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Australian Army Campaign on Borneo
via Australian Army Campaigns

Late in March 1945, planning elements of the 9th Australian Division,commanded by Major-General G F Wootten left the Atherton Tableland in advance of the rest of the division, and emplaned for Morotai. They were followed by 26th Brigade Group, which moved from Australia prepared for an immediate operation-the capture of Tarakan Island, a small island off the east coast of Borneo. The principal object was to capture the airfield for development and use in future operations on the mainland.

Tarakan Island is situated off the delta of Sesa River in north-eastern Borneo. Before the war its oil fields produced yearly 6,000,000 barrels of what was reputed to be the world's purest oil. Fringed with mangrove wamps and a few sandy beaches, it has an interior of rolling wooded hills. The town of Tarakan has for its port Lingkas, on the southwest coast, with docking facilities and a safe harbour. Japanese strength at Tarakan was estimated at between 1500 and 4000 troops including 1000 naval personnel. Subsequent to the landing it was considered that the Japanese force on Tarakan consisted of 1750 combat troops plus 350 Japanese civilians who were impressed for military duty at the time of the landing. The plan envisaged a landing on Tarakan Island by 26th Brigade Group, commanded by Brigadier D A Whitehead. Included under his command were two RAAF Airfield Construction Squadrons, one boat company of US 593 Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, and one company of US 727 Amphibian Tractor Battalion and one company of a Netherlands East Indies infantry Battalion. Transport was supplied by ships of Amphibious Group Six and support by units of Task Group 781 and RAAF Command, with 13th US Army Air Force in support.

It was decided to make the landing at Lingkas beach. This would enable heavy mechanical equipment to be hurried up to the airfield along an existing surfaced road linking the port and field. There were several difficulties to be overcome. In addition to offshore obstacles, the gentle slope of the beach and the depth of mud would not permit the landing of heavy vehicles and guns until pontoon causeways had been placed and extensive beach exits constructed. In order to provide artillery support for the actual landing, the brigade commander decided to land one field battery at Sadau Island the day before the main landing, with a protective force made up of 2/4th Commando Squadron. Sadau Island lies some 6000 yards to the north-west of Lingkas beach. As the island had a good landing beach, no known obstacles and was believed to be very lightly held, little difficulty was expected in landing the battery. In fact, the island was found to be bare of Japanese troops.

In outline the brigade commander's plan was as follows: On P-day minus one day, the landing of the field battery on Sadau Island and the breaching of the beach obstacles by the engineers; on P-day,the name given to the day of the landing) an assault landing by two Battalions,2/23rd and 2/48th); 2/24th Battalion and the remainder of the force to be on call. Mine sweeping was to be undertaken during the four days before the operation. It was anticipated that the Japanese would endeavour to use burning oil in his defence of the beaches, but systematic bombing destroyed or breached every oil tank on the island.

P-day was originally fixed for 2g-April but was postponed to the1 May because of more favourable tides. Rehearsals for the operation were held at Morotai and on Kokoja Island off the coast. On 26-April the force allotted for the Sadau Island landing and the breaching of the obstacles sailed from Morotai followed the next day by the main assault convoy. It was not troubled by Japanese aircraft, and the only attempted naval interference was one submarine,which was believed to have been sunk on the night before the main landing) and shore-based torpedoes fired into the transport area early on P-day. One of these torpedoes grazed a ship but did not explode.

The landing at Sadau Island went according to plan, and in three hours the guns of a battery of 2/7th Field Regiment were firing in support of the engineers at Lingkas. The breaching of the obstacles at Lingkas was a triumph for the sappers. Demolition parties drawn from 2/l3th Field Company were given the task of making eight 30-foot gaps in four rows of underwater obstacles on Red and Green beaches, to let the assault troops through; and four 60-foot gaps on Yellow Beach for the passage of LSTs. Two breaching operations were made on the morning and afternoon of the day before the landings. The sappers moved to the beaches in L.C.V.Ps and LVTs and struggled waist-deep through mud to place their charges. Detachments from 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion acted as gun crews on the LVTs, and covering fire was also given by 25 pounders from Sadau Island and warships Smoke-laying aircraft were also used. Despite the heavy mud and sporadic sniping and mortar fire from the shore, the task was successfully carried out and the thoroughly exhausted sappers were evacuated without casualty. This achievement was one of the most vital contributing factors to the success of the whole operation.

On P-day, for an hour and a half, from first light, cruisers and destroyers poured shells into the beach area. From the land came flashes as rocket-firing gunboats ran close inshore to cover the assault craft, while four flights of heavy bombers dropped their bombs along the foreshore. On both beaches the leading waves of the assault Battalions moved through the gaps in the obstacles to land practically dry-shod. There was no opposition from the beach itself or within the limits of the first objective. It was apparent that the Japanese had withdrawn inland, although he could obviously have put up a very effective resistance to the landing on the beach itself from strongly built concrete pillboxes dug into the embankment.

Within an hour of landing 2/48th Battalion struck some slight opposition on the feature immediately north-east of Lingkas tank farm, but continued to advance and secured its portion of the covering position later in the day. Stiff resistance held up 2/23rd Battalion on a ridge north-west of Milko, which was captured the next day. This enabled the Battalion to advance northward and eastward, one company overcoming Japanese resistance in the King's Goss area. By nightfall on the second day, apart from isolated pockets, the only part of the covering position not held was Hospital Ridge, where the Japanese were strongly entrenched in bunkers and tunnels. This hold-up seriously affected the development of the beach maintenance area, as the road to the north of the contested feature was needed to complete a traffic circuit. The same day 2/48th Battalion occupied Lyons. Against some opposition 2/24th Battalion advanced rapidly through Sturt, Wills, Frank and Essex, making successful use of tanks and flame-throwers. Many mines and booby-traps were encountered-on a far greater scale than previously encountered by Australian troops in the Pacific theatre-and in addition to a bomb-disposal platoon, sappers and RAAF engineers were kept busy clearing mined areas.

In the airfield area the going was hard owing to the terrain, stiff resistance, and the great number of mines and booby traps. One company overcame these difficulties and occupied Airstrip Ridge. Another company cleared Anzac Highway, where the Japanese ineffectively fired oil in a ditch as a defensive measure. In the Peningki-Baroe area two tanks silenced a troublesome nest of heavy and light machine guns which had menaced vehicles moving along a section of Anzac Highway. The Japanese fought desperately and the position was not finally cleared out until the next day. The 2/48th Battalion had patrols advancing on Peter, Sykes and Butch. It was at Sykes that the Japanese made one of his strongest counterattacks, but "C" Company held the ridge. The main feature in the centre of Tarakan township was strongly attacked by 2/4th Commando Squadron and occupied after two days' heavy fighting. Hospital Ridge was finally cleared on the third day, tanks assisting the infantry. This completed the occupation of the covering position, and opened up Collins Highway as a traffic circuit. On the same day, Brigadier Whitehead obtained approval to withdraw 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion from 2nd Beach Group to relieve 2/23rd Battalion, which then moved to the airfield area and came in contact with the Japanese to the east and north-east.

In the afternoon a patrol of 2/24th Battalion worked round to the west of Rippon, the dominating feature north of the airfield, and reported that the Japanese had apparently abandoned it after two days of heavy artillery fire, giving the Australian control of the airfield. Work began immediately to clear the field of bombs and mines in preparation for the use of mechanical equipment. This ended the first phase of the operation, after four days of hard fighting. The next phase began with 2/4th Commando Squadron and 2/48th Battalion advancing in conjunction to clear the features Jones, Peter and Otway, and the low ground between Otway and the Tarakan feature. A simultaneous attack was then made on the high ground, the commandos moving along Snags Track to reach the objective without opposition; but 2/48th's northward thrust was stopped at a difficult point along the ridge leading to the objective. After patrolling the area for some days, the Battalion outflanked the Japanese positions and in the subsequent attack occupied the ridge.

At the same time 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion advanced with two companies eastward along John's Track and found Japanese positions in depth on each side. Persistent attacks by the pioneers, supported by heavy artillery and naval concentrations and Napalm bomb air strikes, had their reward on 14-May when the features Helen and Sadie were occupied. At the same time elements of the pioneers reached the coast and seized the Japanese defences. In the fight for the Helen feature the Victoria Cross was posthumously won by Corporal John Bernard Mackey. The citation for his award states that:

Corporal Mackey was in charge of a section of the 2/3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion in the attack on the feature known as Helen, East of Tarakan town. Led by Corporal Mackey the section moved along a narrow spur with scarcely width for more than one man when it came under fire from three well-sited positions near the top of a very steep, razor-backed ridge. The ground fell away almost sheer on each side of the track making it almost impossible to move to a flank so Corporal Mackey led his men forward. He charged the first Light machine-gun position but slipped and after wrestling with one enemy, bayoneted him, and charged straight on to the Heavy Machine-Gun which was firing from a bunker position six yards to his right. He rushed this post and killed the crew with grenades.

He then jumped back and changing his rifle for a sub-machine-gun he attacked further up the steep slope another Light Machine-Gun position which was firing on his platoon. Whilst charging, he fired his gun and reached within a few feet of the enemy position when he was killed by Light Machine-Gun fire but not before he had killed two more enemy. By his exceptional bravery and complete disregard for his own life, Corporal Mackey was largely responsible for the killing of seven Japanese and the elimination of two machine-gun posts, which enabled his platoon to gain its objective, from which the Company continued to engage the enemy. His fearless action and outstanding courage were an inspiration to the whole battalion. (London Gazette: 8 November 1945.)

Patrols of 2/24th Battalion fanned out over a wide area to the west, north and east. Within four days one platoon had penetrated along the Anzac Highway as far as Djoeata, where they encountered Japanese troops but cleared the village without much trouble. The Netherlands infantry company had advanced southward along the road from Peningki area to Karoengan and by 10 May had reached the sawmills at Karoengan without seeing the Japanese. This meant that the right flank was clear from District IV to Karoengan. On 13-May the company landed at Cape Pasir jetty without opposition and cleared the features Spike, Spear and Peach. Sixteen days after the landing the Australian forces had cut through to the east coast, the Netherlands East Indies troops occupied the southern peninsula, and two-thirds of the island, including the Pamoesian and Djoeata oil fields, was in Australian hands.

