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EASTERN THEATRE OPERATIONS, the Diaries of Adm Layton, C-in-C, China Station - November 1941 to March 1942


Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Prince of Wales, battleship at Singapore, late 1941
(Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

on to East Indies Fleet, starting at January 1942
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China, East Indies, Australia & New Zealand Stations September 1939 to March 1942


  Areas of Operations (click to enlarge). Only some locations in text are shown  


Click for Convoy Route Codes, Operation Code Names and Royal Navy  Minelaying


This is the Diary of Admiral Layton, Commander-in-Chief, China who commanded the Station from Singapore at this time. His responsibilities mainly involved escorting reinforcements into Singapore.



Friday 28th November 1941


Admiral Sir Tom Phillips arrived Colombo in PRINCE OF WALES.  He was instructed by the Admiralty to fly to Singapore in order to get on with his planning, and be ready to take command in the Eastern Theatre if war developed.  He was also to get in touch with Commander in Chief United States Asiatic Fleet as soon as possible.


Saturday 29th November 1941


Admiral Phillips, accompanied by Rear Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, DSC (Chief of Staff) and Commander Goodenough (Staff Officer, Plans) left Ceylon by air to Singapore direct at 0219/29 and arrived at the latter at 2300GH.  British, Dutch, and U.S. air reconnaissance over the South China Sea was instituted on this day in accordance with plans previously made.


Dutch submarine O 16 and K 17 were ordered to the vicinity 4 degrees North, 104 degrees 30 minutes East to be ready to act in accordance with plans for Dutch co operation in the event of war with Japan.


Sunday 30th November 1941


PRINCE OF WALES and destroyers sailed from Colombo to rendezvous with the remainder of Force G and proceed to Singapore.


Restrictions were placed on Dutch ships sailing North of the Netherlands East Indies.


Monday 1st December 1941


The two Dutch submarines in the South China Sea were placed under operational control of Commander in Chief China.


Tuesday 2nd December 1941


1800GH.  Force G, consisting of PRINCE OF WALES, REPULSE, ELECTRA, EXPRESS, ENCOUNTER, and JUPITER arrived Singapore.  This event was made public, but the names of the flagship only was mentioned, and efforts were made to conceal the strength of the force.


Wednesday 3rd December 1941


0800GH.  Admiral Phillips assumed command of the Eastern Fleet, Commander in Chief China remaining responsible for command and administration of the remainder of the China Station until further orders.  The Eastern Fleet was defined as consisting of PRINCE OF WALES, REPULSE, REVENGE, JUPITER, ENCOUNTER, ELECTRA, EXPRESS, and VAMPIRE.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet suggested to Commodore, Hong Kong, the withdrawal of two of the three S class destroyers from the Hong Kong Local Defence Flotilla in order to make up the shortage of destroyers for work with the fleet. (C in C E.F. 0927Z/3).  Hong Kong concurred (0725Z/5).


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet, after consultation with Commander in Chief China recommended that the duties of the Rear Admiral, Malaya, should be divided between two officers, as Flag Officer in Charge and Superintendent of the Dockyard and that Commodore F.E.P. Hutton should be appointed as the latter (C in C E.F. 1013Z/3).


Thursday 4th December 1941


Admiral Phillips, accompanied by Paymaster Captain Beardsworth and Commander Goodenough left for Manila by air to confer with the Commander in Chief United States Asiatic Fleet.


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies proposed the transfer of three Catalinas without crews to British control, to assist in reconnaissance, which was accepted.


Commodore W.E. Parry, CB, First Naval Member of the New Zealand Naval Board arrived at Singapore by air from New Zealand for consultation with Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.


Friday 5th December 1941


REPULSE, VAMPIRE, and TENEDOS sailed for Darwin, accompanied by JUPITER and ELECTRA for the first part of their passage.  It was the intention that they should remain at Darwin for a few days and then return to Singapore.


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies stated that he intended to send JAVA to Singapore at the first opportunity, and he also announced that the Dutch Army Aircraft in the Outer Archipelago had taken up positions for reconnaissance with Plenaps Section One, and that the Governor General would welcome the move of Australian aircraft to Ambon and Koepang.  The Australian Government ordered the latter movement to take placed at dawn 7th December.

COS telegram FE 50 received at 1541GH giving an assurance of U.S. armed support in certain eventualities.


Saturday 6th December 1941

          0700.  Two Dutch submarine left Singapore to patrol in vicinity of 7-30N, 103E.

1440.  Reports were received at Singapore from reconnaissance aircraft of three separate forces of Japanese warships and auxiliaries off the South coast of Indo China.  The most advanced convoy consisted of one cruiser and three merchant vessels sighted at 0442Z in position 07-51N, 105E, course northwest.  Two large convoys, one of six cruisers and ten destroyers, and twenty five merchant vessels in 08N, 106-08E at 0316Z; and another of two cruisers, ten destroyers, and ten merchant vessels in position 7-45N, 106-20E, were both steaming west.  There was also a Dutch aircraft report of 0335Z/6 of a suspicious ship in 4-33N, 104-56E, which reversed course from south to north on being sighted and was reported flying the Japanese flag and having soldiers on board.  These sightings were immediately reported to the Admiralty, Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet, Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies, Australian Commonwealth Naval Board, New Zealand Naval Board, the Commander in Chief East Indies.  The following action was also taken:

1).  Special air reconnaissance was ordered from Malaya by Royal Air Force to cover the southern part of the Gulf of Siam.


2).  Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet “alerted” four U.S. Destroyers at Balikpapan.


3).  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies ordered JAVA to leave Sourabaya for Singapore on 7th December at 20 knots.


4).  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies put air reconnaissance and naval dispositions in force (see message 1537Z/6) and announced his intention of visiting Singapore himself by Catalina on Monday 8th December.


5).  Australian Commonwealth Naval Board proposed to implement Plenap A paragraph 32 (Koepang only)


6).  Admiral Phillips signaled from Manila to the Chief of Staff to recall REPULSE in view of the reports of Japanese convoys, (this had actually been done already by his Chief of Staff acting on my advice) of which there was apparently an independent United States report.  Admiral Phillips subsequently left Manila by air for Singapore direct.

Unfortunately, air reconnaissance during the remainder of the day failed to produce by further sighting reports of the Japanese convoys and a report to that effect was made to the Admiralty at 1431Z/6.  There were some indications that the forces were proceeding to the anchorage at Khotrang on the west coast of Indo China.  The weather was mainly unfavourable to air reconnaissance with much low cloud.


During the day, Vice Admiral Sir G. Royle, First Naval Member of the Australian Commonwealth Naval Boar, accompanied by Paymaster Captain Foley and Commander Nicholls, arrived at Singapore in H.M.A.S. MANOORA for consultation with Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.


Sunday 7th December 1941


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet arrived Singapore by air from Manila and conferred with the First Naval Members of the Australian and New Zealand Naval Boards, the Dutch Liaison Officer, and the United States Observer.


Enemy Activities

Although air reconnaissance over the Gulf of Siam did not sight any Japanese convoys during the day conditions for reconnaissance were very poor with much low cloud.  A number of isolated reported of Japanese warships and unidentified merchant vessels were received, from which it was difficult to deduce any concerted movement.  A Catalina flying boat which was ordered to reconnoiter anchorages on the west coast of Cambodia made no reports and failed to return.


Movements of Our Own Force

REPULSE, VAMPIRE, and TENEDOS, having been recalled with all despatch arrived at Singapore at noon.


EXETER was ordered to leave the convoy she was covering in the Bay of Bengal and proceed to Singapore at her best speed.


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies ordered one submarine to Natuna Islands and two submarines to the Badas Islands.


The Dutch flotilla leader TROMP took up patrol in the Natuna – Badas area.


Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet ordered Destroyer Division 57 to proceed to Batavia for supplies.


The Australian government ordered SPARROW FORCE to be embarked in ZEALANDIA and WESTRALIA.


THANET and SCOUT sailed from Hong Kong for Singapore.


Dutch S/M’s O 16 and K 17 were recalled to Singapore.


General Situation

Telegraphic discussion with H.M. Minister in Bangkok and the Foreign Office as to the line to be taken in regard to the possible violation of Thai neutrality culminated in an impassioned appeal from Sir Josiah Crosby that we should take no steps to occupy any Thai territory, before the Japanese did so.  After consultation with the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, Commander in Chief Far East decided not to put Operation MATADOR in force for the following reasons.

1).  That the reports of Japanese forces and deductions as to their destinations were at the best doubtful owing to bad conditions.


2).  That in any case, if directed against the Kra Isthmus these forces would get there before our own; and


3).  Because the Japanese movements might well be intended to induce us to violate Thai neutrality.

At 2105Z/7 Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet ordered PLENEP B (Plans for cooperation with United States and Dutch Forces) to be brought into force, with the exception of the despatch of Dutch fighters to Malay.  The following day, this exception was cancelled.


Monday 8th December 1941




click to enlarge


Enemy Activities

0030.  Information received in the War Room, Singapore that gunfire had been seen off Kota Bharu.


0100.  Commander in Chief China conferred with Governor, and decided to carry out PETER (seizure of Japanese vessels in Malaya)


0115.  Attempted Japanese landing at Kota Bharu reported.


0220.  First landing reported repelled, one ship going south to Kemassin.  Five aircraft bombing.


0250.  Large force reported off coast near Kota Bharu.


0325.  Unidentified aircraft reported over Mersing, course south.  Naval Base blacked out.


0400.  Unidentified aircraft over southeast Johore.  Air raid warning sounded.  Air raid on Singapore by 18 aircraft, Seletar and Sembawant aerodromes attacked.  Singapore Town also attacked, possibly in mistake for Kallang.  No military damage.


0415.  Admiral WAR telegram received.


0510.  Second air raid warning, possibly caused by aircraft returning from raid in Rhio Straits.


0810     Reports received of air raid on Hong Kong.


0815.  Japanese reported landing in large numbers between Singgora and Pattani in Kra Isthmus.


0850.  Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet reported that hostilities had broken out between United States and Japan and had Destroyer Division No. 57 had been ordered to Singapore.

During the forenoon, heavy Japanese air attacks developed on our aerodromes in Northern Malaya particularly Sungei Patani, which had three heavy attacks and practically all buildings were destroyed.  These resulted in serious losses of aircraft on the ground, particularly fighters.  Our own bomber and torpedo bomber squadrons attacked concentrations of enemy warships and landing craft off the Kra Isthmus and also suffered considerable losses, although several ships were hit, and some set on fire.


Own Movements

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet decided during the forenoon to proceed with PRINCE OF WALES, REPULSE, and available destroyers with the object of attacking enemy transports off Singora at dawn on 10th December.  A full account of these operations has been given elsewhere.  Air Commanding Officer, Far East, was consulted about fighter protection and at first thought this could be arranged;  news of the losses in North Malaya later caused doubt to the thrown on this and at 2253GH/8, Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet was informed by Chief of Staff that fighter protection could not be provided on 10th (i.e. fighter protection off Singora.)




