen were in exile, helping the Allies in any manner they could;

  • and their most important colony had become a target for Japanese expansion.

  • But this colony was not defenseless at all, as Lieutenant-General Hein ter Poorten counted

  • with around 85000 soldiers, with most of them concentrated at the island of Java.

  • The Dutch also counted with a sizable naval force of 5 cruisers, 8 destroyers, 12 submarines

  • and 56 other ships, under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Conrad Helfrich, nicknamed "Ship-a-day Helfrich",

  • because he sank more Japanese ships in the first weeks of the war than the entire British

  • or American Navies together.

  • It's worth mentioning that Helfrich's small force of submarines was a formidable

  • opponent for the Japanese navy, sinking several of their ships as we've seen in the previous

  • weeks.

  • Dutch air power was an important threat as well, having around 500 aircraft at their

  • disposal, from which some 300 were frontline aircraft.

  • These were based on several secret airfields scattered around the East Indies, such as

  • Samarinda II or Singkawang II, to where the Dutch planes would be transferred in case

  • of war, trying to prevent their destruction by a Japanese air attack.

  • These airfields were, however, quickly discovered by the invaders, then becoming vital strategic

  • objectives and easy prey for Japanese bombers.

  • For the invasion of the Dutch East Indies, the Japanese plan stipulated that they first

  • needed to secure footholds on Malaya and the Philippines . After this was achieved, the

  • Japanese would then launch an amphibious invasion of Borneo, making it the stepping stone from

  • which to launch the invasion of the East Indies.

  • Absolute coordination was essential for this operation, especially since the Indies were

  • the most important target of the Japanese offensives due to its richness in petroleum

  • oil, rubber, nickel, tin, scrap iron and other strategic resources . The 16th Army under

  • Lieutenant-General Imamura Hitoshi was appointed by the commander of the Southern Expeditionary

  • Army Group General Hisaichi Terauchi, to carry out the invasion of the East Indies, supported

  • by the 3rd Air Force once their operations in Malaya had concluded.

  • Originally, this army was composed by the 2nd Division and the Sakaguchi Detachment,

  • which took part in the conquests of Davao and Jolo; but Tokyo had also already planned

  • for the 38th and 48th Divisions, as well as the South Seas Detachment and many other units,

  • to be assigned to the 16th Army as the capture of Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Guam

  • and Rabaul progressed.

  • Initially supporting the invasion of the Philippines, the 3rd Fleet of Admiral Takahashi and its

  • 11th Air Fleet were also appointed to support the Dutch East Indies campaign.

  • The plan for the 16th Army was to launch a series of naval invasions against key points

  • in the Dutch East Indies, namely some of the secret airfields that we've discussed, as

  • the Japanese would need air support from these points for their planned invasion of Java.

  • This plan, drafted by the leading commanders of the 3rd Fleet, was very specific about

  • where and when each unit would carry out the invasion operations.

  • After securing Davao and Jolo, the Sakaguchi Detachment would land on Tarakan Island around

  • the 33rd day after the start of the war, then launching an invasion of Balikpapan ten days

  • later.

  • Once Balikpapan was under Japanese hands, General Sakaguchi would naval invade Banjarmasin

  • around the 53rd day before finally landing on Bali some 16 days later.

  • Meanwhile, after taking Hong Kong, two battalions of the 38th Division would assemble in Palau

  • to seize Ambon and then attack Kupang in Timor Island; while the rest of the division would

  • be appointed to launch the invasion of southern Sumatra.

  • Finally, the main force of this army would execute the invasion of the island of Java.

  • The 2nd Division would be responsible for the landings in western Java, while the 48th

  • Division would take charge of the invasion of eastern Java.

  • The 3rd Fleet's Sasebo Force of SNLF marines and Yokosuka Force of paratroopers would also

  • be responsible for the subsequent capture of Manado, Kendari and Makassar in the Celebes,

  • while also assisting in the operations against Timor.

  • By January 3, with the rapid advances in the Malayan and Philippinean fronts and with the

  • successful capture of British Borneo, the Japanese command finally felt ready to start

  • the Dutch East Indies campaign.

  • On January 6, Takahashi's fleet arrived at Davao, where the Sakaguchi Detachment had

  • already concentrated.

  • The following day, the invasion force departed Malalag Bay heading towards Tarakan Island

  • in Dutch Borneo.

  • They were escorted by a fleet consisting of 9 destroyers and a light-cruiser, under the

  • command of Rear-Admiral Nishimura Shoji.

  • Meanwhile, the Dutch had a garrison of around 1400 men in Tarakan, led by Lieutenant-Colonel

  • Simon de Waal.

  • This force had prepared defensive positions expecting a Japanese attack to the west, yet

  • they were to be surprised.