At this stage a policy of extensive patrolling and ambushes coupled with harassing fire had the effect of confining Japanese activities to very definite and limited areas, and threatening his freedom of movement above ground. A feature of the attacks on Japanese strongholds was the co-operation and accuracy of supporting aircraft and artillery, and naval bombardment. In particular the dropping of inflammable belly tanks on Japanese positions proved very effective as large burnt-out patches in vacated areas testified. At night the Japanese employed infiltration attacks extensively. Small parties, usually armed with explosives, endeavoured to pierce Australian lines with the intention of damaging installations, but they had very little success. Japanese positions were steadily and progressively overcome, and by the end of May the Japanese had been beaten back to the Fukukaku positions. On 30-May the brigade came under direct command of First Corps, as the 9th Division was about to undertake the invasion of the Brunei Bay area on the north-west coast.

After a period of softening up a general advance began in all sectors on 14-June. The main drive from the south-west by 2/23rd Battalion penetrated the area, while co-ordinated attacks from the north-west by 2/24th Battalion and from the south-east by 2/48th Battalion cleaned out remaining Japanese positions. By the evening of the Is-June the Fukukaku area was completely over-run and mopping up was almost complete. Organised resistance by the Japanese as a force was ended and survivors retreated in independent groups to the north and the north-east. The remaining Japanese were hunted by patrols, and many were captured attempting to leave by improvised rafts.

On the morning of 27-June a colourful religious ceremony was held in the Pamoesian oil fields at the first pump to be restored. In accordance with the native practice a cow was slaughtered and its head buried near the pump house, the object of this being to bury all the evil spirits and ensure that no bad accidents occurred in the field. Shortly after 10 am on 29-June, the first plane-excluding the tiny Auster reconnaissance aircraft-landed on the Croydon strip, to be followed during the day by twenty Kittyhawks. Next day twelve Spitfires arrived, while two Lightnings, which had been providing air cover for the great 7th Division convoy en route to Balikpapan came in to refuel. In two months of unrelenting fighting 26th Brigade had achieved its main objects, and by 31 July, 1499 Japanese dead had been counted, with an estimated additional dead of 235. Guerrilla forces dispatched thirty-nine and 314 had been taken prisoner, a total of 2087.

The cost to Australian forces, however, had been considerable. The killed, (including Lt T C Derrick, VC, DCM of 2/48th Battalion) totalled 233, wounded 644, while 1434 had been evacuated through sickness.

North Borneo
The next task of the 9th Division was to capture and hold the Brunei Bay-Miri-Seria area of North Borneo to permit the establishment of an advanced fleet base in Brunei Bay, to recover and protect the oil and rubber resources there and re-establish British Government control in the occupied areas. The operation was to be carried out by the division, less the 26th Brigade. Placed under command were certain corps, British and US troops, and units of the RAAF and US Air Force and Navy. The landing in the Muara-Brooketon area was to be made by 20th Brigade,commanded by Brigadier W J V Windeyer) with 24th Brigade,Brigadier S H W C Porter) making a simultaneous landing on Labuan Island, prior to operations on the nearby mainland.

Brunei Bay The embarkation of the force called for considerable organisation. In all, five convoys left ports in the Philippines and Halmaheras to converge on Brunei Bay. The main assault convoy sailed from Morotai on the 4 June 1945 and completed the voyage without incident. First light on Z-day,the 10 June) saw two striking forces standing off the shores of Brunei Bay-long lines of ships stretching beyond the horizon, poised for an amphibious landing against Japanese -held British possessions.

For the landing on Brunei Peninsula the beach at Brooketon,designated Yellow Beach) was the best available. However, to reach it assault craft would have to pass through a narrow channel in Muara harbour, which meant that Muara Island would first have to be cleared of the Japanese. It was finally decided to land near Brunei Bluff,Green Beach), and to take Yellow Beach by movement overland; also to make a simultaneous assault landing on the south-east end of Muara Island,White Beach), moving overland immediately to capture Red Beach, the most suitable for unloading stores.

The next phase of the brigade commander's plan called for the capture of Brooketon and the rest of Muara Island, followed by a drive along the road from Brooketon to Brunei. After the landing of heavy equipment and bulk stores on Yellow Beach, a detachment in small craft was to seize a suitable position on the banks of Brunei River to enable artillery to be landed to support a land advance from Brooketon to capture Brunei town.

2/l7th Battalion was selected to land on Green Beach, 2/l5th on White Beach, and 2/l3th was to be held in reserve. The Muara-Brooketon area is sandy and flat, with casuarina trees and some rain forest, but to the west are steep slopes covered with vegetation. Between these hills there is considerable cultivation including coconut and rubber plantations. Native villages are numerous, but there are few towns of any size or importance. Brunei, the capital of the State and seat of the Sultan, had a pre-war population of l200, of whom only fourteen were Europeans. It was difficult to estimate Japanese strength, but the maximum was reckoned to be 2000 to 2500. In fact, it was found to consist of two depleted independent infantry Battalions, amounting to about 450 men, with service units bringing the total to about 800. Japanese air and naval activity was negligible.

Naval and air support for the operation was on a comparatively large scale. The naval force included one light cruiser, four destroyers, gunboats and rocket-boats. Following the usual pattern there was to be a heavy bombardment of both assault beaches for one hour before the landing, followed by close support fire from the smaller craft just before the assault troops hit the shore. Air support was the responsibility of RAAF Command with elements of 13th US Air Force.

Both landings were unopposed. At 9.15 am on 10-June, 2/15th Battalion landed on White Beach at the south-east end of Muara Island and found the Japanese defences abandoned. The Battalion pushed west and by last light was established at Ledong Point. At Green Beach,Brunei Bluff) 2/l7th Battalion also met no organised opposition. Brooketon was captured, and at the end of the day the Battalion had cleared all the area east of the general line Brunei-Yellow Beach. 2/l3th Battalion, the brigade reserve, had also landed at Green Beach and was established in the area Foochow-Derby.

The first night a truck containing eight Japanese drove straight into 2/l7th Battalion's forward company positions on the Brunei-Brooketon road. After Australian machine guns had dispatched seven of the occupants, the survivor informed his captors that the men in the truck had been ignorant of the landing. They had apparently regarded the naval and air bombardment as normal. The advance of 2/l7th Battalion proceeded rapidly down the road towards Brunei, with two platoons of 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion and a troop of tanks in support. The tanks did not get far, being too heavy for the culverts. The marching infantry found the weather more troublesome than the Japanese.

A water patrol of three barges manned by detachments of 2/15th Battalion, engineer and artillery reconnaissance parties, and detachments of signals, medical and British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit moved up the Brunei River and landed three and a half miles east of Brunei. The next day a troop of 25 pounders was landed there and by noon the guns were in action. Continuing its advance 2/l7th Battalion occupied the Brunei airfield. By the afternoon of the I3-June 2!l7th had captured the town of Brunei, mopping up small parties. The town had suffered severe damage from Allied air raids and Japanese demolition. Patrols released several natives found chained to stakes; eight others had died.

On the l6-June a platoon of 2/15th Battalion moving southward along the Limbang road ran into an ambush and suffered two casualties. The Japanese position was shelled and the patrol continued until it reached Limbang River. A waterborne patrol then moved up the Pandaruan River accompanied by two American gunboats with orders to raid Limbang. It reached Terumi without contact and at 9.30 am on 17-Tune it landed unopposed at a village, which for this operation was named Gyro. "A" Company, advancing along Limbang road, had sent a patrol forward to a village designated Gasolene. The next day the remainder of "B" Company moved by landing craft to Gyro. Late in the afternoon Limbang was occupied without contacting the Japanese.

On 15 June a new phase of the Brunei operations had begun with the advance southward along the coast. Under orders to exploit along the road Brunei-Tutong, two companies of 2/l7th Battalion moved out of Brunei. Brigade headquarters was established in the residency at Brunei.

A rapid advance on foot was made towards Tutong. With "B" Company leading, and no opposition met with, eight miles along the road was covered on the Is-June. Next day this company in trucks and jeeps advanced about twenty miles in less than six hours. By night Tutong was occupied.

The advance was resumed on 17-June. Next day "C" Company passed through "B" Company and with a platoon of 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion, raced on towards Seria, where natives had reported the presence of Japanese troops. During the day the company caught up with rear elements of the Japanese, who fled on the appearance of Australian troops.

On 16-June "C" Company reached the mouth of the Lumut River without opposition. They continued the advance and made contact with the Japanese late in the afternoon. By 8 pm the bridges over the Bira River on the outskirts of Seria had been secured, and on 21 June Seria was occupied again, without opposition. Seria presented an amazing sight. The Japanese had fired the oil fields shortly after the landing at Brooketon, and columns of black smoke could be seen from twenty miles away. In the town area the air was filled with smoke and a fine spray of oil, and there was a continuous hissing and rumbling from the fires, which burned like great blow-torches. At one stage thirty-one fires were counted. On 24-June "A" Company resumed the advance and occupied Kuala Belait without opposition.

