|Borneo campaign (1945)|
|Part of World War II|
A map showing the progress of the Borneo campaign
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|2,100 casualties||4,700 casualties|
The Borneo campaign of 1945 was the last major Allied campaign in the South West Pacific Area during World War II to liberate the-Japanese held British Borneo and Dutch Borneo. In a series of amphibious assaults between 1 May and 21 July, the Australian I Corps, under Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, attacked Imperial Japanese forces occupying the island. Allied naval and air forces, centred on the U.S. 7th Fleet under Admiral Thomas Kinkaid, the Australian First Tactical Air Force and the U.S. Thirteenth Air Force also played important roles in the campaign. They were resisted by Imperial Japanese Navy and Army forces in southern and eastern Borneo, under Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada, and in the north west by the Thirty-Seventh Army, led by Lieutenant-General Masao Baba.
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The plans for the Allied attacks were known collectively as Operation Oboe.The invasion of Borneo was the second stage of Operation Montclair, which was aimed at destroying Imperial Japanese forces in, and re-occupying the Dutch East Indies, Kingdom of Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, British North Borneo and the southern Philippines. Borneo in particular was considered at the time a strategic location for its natural resource; oil and rubber. The Borneo campaign was criticised in Australia at the time and in subsequent years, as pointless or a "waste" of the lives of soldiers especially following the first operation in Tarakan. Modern historians such as Max Hastings have said that attacking these forces, already cut off from Japan, was a waste of resources.
Operation Montclair was a military operation during the Second World War. The final version of the outline plan originally called Operation Princeton, it outlined plans to recapture the Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines, Borneo and the Dutch East Indies.
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony consisting of what is now Indonesia. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800.
The Kingdom of Sarawak was a British protectorate located in the northwestern part of the island of Borneo. It was established as an independent kingdom from a series of land concessions acquired by an Englishman, James Brooke, from the Sultanate of Brunei. The kingdom received recognition as an independent state from the United States in 1850, and from the United Kingdom in 1864.
"Any rational strategic judgment would have left them to their own devices screened by token allied forces until their nation's defeat enforced their surrender".
It has been argued that the campaign did, however, achieve a number of objectives, such as increasing the isolation of significant Japanese forces occupying the main part of the Dutch East Indies, capturing major oil supplies, and freeing Allied prisoners of war, who were being held in increasingly worse conditions in the Sandakan camp and Batu Lintang camp.The initial Allied plan comprised six stages: Operation Oboe 1 was to be an attack on Tarakan; Oboe 2 against Balikpapan; Oboe 3 against Banjarmasin; Oboe 4 against Surabaya or Batavia (Jakarta); Oboe 5 against the eastern Netherlands East Indies; and Oboe 6 against British North Borneo (Sabah). In the end only the operations against Tarakan, Balikpapan and British Borneo—at Labuan and Brunei Bay—took place. The campaign opened with Oboe 1 by a landing on the small island of Tarakan, off the north east coast on 1 May 1945 using Australian built MKIII folboats. Small parties paddled in the Tarakan region to obtain useful information and observe the Djoeta oilfields prior to an invasion. On 29 May 1945, The Oboe 6 party, including Sergeant J Wong Sue, was inserted into Kimanis Bay, British North Borneo for close reconnoitreing work using a Hoehn military folboat deployed from a Catalina aircraft.
The Sandakan camp, also known as Sandakan POW Camp, was a prisoner-of-war camp established during World War II by the Japanese in Sandakan in the Malaysian state of Sabah. This site has gained notoriety as the Sandakan Death Marches started from here. Now, part of the former site houses the Sandakan Memorial Park.
Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Sarawak on the island of Borneo was a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War. It was unusual in that it housed both Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and civilian internees. The camp, which operated from March 1942 until the liberation of the camp in September 1945, was housed in buildings that were originally British Indian Army barracks. The original area was extended by the Japanese, until it covered about 50 acres. The camp population fluctuated, due to movement of prisoners between camps in Borneo, and as a result of the deaths of the prisoners. It had a maximum population of some 3,000 prisoners.
The Battle of Tarakan was the first stage in the Borneo campaign of 1945. It began with an amphibious landing by Australian forces on 1 May, code-named Operation Oboe One. While the battle ended with success for the Allied forces over the Japanese defenders, this victory is generally regarded as having not justified its costs.
On 10 June 1945, Oboe 6 subsequently followed with simultaneous assaults on the island of Labuan and the coast of Brunei in the north west of Borneo.A week later, the Australians followed up with attacks on Japanese positions around Weston on the north-eastern part of Brunei Bay. The attention of the Allies then switched back to the central east coast, with Oboe 2. The last major amphibious assault of World War II was at Balikpapan on 1 July 1945. These operations ultimately constituted the last campaigns of Australian forces in the war against Japan.
