ABDA Naval Battles

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Pips
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ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 05 Oct 2009 08:25

The sea battles around the Dutch East Indies in 1942 were among some of the most fiercely fought during WWII. And yet, from what I can determine, among the least documented in book form, except for the Battle Of The Java Sea.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I have found seven seperate actions in which the ABDA naval forces were involved, namely:
The Battle off Balikpapan, 23-24 January, 1942
The Battle of Makassar Strait, 3-4 February, 1942
The Battle of Palembang, 15 February 1942
The Battle of Badung Strait, 19–20 February 1942
The Battle of the Java Sea, 27 February 1942
The Battle of Sunda Strait, 28 February -1 March 1942
The Second Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942

Would anyone perchance have a complete OOB of ships involved on both sides? I'm particulary interested in any information on the seven PT Boats that were supposedly present at the Battle of Badubg Strait. Also any book suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)

A final question if I may. HMAS Hobart (same crusier class as HMAS Perth) was part of the ADBA forces, but due to refuelling problems it did not sail with the rest of the fleet on it's fateful rendevous at the Battle Of the Java Sea. Does anyone know when it left the NEI and by what route?

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mescal
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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by mescal » 05 Oct 2009 09:14

Hello,

Many order of battles are available on the navweaps OOB pages.

From memory, Paul Dull’s Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy has pretty good information on the war in the NEI.

HMAS Hobart left the area just after the Java Sea battle (28th Feb), apparently she sailed through the Sunda Strait towards Ceylon, and in March she transferred to Australia (under refit in Sydney in April).

Cf. this excerpt from naval-history.net
25th Deployed with HM Cruisers DANAE, DRAGON, HM Destroyers SCOUT and TENEDOS
in Western Striking Force when HM Cruisers EXETER and PERTH (RAN) transferred
to Soerabaya.
Remained with HM Cruisers DANAE, DRAGCN, HM Destroyers SCOUT and TENEDOS
in the Western Striking Force when HM Australian Cruisers EXETER and PERTH transferred
to Soerabaya.
(Note: Ship did not sail with Western Striking Force because delay in refuelling from
RFA WAR SIDAR.)
26th Carried cut unsuccessful search with HM Cruisers DANAE and DRAGON for Japanese fleet
reported in South China Sea heading for western Sumatra.
27th Carried out offensive sweep through Sunda Strait with HMS DANAE, DRAGON and destroyers.
28th As no enemy force was sighted took passage to Trincomalee since no fuel was available and air
support was available
Destroyers diverted to Padang to embarked refugees from Singpare for passage to Ceylon
Olivier

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Pips
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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 05 Oct 2009 10:09

Thanks for that info on Hobart's escape Mescal. Very interesting that she managed to pass safely through the Sunda Strait, whereas the Houston and Perth (travelling later in the day I gather) ran into Japanese forces.

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Martti » 05 Oct 2009 19:06

Some more links:

http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/ - mostly ships and equipment, but also battles (in specials -section)
http://combinedfleet.com/battles/Java_Campaign - short overviews
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/U ... index.html - RN history
http://www.geocities.com/dutcheastindies/ - overall view on the Dutch East Indies 1941-1942

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by cstunts » 05 Oct 2009 19:47

Hello,

OOB are not too hard to come by; if, rather than compiling yet another list, you can actually determine what each vessel involved was up to, then you will have made a far more valuable contribution to the history of this campaign...I say this only because there is still so much confusion and darkness in many aspects.

The confusion and impotence of Hobart & the Western Striking Force on Feb 26/27/28 is instructive re the entire campaign, frankly. Half-hearted and inconclusive sweeps were made into the Java Sea on the 26/27/28th. Hobart & co. departed early on the 28th, and quickly turned up through Sunda Strait, noting wreckage & debris from other sinkings in the waterway; she then cleared the Strait about 9AM and headed N. for Padang. The Japanese Western Force invasion convoy(s) would have been quite some distance away at that time, and no IJN units had penetrated the Strait yet (AFAIK)--although her planes were overhead much of the time...