Back at Brooketon 2/l3th Battalion and two companies of 2/l5th had been held in preparation for a coastal operation to outflank the Japanese retreating from Brunei. At 9.30 am on 20-June they made an unopposed landing at Lutong and by 3 pm had occupied the town and the peninsula to a point 3000 yards south of the airstrip. For two days patrols searched the area without making contact with the Japanese. They found the bodies of Javanese who had been bayoneted, and three Japanese killed by natives. On 23 June Miri was occupied without opposition by troops moving down from Lutong. As extensive patrolling around Miri yielded nothing it was clear that the Japanese had evacuated before the landing, moving along the old Riam road. This marked the limit of 20th Brigade's southward thrust. The advance had been so rapid that at this stage, a fortnight after the landing, the brigade held ninety miles of coast and had moved round Brunei Bay as far as Limbang. Nowhere had the Japanese made any attempt to put up a determined resistance. A feature of the campaign was the co-operation of the natives, who appeared to have a fervent hatred of the Japanese. The Dyaks, a primitive people living in the hills, were enthusiastic and successful guerrillas. Another feature of the operation was the unexpected number of Japanese prisoners taken-at this stage totalling fifty. Counted dead were 122, while natives were reported to have killed between 75 and 100 in the Limbang area. Despite the low casualty rate, medical units were kept busy owing to the numbers of natives requiring attention. At Brunei, within five days of the landing, a detachment of 2/l3th Field Ambulance was treating 500 patients a day.

The rapid advance of 2/l7th Battalion and the wide dispersal of the brigade was a heavy strain on Signals resources, and introduced many supply problems. By putting a number of captured vehicles into running order, workshop units were able to assist in getting supplies to the troops. Some of the recaptured vehicles bore the emu sign of the 8th Australian Division. The operation now entered into a phase of extensive patrol activity in all sectors. Parties moved by land and water along the coast and inland seeking the Japanese, but in most cases the challenge remained unanswered. On the s-July, however, a mobile patrol in sandbagged jeeps with artillery support left Miri on a long-range reconnaissance of Riam road and was held up at a point 7000 yards south-east of Miri by a force of nearly l00 Japanese. Heavily armed, the Japanese were very aggressive, leaving their dug-in position and attacking several times over open ground in attempts to outflank the patrol. After killing an estimated twenty-five Japanese Australian troops withdrew, and the position was heavily shelled. When later examined by Australian troops it was found to have been occupied by approximately one company.

By the end of July patrols of 2/l3th Battalion had penetrated twelve miles along the Riam road, and had moved down to Dalam and Liku pumping stations and along Miri River without seeing any movement. In 2/l7th Battalion's area patrols pushed inland along the Belait River to Balai, where a patrol base was established. From this point Australian troops penetrated eight miles up the Menderam River without making contact, and along the Telingan River as far as Simpang. From here a patrol reached Menderam and moved on to Ridan on the l2-July. On the Belait River Australians travelling in native canoes had reached Usong and found it deserted. On 15 July a strong patrol, with HMAS Tigersnake and aircraft in support, pushed up the Barroom River and landed unopposed at Ridan. The force then advanced to Marudi to find that the Japanese had again decamped. A river patrol supported by a gunboat moved from Marudi and occupied Bakoeng without opposition. The patrols based on Marudi and Ridan were very active, and there were minor clashes with the Japanese at points along the river.

In the Brunei-Limbang sector 2/15th Battalion at Limbang quickly spread long tentacles inland along river and tracks covering a wide area. Patrols penetrated south-west along the winding Limbang River as far as Ukong. Farther west troops moving overland reached Abang and proceeded up Tutong River by native prahu to reach Rambai on 13-July. To the south-east, troops moved to Bangar on the Temburong River and patrols were sent east to Labu Estate. East of Limbang patrols ranged the Trusan and Lawas rivers from the two villages bearing those names. Company patrol bases were established at Bangar and Lawas, and parties scoured,l the surrounding tracks and waterways.

By the end of July patrols from 2/l5th Battalion had reached up the Temburong River as far south as Anggun, and to the north-east one of the patrols based on Lawas had made contact with troops of 2/3rd Tank Attack Regiment at Sindumin, thirty-five miles across the map from Limbang and on the boundary of the two brigade areas. Despite the continuous and vigorous long-range patrolling which had been maintained throughout the whole brigade area during this period, there had been little contact with the Japanese, and it was evident that the Japanese had decided on a policy of evacuation of their areas as they came within the range of Australian patrols.

Simultaneously with 20th Brigade landing, 24th Brigade went ashore on Labuan Island, strategically important because of its dominating position in the bay and the presence of an airfield built by the Japanese. The island is roughly triangular, with the apex to the north and two large inlets in the base. The eastern inlet is Victoria Harbour, a sheltered deep-water port suitable for flying boats. The area of about thirty-five square miles is made up of hilly forest land to the west, grasslands and scrub to the east, and swamps to the south. Japanese land forces were estimated at 650, but information after the landing suggested 550 as being nearer the mark. Japanese air strength in the area was known to be limited, and it was expected that activity would be restricted to possible nuisance raids.

The Australian forces consisted of two Battalions of the 24th Brigade, the third being in reserve), a commando squadron, an armoured squadron, a field regiment including one troop of 4.2inch mortars, a light anti-aircraft troop, a field company, a machine-gun company and service troops. Also under command was a detachment of the US 727 Amphibian Tractor Battalion, and, for the landing only, a number of corps, divisional, base, RAAF and US units, and1st Beach Group less a detachment with 20th Brigade.

The brigade commander planned a landing on a beach on the south coast,designated Brown Beach with a direct approach to the airfield up the peninsula. Two assault Battalions were to be used, 2/43rd Battalion on the right and 2/28th Battalion on the left, supported by tanks and with the commando squadron in brigade reserve. Sappers from 2/7th Field Company were to be included in the first assault wave to make a mine reconnaissance of the landing beach and beachhead. Intensified air attacks began some weeks before the operation on an increasing scale. Naval bombardment began two days before Z-day and went on to culminate in a fierce barrage on Z-day itself with concentrated fire from rockets and mortars immediately before the landing.

Soon after dawn the bombardment began, first an hour's barrage from cruisers and destroyers, then rocket and mortar ships raced inshore ahead of the assault waves, firing on a fixed range so that their fire swept inland from the beach as the craft neared the shore. Escorted by fighters, medium and heavy bombers blanketed the target area. The first waves beached at 9.15 am on time. The landing was unopposed and the infantry quickly pushed inland against slight opposition, and by 10.30 am the battered town of Victoria was in Australian hands. Shortly after 11.30 am the Commander-in-Chief South-west Pacific Area,General MacArthur) went ashore from a US cruiser, accompanied by the GOC First Corps,Lt-General Sir Leslie Morshead) and high-ranking officers of the three services.

The advance was maintained by both Battalions, and by last light the airfield and Government House area had been secured, with the reservoir and pumping station intact. One troop of 2/11th Commando Squadron had landed unopposed on Hamilton Peninsula after naval bombardment and occupied the Ardie and Horel localities. 2/12th Field Regiment had all its guns ashore and three troops were in action at points within 1000 yards of the beach. On the second day 2/28th Battalion attacked on the left to clear the Japanese from an area west of Flagstaff to MacArthur Road, while the 2/43rd Battalion moved to clear the area east of Labuan airfield. No opposition was encountered and forward elements of the Battalion pushed north along Coal Point Road, two miles beyond the airfield. Although the Japanese resisted stubbornly throughout the day, 2/28th Battalion advanced and prepared to attack an Japanese position between MacArthur Road and the airfield. Darkness delayed the attack until first light on the following day, when the Battalion moved in with Matilda tanks to capture the position and continue the advance through to MacArthur Road.

Tanks were also used by 2/43rd Battalion in a successful attack on an Japanese position several hundred yards north-west of the airfield. After consolidating, the Battalion spread to the west, one company capturing the junction of Hamilton and MacArthur roads. By last light the airfield was secured to east and west and the divisional covering position was held, with the Japanese contained in a small area between the airfield and the mangrove swamps to the west. It was apparent that the bulk of Japanese forces on the island had withdrawn to prepared positions along a ridge in this area in readiness for a last stand. During the day RAAF Beaufighters gave close support to the attack.

On the fourth day 2/28th Battalion cleared the area through to the mangrove swamp, two companies containing the Japanese position on the ridge while two more advanced north beyond the divisional covering position. The 2/43rd Battalion moved west to take Timbalai airstrip, capturing three features on the way, and finally patrolling to the coast. At one point elements of the Battalion linked up with the commandos who had moved north after clearing Hamilton Peninsula. From this day onwards extensive patrolling of the whole island was carried out while the Japanese pocket north of the town was subjected to several attacks.

On 15-June "A" Company of 2/28th Battalion in a determined attack succeeded in driving the Japanese off the ridge, killing thirty, but the Japanese still held a knoll dominating the ridge. "A" Company was later relieved by "C". On 16-June heavy air, naval and artillery bombardment was brought down on the position but the Japanese clung tenaciously to well-prepared defences and only small advances were made. The infantry was handicapped by the exposed nature of the approaches to the ridge, and the fact that the surrounding swamps and heavy jungle prevented the use of tanks. For the next two days the pounding from the air and ground continued, but the Japanese fought back stubbornly.

On the night of 17/l8 June several Japanese attempts at infiltration were frustrated. Five Japanese attacked a platoon of "C" Company and three who were killed had 3o-pound aerial bombs strapped to their backs. The Japanese also made use of aerial bombs as booby-traps suspended in the trees. Pressure on the pocket was intensified, and on 19 June eighty 8-inch shells from HMAS Shropshire rained down on the position, with another forty-eight rounds the following day. This was followed by low-lying Mitchells dropping Napalm and 500 pound high-explosive bombs. Little change took place during the day, but that night the Japanese commander apparently realised that the situation was hopeless and decided on a desperate attempt to break out with the idea of inflicting a maximum of damage before the inevitable end.

At 10 pm on the night of 20/2l June two suicide parties, each about fifty strong, crept out of the pocket down to the town area, one party moving along the edge of the Swamp and down North Road, the other across to the airfield and then south. At 4 am an attack was made on the beach maintenance area. The Japanese achieved surprise and managed to inflict some casualties but the Australian troops quickly recovered and wiped them out before much damage could be done. At daylight the beach area was littered with the bodies of forty-nine Japanese. Other Japanese troops were killed near the airfield.