PANGKOR was sailed from Penang with stores and party for Port N (Nancowry)


Allied Operations

United States of America gave instructions for aircraft and submarines to carry out unrestricted warfare.


Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet stated he was stationing three large submarines off the Indo China coast north of Pulo Condore.



The following emergency schemes were put into force.

  0100 PETER   seizure of Japanese fishing vessels, small craft, etc.
  1005 STEAK   denial of tugs and lighters on East Coast
    BARRIER   Control of Northern Frontier
    TROUSERS   Internment of Japanese in Malaya
  1037 PLANET   Control of Coastal lights in Malaya
  1047 HAMMER, CHISEL, and BROWNOUT   Miri Oil Denial Scheme, partial and total
  1112 COMET   Control of Coastal lights
    BETTY   Tin denial
  1326 VIPER   Call up of Volunteer police reserve
    HOLDFAST   Detention of shipping


All these schemes were carried out successfully and without incident.


Hostilities having broken out with Japan, it became undesirable to perpetuate dual control, and Acting Admiral Sir Tom Phillips having assumed command of the China Station, the flag of Vice Admiral Sir G. Layton was hauled down at sunset.


Tuesday 9th December 1941


click to enlarge


Enemy Activities

Kota Bharu area.  Enemy landings and infiltration continued, in spite of initial successes against some parties.  Our air forces evacuated the aerodrome.  There were further reports of 2 cruiser and 4 destroyers off Kota Bharu, 3 further destroyers and 16 merchant vessels further to the northwest.  Our counter air action faded out with further enemy attacks on the Northern Aerodromes, particularly Butterworth and Bayan Lepas; Kuantan was also bombed.  Suspicious vessels were reported off Kuantan and aircraft sent to attack but without result.  A landing reported in the Kuantan area at 2200 but report appeared false.  Kuantan aerodrome was however apparently evacuated by Royal Air Force.


Japanese invasion of North West Malaya commenced.  Royal Air Force ordered demolition and evacuated of Alor Star aerodrome.


15 additional transports and one aircraft carrier were reported at Singgora at 1600.


Own and Allied Movements


Force Z steered to east of Anamba Islands then northwards.  They were sighted by enemy reconnaissance aircraft between 1730 and 1830 and turned south after dark.


Dutch cruiser JAVA arrived Singapore.


3 Dutch bomber squadrons arrived Singapore from Netherlands East Indies (they mustered, however, only 22 Glen Martins, of whom 8 were sent back for further training).  1 Fighter Squadron (12 Buffalos) arrived later.



Commodore F.E.P. Hutton took over duties of Commodore Superintendent, H.M. Dockyard, Singapore


Chief of Staff’s situation report to Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet in the evening disclosed that we seemed to be losing our grip on Northern aerodromes.


Wednesday 10th December 1941

click to enlarge

Enemy Activities


Force Z proceeded towards Kuantan to investigate the reported landing there.  Shortly after daylight, the force was located by enemy reconnaissance aircraft.  Kuantan was examined by a destroyer and found to be normal, with no enemy activity.  Force Z turned back to the North East to investigate a steamer and string of junks or lighters which had been sighted.


Between 1115 and 1315, Force Z was attacked a force of 5 Squadrons each of 9 Japanese Type 96 twin engine torpedo bombers, as a result of which both PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE were sunk and Acting Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, K.C.B. lost his life.


The first report of this attack was received in the War Room at Singapore at 1200GH.  Six Buffalos immediately took off from Kallang but did not arrived at the scene of action until 1300 when REPULSE had already sunk and PRINCE OF WALES was sinking.


ELECTRA, EXPRESS, and VAMPIRE picked up a total of 2189 survivors with whom they arrived at Singapore between 2300 and 0130.


The United States 57th Destroyer Division and STRONGHOLD were ordered to the scene of the action, and sailed at 1600, but the destroyers of Force Z reported, that no survivors had been left.


One Walrus aircraft from PRINCE OF WALES, flown off 35 miles northeast of Kuantan, arrived Singapore at 1500.


One Walrus aircraft from REPULSE was towed in the following day by STRONGHOLD having run out of fuel and come down near Sedili.


On news being received of the attacks on Force Z, Vice Admiral Sir G. Layton, who had already embarked in S.S. DOMINION MONARCH for passage to the United Kingdom, was recalled, and by Admiralty instructions assumed command of Eastern Fleet, temporarily, his flag being rehoisted in SULTAN


Own and Allied Movements

1530 TEVIOTBANK arrived Singapore having laid Northern portion of Durian Straits minefield.
1500  EXETER arrived Singapore.
1448 DRAGON ordered to take ERINPURA (with troops of India) to Port Swettenham rather than to Penang in view of danger from air attack.
1600  Dutch submarines K 11, K 12, K 13, K 17, and O 16 were ordered to commence sweep westwards towards Thai coast.


Note on Submarine Operations


In accordance with PLENAPS, Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies had transferred submarines K 11, K 12, and K 13 to the orders of the British Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet in addition to K 17 and O 16 already operating from Singapore.


K 11, K 12, and K 13 had been patrolling in Carimata Strait for a fortnight before the war commenced and had been re victualled by ships at sea.


It was decided to form all submarines in a line 180 degrees from Cambodia Point.  O 16 40 miles south of that point and the remainder spread 20 miles apart.  It was arranged that they should keep well to the eastwards while taking up their positions so as not to interfere with the Operations of Force Z.  As soon as Force Z was attacked and put out of action, the submarines were ordered to sweep towards the coast and attack Japanese ships between Kota Bharu and Singgora.


1530 DOMINION MONARCH sailed for New Zealand independently.
1800 S.S. NELLORE arrived from Hong Kong, having been unsuccessfully attacked by enemy aircraft on passage


Air Operations


The enemy continued heavy air attacks on the northern aerodromes, particularly Butterworth and Lipis.


There was a report of 15 aircraft approaching Penang from the West and also a report of a ship resembling an aircraft carrier approaching Penang from the west at high speed, but the latter at any rate was unfounded.


A force of Vildebeests were detailed to attack the alleged enemy force at Kuantan, one crashed on taking off and another blew up; the others reported Kuantan aerodrome appeared to be on fire.  In was, in fact, still in our hands and there was no enemy in the vicinity.


TENEDOS (detached from Force Z the previous evening) was attacked by enemy aircraft at 1046 and had one casualty from a near miss.  (She arrived at Singapore at 1500).


Our air effort was very small this day; in fact the total number of serviceable aircraft in the Far East Command had fallen to 59, owing to the heavy losses on the ground in North Malaya and numerous crashes.  There were, however, still two squadrons of fighters available on the Singapore aerodromes.



Japanese attacks began to drive in our forces in North West Malaya.  3rd Indian Corps reported considerable improvement in Kelantan, but this was only temporary, as further landings and infiltrations occurred and owing to losses, fatigue and evacuation of aerodromes only feeble air counter action was put up.


Thursday 11th December 1941

Enemy Activities



Enemy air attacks shifted to Penang, where Georgetown and the harbour were heavily bombed.


No ships were hit, but S.S. COLBOURNE was damaged by a near miss.  All the larger ships were sent to sea (including SOUDAN and MAXIM GORKI) and the smaller were told to scatter.  AGAPENOR and GLENAPP remained in harbour working ammunition, but sailed during the night.


Serious fires were started in Georgetown which got out of control, water mains being cut.  Heavy casualties resulted in the Asiatic quarter, and the morale of the civil population fell rapidly.


Patrols hunted a reported submarine in the Singapore Strait without result.




Stonecutters and Kowloon Dockyard were evacuated.


Own and Allied Movements


EXETER sailed for Colombo via Sunda, to strengthen escort forces on the East Indies station, now that a striking force supported by capital ships could not be formed.


Dutch submarines O 19 and O 20 were put under orders of the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, and sailed for Singapore.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to stop all sailings for Far East till situation clarified.


Mr. A. Duff Cooper became Resident Minister of State at Singapore and formed a War Council, which had its first meeting.


On assumed temporary command of East Fleet, Commander in Chief expressed his policy to Admiralty as follows.


“On assuming command my Broad Policy to meet present situation is as follows.


2.  We are back in the period before relief.  Our object must therefore be (a) Hold as much of Malay as possible to secure Singapore as a base for Eastern Fleet, (b) Keep trade moving, (c) Effect maximum damage by air and S/M on enemy.


3.  To effect this we required all possible reinforcements of submarines, minesweepers, destroyers in addition to whatever air reinforcements can be provided.


4.  Battleships should not come further than Colombo until accompanied by Cruisers destroyers and air


5.  I realise difficulty in meeting all demands but if Singapore is to be held, we must have necessary forces with which to do it.


                                                                                                                        T.O.O. 0833Z/11”


Military and Air

Confused fighting in Kedah where touch was lost with two forward battalions.  Enemy advanced forces employing tanks.  Thought one enemy division in each of Kedah and Kelantan.


Our aircraft bombed Singgora, where there was a large concentration of enemy fighters.  Results not observed owning to opposition to photographic reconnaissance.



Admiralty directed Commodore R.A.B. Edwards, who was on passage to join Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet as Chief Staff Officer (afloat), to proceed to Colombo for temporary duty with Commander in Chief, East Indies.


Friday 12th December 1941


Enemy Activities

Renewed air attacks on Penang, with bombs and machine guns.  Patrol vessels and Georgetown objects of attack.  Further effect on morale of Asiatic population which had by nightfall entirely deserted town. Causing all transport and public service to cease.  Attitude of European civil population, including Government Administration, was one of complete helplessness.


H.M.S. KAMPAR was damaged by a very near miss and had to be beached.


Mergui was bombed by 50 aircraft.


Own and Allied Movements

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet’s situation report at 1401Z/12 gave general dispositions.

A convoy of 7 merchant ships (5 for Australia and 2 for Colombo) was formed at Singapore and sailed, escorted by JAVA, KANIMBLA, and three destroyers.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies was asked to provide A/S and Air escort for 13th and 14th December.

Detachments of Royal Naval personnel (mainly ex PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE) were despatched to Penang by rail in order to assist in restoring communications (particularly ferries) and moral.

Dutch submarine O 16 carried out a very successful night attack off Kra Isthmus, torpedoing and sinking four transports one of which blew up.  The attack was made trimmed down on the surface in 27 – 30 feet of water; after 4 torpedoes from bow had been fired, a further attack was made with stern tubes.  This attack was evidently made with great skill and determination and Lieutenant Commander Bussemaker was recommended for and received, the immediate award of the D.S.O.  He estimated the total tonnage of the ships sunk at 40,000 – 50,000 tons and numbers of troops on board 4000. (Note:  These details were received from Cornelius DeWolf, DSM, the sole survivor of O 16)

EXETER sailed from Singapore for Colombo.

O 19 and O 20 ordered to Singapore.

