The Allied Defense of the Malay Barrier, 1941–1942

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About the Book

Though few realize it, the Netherlands East Indies were the object of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Likewise, their invasions of Guam, Wake Island and the Philippines were mainly diversionary operations to safeguard their main assault on Dutch and British colonies. Since the end of World War I, Japan had coveted the vast East Indies oil reserves, and the colony had feared invasion since Germany overran Holland in May 1940. Isolated politically the weakly defended archipelago was a tempting prize.
The East Indies government initially maintained a strict policy of neutrality while desperately working to build up its military strength. As Japanese actions pushed the region toward war, the Dutch reluctantly embraced closer ties with America and Britain. For a brief period, the East Indies were key players in Pacific War strategy. This book details for the first time in English the Dutch prewar strategy, their efforts to counter Japanese espionage and their sizable though largely forgotten military contribution in the early months of the Pacific War.

About the Author(s)

Tom Womack is a marketing consultant who lives in Dallas, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Womack
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 368
Bibliographic Info: 76 photos, 23 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6293-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2267-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments 1

Abbreviations and Acronyms 3

Introduction 5

1. Trade Wars 8

2. Build-Up to War 15

3. Spies, Lies and Secret Ties 21

4. On the Edge of Darkness 30

5. The Fleet Plan of 1940 39

6. The East Indies Squadron 47

7. The MLD 66

8. Command and Control 76

9. The Deployment of Force Z 82

10. The Japanese Land 90

11. The Formation of ABDA 99

12. Japan Declares War 108

13. Balikpapan and Sinkawang II 115

14. The Japanese Move South 122

15. The Formation of the Combined Striking Force 132

16. The Battle of Banka Strait 141

17. The Inglorious End of ABDA 152

18. The Destruction of Port Darwin 158

19. Fire in the Night: The Loss of Bali and Timor 169

20. The Japanese Move Against Java 179

21. “In the afterlife, Sonny” 188

22. “We spanked the Japs … and we’ll do it again!” 195

23. “We will lead you to the enemy” 202

24. The Battle Begins 207

25. The Withdrawal of Exeter 215

26. “Bravely but not very skillfully” 222

27. Aftermath 233

28. Hopeless Fights 241

29. The Final Line of Defense 254

30. Evacuation 267

31. The Evacuation of Tandjoeng Priok 284

32. “What art thou Faustus, but a man condemned to die?” 294

Chapter Notes 313

Bibliography 343

Index 351

Book Reviews & Awards

“Well-written…details many aspects of the East Indies campaign never before written about in English…wonderful detailed-laden charts and photos…an exceptional and comprehensive book…an important contribution to English language literature on the Dutch East Indies in the 20th century…essential…highly recommended”—Combined Fleet.