The day after the suicide attack the pocket was entirely reduced in an attack by the infantry with flame-throwing tanks and artillery support. A total of ninety Japanese dead was counted, and there was hardly a tree or square yard of ground which was not scarred from the terrific weight of fire power which had been concentrated on this last Japanese strong. Apart from isolated and disorganised parties of Japanese which were later quickly mopped up, the capture of the island was complete. Preparations were immediately made for further operations on the mainland. Landings were to be made next at two points along the northern reaches of Brunei Bay for a drive on Beaufort-terminus of the railway lines from Weston and Jesselton.

On 17 June a force made up of 2/32nd Battalion Group, the division reserve which had remained afloat for some days after Z-day, moved from Labuan to land unopposed at Weston. Moving inland Australian troops found signs of recent occupation, but no Japanese were seen up to a point 2000 yards south-west of Weston. A patrol to Lingkungan reported the village clear of Japanese and natives. During the next week water craft patrols reached along the Bukau River and up the Padas River to a point beyond Karang, while land patrols reached as far north as Naparan without contacting the Japanese. Two days after the Weston landing a force went ashore unopposed on Mempakul beach at the northern tip of Brunei Bay, preceded by an artillery bombardment of a troop of 3.7 anti-aircraft guns and one battery of 25 pounders firing from Labuan.

This force, which was to form the northern arm of the drive on Beaufort, consisted of the 2/43rd Battalion less two companies, 2/11th Commando Squadron, one troop of 2/12th Field Regiment and a detachment of 2/16th Field Company. A covering position was quickly obtained from Menumbok through to the coast, and the commandos moved ahead to contact the Japanese about a mile beyond. The Japanese withdrew overnight. Portion of Australian force moved by barge up the Klias River to land at a point near Menumbok. Other troops pushed forward overland, the commandos reaching Malikai in two days.

On 23 June a further landing was made, this time by a patrol from "D" Company of 2/43rd Battalion at Sabang on the west coast of Klias Peninsula, to establish a base for exploitation farther north. They moved inland to link up at Karakan with 2/11th Commando Squadron which had reached the village by an overland route. An amphibious patrol travelling north from Sabang landed near Cape Nosong, and one section moved east to Kuala Penyu, the other north to Tidong, without sighting the Japanese. On the night of 23/24 June part of the force moved up the Klias River to Kota Klias and overland to Kandu, in a direct line northwest of Beaufort. Only a few Japanese were encountered. On 25 June patrols of 2/43rd Battalion moved unopposed to reach Woodford Estate, to the west of Beaufort, and also a point on the railway line three miles to the south-west of Beaufort.

The stage was now reached for a regrouping of Australian forces for the attack on Beaufort. A beachhead was established on the Padas River at a point a few miles west of Beaufort to which Brigade Tactical Headquarters had advanced, and the Padas River became the line of communication for the brigade. On 27 June Japanese resistance, not co-ordinated, nevertheless stubborn, was encountered northwest of the ferry across the Padas River, and on the railway line south of Bingkul. Troops moved north of Beaufort in a wide outflanking movement, and others struck bitter resistance from the Taps in positions northeast of the town. For his gallantry during this fighting Private Leslie Thomas Starcevich earned the Victoria Cross.

Before midday on June 28, all organised resistance in Beaufort ceased, and 2/43rd Battalion fought into the town, capturing much Japanese equipment. While mopping up was still going on Australian forces began to spread along the railway lines, 2/28th Battalion pushing north and 2/32nd Battalion patrolling southward on the Weston line.

Our forces regrouped on the 5 July and advances continued along the three railway lines. The following day, elements of 2/32nd Battalion reached Membakut and patrolled along the Damit River to the mouth, thence along the coast to the Bongawan River. On the 9 July a landing was made on the coast a few miles north of Kimanis, and two days later they were joined by troops who had followed the railway without contacting the Japanese. At the same stage, the troops advancing east along the Beaufort-Tenom line had reached the southern bend of the line, where they killed a small party of Japanese. To the south Australian troops had been attacked in the Lumadan area, but the Japanese were driven off.

The Japanese opposed Australian advance all the way from Beaufort to the east, and in many encounters he suffered heavy losses. Reserve forces in the Beaufort area had a few minor clashes with the Japanese. Very few Japanese were now reported to be in the Klias and Weston areas. In the north, at the same time that Australian forces linked at Kimanis, a company landing from LCMs brought the advance to within five miles of Papar. Two days later this coastal force reached the mouth of the Papar River while troops advancing overland from the south occupied the deserted village of Papar, where opposition was negligible. This area was consolidated and before long standing patrols were established in the north and east of the village. Papar marked the limit of the brigade's exploitation to the north.

By the end of July the brigade was in a static position in control of a coastal strip seventy miles long, with continuous patrolling going on in several sectors. The Japanese had been forced inland into difficult country and denied access to supplies. At the cessation of hostilities the division had begun the next task of moving inland to regain control of all productive areas such as rice fields and rubber plantations, and to consolidate these areas so that the native population could be returned to their villages to assist in food production. With the division was the British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit, which had detachments operating with units to organise local resources and to help rehabilitate the native population.

During May and June I945, Australian bombing which had begun in October 1944-was intensified to become the softening up for a seaborne assault by the Seventh Australian Division under the command of Maj-General E J Milford. The object of the operation was to capture and hold the Balikpapan-Manggar area of eastern Borneo for the establishment of air and naval facilities in the area and to conserve the petroleum producing and processing installations. The Japanese had had plenty of time to fortify Balikpapan-they had held it since January 1942 The 9th Division landings at Tarakan, Brunei and Labuan had warned them of the type of assault to expect. Aerial photographs and information through intelligence channels showed powerful defences. An offshore underwater obstacle of coconut logs laced together, three deep, starting north of Manggar, had been extended westward along the coast to include Klandasan. Extensive anti-tank ditches had been constructed. Trench networks on the ridges north of the beaches had been extended and improved. In the Klandasan area alone fifty tunnel entrances had been detected. Extensive land mines and booby-traps were expected. Several heavy coast defence guns had been located. Japanese anti-aircraft defences-described by Australian Air Force as the heaviest yet encountered in the South-west Pacific area-had already taken toll of Australian bombers. The majority of the weapons were of a dual-purpose type, capable also of being used for coastal defence.

There was a strong possibility of the Japanese using a burning-oil defence on the beaches. The pipeline from Sambodja to Balikpapan runs parallel to and within 300 yards of the beach. Flows of oil from points along this pipeline, and from the refineries themselves, could be ignited and directed to the beaches with devastating effect. To counter this Australian bombers were directed to destroy large sections of the pipeline before the landing. A triple minefield protected the harbour and sea approaches. The latest Allied acoustic mines had been dropped from the air to complicate the existing Dutch and Japanese fields. It meant a long and hazardous job for the mine sweepers because Australian mines are particularly difficult to sweep. Japanese strength in the Balikpapan area was estimated to be 3900 with reinforcements of another l500 at Samarinda, sixty miles to the north-east. In addition to these troops 4500 civilian labourers, made up of Japanese, Formosans and Indonesians, were thought to be in the Balikpapan-Samarinda localities.

The initial planning for the operations was carried out at Kairi on the Atherton Tableland. Here, during April and May 1945, a small team, under the direction of Major General Milford, made plans for the initial assault. Four possible landing beaches were in the area. Of these Manggar and Klandasan were the most suitable.

There were two ideas about how Balikpapan should be taken. One was to land on the coast at Manggar and advance along twelve miles of narrow coastal plain to the main objective, the other to land right in the thick of the Japanese defences at Klandasan, two miles from Balikpapan. Less resistance was expected in the first stages at Manggar, but the Japanese would then adjust his defences against a threat from a known direction, thus prolonging the campaign. The more daring alternative-to land in the heart of the Japanese defences at Klandasan-was chosen, while an alternative plan allowed for a landing at Manggar should Klandasan prove to be too powerfully defended. At Klandasan it was hoped to achieve quick results by seizing the key point of the Japanese defences in the initial assault, thus disorganising his force, shortening the campaign and saving lives.

Three brigade groups of the 7th Division were to be committed-the first time in its history that the complete division had fought as one force. 18th Brigade,Brigadier F O Chilton) and 21st Brigade,Brigadier I N Dougherty) were to land side by side in the initial beach assault, while 25th Brigade,Brigadier K W Eather) was to remain offshore as a floating reserve. These Brigades were commanded by, and respectively. The target date for the landing was fixed for the1 July-F-day.

The 7th Divison staged at Morotai during June where the planning for the invasion was finalised. Almost on arrival, troops began to re-embark on ships of the assault convoy. Day by day thousands of soldiers went on to diesel-driven barges which scurried across the bay to the three LSIs, HMAS Manoora, Kanimbla and Westralia, or to LSTs or the many other types of craft. Heavy field guns, flame-thrower tanks, Matilda tanks, motor vehicles, heavy engineering equipment all went the same way. On 24 June, two days before setting off for Borneo, the assault convoy steamed a short way up the coast from Morotai to rehearse on a smaller scale the amphibious landing. About midday on 26 June the largest convoy to carry an Australian invasion force left Morotai and sailed due west for the coast of Borneo. There were more than 200 ships sailing in battle formation.

The troops were told about the strength and weight of Australian assault, armour, support, even the number of rounds of shellfire to be laid down on the objectives before the landing. They were kept informed of the progress made by the mine sweepers and the underwater demolition teams. Sixteen days before the target date mine sweepers had begun the hazardous task of sweeping a passage through the triple minefield off Balikpapan. They came under constant fire from the Japanese heavy guns. Australian destroyers engaged the Japanese shore guns and the mine sweepers carried out their task successfully, but not without loss.