United States Ships

MARBLEHEAD, STEWART, and PARROTT left Balikpapan, HOUSTON, BOISE, and 2 destroyers (n.b. JOHN D. FORD and POPE) with a United States convoy (n.b. HOLLAND and OTUS).

LANGLEY and two United States destroyers (n.b. BARKER and PAUL JONES) with 2 tankers (n.b. PECOS and TRINITY) were in position 00-12N, 120-20E.

Since 0500/10 Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet had no communication with the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet, and knew nothing of his dispositions or activities.  At 1130GH/12 however, communication with Cavite was restores, and as a result Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet learnt of the foregoing movements.  He asked the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet for his dispositions and expressed his hope that the 4 United States destroyers at Singapore (which had been sent to help screen the British Capital ships) might remain.  Admiral Glassford (Commander Task Force 5) was also asked for his dispositions.

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet stated that his operations from the Philippines were now confined to those of submarines with occasional support from seaplanes, and that base facilities at Cavite had been severely damaged by air attacks.


Admiralty ordered that the defences of Nancowry were not to be proceeded with, and that the MNBDO were to be employed at Addu Atoll and Ceylon.

Responsibility for the defence of Burma transferred from the Commander in Chief Far East to Commander in Chief India.

Five Fleet Air Arm Albacores at Seletar (non operational) were transferred to Royal Air Force to reinforce Torpedo Bomber Squadrons.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies asked for personnel ex PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE to assist in manning SUMATRA, two submarines, and some motor torpedo boats for which he had insufficient numbers.  It was agreed to examine the problem.

As a result of the War Council meeting, Mr. Duff Cooper sent a personal telegram to Prime Minister Churchill stressing necessity of early despatch of reinforcements.


Enemy attacks, mainly East of road from Singapore to Alor Star, on 11th Division, drove in right flank and led to withdrawal to line of Sungei Sukit just North of Alor Star.  Enemy attacked KROH column in strength and drove it back to the frontier.  Situation confused.  Tanks and light artillery in action and position giving rise to some anxiety as position in North Kedah was threatened.

Hong Kong

Withdrawal from mainland was completed during night 11th-12th.


Saturday 13th December 1941

Enemy activities

A secret intelligence report reported a very large Japanese convoy off the Indo China coast, steering SSW – said to consist of 100 transports, with one or two aircraft carriers, 1 auxiliary cruiser, 8 destroyers, and several submarines.  A special search by Catalina was arranged, and Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the Far East was asked to assist.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in Far East announced his intention of concentrating all his forces against this convoy, which might portent an attack on Borneo, but he was asked to suspend this pending confirmation of this report.

Own and Allied Movements

Dutch submarine K 12 reported having sunk a merchant ship at dusk on 12th December and a laden oil tanker on the afternoon  of 13th, both off Kota Bharu.  She reported that she had two torpedoes left and was returning to Singapore.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet informed Commander in Chief East Indies that the Burma convoy due to sail on 16th December should proceed, but that no convoys should sail for Malaya till situation was clearer.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies stated the oil denial scheme in Dutch Borneo would not be started so long as supplies to Australia and our own forces could be maintained.

THANET and SCOUT sailed from Tarakan for Singapore

Auxiliary Patrol Vessel BANKA operation on East Coast of Malaya, lost by striking a mine in one of our own minefields.


Telegram from B.A.D. Washington 2115/12 indicated that United Stated Asiatic Fleet was now to withdraw from Philippines towards N.W. Australia rather than south westward towards Singapore.  This was a complete change from the plans formed before hostilities (in A.B.D. Conference, etc) and gravely prejudiced the chances of holding Malaya.

This new policy was immediately expressed in instructions (which were received from Washington in the first instance) that Destroyer Division 57 was to withdrawn from Singapore and proceed to Sourabaya.

0846Z/13.  Commander in Chief reviewed his position, and informed Admiralty that, if the present policy of the Japanese, namely infiltration from the North and capture of successive aerodromes, succeeded, he did not propose to remain at Singapore himself until that base was invested, but would withdraw surface vessels and proceed to Colombo, leaving submarines under Rear Admiral Malaya.

1433Z/14.  Admiralty concurred.

Hong Kong

A Japanese mission under a flag of truce demanded the surrender of Hong Kong, which was refused.

The military withdrawn from Kowloon was completed during the night and civilian personnel were sent to Aberdeen.



At War Council Air Officer Commanding Far East summed up air position as follows:  Fighters available few.  He must retain bulk for Singapore, but he was sending some north to Ipoh at urgent request of Army for assistance.  He could not help Army and defend Penang as well.


Approximated numbers in round figures serviceable were:


            IPOH (after 1100 today)              20 Buffaloes (21 Squadron and Dutch)

            SINGAPORE                             19 Vildebeests

                                                            10 Hudsons

                                                            15 Blenheims

                                                            27 Buffalos

                                                            15 Glen Martins (Dutch)

                                                            4 Flying boats.

Reinforcements promised so far were only 6 Blenheims by 17th, 6 more later, and possibly a further 6.

One Dutch Squadron was untrained, and one New Zealand Squadron not operationally trained.

The position at Penang was reviewed.  All Chinese had left.  Unable to bury dead from first raid.  Morale of civilian population extinct.  General Officer Commanding held we must defend the place to the best of our ability.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet informed Council that Penang was clear of all shipping except coasters.

Mr. Duff Cooper advocated withdrawal to South Malaya to avoid losing our forces in futile battles in the North.  Could we defend a country the size of England with 4 weak Divisions (mainly Indian), with only 3 Squadrons of fighters (not all properly trained) and without command of the sea?

General Officer Commanding thought it was important to hold as many aerodromes as possible and as long as possible, but foresaw the possibility of gradual withdrawal to North Johore.  His Excellency the Governor said on political grounds he could not agree to immediate withdrawal.  General Officer Commanding also stressed effect of morale of immediate withdrawal in  face of the enemy.


11th Division on line of River Kedah after heavy fighting.  Two brigades operating as one.  Ordered to fight it out.

KROH column back on frontier, reported Japanese advancing via Grik.

Contact and slight fighting in Kelantan.

General Officer Commanding considered 14th a critical day and fighter support in North vital.


Commander in Chief Far East asked Netherlands East Indies for another squadron of fighters.  No reply.


Sunday 14th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Enemy forces consisting of (a) 2 battleships and 1 cruiser at 1356 and (b) 4 cruisers at 1424 were reported in differing positions South of Indo China by Catalina search.  Subsequent reports resolved this into a force of 6 cruisers in 7-39N, 10-08E, course 210 degrees.

Apart from this there was no confirmation of yesterday’s report of a large enemy convoy.

The necessary submarine dispositions were made to intercept the cruisers if they approached the East coast of Malaya.

Own Operations and movements.

TEVIOTBANK (escorted by VAMPIRE) was employed minelaying in the Pulo Aur area.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet informed Commander in Chief East Indies that KUNG WO was available at Nancowry and fitted for minelaying if required.

O 19 and O 20 left Singapore for operations off the East Coast, with the main objective of attacking enemy shipping off the Singgora  - Kota Bharu area.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies reported that submarine tender JANSSENS was being sent to Singapore with 32 torpedoes for Dutch submarines

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet informed Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet, in response to an enquiry, that his submarines had not been reporting results but had some luck.  He also stated that the air war was not going too well in the Manila area.

United States Destroyer Division 57 left Singapore for Sourabaya at noon.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet represented to Admiralty effect of this decision (0415Z/14)

ERINPURA was selected to take 700 Naval personnel ex PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE to Colombo


There were further air raids on Penang and Butterworth.  Naval parties running the ferries evacuated most of the civilian population from Penang during the night.

The Singapore War Council reviewed the position at Penang.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet said that if Penang was lost we could no longer use Malacca Straits, and Sunda Straits must be used for reinforcements.  He would take steps to lay magnetic mines in approaches to Penang.  Mr. Duff Cooper asked if the battle of Kedah was worth using up our air resources in view of possible future attacks on Singapore.  His Excellency the Governor stressed the bad effect on morale of withdrawal and importance of cable communications via Penang.

It was decided to take the garrison out of Penang and put it into the battle for Kedah, on which the fact of Penang must depend.


REVIEW OF FIRST WEEK.  8th – 14th December

Japan’s onslaught reaped most of the advantages of surprise.  We had warning of a kind, but it was not decisive enough to enable us to forestall the enemy.

Our long term preparations, in the way of reinforcing the Far East, were barely half way towards the programme laid down 18 months before.  Our short term preparations were more up to date.

2.  The power and speed of the enemy air offensive in North Malaya was greater than had been expected, and our losses of aircraft and damage to aerodromes in this area in the first two days were little short of disastrous.  On the morning of the 3rd day, the Far East Command could only muster 59 combat aircraft fit to fly, out of an establishment of about 160 of all types.  This air inferiority dominated everything else, as it made our naval movements in the South China Sea hazardous and gravely prejudiced our chances in the land battle in North Malaya.

3.  The Dutch submarines operation with some success against enemy transports and supply ships off Malaya and the Kra Isthmus, but they were too few to have a decisive effect.  Our air effort in this direction fell away suddenly with the loss of the Northern aerodromes.

4.  Our Naval forces at Singapore consisted of two fast Capital ships and the minimum number to screen these.  More destroyer support was expected from the United Stats Asiatic Fleet and the Dutch, but at the outbreak of hostilities with Japan, Admiral Philips could only find three fleet destroyers to go to sea with him.

In these circumstances, operations in the South China Sea within range of enemy shore based aircraft must be hazardous without fighter protection, and so it unfortunately proved.

5.  The tragic loss of PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE put us back in the “period before relief”, with the added factor that their loss meant that period must be considerably extended.  We could oppose Japanese command of the South China Sea with a few submarines and a few aircraft.  We had to do what we could in this direction, and to keep trade and convoys moving on our essential lines of sea communication, while the Army tried to hold as much of Malaya as possible.

6.  The Army unfortunately found themselves faced with the loss of air support at the outset, and with an enemy very well trained and equipped, more numerous than our own troops, and fighting with fanatical courage.

As a result, after heavy fighting, by the end of a week, it was apparent that the Battle of Kedah had reached a critical stage and the abandonment of that State and Penang and Province Wellesley had to be faced.  The Army had suffered severe losses, and though only a proportion of our forces in Malaya was engaged in this battle it was not considered possible to withdraw more troops from South Malaya, as it was held they must remain to protect the Singapore base against direct attack from sea.  There were indications that the latter was imminent on several occasions during the week and though these did not in fact herald a large scale attack, they inevitably served their purpose as feints (if such  they were) and prevented our moving reserves to the Kedah battle…..(n.b. page chopped; last line missing)

The Dutch Naval Commander in Chief, Vice Admiral Helfrich, was at once, as we had hoped and expected, cooperative to the full, with many helpful suggestions for assistance and resolute initiative in counting the enemy moves.  Unfortunately the cooperation with the United States Naval Authorities did not go well.  Partly this was due to the fact that the Japanese attack on the Philippines resulted in W/T and Cable touch being lost with Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, for a critical 48 hours between 10th and 12th December, but it was mainly due to the fact that, after shocks administered to them at Pearl Harbour and Manila, the United States Naval Board made the broadest interpretation of their powers to exercise strategic direction under the A.B.C. arrangement, and virtually removed the strategic control of the United States Naval Forces in the Eastern Theatre from both Admiral Hart and Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.