  • On January 10, Dutch reconnaissance detected the Japanese convoy en route to Tarakan, so

  • de Waal ordered the destruction of all oil installations in the island.

  • He also sent some bombers to disrupt the landings, but to no avail, as by the early hours of

  • January 11 after the official declaration of war on the Netherlands, some SNLF marines

  • and Sakaguchi's main force had already landed north of the Amal River.

  • They then marched south to the mouth of the river under a burning red sky, where they

  • stormed and outflanked some Dutch pillboxes.

  • That morning, a battalion of the Sakaguchi Detachment also landed further south at Tandjoeng

  • Batoe to capture the Lingkas oil fields.

  • This unit tried to advance through the jungle, but was slowed down by the extremely dense

  • vegetation.

  • Sakaguchi also lost communications with them, so the Japanese general didn't know of their

  • whereabouts.

  • At the same time, aided by a Japanese guide who knew the area, Sakaguchi's main force

  • broke through the jungle and got to the north side of the Tarakan oil field by midday.

  • As the Japanese advanced north of the Tarakan Oil field the Dutch bombarded them with artillery

  • and motor [mortars?]

  • far from Saraber's support point.

  • The Dutch and Japanese made several simultaneous offensives against another, but eventually

  • the Japanese launched a series of night raids and Yamamoto's troops managed to capture both

  • lines of Dutch Barracks.

  • The defenders had also lost many men, and their communications with the coastal batteries

  • were breaking down.

  • This left de Waal with no choice but to capitulate on the morning of January 12.

  • Yet without communications, some Dutch units were still fighting on.

  • One of these units was the Karoengan Battery, which came into contact with the Japanese

  • battalion that had lost communications around noon.

  • Yet despite the sustained attack, the Karoengan Battery accurately shot and sunk two Japanese

  • minesweepers and one landing craft.

  • The battery was finally captured on January 13, subjected to the Japanese vengeance for

  • the loss of their minesweepers, who then executed most of its crew.

  • Sakaguchi had lost only 7 men in the entire battle, while the IJN lost around 250 men,

  • mainly in the destroyed minesweepers.

  • In contrast, the Dutch lost around 300 men, with the rest ending up captured.

  • The same day that the Sakaguchi Detachment was landing on Tarakan, Rear-Admiral Takagi

  • Takeo started the IJN operation in the Celebes.

  • An invasion fleet under Rear-Admiral Tanaka Raizo, consisting of 3 cruisers and 11 destroyers,

  • escorted the Sasebo Force, consisting of 3200 SNLF marines, while some 762 paratroopers

  • from the Yokosuka Force prepared to be dropped on the Langoan airfield.

  • The main force of Sasebo would land around Manado to envelop the Dutch defenders and

  • capture the town, with another force of 1400 SNLF marines also landing at Kema to help

  • the paratroopers secure the airfield.

  • In the Celebes, Colonel Marinus Vooren had substantial forces under his command, spread

  • across three major areas: Manado, Kendari and Makassar.

  • Manado was defended by around 1500 men under Major Ben Schillmöller, mainly from the National

  • Reserve battalion.

  • In the early morning of January 11, the Sasebo Force came ashore at Manado and Kume, repulsing

  • a small number of Dutch units and heading towards the Langoan airfield.

  • A couple of hours later, the Yokosuka Force was dropped on Langoan, where the paratroopers

  • managed to completely seize the airfield.

  • In response to the strong Japanese attack, the defenders retreated to Tinoör, where

  • they were finally crushed by the SNLF marines by noon.

  • With the fall of Manado, Tomohon and Tondano, Schillmöller had decided by night to retreat

  • with most of his forces to the west towards Amoerang, where he would commence guerrilla

  • warfare.

  • The following day, the Japanese parachuted a company of reinforcements at Manado.

  • Soon, all the Japanese forces made contact at Langoan and captured the city.

  • With Schillmöller's retreat, some scattered Dutch units also started to wage guerrilla

  • warfare, so the Dutch formed in total five guerrilla groups operating separately.

  • This paratroop operation at Manado was the first ever carried out by Japanese forces,

  • and it was a complete success.

  • The Sasebo Force would finally remain in Manado until January 16 to carry out mopping-up operations,

  • although most of the guerrilla groups would manage to escape them.

  • The successful capture of Tarakan and Manado signified the start of the Dutch East Indies

  • campaign, and this was something that deeply concerned the ABDA Command.

  • Yet this week, the Allies had their hands already full in some other regions.

  • In the Philippines, for instance, fighting started in the Abucay Line back on January

  • 9, when General Homma sent the 65th Independent Mixed Brigade and the 7th Tank Regiment to