For what its worth, ABDA had technically ceased to exist by the time of the Battles of the Java Sea (Eastern Striking Force v. IJN), Sunda Strait (Houston & Perth v. IJN), and Cape Puting (Exeter, Encounter, Pope v. IJN). This is not to say that the NEI Campaign doesn't deserve far more serious attention. It does, and will be getting it.

IMHO works by Walter Winslow, Dwight Messimer, David Thomas, J. Daniel Mullin, Duane Schultz, Kroese, & Kemp Tolley--just to name a handful-- in addition to Paul Dull, are worth reading if you are seriously interested in the NEI Campaign. The newest work that contains previously unknown material is Kehn's A Blue Sea of Blood (Zenith Press, 2008), concerning the loss of Langley, Pecos, Edsall, and Modjokerto on 1 March in the Indian Ocean. Bill Bartsch's new book Every Day A Nightmare, to be published in 2010, I think, will cover the USAAF air campaign for the East Indies.

I know that there are several good, established naval historians working on projects dealing with this campaign, so
keep your eyes open over the next few years. I suspect a renaissance of works on the NEI in WWII, with a multitude of new sources being utilized, is not far off...

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 05 Oct 2009 23:57

Thanks for the replies guys, I appreciate it.

I have several of the books by the author's mentioned, but have found that none (to date) provide an all-emcompassing view of ALL the actions (and day to day activities) involved in this very confusing, mixup campaign. Perhaps finding one such is just wishful thinking on my part.

Good to know though that several historians are looking to delve more deeply into this period. It really does warrant such investigation.

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by David Reasoner » 06 Oct 2009 21:36

Pips wrote:I'm particularly interested in any information on the seven PT Boats that were supposedly present at the Battle of Badoeng Strait. Also any book suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)
To quote from Tom Womack's "Battle of Badoeng Strait: World War II Naval Duel off Bali":

http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-bad ... f-bali.htm

"With his forces so badly scattered, Dutch Rear Adm. Karel W. Doorman could do little when he received word that the Japanese were on the move. Still, once air reconnaissance confirmed that the convoy's destination was Bali, Doorman ordered his ships to raise steam and make for Badoeng Strait while he formulated a battle plan. Unavoidably, it was a bad plan, dictated by grim necessity. Because time was critical, Doorman could not group his widely scattered ships into a single force. As a result, his attack would have to consist of three elements beginning from three different points around Java and southern Sumatra. The ensuing clash has been called both the Battle of Badoeng Strait and the Battle of Lombok Strait.

The first wave, consisting of De Ruyter and Java with their destroyers, left Tjilitjap on the evening of February 18. Bad luck struck immediately when Kortenaer temporarily lost rudder control and ran aground in Tjilitjap's treacherous, narrow harbor channel. The destroyer could not be pulled off until the morning tide came in, and then was forced to sail to Soerabaja for repairs. Unable to wait, Doorman continued on with only Piet Hein, Pope and John D. Ford to screen his cruisers.

The second wave consisted of the American 58th Destroyer Division, under the command of Commander T.H. Binford, and the Dutch light cruiser Tromp. Stewart, Parrott, John D. Edwards and Pillsbury had orders to leave Ratai Bay at full speed and join Tromp at Soerabaja. They joined the light cruiser on the 18th, and the force sortied that afternoon.
The third wave consisted of seven Dutch motor torpedo boats (MTBs). Eight were originally detailed to participate in the attack, but while leaving Soerabaja, MTB-6 hit a buoy, forcing her into dry dock. That left torpedo boats MTB-4, -5, -7, -9, -10, -11 and -12 to carry on. They departed Soerabaja on the morning of February 19, headed for Pangpang Bay on Java's east coast. There, they refueled from the Dutch minelayer Krakatau and then covered the short distance from Java to Bali."

...major portion of article removed for brevity...

"Heading west-southwest, Arashio and Michishio plowed into the middle of this haphazard formation and immediately found themselves in a tight spot. John D. Edwards and Stewart were to starboard, with Tromp and Pillsbury to port. At 2:47 a.m., Stewart opened her searchlights and launched torpedoes, followed by gunfire. Taking fire on both port and starboard, Michishio veered hard to starboard to escape Stewart's searchlight. Attempting to turn north, Michishio ran into a rain of shells from John D. Edwards, which crippled her. With her engine room wrecked, Michishio went dead in the water with 96 killed and wounded. She was raked several more times as the remaining ABDA ships passed by.