As a result of this, it was only known after some delay that the United States forces, instead of retiring on Singapore when Manila was attacked, were retired through the Celebes Sea and on Java, or even North Western Australia.  Their exact movements were not clear to the Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet for some days.  This change, and the withdrawal of Destroyer Division 57 from Singapore on the 14th, were made without previous warning or reference to the Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.

Apart from the initial attack on the night of 7th – 8th December, the Japanese air force made no further attack on Singapore Island during this period, which seemed to show that the first raid had been mainly a demonstration, and that in accordance with the traditional Japanese procedure, they would devote themselves to steadily reducing our resistance by stages from the North until they would bring to bear an overwhelming strength Singapore.

The enemy air attacks on Northern aerodromes were, as previously stated, decisive, and their attacks on Penang had a drastic effect on local morale and organisation.


Monday 15th December 1941

Enemy Activities

9 Japanese aircraft dropped 18 mines in North Channel Penang.  Mines were dropped from a considerable height.

Japanese occupied Victoria Point, Burma, including aerodrome there.

There was a report of a landing in the mouth of the Pahang River, which proved to be unfounded.

Own Movements and Operations

PANGKOR was ordered to Penang to assist in evacuation.

MAURITIUS left Singapore for Colombo, on partial completion of firemain defects, the remaining work being left to be done at Simonstown.

DANAE was ordered to proceed from Colombo to Singapore via Malacca Straits.

S.S. ULYSSES arrived Singapore safely from Hong Kong after being thought lost (reported bombed).

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies informed Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet he could keep all Dutch submarines under his orders for the time being (CZM 0459Z/15).  O 19 and O 20 ordered to proceed to Songhkla area.  K 12 and K 13 to return to Singapore, if nothing sighted by dark; K 11 and K 17 continue to cover approaches to Kuantan and Pahang.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief East Indies to sail DANAE from Colombo for Singapore at best speed.

War Council

Discussed position in Kedah and Penang.  Mr. Duff Cooper again stressed the importance of holding Singapore, and doubted whether it was worth incurring heavy losses in an attempt to hold Penang and Kedah.  Commander in Chief, Far East said we must hold as many aerodromes as possible.  General Officer 3rd Corps thought it possible we should lose the whole force if we fought it out.

General Officer Commanding Malaya thought it probable enemy would not come further south than Penang for some time.  He was given authority to use his judgment and order withdrawal if and when necessary , and delegated the General Officer Commanding 3rd Corps the decision to evacuate Penang when required.

It was decided bulk of bomber and T/B strength must be kept in Singapore to attack possible enemy troop convoys approaching Malaya.

All civilians were to be advised to leave Penang.


11th Division on line of Kedah Peak.  Heavy enemy attacks.  Troops exhausted.  3rd Corps could probably not stand heavy attack now, and were ordered to cover Penang.

Kelantan.  Local counter attack successful but withdrawal continued.

Position deteriorated during the day.  The enemy penetrated between 11th Division and Kroh Column and cut off the 6th Brigade.  Retirement behind the Muda River was ordered.


The Naval Officer in Charge, Captain J.G. Fraser, OBE, RN (retired), had shown signs that we were unequal to the situation, and the Rear Admiral Malaya gave instructions by signal that he was to transfer his command to his second in command, Commander C.C. Alexander, RN (retired) at midnight 14th/15th December and return to Singapore.

Commander Alexander proceeded to establish himself at Fortress Headquarters in order to maintain close touch with the Military.

A warning message “Stand by to evacuate Penang by Tuesday evening 16th” was received by Naval Officer in Charge, Penang a.m. on Monday 15th and transmitted to Rear Admiral Malaya (N.O. i/c 1158GH/15).

Late in the evening of the 15th, Brigadier Aird-Smith visited the Fortress Commander with a message from General Officers Commanding 3rd Corps that the enemy might be expected to be in possession of the coast opposite Penang on the 17th and that the Fortress Commander was to decide whether to evacuate Penang.  The latter decided on immediate evacuation, which was believed to coincide with the views of the Corps Commander, who had already given orders to withdraw most of his effective troops.

Nearly all military personnel and equipment were removed, and demolitions carried out, during the night of 15th/16th December, the troops and equipment being ferried across to the mainland by ferries manned by naval crews.  Another naval party for this arrived at 0100/15

This decision to evacuate Penang left very little possibility of completely destroying or immobilising all shipping and small craft at Penang, owing to the complete desertions of all Asiatic labour and the early withdrawal of all military personnel.

Commander Alexander moreover, regarded it as his primary duty to make ships available for the military and civil evacuation.


Areas of operations, click to enlarge

Tuesday 16th December 1941

Enemy Activities

A further 20 transports or supply ships were reported off Kota Bharu and 13 off Pattani.  This might represent reinforcements of 1 division for the Japanese expeditionary force.

A force of 10 Japanese warships and 1 tanker was reported by shore authorities off Lutong, and three warships off Belait.  A Japanese landing party landed at Miri.  The Dutch attacked these forces with 6 Glen Martin bombers escorted by Buffalos from Tarakan, but without result.

Own Movements and Operations

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet ordered H.M.S. LIPIS and MAIMUNAH (Rajah’s Yacht) from Kuching to Singapore but the Rajah ordered the latter to remain.

DANAE sailed from Trincomalee for Singapore.  She was ordered to bring all available steel helmets and gas masks for issue to survivors of PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE, but could only get 140 helmets and 300 respirators.

SCOUT arrived Tanjong Prior

Dutch submarine K 12 arrived Singapore from patrol.

Patrol launches HUNG JAO and FANLING commenced patrol of East Coast rivers.

Commander in Chief East Indies requested KUNG WO might proceed to Trincomalee for minelaying operations.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies ordered JAVA to Christmas Island on account of suspicions of enemy aircraft activity in that vicinity

Australian Commonwealth Naval Board advised that Free French ship LE TRIOMPHANT should be retained in Pacific for the present.

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet was asked whether his submarines were operating south of the Kudat – Padaran line.  He reported that two United States submarines were there, but were being withdrawn to the North and Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked that they might remain for the present.  Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet suggested mining operations off Camranh.

Military and Air

11th Division retired behind the river Kirin.  No contact in the Grik area.  Withdrawal from Kelantan proceeding in good order.  3rd Corps were told that it was desirable to expedite withdrawal.

11th Division’s task was not given as to cover the Perak tin mines, the position held to be at the discretion of the Divisional Commander.


The evacuation of Penang was completed by 2240GH/16.

During the forenoon, the PHB ferry Kulim was scuttled and sundry launches were damaged, but a number of effective ships and small craft were left intact, owing to shortage of ………

(n.b. bottom of page chopped)

The final evacuation took placed between 1830 and 2340 (n.b. believe typo for 2240) in a violent rainstorm and low visibility.  The ferry TANJONG broke down off No. 9 buoy and was abandoned and sunk by gunfire.  The Fortress Commander and Naval Officer in Charge embarked in H.M.S. PANGKOR, which sailed at 2240 for Singapore.


The War Council discussed plans for using the available air force.  Air Officer Commanding was opposed to using bombers by day without fighter escort, which he could not provide.  Commander in Chief Far East thought enemy air bases were now the first objective; as all transport seen would probably be empty.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet did not agree, and thought it best to wait for reports from the submarines.

Mr. Duff Smith had no doubt we must conserve out strength to defend Singapore itself.

It was decided to discontinue day bombing attacks, to leave 1 fighter squadron at Ipoh to support 11th Division, and carry out night bombing only when conditions were favourable.

Several delayed messages from Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet with various dates from 10th December onwards reached Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet, include on of condolence on the loss of PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE

Rear Admiral Purnell, Chief of Staff to Commander in Chief U.S. Asiatic Fleet left Manila by air for Sourabaya.


Wednesday 17th December 1941

Enemy Activities

1 battleship, 1 aircraft carrier, and 3 destroyers were reported off Miri by air reconnaissance, but identification doubtful.

Our Movements and Operations

TEVIOTBANK employed mining in Durian Straits.

STRONGHOLD and TENEDOS left Batavia for Singapore escorting BELLEROPHON and DOLIUS with war supplies.

JAVA examined Christmas Island for possible enemy activities but drew a blank.

1045/17.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies, proposed to send one submarine to attack Camranh Bay.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet did not agree, as it was considered this was in sphere of Asiatic Fleet.  Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet’s attention was drawn to this by signal 0439Z/18.

Commander in Chief East Indies proposed to send MNBDO to get on with defences at Diego Garcia.

At about 0230GH, Dutch submarine K 16 returning from patrol struck one of our own mines off Pulo Aur and sank.  All hands were lost except one.  Her fate was unknown until this survivor arrived at Singapore on 21st December.

Military and Air

It was decided to withdraw behind the Perak rive.  No Japanese south of Besut.  One of the two battalions at Kuantan (4th/19th Hyderabad Regiment), the only available reserve, was moved up to Ipoh.

18 fighters remained at Ipoh to support the Army.  Taiping and Kuantan aerodromes were obstructed.  Enemy air activity was negligible, possibly due to lack of petrol, possibly to weather.



Another flag of truce and demand for surrender was rejected.  The Chinese supporting attack was reported to be meeting with fair success.

Commander in Chief Far East recommended to London that the Kuching area should be held as long as possible.


Thursday 18th December 1941

Enemy Activities

9 enemy aircraft raided the Anambas Islands.

Own Movements and Operations

ENCOUNTER and THANET arrived Singapore.

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet reported that his submariners had been “attentive” in the Camranh Bay area, but had withdrawn North of Cape Padaran – Kudat line.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies what he could do to protect northern Sumatra by patrol vessels.

EXPRESS was prepared for laying A mines.

Commander DENDY flew to Batavia to examine possibilities of manning Dutch cruiser SUMATRA and M.T.B.’s.

Military and Air

Position in North somewhat steadier.

No withdrawal from Kuantan yet.  Two Brigades resting in Ipoh.

10 transports observed off Pattani and material being landed.  Owing to damage to aircraft on ground at Ipoh, no striking force was available there, the Royal Air Force were only able to provide reconnaissance.

Hong Kong

Enemy landed in force on Hong Kong Island during the night and securing deep penetration into our defences created a very grave situation.


War Council considered suggestion to declare Penang an open town, but rejected it as we might wish to attack it ourselves later.


