Battle of Tarakan (1942)
The Battle of Tarakan took place on January 11–12, 1942. Even though Tarakan
Tarakan Island
Tarakan is an island off the coast of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is a marshy island situated in the eastern Celebes Sea, off the northeastern coast of Borneo. The island occupies an area of .-Petroleum:...

 was only a small marshy island at northeastern Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 in the Netherlands East Indies, but the 700 oil wells, oil refinery and airfield on it, was one of the main objectives for the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 in the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

. It is interesting that one day earlier, Japan just declared war on the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 on January 10, 1942; although the combat had taken place in the surrounding area about one month and Queen Wilhelmina from the Kingdom of Netherlands had declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941.

The Japanese landing

On January 10, 1942 a Dutch Dornier Do 24K
Dornier Do 24
-See also:-References:* -External links:* * * * * * * * *...

 flying boat spotted a coming Japanese invasion fleet and knowing the chance to win was small, the Dutch Commander ordered the destruction of all oil fields on the island.

The Japanese forces of the Right Wing Unit from the Sakaguchi Detachment landed on the east coast of Tarakan
Tarakan Island
Tarakan is an island off the coast of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is a marshy island situated in the eastern Celebes Sea, off the northeastern coast of Borneo. The island occupies an area of .-Petroleum:...

 at midnight on January 11, 1942, followed by the 2nd Kure Special Naval Landing Force. After mounting a brief, but fierce resistance, the Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, or KNIL) garrison was outnumbered and surrendered in the morning of January 12. All prisoners of war were executed by the Japanese in retaliation for the destruction of the oil installations; an action that was repeated later in Balikpapan
Battle of Balikpapan (1942)
This article concerns the naval and land battles of Balikpapan in 1942. For information on the 1945 landings by Australian forces in the same area, see Second Battle of Balikpapan....


During the night of January 11, before Japan completed the blockade of Tarakan, the Dutch submarine K-X, the patrol boat P-1 and the civilian motor launch Aida slipped away. The Dutch minelayer Prins van Oranje tried to escape as well but was sunk by the Japanese destroyer Yamakaze
Japanese destroyer Yamakaze
was the eighth of ten s, and the second to be built for the Imperial Japanese Navy under the Circle Two Program .-History:...

 (Lt. Cdr Shuichi Hamanaka) and the patrol boat P-38.

Tarakan remained under Japanese occupation until May 1945 when it was liberated by Australian troops in the 1945 Battle of Tarakan
Battle of Tarakan (1945)
The Battle of Tarakan was the first stage in the Borneo campaign of 1945. It began with an amphibious landing by Australian forces on 1 May, code-named Operation Oboe One...


Japanese Units

Sakaguchi Detachment
  • HQ 56th Regimental Group
  • Tankette
    A tankette is a tracked combat vehicle resembling a small tank roughly the size of a car, mainly intended for light infantry support or reconnaissance. Colloquially it may also simply mean a "small tank"....

    • 146th Infantry Regiment (+)
      • I Battalion, 56th Field Artillery Regiment
      • 1 Company, 56th Engineer Regiment
      • 2 Company, 56th Transport Regiment
  • Infantry elements, 2nd Kure Special Naval Landing Force
  • 2nd Oilfield Construction Unit
  • 5th Airfield Construction Unit

Dutch Units

Tarakan Garrison
  • Tarakan Garrison Battalion (7th KNIL Infantry Battalion)
    • Machinegun company
    • Motorised detachment with 7 armoured cars
  • 3 Coastal Artillery Regiment(?)
    • Two mobile coastal artillery batteries (total of 3 × 75 mm guns and 2 × 70 mm guns)
    • Five fixed coastal artillery batteries (total of 2 × 120 mm guns, 10 × 75 mm guns and 3 × 37 mm guns)
    • Two AA batteries (total of 4 × 40 mm guns and 4 × 20 mm guns)
    • Four AA machine gun platoons (each with 3 × 12.7 mm HMG)
  • Two engineer platoons
  • Mobile Auxiliary First Aid Platoon


  • Womack, Tom (2006), "The Dutch Naval Air Force Against Japan – The Defense of the Netherlands East Indies, 1941–1942", McFarland & Company, Inc., ISBN 0-7864-2365-X


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