After that brief engagement, both sides continued on their respective courses at high speed. The Allies were through and showed no inclination to finish off the crippled Michishio as they withdrew. The Japanese continued searching to the south for more enemy ships. Approximately three hours later, the seven Dutch MTBs came up the strait. They split into a group of three boats, which came in close to shore, and a second group of four, which came in about four miles out. Despite seeing signs of a heated battle during their approach, the MTBs encountered no ships in the strait.

One of the boats reported a ship to the south, but was unable to close as it retired at high speed. Because the low profile of the MTBs resulted in a poor field of vision, they were able to see little else. They then returned to Pangpang Bay and refueled from Krakatau before heading home to Soerabaja."

For technical details on the TM4 class MTBs themselves:

http://www.warshipsww2.eu/lode.php?lang ... dtrida=910

http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/TM4class.htm

David

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by cstunts » 06 Oct 2009 22:10

Hello,

Pips wrote: "I have several of the books by the author's mentioned, but have found that none (to date) provide an all-emcompassing view of ALL the actions (and day to day activities) involved in this very confusing, mixup campaign. Perhaps finding one such is just wishful thinking on my part."

Nope, no such single work exists...yet. However, having multiple books is more enjoyable anyway!

But, keep your eyes (and wallet) open; I'm pretty sure more will be forthcoming. :wink:

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 07 Oct 2009 07:15

Excellent David, many thanks for postig that snippet! :D

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Oct 2009 01:03

I'd recomend adding to your list 'Ship of Ghosts' by Hornfischer. It has several chapters on the ADBA fight from the perspective of the USN Houston (a heavy cruiser). It has the best analysis of the battle of the Sunda strait I've read.

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by daisy1942 » 06 Sep 2021 23:54

Hi Mescal,

I have only recently joined this site and I am interested in the comment you made in your post dated5/10/2008 "Destroyers diverted to Padang to embarked refugees from Singapore for passage to Ceylon".. Are you aware of any lists of these refugees? Do they survive and where I might be able to access them? My father in law might be listed amongst them

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 07 Sep 2021 01:32

Bought an excellent book that does an admirable job of describing all the naval actions that occurred around the Dutch East Indies in 1941-2. Nicely balanced with not only the sea battles covered in detail from both sides, but also provides detailed background of the participants and the machinations that affected/impacted upon such a diverse of nationalities.

It's titled "Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II", by Jeffrey Cox. Highly recommended.

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by jwsleser » 08 Oct 2021 17:16

A better book than Cox's is Womack's The Allied Defense of the Malay Barrier 1941-1942. It is my go to book on the naval battles of the campaign, especially for the excellent information on the Dutch.
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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by Pips » 09 Oct 2021 00:58

Slowly building up a nice library of books that deal with the Dutch East Indies Campaign, and working my way through them.

ABDA. Unsuccessful Band Of Brothers, by Steven Shepard LCDR USN
A Blue Sea Of Blood, by Donald M. Kehn
Cruiser, The Life And Loss Od HMAS Perth, by Mike Carlton
Every day A Nightmare, by William Bartsch
Out Of The Smoke, By Ray Parkin
Rising Sun, Falling Skies, By Jeffrey Cox
Ship Of Ghosts, by James D. Hornfischer
The Allied Defence Of The Malay Barrier, by Tom Womack
The Dutch Naval Air Force Against Japan, by Tom Womack
The Fleet The Gods Forgot, by W.G Winslow
The Ghost That Died At Sunda Strait, by W.G. Winslow
The Operations of the Navy in the Dutch East Indies and the Bay of Bengal, Edited by Willem Remmelink
plus several Osprey books on the subject.

Only other one I have on my list to buy, but haven't gotten around to it as yet, is "The Last Stand of the Asiatic Fleet" by David DuBois

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Re: ABDA Naval Battles

Post by jwsleser » 09 Oct 2021 03:32

You need to find a copy of Jungslager's Forlorn Hope. I am planning on writing a review of the book, just haven't done so as of yet. It is a book of the NEI campaign I thought didn't exist, covering all three elements land, sea, and air.

Pista! Jeff
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