Chronology Netherlands East Indies Campaign

The campaign to conquer the Netherlands East Indies began on December 7, 1941 and lasted officially until March 8, 1942 when the Dutch Army in Java surrendered. However, units on Sumatra and Timor carried on the fight, in the last case until well into 1943!


  • Dec. 8, 1941 Initial Japanese attacks on airfields in the Philippines and Singapore. Japanese forces land on Malay Peninsula.
  • Dec. 10, 1941 Japanese aircraft sink HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse. Initial landing of Japanese forces on the north coast of the island of Luzon.
  • Dec. 12, 1941 Japanese forces drive British defenders onto Hong Kong Island. Japanese land on southern Luzon.
  • Dec. 12, 1941 Australian ‘Sparrow Force’ arrives  at Kupang, Timor
  • Dec. 15, 1941 Elements of KNIL and ‘Sparrow Force’ land at Dili, Portuguese Timor
  • Dec. 16, 1941 Japanese forces land on Sarawak (the northern part of island shared with Borneo).
  • Dec. 19, 1941 Japanese forces land on Hong Kong Island.
  • Dec. 20, 1941 Japanese forces land at Davao, on the south coast of the Island of Mindanao, the Philippines.
  • Dec. 22, 1941 Japanese forces land at Lingayen Gulf, western Luzon, with a straight shot to Manila, the capital.
  • Dec. 23, 1941 Dutch Dornier flying boats attack Davao.
  • Dec. 25, 1941 Hong Kong surrenders to Japanese. Japanese land on southern Sarawak and occupy Jolo, a small island between Mindanao and Sarawak.
  • Dec. 27, 1941 General MacArthur declares Manila an open city.
  • Dec. 29, 1941 ABDACOM established, with British General Archibald Wavell in command.

January 1942

  • Jan. 1, 1942 US troops withdraw from rest of Luzon to the Bataan Peninsula.
  • Jan. 4, 1942 Japanese Naval air forces attack Rabaul, New Britain.
  • Jan. 7, 1942 Japanese air raid on Ceram, north of Timor.
  • Jan. 8, 1942 Japanese invade northern Borneo.
  • Jan. 10, 1942 Japanese invade north-east Borneo.
  • Jan. 11, 1942 Japanese invade north-east tip of Celebes at Menado.
  • Jan. 12, 1942 Major Japanese daylight air raid on Singapore.
  • Jan. 20, 1942 Japanese carrier airstrike at Rabaul.
  • Jan. 22, 1942 Japanese carrier airstrike atPort Moresby, southern New Guinea.
  • Jan 23, 1942 Japanese land forces invade Rabaul.
  • Jan. 23, 1942 Japanese forces land on south-eastern Celebes.
  • Jan. 24, 1942 Japanese forces invade Balikpapan, Borneo. First U.S. P-40 fighters arrive in Java.
  • Jan. 26, 1942 Japanese airstrikes at Timor and Ambon, U.S. forces retreat to Bataan Peninsula.
  • Jan. 27, 1942 RAF Hurricanes fly from HMS Indomitable to Java.
  • Jan. 29, 1942 Japanese forces invade Pontianak on Borneo west coast, just south of the current border with Malaysia.
  • Jan. 30, 1942 Japanese forces invade Ceram.
  • Jan. 31, 1942 British forces abandon Malaya and retreat to Singapore.

February 1942

  •  Feb. 3, 1942 Japanese air raids on Surabaya; Dutch fighters stationed in eastern Java suffer heavy losses.
  • Feb. 4, 1942 Crated British Hurricanes delivered to Java by surface vessels. Japanese aircraft attack Allied Naval force and damage two U.S. cruisers.
  • Feb. 5, 1942. Major Japanese air attack on Surabaya. Dutch fighters on eastern Java overwhelmed by enemy.
  • Feb. 6, 1942 Major Japanese air attack on southern Sumatra.
  • Feb. 7, 1942 Renewed heavy Japanese air attack on southern Sumatra.
  • Feb. 8, 1942 Japanese forces invade Singapore Island. Japanese forces invade Macassar on south western Celebes. Japanese forces invade southern New Britain.
  • Feb. 9, 1942 Japanese occupy Celebes. Japanese air raids on western Java.
  • Feb. 10, 1942 Japanese forces complete occupation of Borneo.
  • Feb. 13, 1942 Singapore evacuation begins. Japanese invasion fleet off Sumatra shores.
  • Feb. 14, 1942 Japanese paratroopers land near Palembang P1 airfield, Sumatra.
  • Feb. 15, 1942 Singapore surrenders.
  • Feb. 16, 1942 Evacuation of Sumatra begins. Japanese bombers attack Allied relief convoy from Darwin, headed for Timor; all transports damaged and convoy returned to base.
  • Feb. 18, 1942 Japanese air attacks on eastern Java.
  • Feb. 19, 1942 Japanese air attacks on western Java. Darwin port and airfield devasteted by Japanese air strikes, Japanese invade Bali and Timor with paratroopers and amphibious troops.
  • Feb. 20, 1942 U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington, en-route to Rabaul, repulses Japanese air raids but abandons Rabaul attack.
  • Feb. 23, 1942 ‘Sparrow Force’ on Timor surrenders to Japanese forces; In Washington, Combined Chiefs decide on a last-ditch defence of Java, with no withdrawal of forces from the island.
  • Feb. 25, 1942 ABDACOM dissolved; General Wavell leaves Java, command handed over to Dutch forces.
  • Feb. 27, 1942 Battle of Java Sea, Allied Combined Striking Force annihilated. USS Langley, first ever US Navy carrier, now a seaplane tender, sunk by Japanese planes while ferrying 32 P-40s to Java. Severe loss of life, P-40 pilots and groundcrew, due to sinking of rescueing vessels by Japanese naval units
  • Feb. 28, 1942 Battle of Sunda Strait, cruisers Perth and Houston  sunk. 4 Japanese transports lost due to ´friendly fire´

March 1942

  • Mar. 1, 1942 Japanese invasion of Java. Landings onWest Java (Merak, Bantam Bay,  Eretan Wetan) and East Java (Kragan)
  • Mar. 2, 1942 Surviving USAAF personnel evacuated from Jogjarkata to Broome, Australia, on overloaded B-17s and LB-30s.
  • Mar. 3, 1942 Japanese fighters attack  Broome, Australia, 22 multi engined airplanes destroyed with massive loss of life, one Japanese fighter shot down
  • Mar. 8, 1942 Dutch army in Java surrenders.
  • Mar. 12, 1942 Japanese troops from Singapore capture Medan in northern Sumatra.
  • Mar. 15, 1942 Surviving KNIL forces on Timor meet with ‘survivors of ‘Sparrow Force’, decide to start guerrilla campaign against Japanese troops
  • Mar 29, 1942 Remaining Dutch Forces in Sumatra surrender
  • Apr. 9, 1942 U.S. and Philippine Army forces surrender on Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, the Philippines.
  • April 19, 1942 ‘Sparrow Force’ commandos in Timor re-establish radio contact with Australian command using ‘home built’ radio set
  • April 20, first replenishment droppings for ‘Sparrow Force’in Timor
  • Jun. 9, 1942 Last U.S.-Philippine force surrenders at Samar.
  • Jun. 12, 1942 General Douglas MacArthur decides to continue the guerrilla campaign on Timor A
  • ugust 10, 1942 Japanese 48th Division moves in strength against ‘Sparrow Force’ guerrillas in Central Timor
  • Feb. 10,1943 Evacuation of last guerrilla force from Timor, ending Allied operations in the Netherlands East Indies

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