Australasia 1942: Japan Comes South
Even as their planes racked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were moving south to conquer the resource-rich colonies of Southeast Asia and secure a strategic island perimeter. The Americans, British, Dutch and Australians responded by forming a joint command (ABDA) in an attempt to coordinate a defence.
9–10 Dec 1941 Japanese invasion of the Gilbert Islands▲
Forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy occupy the British colony of the Gilbert Islands, landing on Tarawa on 9 December and Makin the following day. They build a seaplane base on Makin and disperse troops along the coastlines of the atolls to monitor the movement of Allied forces in the South Pacific.
10 Dec 1941 Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse▲
Japanese land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy sink the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse off the east coast of British Malaya, near Kuantan. The British ships had been sent to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet north of Malaya.
16 Dec 1941 Battle of Borneo▲
A Japanese invasion convoy sent from Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, lands troops at Miri, Sarawak, and Seria, Brunei, in an attack on British Borneo, after traveling for three days undetected. The two towns fall with minimal British resistance and a few hours later, the Japanese also capture Lutong, Sarawak.
17 Dec 1941 Allied occupation of east Timor▲
In response to the threat of Japanese invasion and Portugal’s refusal to co-operate with the Allies, a 400-man combined Dutch-Australian force from Dutch Timor occupies Portuguese Timor, facing no resistance from the Portuguese garrison. Although Portugal protests the occupation and the governor declares himself a prisoner in order to preserve the appearance of neutrality, the local authorities tacitly co-operate with the Allied force.
1 Jan 1942 ABDACOM▲
The United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Commonwealth of Australia form ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) Command in an attempt to halt the Japanese advance.
22–23 Jan 1942 Battle of Rabaul▲
In Operation R, the South Seas Force of the Imperial Japanese Navy lands 3,000-4,000 troops on New Ireland, an island of the Australian Territory of New Guinea, seizing the main town of Kavieng without opposition. The next day, before dawn, the invasion fleet enters Simpson Harbour by Rabaul, the most important port on New Britain and the former capital of the Territory, landing around 5,000 troops. The Australians mount a desperate defense but are forced south, where they surrender a few weeks later.