Friday 19th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Enemy shore based and carrier based aircraft raided Sinkawang and Pontianak aerodromes in Borneo, the latter a heavy attack.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies ordered his 3rd Division of submarine to area between 3 degrees and 4 degrees north to attack possible aircraft carrier.

8 Japanese warships were reported still off Miri and two off Belait.  They were attacked by Dutch bombers escorted by fighters and encountered enemy aircraft opposition.  1 Japanese aircraft was shot down and 1 set on fire.  1 Dutch aircraft lost.  One hit claimed on cruiser and one near miss on seaplane tender.

In the evening, the first Japanese troops landed on Penang Island.

Naval Officer in Charge Rangoon transmitted a report that Japanese landing craft were assembling off Penang and Victoria Point but air reconnaissance showed there was no truth in this.

Japanese made considerable progress in Hong Kong Island and occupied the greater part of it.

A Japanese transport full of troops was reported from a reliable source to have been sunk of Quimhon Point in 13-43N, 109-11E on 19th December.

Own Operations and movements

SCOUT and 4 auxiliary patrol vessels were ordered to patrol off Medan and Sabang to prevent enemy access to North Sumatra, across the Straits of Malacca.

ERINPURA sailed from Singapore for Colombo with 30 officers, 700 men ex PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE, and some women and children evacuees, escorted by DURBAN, DRAGON, and VAMPIRE.

Dutch submarine tender JANSSENS arrived Singapore.

Dutch submarine O 20 was sunk by enemy aircraft and destroyers in the Gulf of Siam.  (Information from survivors taken prisoner who subsequently escaped from Hong Kong).

Plans and Co operation

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet to carry out minelaying in approaches to Saigon, but to inform himself, and Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in Far East where and when this was done.  (N.B. No such report was subsequently received.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet received a message from Commander in Chief Netherlands Forces in the East Indies that Rear Admiral Purnell would be unable to visit Singapore to confer with him after going to Java.

A conference met at Singapore to review the war position the Far East, with a view to reporting immediately to the conference of President and Prime Minister in Washington.

It was attended by representatives of His Majesty’s Government in United Kingdom (Mr. Duff Cooper), General Headquarters Far East, Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet, Australian Commonwealth Naval Board, New Zealand Naval Board, the United States and Dutch Liaison officers.

Military and air

The 3rd Corps withdrew towards the Perak river line, with instructions to remain west of the river as long as possible.  This withdrawal was not pressed.


Saturday 20th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Nothing to report.

Own Operations and Movements

TEVIOTBANK employed laying mines in Durian Straits.

Admiralty ordered Dutch submarine O 24 to be withdrawn from the North Atlantic Command and sent to the Far East via Mediterranean.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies suggested that protection of the oil fuel plants at Pankalan Brandan and Pankalan Soesoe in Sumatra was most important and suggested patrol vessels should patrol between Tanjong Peruola and Pandang Lt.  He could provide Catalina reconnaissance by daylight.

Plans and Cooperation

Conference at Singapore resumed at 1100 and telegraphic report was sent off.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet informed Commander in Chief Netherland Naval Forces in the Far East he was sending crews for Dutch M.T.B.’s at Batavia in JANSSENS and asked whether these craft could be sent to Singapore as soon as possible, as they were urgently needed.  There appeared, however, to have been some misunderstanding and there were not in fact any suitable vessels available.


Sunday 21st December 1941

Enemy Activities

Nothing to report.

Own Operations and Movements

Patrols were organized off both East and West coasts of Malaya to intercept enemy movements by boat, but the vessels available were few in number, slow, and with inadequate A/A armament.

Dutch submarine K 12 was ordered to leave Singapore and patrol within 40 miles of 4-50N, 106-00E, but not to go East of 106-30E.  To leave patrol to reach sanctuary by daylight on 31st December.

ULYSSES sailed from Singapore for Australia unescorted with 250 women and children.

Plans and Cooperation

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet stated his appreciation and policy in message 0345Z/21 to Admiralty as follows:

“Your 0055Z/17.  I regard as immediate object the safe arrival of reinforcements at Singapore and shall employ all available forces for it.

2.  Your Para B.  Provided we can obtain cooperation with Glassford and Dutch, it may be desirable to withdraw surface forces to N.E.I. area and there form escorting force for convoys and striking force.  This will involve using destroyers which would be invaluable to Fleet later.  Air protection in vital areas at present depends on small force of fighters available mostly Dutch.  Insulation of N.E.I. area in force up to limit of air forces available.  Report of Duff Cooper conference refers to these and other relevant questions.

3.  Your Para D.  INDOMITABLE and HERMES after refit might be invaluable for ferrying aircraft to Sumatra unless necessarily employed otherwise.

4.  Your Para E.  Am in touch with C in C F.E.  At present Sunda preferable to Malacca Straits.  We are in touch with Dutch about strengthening Sumatra.  H.M.S. Scout and A/P vessels are on way to Sabang Belawan.

5.  Your Para F.  Facilities for embarkation and erection of aircraft are much better in Java than Sumatra.

6.  Dutch cooperation to limit of means is assured in all the foregoing.  Difficult to obtain American cooperation as they are acting independently.  Position may improve as result of Duff Cooper conference, but I doubt if local American Representatives carry much weight.  Am sending Captain Collins by air to see C.Z.M. and Glassford try to arrange.

A.  Mutual support in passage of reinforcements from Sunda Strait to Singapore.

B.  Air patrols and mining operations if practicable to insulate N.E.I. area.

C.  Coordination of striking forces to intercept raiders and harass any new attempted landings by enemy.

                                                                                                                        T.O.O. 0345Z/21”

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet proposed to Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East indies to send Captain J.A. Collins, C.B., Royal Australian Navy, Assistant Chief of Staff, by air 22nd December to Batavia to confer with him and Captain Glassford.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in Far East concurred.

Convoy BM 9 A sailed from Bombay with personnel of 44th Indian Infantry Brigade for Malaya.  It was proposed this should take over escort of ERINPURA.

Commander in Chief India offered to send on the leading brigade of the 18th Division from Bombay leaving 24th December without its motor transport.


A battery explosion occurred in Dutch submarine K 13 at Singapore.  3 killed and 3 injured.

Military and Air

The Japanese began to press our withdrawal from Grik.  The 2nd Argyll and Sunderland Highlanders were cut off on the Grik road, but fought their way out.  Enemy slipped down river in boats during the night.



The main features of the second week’s hostilities were again unfavourable, namely the ill success of the 3rd Indian Corps in their efforts to hold up the enemy advance through Kedah, which resulted in the loss of Penang, and the successful enemy landing on Hong Kong Island on the night of 18-19th December with grave results to the prospects of continued effective resistance there.

It is true that in the Battle of Kedah we inflicted very heavy losses on the enemy, and that in the end we were able to extricate and withdraw our tired troops unmolested for reorganization behind rivers Muda and Krian, but the loss of Penang was serious, particularly because of the small craft and oil left there undestroyed.

The enemy’s descent on Hong Kong Island was unexpectedly early and severe, and the speed with which most of the eastern part of the island was over run was also unexpected.  By the end of the week the garrison was still holding out in the Western half of the island, but clearly believed its owns days to be numbered.

The Chinese relieving attacks on the mainland made some progress, but were still too far off to influence the Japanese attack.

On the East coast of Malaya there was still nothing but feints and false alarms.  There were no further reports of Dutch submarine successes, and the balance tilted the over way with O 16 being lost with all hands except one, by striking one of our mines off Pulo Timan on her way back from a successful patrol, and O 20 being sunk by the enemy.  An explosion in K 13 at Singapore on 21st December continued this patch of bad luck.

On December 16th, Japanese forces occupied Miri, whence we had already withdrawn our garrison and where full demolition had been carried out before the outbreak of hostilities.  Our small garrison from Lutong withdrew successfully to Singapore in the LIPIS.

A report of the completion of oil denial scheme is enclosed in Appendix VI.

Remarks on the evacuation of Penang

Although this evacuation was successful in the sense that it was carried through without enemy interference, it is undeniable that more might have been done to deny shipping and oil fuel stocks to the enemy, and that facilities left undamaged gave the enemy valuable assistance in his campaign in Malaya.  These factors, and the general low standards of morale and leadership displayed by responsible officers made it as lamentable episode.

There is little doubt that the complete evacuation of the island was premature, and at least another 24 hours could have been spent denying facilities to the enemy without serious risk of prejudicing the final withdrawal.

The War Council on 15th December delegated the decision whether and when to evacuate Penang to the General Officer Commanding Malaya.  The latter in his turn delegated it to General Officer Commanding, 3rd Corps, who again delegated it to the Fortress Commander, with the information that the enemy might be expected to be in occupation of the mainland opposite Penang on the evening of the 17th.

The result of this was that the effective decision was taken by Brigadier Lyon, Captain J.G. Fraser, OBE, R.N., the Naval Officer in Charge, had been relieved of his command at midnight 14th/15th and succeeded by his second in command, Commander C.C. Alexander, R.N. (retired)

It appears that the result of this successive delegation of authority was that the relative importance of denying shipping, small craft, and oil to the enemy and of rapidly evacuated the small remaining garrison and naval personnel, was never properly assessed.

The acting Naval Officer in Charge formed the opinion that his primary duty was to provide shipping for the evacuation of personnel.  This was an error of judgment in the circumstances.

Captain R.J.R. Dendy, R.N., had been ordered to Penang to relieve the Naval Officer in Charge and could had arrived on 16th December, the final day of the evacuation, but his appointment was cancelled when it was learnt that evacuation was proceeding.

The complete desertion of all Asiatic personnel, and the extremely supine attitude adopted by nearly all the European Government officials, made the task of the officers in charge of the evacuation extremely difficult, but it must remain a matter of speculation how much more could have been achieved if the final evacuation had been deferred to 24 hours, but that more could have been done, and should have been done, in undeniable.

Rear Admiral Malaya was in contact touch by telephone with the Naval Authorities at Penang until the time of the evacuation, but the reports from officers on the spot gave him no reason to suspect that important facilities were being left to fall into the enemy’s hands undamaged.

Something may perhaps be put down to the speed and surprise of the enemy advance, but to me the general reaction of the personnel at Penang, both civil and Service, the circumstances of the enemy’s advance and our withdrawal, was a painful revelation.  It was an extraordinary mixture of self complacency and self pity.  Officers and officials seemed almost universally to let the situation take charge of them instead of getting to grips with it and imposing resolute action upon it.  Those who got away successfully seemed satisfied that in doing so (some way in advance of the enemy) they had done very well.  Many of the Asiatic crews deserted, but to my mind much of that could have been avoided by proper handling of the situation and resolute leadership.  Two years of the placid “war time” existence of Penang up to the Japanese outbreak was evidently a very bad training ground for the real thing.