Although Australian sappers had been trained in underwater demolition tasks, the Navy had taken over responsibility for all obstacles below high-water mark. Two days before F-day specially trained US underwater demolition teams blasted a gap 800 yards wide and another 600 yards to 650 yards in the three rows of the offshore timber obstacle. This was accomplished by approaching in a landing craft, transferring to rubber boats and then swimming the last 300 yards to the obstacle, taking explosives and other equipment with them. The explosives were attached to the timber barricade and detonated electrically. The same day Australian engineer parties ensured that the beach was free of mines. At 3 am on the1 July a dull red glow on the horizon a few points to starboard could be seen. from the armada-it was Balikpapan on fire-a result of the rapidly increasing tempo of Australian air and naval bombardment. A few miles to go and "action stations" sounded-day was breaking. Before dawn the thunder of guns from combined Australian, American and Dutch warships and the drone of heavy bombers overhead told of the opening of Australian assault.

Dawn unveiled a terrifying scene. The whole shoreline was blanketed in smoke patterned with tongues of flame shooting hundreds of feet upwards. The beachhead and rolling inland hills were erupting and rocking under the impact of hundreds of tons of high explosive shells and aerial bombs. H-hour for the beach assault was set for 9 am At 7 am the assault troops descended to the landing craft by rope nets. They were eight and a half miles from the shore at the entrance to a 500-yard-wide channel through the minefields. For two hours the sea was a congested mass of small craft manoeuvring into their respective assault waves. Then rocket ships went into action. In two sweeps along the waterfront they plastered 2000 yards of landing beach. As H-hour drew closer Australian barrage increased. To every 230 square yards of the actual landing beach the Navy hurled an average of one shell or rocket. Never before in the Pacific had Australians seen such a tremendous and spectacular display. There was some ineffectual reply to Australian shellfire. Flak from Japanese anti-aircraft fire patterned the smoke shrouded sky.

Five minutes before 9 am the first assault wave of three infantry Battalions hit the beach, 2/10th and 2/12th Battalions of the 18th Brigade on the left, and beside them 2/27th Battalion of 21st Brigade. Ramps of the assault craft banged down on a bewildering scene of desolation. Against a background of black smoke and burning oil stood shell-splintered coconut Palms and the rubble of brick buildings, while native huts were burning fiercely. A few scattered shots harassed the beachhead but the landing was practically unopposed. The Japanese had withdrawn to his tunnels, pillboxes and entrenchments which pockmarked the dominating features some hundreds of yards inland. Troops and heavy mechanical equipment poured on to the narrow beachhead. Every man knew his job, every vehicle and piece of heavy equipment had its allotted place. Engineers were looking for and delousing mines; signallers were running telephone wire; wireless sets were in operation. Matildas and flame-thrower tanks ploughed across the beach and inland to support the infantry.

Bridge laying tanks and bridging equipment capable of spanning I 60-foot gaps were brought ashore in early waves. Bulldozers cleared passages from the beach to the main highway which runs parallel to the beach from the town proper to the airstrips, and on to the oil fields of Sambodja. The late Maj-General George Alan Vasey, loved by every man who had fought with him, was remembered here. The highway was given his name -Vasey Highway. For the first time Australian short 25-pounders complete with ammunition and gun crews were landed in DUKWs (amphibious craft) which rapidly moved to the areas already selected for gun positions. AD hour after landing, shells from eight 25-pounders were whistling over the heads of Australian advancing infantry to thicken up the naval fire. In direct wireless communication with the warships were Naval Bombardment Shore Fire (Control Parties. From vantage points with Australian forward troops these parties accurately directed broadsides from cruisers and destroyers on to the Japanese defensive positions.

Six-pounder tank attack guns and 4.2-inch. mortars, manned by gunners of 2/2na Tank Attack Regiment, were brought ashore in LVTs which hit the beach with the assaulting infantry. They were in action forty minutes later. The 4.2-inch mortars blasted the Japanese on dominating features farther inland while the 6-pounders closely supported the infantry in knocking out bunker positions at a few hundred yards' range. To protect the rapidly expanding mass of equipment in this confined area the infantry. The advance was advancing faster against opposition which was lighter than expected. Only fifteen minutes after landing the three assaulting infantry Battalions had penetrated 800 yards across the beach plain to the pipeline running parallel to the beach. This marked the first phase of the operation: the beachhead had been secured. On the left flank nearer the town proper and the oil refineries, 2/10th Battalion swung to the west, advancing through the rubble of houses on the outskirts of the residential area, Klandasan. The objective was an abrupt feature named Parramatta-a ridge 300 feet high, running IS00 yards due north, on which the Japanese defences commanded the entire Klandasan beach.

Parramatta Ridge was a Japanese fortress. At the top was a cunning trench system, while a hundred feet below were vast intercommunicating honeycomb tunnels. On the seaward side, sheltered in concrete and armoured emplacements, were two I 20-mm. naval guns. Australian shells had shaken the Japanese out of this fortress, razed every vestige of forest, pitted it from top to bottom with craters, and made the way easy for the infantry. At the southernmost point of Parramatta Ridge was Hill 87. "C" Company of the 2/10th Battalion launched an attack against the Japanese on this feature. With tank support the advance would have been difficult enough, but the tanks of 2/1st Armoured Regiment had bogged down near the beach and could not be brought forward in time. With heavy support of 25 pounders and 4.2-inch mortars, "C" Company captured Hill 87 by I pm The Japanese had been strongly emplaced in tunnels on this hill and their sniper fire was accurate.

By this time the tanks had passed the boggy ground near the coast by moving along Vasey Highway through Petersham Junction, reaching Hill 87 in time to support "C" Company's further advance north along Parramatta Ridge. While the infantry were mopping up around Japanese bunker positions and native huts, two tanks-a Matilda and a flame-thrower-moved forward I00 yards in front of a platoon of "C' Company. The Matilda blasted open bunker positions with its 2-pounder gun and through the openings the second tank shot jets of flame. Infantry cleaned up what was left. Japanese opposition was determined, but by 2.20 pm Parramatta Ridge was completely in Australian hands.

During the afternoon 2/9th Battalion progressively relieved the remainder of 2/10th in the initial beachhead area, allowing them to concentrate on Parramatta Ridge with "C" Company. Meanwhile, in the centre between 2/10th and 2/27th Battalions, 2/12th Battalion had cleared the firmly entrenched Japanese from prominent features to a depth of 1500 yards. On the right flank the 2/27th Battalion had advanced forward of the pipeline to capture features Romilly and Rottnest, which menaced the beachhead. One company then swung to the east dealing with isolated bunker positions, while patrols cleared the area to the Klandasan Besar River. 2/16th Battalion landed on the heels of 2/27th Battalion and passing through the captured Romilly feature occupied ridges to the north and east of Rottnest against mortar and machine-gun fire. Stray Japanese with rifles scattered throughout the area had to be dug out before the advance could continue. From these captured features 2/16th launched attacks against firmly entrenched Japanese on Malang feature, 2000 yards north of the beachhead. Malang was in Australian hands by 4 pm.

During this time 2/14th Battalion and 2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment had landed and passed through 2/27th Battalion, swinging east to cross the Klandasan Besar River. A high feature on the far bank was captured by 2/14th against light opposition, while 2/7th Commando Regiment advanced to the north-east occupying the same ridge I000 yards farther inland. Sappers moved with the attacking infantry, marking minefields to allow the infantry to advance freely. Behind the advancing troops more engineers were finding and delousing numerous heavy mines and booby-traps. So thorough was their work that these Japanese defences caused few casualties among Australian troops. When night fell on the battlefields at Balikpapan after that first day's fighting the 7th Division had over-run numerous heavily defended localities, captured many Japanese antiaircraft and machine guns, denied him the high ground from which serious interference could have been caused to the unloading of stores, and split open the crust of defences protecting the town itself and the docks area. Only spasmodic shells and mortar bombs harassed the beachhead and few found their mark. The bold strategy had been eminently successful, and careful planning had saved casualties during that vital first day. Australian casualties were twenty-two killed and seventy-four wounded. The Japanese had suffered ten times that number, and more.

Then followed a thunderous night of naval and artillery shelling, night bombing, mortar and machine-gun fire to which the Japanese sporadically replied. The whole northern half of the sky was bright, then brilliant red. Star shells illuminated the battle areas, revealing infiltrating parties of Japanese which clashed with Australian patrols. As dawn broke more than 300 Japanese dead lay scattered about Parramatta Ridge many as the result of the night's patrol clashes. Beside some of the bodies were long wooden spears with sharp points of metal-a primitive weapon, but efficient in the dark. Below Parramatta nestles the former lovely Dutch suburb, Klandasan, with street upon street of neat brick villas, now shell-splintered ruins. It was thought that the Japanese would fight house-to-house and street-to-street, but less than a dozen remained with a few natives in ruined Klandasan that morning. The natives, pitifully emaciated from starvation, lay exhausted among their own dead, too weak to move. The few stray Japanese were mopped up by 2/9th Battalion, which had advanced through the Santosa barracks area. Many tunnel entrances led into the hills near Santosa barracks and Klandasan. Some of these tunnels, particularly those of the Japanese commanders, were comfortably furnished. The bypassing of these tunnels would have left Australian rear open to attack. Matildas and a flame-throwing frog, supporting 2/9th's advance, supplied the answer: fierce jets of flame from the frog roared into the dark openings, while the Matildas demolished the entrances with 2-pounder shells, bottling up the occupants. Silhouetted on a ridge against an oil-blackened sky to the west of Parramatta were the blasted and tangled installations of the oil-cracking plant. Along this ridge to the right, large squat oil storage tanks were set on a tabletop feature: Tank Plateau. Not one of these tanks had escaped Australian bombardment.

During the second morning's fighting a large storage tank burst. A great sea of blazing oil roared down the valley between Tank Plateau and Parramatta Ridge, where Australian patrols were active. The whole valley became an inferno. So terrific was the heat that Australian men on the ridge threw themselves on the ground, pressing their faces against the earth and escaping the fire. Following a heavy artillery and mortar concentration that afternoon a company of 2/10th Battalion skirted the valley and mounted the southern slopes of the cracking-plant feature. A 6-pounder tank-attack gun supporting this attack accurately sniped four machine-gun posts, destroying them with direct hits. North of Parramatta two companies of 2/10th Battalion had pushed the Japanese from a high feature overlooking ! the town and harbour: Newcastle feature. The division was now well placed to launch an attack on Balikpapan itself.