Weston is a town on the west coast of the state of Sabah in Malaysia. It is located in the Interior Division of Sabah, and is about 100 kilometres south of Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu. Weston is one of the towns along the Pan Borneo Highway.
Balikpapan is a seaport city on the east coast of the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. Two harbors, Semayang and Kariangau, and Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport are the main transportation ports to the city. Balikpapan is the industrial, transportational, commercial and financial center of Kalimantan. The city has a population of 736,806; making it the second most populous city in East Kalimantan, after Samarinda.
The Battle of North Borneo took place during the Second World War between Allied and Japanese forces. Part of the wider Borneo campaign of the Pacific War, it was fought between 10 June and 15 August 1945 in North Borneo. The battle involved a series of amphibious landings by Australian forces on various points on the mainland around Brunei Bay and upon islands situated around the bay. Japanese opposition to the landings was sporadic initially, although as the campaign progressed a number of considerable clashes occurred and both sides suffered relatively significant casualties. Ultimately, however, the Australians were successful in seizing control of the region, although to a large extent the strategic gains that possession of North Borneo provided the Allies with were ultimately negated by the sudden conclusion of the war in August 1945.
The Battle of Labuan was an engagement fought between Allied and Imperial Japanese forces on the island of Labuan off Borneo during June 1945. It formed part of the Australian invasion of North Borneo, and was initiated by the Allied forces as part of a plan to capture the Brunei Bay area and develop it into a base to support future offensives.
The Battle of Balikpapan was the concluding stage of Operation Oboe. The landings took place on 1 July 1945. The Australian 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades, with KNIL troops, made an amphibious landing, codenamed Operation Oboe Two a few miles north of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. The landing had been preceded by heavy bombing and shelling by Australian and US air and naval forces. The Japanese were outnumbered and outgunned, but like the other battles of the Pacific War, many of them fought to the death.
The Battle of the Java Sea was a decisive naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II.
The Australian First Tactical Air Force was formed on 25 October 1944 by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Its purpose was to provide a mobile force of fighter and ground attack aircraft that could support Allied army and naval units fighting the Empire of Japan in the South West Pacific Area. One of several Allied tactical air forces formed during World War II, it evolved from the RAAF's No. 10 Operational Group, established a year earlier. Following action in the assaults on Aitape and Noemfoor, the group was renamed the First Tactical Air Force to better reflect its size and role. It was beset with morale and leadership issues in early 1945, but recovered to take part in the battles of Tarakan, North Borneo, and Balikpapan. Reaching its peak strength of over 25,000 personnel in July 1945, No. 1 TAF's squadrons operated such aircraft as the P-40 Kittyhawk, Supermarine Spitfire, Bristol Beaufighter, and B-24 Liberator. The formation remained active following the end of hostilities in the Pacific until it was disbanded on 24 July 1946.
No. 16 Air Observation Post Flight was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) unit that saw action in World War II supporting Australian Army operations. It was formed in October 1944 and disbanded in June 1947. The flight was reestablished in September 1958, and was disbanded again in December 1960, when its responsibilities were transferred to a joint Army-RAAF unit.
British Borneo comprised the four northern parts of the island of Borneo, which are now the country of Brunei, two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Malaysian territory of Labuan. During the British colonial rule before World War II, Sarawak was known as the Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946), Sabah was known as North Borneo (1881–1946), and Labuan was known as the Crown Colony of Labuan (1848–1946). Between World War II and their independence from Britain, Sarawak became the Crown Colony of Sarawak (1946–1963) whereas Sabah and Labuan combined to form the Crown Colony of North Borneo (1946–1963). The Kingdom of Brunei (1888/1906-1984) was a protectorate of the United Kingdom since the 1888/1906 Protectorate Agreement, and was known as British Protectorate State of Brunei.
The 2/9th Armoured Regiment was an armoured regiment of the Australian Army. Raised for service during World War II, the regiment was formed in August 1941 and spent most of the war in Australia. It was disbanded in early 1946 after seeing action in the Borneo campaign late in the war.
The 2/9th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment was one of three commando regiments raised by the Australian Army for service during World War II. It was originally raised in 1940 as an armoured cavalry unit as part of the 8th Division, before being transferred to the 9th Division. Between 1941 and 1942 the regiment saw action in the Middle East before being returned to Australia in early 1943. At this time the regiment was re-organised as the administrative headquarters for the 2/4th, 2/11th and 2/12th Commando Squadrons and it was converted into a commando regiment. Later in 1945 the unit saw action during the landings on Tarakan on Borneo before being disbanded upon the cessation of hostilities.