Co operation with Allied Commanders

Admiralty message 2148A of 13th December (received on 15th) stated that amendments to the plans agreed on U.S.A.  were under consideration owing to the conditions having changed since May, and that further details would follow.  Before these details were received, however, the withdrawal of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet to Sourabaya and Darwin, as opposed to Singapore, and in particular the withdrawal of the 57th Destroyer Division from Singapore, were an accomplished fact, and Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet’s 0451/14 had drawn attention to the departure from pre arranged plans that this….. (n.b. last line chopped).

The reason for this modification in U.S. Plans were given in B.A.D. Washington’s 2035/14.  It is necessary to record, that it was a complete departure from all I had been led to expect, that it inevitably gravely prejudiced our chances of holding Malaya, and that the announcement had a considerably depressing effect on the War Council at Singapore.

It must be remembered that I had every reason to expect that the bulk of the force of 3 cruisers, 13 destroyers, and 29 submarines and 24 flying boats would be available at Singapore as soon as Manila was untenable as a base.

With this force, well handled, it is difficult not to believe that Japanese attempts at landing reinforcements on the East Coast and infiltration on the West coast of Malaya would have been made costly and hazardous, and our land campaign made a practical proposition.  The absence of the U.S. ships was a bitter disappointment, while their presence would have provided a stimulus to morale in Malaya which might have had a tremendous effect.

Vice Admiral Helfrich, at Batavia, proved to be as much in the dark as to the U.S. intentions, as I was myself.  On 15th December (0721/15) he represented to me and to Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet that although he was kept informed of the actual movements of U.S. Warships on his station, he considered the situation unsatisfactory so long as he was not informed of the purpose of the movements and future plans.  In another message (1213/15) he asked me to suggest to the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet closer cooperation with the Dutch Forces (instead of moving around in Indian waters without aim and without a fixed programme”, and that Admiral Glassford should be ordered to Batavia in order to make arrangements absolutely essential for co operation.

In response, Admiral Hart agreed and regretted the necessity for moving ships into the Dutch area without full information as to his intentions; he was sending Rear Admiral Purnell (his Chief of Staff) to Balikpapan and that Rear Admiral Glassford would shortly confer with Commander in Chief Netherlands Forces in the East Indies.

Up to this time, all that I knew myself was that the U.S. Asiatic Fleet was moving by detachments in the general direction of Java and North West Australia, but I had little information of its active operations against the enemy.

I asked Vice Admiral Helfrich to do his best to secure that the U.S. Fleet should be used to ensure that enemy southward moves were met well up in the Makassar and Malacca Straits or Celebes Sea, rather than to wait for them to approach Java.

Rear Admiral Purnell and Glassford duly conferred with Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Force in East Indies at Batavia on 18th December.  The results of their discussion was reported to me in Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces’ message 1231/19.  The U.S. officers declined to discuss strategic command or direction of their forces, on the grounds that this remained a matter for instructions from the Chief of Naval Operations.  An agreement with regard to details of operational command of detachments and local defences forces arrived at, with a modification of the areas of responsibility.  Admiral Glassford agreed to remain at Batavia in order to ……. (n.b. last line chopped)

In the meantime, the arrival in U.S.A. of the Prime Minister and his staff had set in train a series of negotiations on a higher plane which were to re cast the scheme of Allied Co operation in the Far East.  As a preliminary to these, a series of local conferences was held.  That at Singapore me on the afternoon of 18th December and despatched its telegraphic report on 20th December.

The Conference was presided over by Mr. Duff Cooper, Minister of State, and attended by:

                    Commander in Chief, Far East

                    Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet

                    Rear Admiral Palliser

                    Captain J.A. Collins, C.B, R.A.N., representing the Government of Australia

                    Major General H. Gordon Bennett

                    Captain L.G.L. Van der Kun, R.N.N.

                    Captain J.N. Creighton, U.S.N.

                    Lieutenant Colonel F.G. Brink, U.S.A.

                    Major R.B. Pape, U.S.A.

                    Commander E.K.H. St Aubyn, R.N, representing New Zealand Chiefs of Staff

Mr. Duff Cooper himself was also authorized to represent the New Zealand Government.

            A copy of the minutes is enclosed in Appendix V (not believed present)

General agreement was achieved at this conference at Singapore as to what our requirements were, and these were duly transmitted in its telegraphic report.

It was then necessary to await decisions from Washington on the general policy of Allied Command and co operation.

In the meantime, however, some further progress in the direction of active co operation on the spot appeared essential, particularly with a view to inducing the U.S. Asiatic Fleet to operate further to the North West and so afford some support to Singapore.  Accordingly, I send Captain J.A. Collins, CB, R.A.N., my Chief of Staff, to Batavia by air on 21st December to see both the Dutch and U.S. Commanders.


Monday 22nd December 1941

Enemy Activities

One unidentified aircraft showing navigation lights, was over Johore Straits at 2000 feet between 2158 and 2230.  This caused an air raid alert in the Naval Base.  No hostile action was observed but the aircraft appeared to have been Japanese.

Own Operations and Movements

Convoy BM 9 B (conveying M.T. and stores for the 44th Indian Infantry Brigade group, personnel of which was in BM 9 A, sailed from Bombay.

Naval Officer in Charge Simonstown reported that convoy WS 12 ZM (later styled DM 1) which contained the first United Kingdom reinforcements for Malaya, might be able to leave Durban 23rd December.

EXPRESS laid 18 A mines in the South Channel at Penang in order to interfere with enemy use of that port (see fuller report in Appendix VII).  It was hoped also later on to reinforce the Japanese minefield in the North Channel by aircraft mining, but other air commitments did not permit this.

Dutch auxiliary JANSSENS left Singapore for Sourabaya with British naval personnel for manning Motor Torpedo Boats and a nucleus for SUMATRA.

Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief East Indies and Australian Commonwealth Board to keep him informed of all convoy escort plans.  (0412Z/22)

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies ordered K 14, K 15, K 16, to return to positions on Equator between 107 degrees East and 108 degrees East.

Allied Co operation

Captain J.A. Collins, CB, RAN, conferred with Vice Admiral Helfrich and Rear Admirals Glassford and Purnell at Batavia.

Military and Air – War Council

A quiet day without much enemy activity.

Kuala Lumpur and Port Swettenham Aerodromes were now only in use as advanced landing grounds.  Kuala Lumpur was regarded by Air Officer Commanding as impossible to defend.

Air Officer Commanding stated that he thought that bombing during the dark nights in Malaya was practically useless.  He intended to transfer material from Kuala Lumpur to aerodromes in Java or Sumatra.

Fighter cover for convoys approaching Singapore was discussed.  It was recognized that with existing resources only a very weak form of cover could be provided.


Hong Kong.  On this day, the Governor reported that through the defenders were still holding on and cheerful, the end could not be far off.


Tuesday 23rd December 1941

Enemy Activities

Reports of enemy naval forces directed towards Sarawak and Borneo came in during the day:

0744GH Two cruiser, 10 transports, and an unknown number of destroyers were reported in 02-55N, 110-06E, course 216 degrees, 6 knots (Aircraft).
0800 GH 12 unidentified ships were reported North of Tanjong Sirik (distance reported as 150 miles was an obvious error (Aircraft)
0830GH 3 large cruisers and 1 destroyer in 03-16N, 110-36E, Course south (aircraft)
1000Z Convoy in 02-27N, 110-116E, Course 130, 12 knots (K 14)
1035Z (?) 2 cruisers MOGAMI class, 1 destroyer in 05-20N, 110-20E, Course 190.  15 knots (Catalina.)


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies ordered submarines K 14, K 15, and K 16 to attack.  These submarines had been recalled to Java the previous evening from their patrol areas at the end of patrol period.  Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet offered K 12 to Commander in Chief Naval Forces to co operate, as she was then operation to North West of this area, but unfortunately, this signal was not understood.

An air striking force was ordered to attack from Sinkawang.  Result of this attack was not reported.

K 14 got in a good attack on the convoy as it was arrived, and sank 3 large transports and 1 tanker off Tanjong Po.  She expended all her torpedoes and returned to Sourabaya for more.

The remainder of the enemy convoy anchored off Sarawak and troops effected a landing.

Kuching D/F station was demolished and all books destroyed, the personnel subsequently made their way successfully through the jungle to the West Coast and thence to Batavia.

Own Operations and movements.

5 Dutch flying boats bombed enemy ships at Davao and set on fire one large tanker of 10,000 tons.

Military and Air

No change in situation in Malaya.  Bridges over River Perak successfully blown up.  Japanese reported North of Dungun and at Dungun.

In Kuching, it was reported that the morale of Malays was not good, the British being freely blamed for not defending them.

Ipoh raided nine times by enemy aircraft.  Ammunition train hit and considerable damage to property.

Our bombers attacked Sungei Patani aerodrome.  No results observed.

Reported enemy bombing and machine gun attacks on our forward troops.  Rangoon raided by 60 bombers escorted by fighters.  Damage to aerodrome, docks, and town, and some casualties.  We shot down at least 9 bombers and 1 fighter, probably more.

War Council

Our instructions from His Majesty’s Government that a scheme to evacuate “useless mouths” from Singapore should be urgently considered, a sub committee was approached to deal with this.

Field Security reports made it clear Fifth Columnist in Singapore were using flashing lights to guide enemy bombers.


Wednesday 24th December 1941

Enemy Activities

At 0310Z/24, 10 transports, 2 destroyers, and one seaplane carrier were reported off Tanjong Sipang, and Sarawak. Dutch submarine K 16 was ordered to attack after sunset.  At 1220Z/24, she saw what appeared to be a Japanese destroyer being sunk by gunfire from an unseen opponent.  This incident has not been explained, but Japanese may well have sunk one of their own ships.  At 1600Z/24, she herself sank another destroyer of the AMAGIRI class near Tanjong Sipang.

Japanese troops landed at Kuching during the day.

Own Operations and Movements

TEVIOTBANK was employed minelaying off Horsborough Light.

A patrol was established with captured Japanese fishing vessels in the western part of Johore Strait.

HOBART and FALMOUTH left Colombo to join convoy BM 9 A.

Admiralty suggested DEMODOCUS should be sent to Colombo.  Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet demurred on the ground that her refrigerated capacity was necessary at Singapore.

Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet considered moving the Y section of the Far East Combined Bureau to Colombo, in view of the irreplaceable nature of its personnel and material.  Naval Board were asked for their views.

WS 12 ZM left Durban for Port T.

Military and Air

Little enemy activity.  All bridges demolished, all troops, now withdrawn east of Perak River, and not in contact with the enemy.

9 Blenheim IV’s attacked force of 2 cruisers, 1 destroyer, and 8 transports off Kuching and score 1 direct hit on transport and 6 near misses.  All returned safely.


Thursday 25th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Port of Sourabaya closed owing to mines (A small enemy submarine was sighted on the surface in 05-55S, 114E at 2210/23).

Own operations and movements

Dutch submarine K 17, which sailed on patrol 6th December and was due to return 21st December, was now presumed lost.  No reports had been received from her.

Dutch submarine K 16 left patrol off North West Borneo for Sourabaya.