Morning of 2 July had seen the reserve infantry brigade 25th-beaching and moving inland to relieve units of the two assault brigades in the central sector. This enabled 18th to concentrate its entire force for an attack on the town, and 21st to make a successful thrust east along Vasey Highway. With 2/7th Commando Regiment protecting its left flank, 2/14th Sepmggang Battalion rapidly advanced along Vasey Highway against scattered opposition. On the left flank Australian dismounted cavalry was held up by strongly entrenched Japanese in the foothills about I000 yards north of the highway, but 2/l4h continued to advance, enveloping Sepinggang airstrip by 11 am on 2 July. The airstrip was soon secured. It was badly cratered, but work began immediately and it was serviceable for Auster scout planes by midday the following day. Back on the Klandasan beach and for some distance inland huge ordnance and engineer dumps were rapidly expanding. Vehicles of all descriptions-bulldozers, Alligators, graders, heavy trucks and jeeps-cluttered the roads awaiting movement to the dispersal areas.

Large floating docks which had been brought 800 miles in the assault convoy, now spanned the shallow water between the beach and the landing ships. All day and most of the night landing craft ferried equipment ashore, while LSTs and LCTs disgorged hundreds of tons of cargo. On the 18th Brigade front, 2/12th Battalion had relieved 2/10th's companies on Newcastle feature-our foremost point to Balikpapan township. From this 300-foot eminence, through gaps in the smoke on the morning of that third day's fighting, one could look down on the devastated thoroughfares and built-up areas less than half a mile away. In the left foreground was the thousand-yard-long Tank Plateau, smoking after its terrific pounding. Across the town the harbour front with its many broken piers; rising above the outrunning tide were the funnels and masts of a Japanese warship and the broken hulls of many small craft. To the right, beside a muddy inner harbour, was old Kerosene Tank Farm. On the far right, two miles away, the old Dutch Barracks, and on the far left, Cape Toekoeng and Signal Hill.

At 9 am the 18th Brigade launched a three pronged attack on Balikpapan. On the left, supported by a troop of Matildas and a flame throwing frog, 2/9th Battalion captured a Japanese radar station on Signal Hill, and advancing around Cape Toekoeng, cleared the harbour front north to the old oil refinery. Advancing through the twisted, white-hot refining installations, and across Tank Plateau, 2/10th Battalion occupied the town area at the power-house, north of 2/9th. To complete the occupation of Balikpapan 2/12th Battalion had pushed north-west from Newcastle to clear the industrial area, Pandansari. Heavy mortaring and shelling from dual-purpose anti-aircraft guns on two nearby features, Nail and Nurse, delayed 2/l2th's advance to Pandansari. The Japanese fire was quickly silenced by naval fire and the 25 pounders of 2/4th Field Regiment. A company of 2/12th Battalion with tank 6upport then attacked Nail feature, securing it during the late afternoon.

Except for a few scattered Japanese snipers in bunker positions, who were routed by flame-throwers and mopped up by the infantry, Balikpapan had been evacuated by the Japanese. All that remained was an eerie, deserted mass of crumbling mortar and the charred skeletons of power plants, factories and business houses. Huge storage tanks had collapsed centrally and lay flattened. Telephone posts and broken wires drunkenly lined the main highway along the waterfront and there were many damaged motor cars; locomotives used for hauling long lines of coal to the wharves had been brought to a standstill. Beside the road were shattered oil-pipes from which oil still dribbled to feed the diminishing flames.

With Auster scout planes using the Sepinggang strip, 21st Brigade's next objective lay six miles to the north-east Advance to Manggar airfield, the second largest in Borneo. Relieved by 2/27th Battalion at Sepinggang on 3 July, 2/l4th Battalion advanced farther along Vasey Highway. The bitumen surface of this coastal road was badly cratered and bridges over the many small streams had been blown. The area between the road and the coast had been heavily mined and booby-trapped. As the infantry advanced these were deloused by engineers, who immediately began to repair the bridges and road. On the far bank of Batakan-ketjil 2/14th Battalion encountered a small Japanese force in two pillboxes. With naval-fire support "C" Company of 2/l4th quickly drove the Japanese from their pillboxes, and the following morning Australian advance continued. Based at Sepinggang with 2/27th Battalion, 2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment was patrolling vigorously inland to a depth of 2000 yards giving left flank protection to 2/l4th.The 2/14th Battalion met little opposition approaching the Manggar Besar River during late afternoon of the 4 July. On the northern bank of this river the airstrip runs parallel to the coast and beside the Vasey Highway. The bridge spanning Manggar Besar had been demolished at both ends, but two companies of 2/14th Battalion pushed across the river. "B" Company secured the bridgehead on the northern bank while "A" Company advanced to the far end of the airstrip, quickly setting up a road block.

Then the Japanese staged his first determined stand in this sector. From many gun emplacements, set in a group of ridges overlooking the northern end of the airstrip, he opened fire on the Australians. "A" Company had established a perimeter at the northern end of the for strip, and held it despite the shrapnel bursting low over their heads, fired from an Japanese anti-aircraft gun only 800 yards away. "B" Company moved back across the Manggar Besar and established a firm block on the southern side of the river. The guns of a small naval unit, standing offshore, quickly countered the Japanese artillery. A naval bombardment officer, in direct wireless communication with the warships, had climbed a rickety I00foot control tower on the airstrip and, from this vantage point, accurately directed the gunfire. Meantime 25-pounders of 2/5th Field Regiment had been hauled forward and joined in the fierce duel between the Navy and the Japanese heavy shore guns.

At nightfall "B" Company of 2/14th was able to move forward again to occupy the western side of the strip, protecting Australian left flank. For five days the battle raged-five days of heavy shelling and counter-shelling, both the Japanese and Australian guns firing over open sights. Three Matilda tanks, put ashore from LCMs on the beach east of the Manggar Besar, during the second day of the battle, were hit by the Japanese heaviest gun, a 155-mm, at point-blank range. One Matilda was badly damaged while the other two were destroyed in flames. This 155-mm coastal defence gun was set into the hillside and protected by heavy steel doors, against which Australian shells were at first ineffective. But Australian artillery were not to be beaten. During the night they moved a 25-pounder forward to within 800 yards of the Japanese gun. At first light they opened fire, placing direct hits through the steel doors of the emplacement and destroying the gun and crew.

Then "D" Company of 2/14th Battalion, relieving "A" Company at the far edge of the airstrip, assaulted and captured the gun emplacement. Twice during the night that followed the Japanese counter-attacked the newly won gun position, one attack lasting an hour and a half. Twice he was repulsed by the Australians. Five minutes after midnight the Japanese vainly counter-attacked Australian other forward company, "C" Company, which had advanced 1000 yards along Vasey Highway to the end of the strip during the day. Even more formidable were the Japanese counter-attacks during the following night between 8 pm and 1 am. Torrential rain had filled the fox-holes and shell-holes. Australian infantry beat off these attacks although many Japanese got to within a few yards of Australian fox-holes. The Japanese heavy shelling had prevented repair work on the bridge over the Manggar Besar. With some ingenuity the sappers had partly solved the problem by building a wire-mesh foot-bridge underneath the actual bridge, slung from girders between the pylons.

On 9 July the Navy and artillery continued to hammer the Japanese positions. Then, guided by mortar smoke bombs, Liberators blasted their defences with 1000-pound bombs. The planes were scarcely off the area when Australian mortars and artillery opened up again, quickly followed by fire from a cruiser and two destroyers. After a brief lull six Lightnings flashed over the ridge in a trial run, circled and then returned, diving steeply. Belly tanks of Napalm tumbled down. There was a vivid flash and a deluge of fire enveloped the Japanese held area. The Lightnings came back at treetop level in a strafing run. The Japanese resistance at Manggar had been overcome and a patrol of 2/14th Battalion went in without firing a shot.

While the battle for Manggar strip had raged, the other two Battalions of 21st Brigade-2/16th and 2/27th-made further advances to the north-east of Sepinggang, and with 2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment had patrolled vigorously north of Vasey Highway.

A mile and a half across the harbour from Balikpapan lies Cape Penadjam, a swampy area with a ruined sawmill, forty to fifty houses, and an oriental theatre. Penadjam was not important commercially, but it posed a threat to shipping in Balikpapan Bay. It 's strategic value to the Japanese as an antiaircraft centre to protect Balikpapan was lost when the Australians captured the oil refineries. Although it was reported that the Japanese had evacuated Penadjam two days previously no chances were taken, and it was subjected to a terrific pounding before the landing. Seaplanes strafed the township and the Navy bombarded the beach. Artillery from Balikpapan laid down a heavy creeping barrage as 2/9th Battalion and men of 2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment in Alligators streamed across the bay in single file a mile long. About 200 yards from the shore the Alligators wheeled and sped towards the beach in waves at two to three minute intervals. Tank support had been given to 2/9th Battalion, but two Matildas bogged down in twelve feet of mud in the swampy beach area. The troops landed at 1 pm and the town was occupied without loss. Within an hour the infantry had fanned out, securing all initial objectives. The Japanese had not been sighted, but a 5-inch coastal gun opened up on Australian forces. This gun was knocked out by naval fire and captured by "C" Company of 2/9th Battalion that afternoon. Patrols pushed a mile to the north and south without contacting the Japanese.

Patrols south of the Sesoempoe River during the following day located deserted machine guns, while patrols to the west captured a single Japanese. In this area the Japanese were withdrawing by launch and barge along the Riko River. By now the Japanese had been ousted from all positions menacing the harbour. He had been pushed out of the town and had lost the two airstrips. in action It was apparent that he was trying to withdraw the remnants of his force to the Batochampar area on the road to Samarinda-Milford Highway.