The 2/11th Commando Squadron was a commando unit raised by the Australian Army for service in World War II. Raised in 1944, the unit saw action late in the war against the Japanese during the Borneo campaign in 1945. As a part of this campaign the squadron undertook landings on Labuan Island and at Brunei Bay. Following the end of the war, the squadron returned to Australia and was disbanded in early 1946.
The 2/12th Commando Squadron was a commando unit raised by the Australian Army for service in World War II. Raised in 1944 following a re-organisation of Australia's military forces, the unit participated in the Borneo campaign in 1945 but played only a limited role before hostilities ended. Following the end of the war, the squadron returned to Australia and was disbanded in early 1946.
No. 80 Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing of World War II. The unit was formed on 15 May 1944 and eventually comprised three squadrons equipped with Spitfire fighter aircraft. The wing's headquarters was absorbed into the newly formed No. 11 Group on 30 July 1945.
No. 77 Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing of World War II. It formed part of No. 10 Operational Group at its establishment in November 1943, when it comprised three squadrons equipped with Vultee Vengeance dive bombers. No. 77 Wing commenced operations in early 1944, flying out of Nadzab, Papua New Guinea. Soon afterwards, however, the Vengeance units were withdrawn from combat and replaced with squadrons flying Douglas Bostons, Bristol Beaufighters and Bristol Beauforts. The wing saw action in the assaults on Noemfoor, Tarakan, and North Borneo, by which time it was an all-Beaufighter formation made up of Nos. 22, 30 and 31 Squadrons. It was to have taken part in the Battle of Balikpapan in June 1945, but unsuitable landing grounds meant that the Beaufighter units were withdrawn to Morotai, sitting out the remainder of the war before returning to Australia, where they disbanded, along with the wing headquarters, in 1946.
No. 76 Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing that operated during World War II. Initially based in Far North Queensland, its headquarters transferred to Darwin, Northern Territory, in September 1944 to take control of three PBY Catalina units: Nos. 20, 42, and 43 Squadrons. The prime task of these squadrons was minelaying in the South West Pacific theatre, and they conducted these operations as far afield as Java, Borneo, the Philippines, and China. As well as minelaying, No. 76 Wing's Catalinas flew bombing, patrol, and transport missions, and dropped millions of propaganda leaflets in the closing months of the war. The wing headquarters disbanded in November 1945.
RAAF Command was the main operational arm of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War II. The command was formed in September 1942 and by April 1943 comprised 27 squadrons, including units from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Australia. Coming under the operational authority of Allied Air Forces Headquarters in the South West Pacific Area, RAAF Command exercised control of its units through geographically based area commands in Australia and, later, New Guinea, as well as large mobile formations including the Australian First Tactical Air Force. The command reached a strength of 41 squadrons in October 1944. From the time of its establishment, until its disbandment in September 1945, it was led by Air Vice Marshal Bill Bostock.
The 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion was an infantry support unit of the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force that was raised for service overseas during the Second World War. Formed in mid-1940 in Sydney, from personnel drawn from the states of Queensland and New South Wales, the battalion was allocated to the Australian 9th Division. After completing training in Australia, the battalion operated in the Middle East between early 1941 and early 1943, seeing action against German and Italian forces at the First and Second Battles of El Alamein, and undertaking garrison duties in Syria as part of the Allied garrison that was established there after the Syria–Lebanon campaign.
The Crown Colony of Labuan was a British Crown colony on the northwestern shore of the island of Borneo established in 1848 after the acquisition of the island of Labuan from the Sultanate of Brunei in 1846. Apart from the main island, Labuan consists of six smaller islands; Burung, Daat, Kuraman, Papan, Rusukan Kecil, and Rusukan Besar.
Before the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, the island of Borneo was divided into five territories. Four of the territories were in the north and under British control – Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, an island, and British North Borneo; while the remainder, and bulk, of the island was under the jurisdiction of the Dutch East Indies.
Operation SEMUT was a series of reconnaissance operations carried out by Australia's Z Special Unit during World War II. This operation was the part of the 1945 Borneo Campaign in Sarawak, northwestern Borneo. Another closely related operation codenamed AGAS was carried out concurrently in North Borneo. Both operations combined and relayed their intelligence through the STALLION project to Australian forces and carried out guerilla warfare against the Japanese in the region with the full support of the local population.
Operation Platypus was an operation by Allied special reconnaissance personnel from Z Special Unit during the Borneo Campaign of World War Two. Platypus involved small groups being inserted into the Balikpapan area of Dutch Borneo (Kalimantan), to gather information and organise local people as resistance fighters against the Japanese.
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