A Catalina flying boat reported being down in the sea at 4-43N, 105-57E after engagement with enemy fighters.  THANET was despatched from Singapore to assist, but the aircraft crew were rescued by Dutch submarine K 12, which returned with them to Singapore.

Rear Admiral, Malaya, organized patrols by auxiliary patrol vessels and launches off the West Coast for defence against Japanese landing and offensive action against enemy. The auxiliary Patrol Vessel KUDAT, M.L.’s 310, 311, patrol launches HUNGJAO and FANLING, two 72 feet M.L.’s, and 6 Eureka raiding craft were available for this.

Captain J.A. Collins, CB, R.A.N., Assistant Chief of Staff, returned to Singapore from consultations at Batavia.

DRAGON, DURBAN, and VAMPIRE arrived Padang for fuel but found they were unable to obtain any there.  This was represented to the Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Force in East Indies.  Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, asked for WAR SIRDAR to load at Palembang and go to Padang for fleet use.

All ships, submarines, and aircraft were ordered to sink at sight any Vichy ships encountered at sea in the Gulf of Siam or South China Sea.

Military and Air

Little change in military situation in Malaya.

Hong Kong

The garrison of Hong Kong laid down its arms at 1515 local time.  The W/T station continued to transmit casualty lists in plain language for another 24 hours.

Commander H.M. Montague, R.N. (retired), with 12 officers and 36 ratings, and 6 merchant service officers, effected their escape to the mainland accompanied by Admiral Chan Chak and Lieutenant Commander Hsu Heng of the Chinese Mission.  Commander Montague’s report of the operations during the defence of Hong Kong and the subsequent experiences of his party was forwarded to the Admiralty in Eastern Fleet submission No. 29/4724 of 11th February 1942.


Friday 26th December 1941

Enemy Activities

There were D/F indications of an enemy aircraft carrier moving from Camranh Bay to Cambodia Point.

Air reconnaissance located 34 transports off Singgora which had not been there the previous day, and would probably…..(n.b. last line chopped).

            N.B.  War council Minutes 27th December says 22 ships (18 transports) = 1 extra brigade.

One Japanese transport was observed apparently on fire off Kuching, which was reported in Japanese hands and where there were 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, and 4 transports.

A Japanese air attack on Lake Tondang destroyer 6 Dutch Dornier Seaplanes.

Own Activities and Movements

DANAE sailed from Singapore for Batavia.

Admiralty directed Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet to arrange for ISIS, VENDETTA, and ROVER (all undergoing long refits at Singapore) to be towed to steamed to India or Ceylon if and when necessary.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to assist in ocean escorts of troop convoys (0427Z/26).

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies formed a small striking force of DE RUYTER, TROMP, and two destroyers and sent it to patrol in the West Java Sea.

Dutch submarine O 19 returned to Singapore from patrol having expended all torpedoes but secured no hits.

His Majesty the King approved the posthumous award of the D.S.O. to Lieutenant Commander Bussemaker of the Dutch Submarine O 16, of the D.S.M. to Leading Seaman Cornelius De Wolf, the sole survivor of that vessel, and the D.S.C. to Lieutenant (Coumou?) (n.b. Henry Christopher John Coumou is correct) of Dutch submarine K 12.

SCOUT proceeded to Soesoe for fuel, but was unable to obtain any there and returned to Sabang.

Commander R.J.R. Dendy returned from Batavia and reported that it would not be worthwhile to commission SUMATRA with a mixed Dutch and British crew in view of her poor armament and steaming power.

Military and Air

Photographs recorded a concentration of 174 Japanese aircraft on aerodromes in the North.

Our troops were in contact with enemy force north of Ipoh; some enemy activity on the line of the Perak River and near Blanja bridge.


Evacuation of women and children.  This was discussed at the War Council.  The evacuation of Penang had first brought the matter up.  There were only improvised arrangements on that occasion for reception and re evacuation by sea.  The Minister of State discussed the need for evacuating women and children before communications broke down, in view of air attacks on the railway.  His Excellency the Governor said it would have to be done gradually in view of food difficulties.  (n.b. last line chopped.  A hazard of putting A 4 text on 8 ½ by 11 page.)


Saturday 27th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Nothing to report

Own operations and movements

Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet stated policy and appreciation in message 0336Z/27, as follows:

“Following is present position and my appreciation.

2.  In their efforts to seize Singapore, the Japanese are engaged in a fight for strategic aerodromes hitherto confined to Malaya, but now extending to Borneo.

3.  To combat this we must reinforce Malaya with troops to hold ground and with air to strike at enemy aerodromes.  Philippines are already wasting asset and we must act quickly to prevent Malaya from becoming one also.

4.  Present arrangements for passage of reinforcements are:

a).  Convoy BM 9 A escorted through Sunda to Singapore by HOBART, DARGON, DURBAN, and three destroyers with all available air cover and every assistance from Dutch.  E.T.A. Singapore 3rd January.

b).  Convoy BM 9 B escort DANAE, JAVA, three destroyers similar air and possibly HOBART in addition.  E.T.A. 7th January.

c). Convoy DM 1 escort as for (a) if HOBART is available.  E.T.A. about 12th January.

5.  Escort of all foregoing is weak and could have been strengthened if Americans had cooperated.  Time factor does not permit awaiting American cooperation.  It is a race against Japanese seizing the using aerodromes in South West Borneo.

6.  Reference para 4 (c) and (d).  BY the time there convoys approach Sunda it may be necessary to consider diverting them to Java.  This particularly applied to aircraft in DM 1.

7.  I consider the material and psychological effect of arrival of these immediate reinforcements in Malaya justifies the risks run.          

                                                                                                                        T.O.O. 0336Z/27”

K 13 sailed from Singapore for Sourabaya for repairs, escorted by BENDIGO.

K 11 left Singapore for patrol on line Kuching – Saigon between 3 and 4 degrees North to return to Singapore by 3rd January.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet decided not to attempt to man SUMATRA after Commander Dendy’s report, but Rear Admiral Malaya asked Commander in Chief Netherland Naval Forces to proceed with manning motor boats.  Unfortunately, it did not turn out that Dutch had really any of the latter craft which were (a) suitable, (b) ready for sea, and (c) available for disposal.

Military and Air

A successful night air raid on the Japanese aircraft at Sungei Patani was carried out by 6 Blenheim IV’s.  Attack was a surprise.  Five fires were caused, one 500 feet long.  All aircraft returned safely.  It is estimated that 10 enemy aircraft were destroyed on the ground.

At 1400GH, General Sir Henry Pownall assumed Command as Commander in Chief, Far East, in succession to Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.


Sunday 28th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Enemy aircraft raided Medan in Sumatra and shipping in the Malacca Straits.  It was also reported that parachute troops had been dropped in Medan but this proved to be false.  The Dutch tanker ALDEGONDA was bombed and set on fire, but arrived safely at Soesoe on the 29th.  SCOUT and Sumatra coast patrol were ordered to search for and assist her, but failed to find her.

14 of the crew of S.S. FORAFRIC arrived Kwandang and reported ship had been bombed and sunk.

Own Operations and Movements

JUPITER and ENCOUNTER sailed for Batavia.

The moonlight raid on Sungei Patani was repeated by 6 Blenheim, but with less success, as two were turned back by weather, 1 force landed and was replaced, thus only 4 reached objective, of which 3 reported good results and one failed to return.

Australian Hudsons attacked a small Japanese cruiser 60 miles south of Menado and claimed to have set her on fire.

Military Situation

Nothing to report



Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet pointed out that the Committee ordered by the Council on 26th December to meet immediately had not yet met, and that two large ships, the MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE and ORION would be ready to leave for United Kingdom by 31st December.  There were numerous rumours current about evacuation policy, but no policy had been decided on.  The Committee was directed to meet that evening and did so.


SUMMARY FOR THIRD WEEK 22nd – 28th December 1941

The third week of hostilities gave us a much needed pause in the military operations in Malaya.  Our troops retired behind the Perak river line and enemy activity thereafter was slight.  It was evident, however, that the breathing space would only be temporary, as the arrival of fresh transports off Singgora indicated that at least another division was being landed.

Dutch submarines reported no further successes in this area.

Fresh Japanese expeditionary forces effected landings on the North coast of Sarawak.  They were attacked by Dutch submarines and British and Dutch aircraft.  Substantial losses were inflicted, but our forces were inadequate to prevent the enemy from achieving his main object.  The North West coast of Borneo was henceforth under Japanese control, and Skinkawang aerodrome soon became unusable.  This extended further south the threat of Japanese aircraft.

It was realized that, with the Japanese in control of Penang and the aerodromes in Northern Malaya, there would be considerable danger from:

            1).  Air attacks on shipping in Malacca Straits

            2).  Air attacks, parachute landings, and seaborne raids on Northern Sumatra.

            3).  Enemy infiltration in small craft down the west coast of Malaya.

In attempting to provide counter measures against all these, we were principally hampered by our inferiority in the air.  The small Allied air forces were hopelessly unequal to tackling the Japanese aircraft available, either in numbers or quality.  The enemy had thus almost undisputed command of the air and this meant that our surface patrols could operate only at night and were forced to lay up by day.  Moreover, they were few in number and their anti aircraft armament was almost non existent.  Nevertheless, what they could do, they did, and there were plenty of instances of resolute use of the weapons available to the last, both among Europeans and, where properly led, among Malay crews.

But one destroyer and 4 slow patrol vessels off the Sumatra coast, and one auxiliary patrol steamer and a dozen launches off the West coast of Malaya, were all that could be spared, and they were wretchedly inadequate for the task at hand.  The requirements of Singapore for minesweeping and A/S patrols had at all cost to be met and absorbed a great proportion of the available craft.

The major preoccupation of the Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet had not begun to be the passing of military and air reinforcements through to Singapore.  I stated this in my message 0345Z/21/12 and that I proposed to devote all available resources to it.  The reasons for this policy were clear.  Such ships as we had available were inadequate in strength and also unsuitable in themselves for offensive action against enemy naval forces, especially when there was no hope of fighter support.  The military authorities in Singapore were, broadly speaking, of the opinion that, given another Division, they could hold up the enemy advance southward through Malaya, and with a second they might take the offensive.  There seemed a reasonable prospect getting these reinforcements through…. (n.b. bottom chopped, probably missing a line).

The Japanese might at any time send a strong striking force of surface vessels down to the convoy route when they thought fit, and gave it adequate air support, but the forces we had available were just enough to ensure this could not be done with impunity.

It had seemed probably that the Japanese would use their naval forces and carrier borne aircraft to cut off the reinforcement route to Singapore, but they made little attempt to do this in the first few weeks and accordingly the regular passing of escorted troop convoys to Singapore from the Sunda Strait became an accepted policy.

I found, however, that I could only provide what I regarded as the minimum surface escorts for these convoys by calling upon Commander in Chief East Indies for cruisers to take the convoys through to Singapore.  The Dutch had few resources, thought they did what they could, and I was quite unable to persuade the United States Commanders to assist in escorting convoys for Singapore.