Milford Highway was a road of craters and shattered houses, lined with burnt-out cars and trucks. On the features beside the road were knocked-out heavy guns and searchlights. Cultivation frequently lined the sides of the low hills and spurs of this terrain but many were bald from mortaring, bombing and shellfire. The Japanese were strongly entrenched on these hills and spurs. Here 25th Brigade struck and kept on striking, day after day. Australian tactics were hit and probe, hit hard with the full weight of Australian artillery and air strength, then probe with infantry and dismounted cavalry patrols to ascertain Japanese strength and positions. Australian artillery fired at the rate of 5000 shells a day, while 2/25th, 2/31stand 2/33rd Battalions of 25th Brigade were closely supported by 6-pounder tank attack guns and heavy mortars.

The Japanese stayed in their bunker positions during the day, but at night small parties infiltrated through Australian lines. During the night of 17/18 July a party of Japanese approached the headquarters of 2/33rd Battalion by creeping down Milford Highway. As they entered the area they fired a flare to give them visibility. A sharp hand-to-hand skirmish developed. Here again the Japanese used their long spears, but to no effect. Dawn disclosed thirteen Japanese bodies. Japanese infiltration in another Battalion area met a similar fate that night.

For three days the Japanese stood in his strong positions running across Milford Highway. Then they cracked and 9 July saw one of the biggest advances since first Australian assault. Probing slowly forward in the morning the advance gathered momentum and by 4 pm 3000 yards had been covered on a 2000-yard front, placing Australian forward troops some five and a half miles north of Balikpapan. Faster than the advance was the Japanese retreat. By nightfall they was moving so fast that contact had been lost. Large quantities of food and equipment were captured in the day's advance. Two heavy anti-aircraft guns which had been hurling shells at Australian forces were captured. They had been knocked out by direct hits in a duel with 25 pounders of 2/4th Field Regiment. Results of the accuracy and weight of the artillery barrage were borne out by the number of Japanese dead throughout the captured area.

Milford Highway was extensively mined and booby-trapped. On the evening of 9 July three 1000 pound bombs were exploded simultaneously in the middle of the road as an infantry platoon of 2/3Ist Battalion was advancing. Many other heavy bombs lay beside the road but the Japanese did not get a chance to use them against us. The engineers hastily repaired the section of Milford Highway captured and their tireless work sappers kept the road open to jeeps and tracked vehicles at all times. Not once were the rations and stores held up.

On the left flank a squadron of 2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment patrolled east to harass the Japanese s lines of communication. Farther to the left Netherlands East Indies troops were unopposed in a 3000-yard advance to a position four miles north of Pandansari. 25th Brigade pressed its advantage the following morning. Set on a jungle-clad hill, to the left of the road, were the Cello barracks. Supported by Matilda tanks and a flame-throwing frog, "D" Company of the 2/3lst Battalion stormed this hill killing fifty Japanese without suffering a fatality. Right of Milford Highway "C" Company of the same battalion occupied another high feature. That afternoon artillery, mortars and tanks paved the way for a further half-mile advance by "D" Company. In the day's advances two tanks had knocked out three gun positions, and Japanese in six bunkers had been ousted by the flame-throwing frog.

Later in the afternoon "A" Company was to attack another dominating feature, Coke Spur. A two and a half hours' barrage by 25 pounders and a close supporting 6-pounder tank attack gun, combined with 4.2 and 3 inch mortars, opened the attack. On a lower explosive key crackled the 2-pounders and machine guns of two Matilda tanks, lined up on the highway with the flame-thrower. The barrage cut out and the three tanks crawled forward. Bunched close behind them were three infantry sections. A short distance ahead the road turned to the left, went down through a small cutting and on to a level at the bottom of Coke Spur. From both sides of the jungle and from Coke Spur itself the road was swept by Japanese machine-gun fire. The infantry could not advance. To retreat meant being caught and hemmed in by the cutting, through which the Japanese had allowed them to advance. The artillery re-opened and the tanks blazed away at close range, but the Japanese were strongly emplaced. The battle continued for an hour and a half. Practically the whole infantry platoon was wiped out in that confined ambush area. One tank stood by giving covering fire, while one Matilda, and then the other, crawled back, each carrying three wounded men on the deck. Back on the other side of the cutting the tank commander had been killed. The Australian attack was brought to a standstill and the dead were left where they lay on the road. Lives were not wasted in another assault against Coke Spur and the artillery were given the job to blast the Japanese from his bunkers.

On Milford Highway The Australian northerly advance was held up. For twelve days the Japanese clung tenaciously to his strong pillbox and bunker positions strategically placed between the commanding features Chair and Coke, on either side of the highway. It was twelve days of heavy shelling, constant patrolling and nerve-racking infiltration at night. A slow grinding-down process was involved. The infantry could have pushed the Japanese from his pillboxes and bunkers days before they eventually over-ran them, but were not prepared to waste lives in doing it. While the artillery and mortars pounded the Japanese defences and lines of communication, the infantry began to outflank him in preparation for a general squeeze. On 14 July the 2/25th Battalion, after relieving the 2/31st as point battalion astride Milford Highway, pushed two companies around the Japanese flanks on both sides of the road. The envelopment continued during the following day with the two companies firmly established on Cart and Calm features, to the outside and slightly in rear of the Japanese on Chair and Coke.

The 2/33rd Battalion moved forward on 16 July taking over responsibility for the east side of the highway, allowing the 2/25th to concentrate on its outflanking movement to the west. To the rear of the Japanese defences the Australian commandos were active. Pushing through the thick rain forest and tangled vegetation on the 13 July a commando patrol had skirted the Japanese right flank and reached a point overlooking his line of communication on Milford Highway. Late that afternoon a Japanese patrol twenty strong approached the position. The Australians withdrew and ambushed the Japanese, killing nine without loss. Day after day the Australian ambush parties took toll of the Japanese along his lines of communication. Farther west and nine miles north of Balikpapan, Netherlands East Indies troops were steadily moving along a water pipeline to a pumping station on the Wain Besar River. No Japanese had been contacted in this area.

The Japanese reacted violently to the Australian encircling pressure on his positions astride Milford Highway. By day he sent out strong fighting patrols; by night suicide parties charged the forward companies with swords and spears. All attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties to the Japanese. The night of 17/l8 July saw the fiercest night attack. Two 2/25th Battalion company fronts and the headquarters of the 2/33rd Battalion were scenes of bloody hand-to-hand clashes. The Japanese succeeded in knocking out one 4.2-inch mortar and inflicted some casualties, but the count of Japanese dead the following morning showed no fewer than fifty-three, with an estimated additional sixteen.

The Australian pressure on the Japanese gradually increased. Slowly an encircling movement squeezed them from there bunkers and pillboxes astride the highway. Pockets of resistance were cleared. One of these pockets on the left flank contained ten Japanese in a cave. Infantry of the 2/25th Battalion quickly cleared this with a flame-thrower. Then on the 22 July after a twelve day stand, the Japanese broke contact. Patrols from the 2/25th and 2/33rd Battalions found their positions unoccupied and the 2/31st Battalion advanced 2000 yards north along Milford Highway. This placed the battalion outside the perimeter which had been laid down in the original order: "to capture and hold Balikpapan area". Though no further advances were ordered, the only means of securing this perimeter was by constant offensive patrolling. The Japanese had not evacuated the area. Every day there were patrol clashes, and at night continued their infiltration tactics.

North of Manggar the 21st Brigade had pushed farther along Vasey Highway on the way to Sambodja, the third largest oil field in Borneo. Covered by a smoke screen, three more Matildas tanks had been landed at Manggar to support the advance. When the Japanese guns had been silenced, engineers quickly repaired the demolished portions of the Manggar Bridge and supplies were brought forward by jeeps.

In the area north-west of the Sepinggang airstrip the 2/16th Battalion had advanced 1000 yards against heavy opposition. An interesting series of moves and counter-moves preceded this advance. Two miles from the airstrip in a maze of steep hills the Japanese had held a feature called Gate. After a heavy concentration of mortars and machine guns the Japanese had withdrawn on the evening of 8 July.

An Japanese counter-attack forced the 2/l6th to retire, but soon after the Australian artillery brought down heavy fire on the feature, ousting the Japanese. The battalion again occupied Gate the following morning and probed forward.

The Japanese were encountered on many other features in this area, but artillery was directed on his positions and infantry cleared the remaining Japanese. The Australian advance in this area had forced back the left flank of the Japanese retreating on Batochampar.

On Vasey Highway the 2/27th Battalion had relieved the 2/14th as point battalion and had advanced beyond the Adjiraden River. Only native refugees flocking to the Australian lines were met by the 2/27th. Many had come from Sambodja, fifteen miles from Manggar. A number of them were suffering from gunshot wounds and burnt feet-a Japanese method of preventing them from being of use to us.

The 2/27th continued their unopposed advance during the following days, reaching the village of Bangsal and patrolling forward to Amborawang, eleven miles along the coast from Manggar and twenty-three miles from Balikpapan. Patrols inland from Vasey Highway failed to find the Japanese.

A special reconnaissance party penetrated the heart of Sambodja on the 14 July and observed a party of Japanese supervising the burning of the village by pro-Japanese police-boys.

Four days later a patrol in strength occupied Sambodja, while another strong patrol cut their way through the jungle west of Amborawang to build a road block on a track leading from Sambodja to the Batochampar area.

Long-range patrols secured the Australian perimeter in the Sambodja area and parties of Japanese were mopped up behind the Australian lines in the vicinity of Manggar. The Japanese continued to infiltrate at night and harass the Australian lines of communication, but caused little damage and invariably suffered losses.

Based on Penadjam, across the bay from Balikpapan, the 2/9th Battalion and elements of the 2/7th Commando Regiment were patrolling extensively to secure the harbour for shipping. Overland patrols probed south to the Bandjermasin Road, while water patrols scoured the Riko River and upper reaches of Balikpapan Bay.

Supplied by barge along the river and waterways leading into it, scattered parties of Japanese still resisted in the Riko area. LCM gunboats carrying out river patrols were successful in sinking many Japanese barges, and his water activities were confined to the hours of darkness.

One river patrol set an unusual ambush for the Japanese river movement by night. The patrol had captured a 300-ton ship, laden with a cargo of coal and oil, where it had run aground some six miles up the Riko River. An armed party was left aboard the captured vessel that night. The ruse worked-a large Japanese barge carrying about forty Japanese and towing five prahus approached the stranded vessel, and at close range the Australian patrol opened up. Bombs from a Pita gun gutted the barge and the Japanese craft was swept by small-arms fire.

On the northern point of the Riko River mouth elements of the 2/8th Battalion landed a Djinabora during 8 July. Some 600 natives and Chinese were reported in this area but no Japanese. This force was withdrawn to Penadjam on the 14 July.

Opposite Djinabora, on the Balikpapan side of the bay, a company of the 2/8th Battalion made another unopposed landing at a small settlement about 1500 yards north of Cape Teloktebang. One platoon was left to occupy the area and the remainder of the company returned to Penadjam. From these positions, eight and a half miles north of the harbour entrance, any Japanese attempt to penetrate Balikpapan Bay by launch or barge from the rivers to the north could be forestalled.

Upper Balikpapan Bay is a network of waterways, which the Japanese were using as evacuation and supply routes for his scattered force in the Penadjam and Riko area. He had also appreciated their value to us as a potential line of advance to outflank his force astride Milford Highway. To prevent the Australian use of the area the Japanese had established a block near Tempadoeng at the mouth of the Balikpapan River where it flows into the upper reaches of the bay.

A force known as Buckforce, which consisted of a tactical headquarters and two companies from the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion, and elements of supporting arms, occupied Djinabora on the 20 July. This force moved to Tempadoeng the next day. From this forward base? patrols operated throughout the area, particularly to the east towards Milford Highway, to harass the Japanese lines of communication in front of the 25th Brigade.

In an area called Tandjoeng Batoe a scout plane checking a report about Indian prisoners saw a white sheet stretched on the ground bearing the inscription: `Indian PW'. A patrol of the Pioneers was sent out. Guided by the plane they found sixty-three Indian prisoners, who had suffered badly in Japanese hands for three and a half years.

It became increasingly evident that the Japanese were withdrawing its entire force north from the Balikpapan-Manggar area to a concentration area in the vicinity of Sepakoe. The Japanese had fallen back on the Manggar and Batochampar fronts and were evacuating the remnants of its Penadjam force via the Sepakoe and Semai rivers. An evacuation route to Samarinda, farther north, had been prepared, and under pressure he would, perhaps, have made full use of it. The Australian long-range patrols throughout the area constantly clashed with delaying parties of the Japanese which were covering the main withdrawal. It was not the Australians' intention to advance farther or to extend their perimeter. Long-range patrols operated to gain information and to maintain offensive action against the Japanese so that the perimeter would be secure. This was the situation when hostilities ceased.

The Japanese Surrender
For the first week or two in August news of the Japanese ' expected acceptance of the surrender terms, formulated at Potsdam, resulted in a slackening down of offensive operations. It was designed to avoid as much as possible loss of valued Australian lives: the "Cease Fire" might be sounded at any time. This was, roughly, the position when, on the 15 August, at 9 am Australian Eastern Standard time, the announcement of surrender was made by the leaders of the Allied nations.

Preparations for the occupation of Japan were put in hand and on 28 August Allied naval forces steamed into Tokyo Bay. Among them were the Australian cruisers Shropshire and Hobart and the destroyers Warramunga, Bataan, Nizam and Napier. World War II ended in a ceremony of historic importance lasting only a few minutes. Aboard the 45,000 ton battleship USS Missouri representatives of the Japanese Emperor, the Japanese Government and the Imperial High Command signed the surrender documents gold-edged for the Allies, black-edged for the Japanese. They were completed by the signature of General MacArthur for all the nations at war with Japan. His signature was witnessed by Lt-General Percival, commander of the British forces which surrendered to the Japanese at Singapore, and Lt-General Wainwright, who became a captive of the Japanese following Bataan and Corregidor.

Signatures were appended by the representatives of the following countries-United States of America, China, United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands and New Zealand. Australia's representatives were headed by the Commander-in-Chief (General Sir Thomas Blamey) who afterwards quickly planned the arrangements for the surrender of Japanese forces in the areas where Australian troops had been fighting.

Surrender Balikpapan
In the Balikpapan area, under the control of the General Officer Commanding 7th Division (Maj-General E J Milford), the whole of the Japanese forces in Dutch Borneo, led by a naval officer, Vice-Admiral Kamada, complied with the surrender orders on 8 September. Representatives of all the Allied services operating in Balikpapan were aboard the Australian frigate HMAS Burdekin at the rendezvous fifty miles north of Balikpapan, off the mouth of the Mahakam River delta. The Japanese emissaries arrived on time, passed between the lines of the cutlass party and stood before the official table. General Milford, accompanied by the commander of the Burdekin, Lt-Commander T S Marchington, RNR, walked briskly to the table, returned the salutes of the staff officers, turned and faced the Japanese. The Japanese stood rigidly to attention in their dirty jungle uniforms and saluted the leader of the men who had helped to bring about their defeat. The Japanese Admiral intimated that he understood and was prepared to accept the surrender terms. He was ordered to sign the document and to place his sheathed sword on it in token of surrender.

Morotai Surrender
On Morotai Island, headquarters of the Australian forces in the Netherlands East Indies, before an assembly of more than l0,000 Australian and allied troops the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces (General Sir Thomas Blamey) accepted on the 9 September the formal surrender of all Japanese in the eastern half of the Netherlands East Indies. The instrument of surrender was Japanese signed by Lt-General Teshima, commander of the Japanese Second Army, comprising about 126,000 Japanese.

The ceremony was staged at the fourth side of a hollow square wherein the Japanese entourage, dwarfed by their stalwart guard, waited in crestfallen silence. General Blamey, accompanied by his senior staff officers, arrived and read the terms of surrender to the Japanese. On being ordered to sign the document General Teshima saluted, unbuckled his sword and, after bowing, proffered it as the token of a beaten foe. He sat down and signed deliberately and unhurriedly, rose and again saluted. Signatures were then added by the Japanese naval officers Captain Toru Oyama and Captain Minoru Toyama.

General Blamey then signed, indicating acceptance of the surrender, and made a strong speech, directed at the delegation but his words expressed the feelings of the Australian army. He said:

"In receiving your surrender I do not recognise you as an honourable and gallant foe, but you will be treated with due but severe courtesy in all matters.

I recall the treacherous attack on Australian ally, China. I recall the treacherous attack upon the British Empire and upon the United States of America in December 1941, at a time when your authorities were making the pretence of ensuring peace between us. I recall the atrocities inflicted upon the person of Australian nationals as prisoners of war and internees, designed to reduce them by punishment and starvation to slavery.

In the light of these evils I will enforce most rigorously all orders issued to you, so let there be no delay or hesitation in their fulfilment at your peril.

The Japanese navy has been destroyed. The Japanese merchant fleet has been reduced to a mere fraction. The Japanese armies have been beaten everywhere and all that remained for them was to await their total destruction. Japanese cities lie in waste and Japanese industry has been destroyed. Never before in history has so numerous a nation been so completely defeated.

To escape the complete destruction of the nation, the Emperor of Japan has yielded to the Allied forces, and an instrument of total surrender has been signed in his name. He has charged you to obey the orders which I shall give you.

In carrying out these orders the Japanese army and navy organisation will be retained for convenience. Instructions will be issued by the designated Australian commanders to the commanders of the respective Japanese forces, placing upon you and your subordinate commanders the responsibility for carrying out your Emperor's directions to obey all orders given by me to you.

You will ensure that all Allied personnel, prisoners of war or internees in Japanese hands are safeguarded and nourished and delivered over to Allied commanders. You will collect, lay down and safeguard all arms, ammunition and instruments of war until such time as they are taken over by the designated Australian commanders. You will be given adequate time to carry this out.

An official date will be named and any Japanese found in possession, after that date, of any arms, ammunition or instrument of war of any kind will be dealt with summarily by the Australian commander on the spot."

Next of the Japanese forces required formally to accept the surrender terms was the Japanese Thirty-seventh Army led by Lt-General Baba Masao. Twelve minutes were all that was required for the purpose.

Major-General G. F. Wootten, General Officer Commanding 9th Division, was seated in his residence on Labuan with senior members of his staff when the Japanese were presented to him. He ordered the surrender of their swords and the signing of the document accepting the terms.

With the Japanese signatures affixed, General Wootten ordered a victory salute of 101 guns. On the order the salute was fired in each centre occupied by Australian forces throughout British Borneo.

Surrender was made by the Japanese forces in Dutch Timor to Brigadier Lewis Dyke, who was the commander of a force sent to occupy the island. Arrangements had been made for the Japanese leader and his staff to come aboard HMAS Moresby, the flagship of the convoy bearing the force, in Koepang Harbour. Colonel Kaida Tatsuichi, in command of the Timor Japanese, signed the document, seated at a table on the quarter-deck of the ship. He gripped his sword between his knees, listened to the orders and instructions read out to him. After the signing he and his officers surrendered their swords.

On September 12, 1945 General Itagaki, the Japanese commander in Malaya, signed the surrender of all Japanese forces in southeast Asia at the behest of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in Singapore.

Nauru and Ocean Island
The final surrender ceremonies in which Australians were prominently concerned were those in which the Japanese commanders at Nauru and Ocean Island surrendered their forces to Brigadier J R Stevenson (11th Brigade) on the quarter-deck of HMAS Diamantina. On the 13 September Captain Hisayuki Soeda, in command of Japanese forces on Nauru, and five staff officers surrendered their swords to Brigadier Stevenson who read the terms of surrender and had them translated into Japanese. The document was signed by the Japanese and Brigadier Stevenson who accepted it on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. On October 1, 1945 at Ocean Island the brigadier accepted Lt-Commander Nahoomi Suzuki's surrender of the Japanese garrison.


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