Monday 29th December 1941

Enemy Activities

Enemy air activity was noticeable on the northern aerodrome during the day, and it was thought this might portent intensive attack on Rangoon or shipping the Bay of Bengal.  In practice it was followed by the resumption of bombing attacks on Singapore which was raided by three formations of 9 aircraft between 2130 and 0230.  A petrol dump at Alexandra was hit and there were four Asiatic casualties.  10 small bombs were dropped in the Senoko oil depot without doing any damage.  One of our fighters made contact, but there was no confirmation of any damage to enemy aircraft.  Between 2000 and 2030, there was also some activity over the Johore Straits and movements were stopped because of suspected minelaying.  Intensive sweeping, however, did not confirm this.

Own operations and movements

Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet informed Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet that U.S. submarines were now operating north of a line 270 degrees from the coast of Borneo to 7N, 111E, then to Pulo Condore, thence due north to coast of Cochin, China.

A Dutch Dornier seaplane reported she was being forced down in an air combat at 3N, 107-489E.  Subsequent air search failed to trace her.

Dutch tanker ALDEGONDA arrived Pangkalan Soesoe after being bombed and set on fire in Malacca Straits.


The Japanese forces resumed their offensive.  It was estimated that they had “leap frogged” a fresh division through their 5th Division, and were attacked with one Division complete.  The 12th Brigade were fairly heavily engaged.


At the War Council, the Minister of State pressed for the issue of a public statement on policy but Council were unable to agree on the form of this, and it was referred back for further consideration.


Tuesday 30th December 1941

Enemy naval activity

Nothing to report.

Own Operations and movements

KUDAT, on patrol on west coast of Malaya, was ordered to patrol by night and lie up by day, but she was heavily attacked by dive bombing in the S.W. approaches to Port Swettenham during the day and sunk with 2 killed and 9 wounded (all Malays)

TEVIOTBANK was employed on local minelaying in the South Channel of Singapore Strait.

Johore Straits were swept for possible mines from last night’s attack.  No result.

ANKING was ordered to be prepared for possible use as Base and Communications Ship at Batavia.

1639A/29.  Admiralty directed that INDOMITABLE (arriving Capetown 1st January) was to collect 48 Hurricanes from the Middle East for ferrying to Malaya or Java, and Commander in Chief  Mediterranean was to supply 3 destroyers (preferably NAPIER, NESTOR, and NIZAM) to screen her while with Eastern Fleet.

K 12 left Singapore to patrol with 60 miles of position 3-30N, 110-00E, passing north of Midai Islands on passage.  To return to Singapore 11th January.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies closed the Banka Straits for sweeping preparatory to the passage of convoys.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief East Indies if GLASGOW, EMERALD, and EXETER could be spare to come further east (e.g. to 1 degree N. latitude) with Singapore convoys.  Commander in Chief East Indies replied that he did not wish GLASGOW, who was limited to 20 knots, to come so close to enemy air and submarine attack, but that he would consider the matter as regards EMERALD and EXETER.  He subsequently agreed as regards latter.

H.M.A.S. YARRA arrived Colombo from Mediterranean and was temporarily allotted to convoy duty by Australian Commonwealth Naval Board.

Admiralty Message 0016A/30 expressed hope that Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet was doing his best to provide adequate convoy escorts, using all resources of Far Eastern Command.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet in message 0501Z/30 had already summarized the position as follows:

“Your 2213A/28 not to A.C.N.B.  Following requirements for convoy escort in Far East Area only should suffice only heavy cruiser and submarine threat develops in Indian Ocean.

2.  Present extemporized arrangements are depended on no ship breaking down and no serious surface threat.  To continue indefinitely on these assumptions is inviting disaster.

3.  Escorts.  Assuming E in C E.I. and A.C.N.B. can continue to escort to position about 500 miles from Sunda Strait and that convoys are spaced at least five days apart two escort groups should suffice.  Each group comprising of 2 “D” class or equivalent Dutch cruisers from R.V. to Singapore three escort vessels and one A.A. ship from Sunda to Singapore.  Cruisers are available, but escort vessels and A.A. ships are not.

4.  Covering Force.  As U.S. Task Force 5 is no longer available a covering force is required in West Java Sea sufficient to repel surface attack, except by heavy forces for defense against which we must rely on our shore based aircraft.  This force should operate from Java and should consist of four modern cruisers including two eight inch.  Eastern Fleet destroyers now employed as convoy escorted would join this force as soon as relieved by escort vessels in para 3 above.  HOBART is affording temporary measure of additional ……(n.b. page chopped)

5.  Minesweepers.  There is urgent need of additional M/S vessels, including LL and S.A. and a fast M/S Flotilla.

6.  Your paragraph 4.  It will not be possible to provide escorts for M.T. ships unless they form part of a troop convoy.

7.  Your para 5.  Possibility of transshipment from Java Port to Singapore will be kept in mind.

8.  I have confined myself to the Naval Surface Vessel requirements but must call attention to the present lamentable shortage of air cover and fighters.

                                                                                                                            T.O.O. 0501Z/30

Military and Air

28th and 15th Brigades of the 11th Division in contact on left and attack expected.  Kuantan position quiet.   In Pahang about 200 enemy penetrated down Jabor Valley towards Kuantan, where 22nd Brigade was crossing to the west bank of Sungei Kuantan.

The bulk of the battalion from Kuching was reported to have reached Netherlands East Indies territory and had been placed under the command of the Dutch.

There was an air raid on Tengah aerodrome in Singapore Island between 2000 and 2030.  The runway was hit and 3 Bleinheim IV’s about to take off to raid Sungei Patani were damaged and could not go.  The attack was a dive bombing attack from 300 feet.

Two Catalinas, however, bombed Sungei Patani and returned safely having done some damage.

Tandjong Pulai, south of Medan, in Sumatra, was bombed by a small force of enemy aircraft.


Wednesday 31st December 1941

Enemy Activities

Japanese ships were heard reporting a U.S. submarine in 14-30N, 114-30E.

KELANTAN, on Sumatra coast patrol, was attacked by enemy aircraft.

Own Operations and Movements

EXETER sailed Colombo

Convoy MS 1 left Melbourne for Singapore (n.b.  handwritten note says not until 10th January)

Convoy BM 9 A arrived in 00-55S, 95-20E.

Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Command in Chief East Indies, at request of Dutch, to do his best to get Dutch ships sent on from India from Oosthaven.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in Far East was asked to send on RUYS with refrigerated stores to Singapore.

Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces reported that Dutch merchant shipping was still using the West Coast of Borneo as far North as 00-25N.

ORION (1063) and MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE (560) sailed from Singapore for Australia and Cape Town, respectively with refugees (mainly European women and children) escorted by TENEDOS and THANET as far as Sunda Strait.

Military and Air

15th Brigade reported parties of enemy probably trying to pass round left flank of 11th Division.

12th and 28th Brigades nothing to report.

Situation in Kuantan confused.  Some difficulty in extricating our forward troops.

Enemy aircraft continued small widespread attacks on North Malaya.  Kuala Lipis and Jerantat were bombed.  Kuala Lumpur and Port Swettenham were frequently raided.  The railway was temporarily blocked north of Kuala Lipis.

West Coast reconnaissance reported 3 launches with small craft in tow north of Pangkok

Two night air raids on Singapore:

1).  2250-2315.  27 Army T 97 bombers attacked Senoko oil depot and Seletar area.  Some bombs in oil depot.  No damage.  Incendiaries in lines of 2/15 Punjabis in Naval Base; all put out by troops.  Our fighters failed to contact.

2).  0435.  4 or more aircraft bombed Kallang.  Bombs fell outside Airport Hotel.  17 civilian casualties.  No damage to airport.



Areas of operations, click to enlarge


Thursday 1st January 1942


Enemy Activities


An enemy force landed at Labuan and occupied it.


Rear Admiral Malay asked Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the Far East to investigate the possibility that enemy aircraft were using lights or conspicuous marks on the Dutch Islands in order to guide them to Singapore.


Own Operations and Movements


TEVIOTBANK was ordered to Trincomalee for mining operations under Commander in Chief East Indies.  In view of her slow speed and inadequate armament it was felt she was better employed there than in Netherlands East Indies waters.


Dutch submarine O 19 sailed to patrol with 60 miles of 07-45N, 103-00E and to patrol for 24 hours in 5-33N, 106-03E in order if possible to locate and attack an enemy ship of 2000 tons which appeared to be stationed in this area for W/T D/F duties.  To return to Singapore 15th January.


6 EUREKA type raiding craft were sent to West coast to reinforce the patrol flotilla there.


4 minesweepers were ordered to the Rhio Straits to sweep them out by daylight 3rd January for passage of convoy.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet suggest to Rangoon that Chiang Kai Shek should be asked to send a Chinese labour battalion to Rangoon to ease native labour difficulties there.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet recommended the Commanding Officer of K 14 for an immediate award after his recent very successful patrol.


Military and Air


28th Brigade again making successful counter attack heavily engaged the enemy near Kampong Sahum.


Enemy obtained footing in one forward locality of 15th Brigade, but were driven out with heavy losses.  Our artillery destroyed an enemy ammunition dump.  A force of enemy small craft was reported off the mouth of the Bernam River indicating a threat to our left flank.  One battalion was sent to reinforce the cavalry squadron in the area of Changkai Jong.


Pahang.  Confused fighting.  Enemy got south of Ferry and 22nd Brigade were in contact east of it.  Early attack on Kuantan aerodrome expected.


Enemy aircraft attacked Pulupatan in Dutch islands, south of Singapore, at 2136.


Enemy aircraft attacked Tengah aerodrome (Singapore Island) 0200 – 0240.  Numerous incendiaries.  Aerodrome temporarily unserviceable and 2 Swordfish aircraft burnt out.  One casualty.


2 Catalinas bombed Gong Kedah successfully and started fires.


Enemy air activity by day light except for attack on Port Swettenham.


3 Glen Martins and 4 Blenheim IV’s operating off west coast against enemy in Bernam river area were heavily engaged by enemy fighters and A.A. fire and lost two of the former and two of the latter.




Friday 2nd January 1942


Enemy Naval Activities


(see under Military and Air)


Own operations and movements.


Dutch submarine O 20, overdue from patrol since 29th December, was considered lost.


Our west coast patrols suffered heavily from attacks from the air, and all 6 Eureka craft were put out of action.  We had no further craft to send to support them.


Military and Air


Enemy landings from small craft in the Bernam River area and at Telok Anson (estimated at 2 battalions) menaced the left flank and communications of the 11th Indian Division.  Another force attempted a landing at Kuala Selangor, even further south, but was engaged by artillery and it was reported that a small steamer was set on fire and 4 barges sunk.


The enemy made 3 unsuccessful attacks against the 15th Brigade’s position and lost about 400 or 500 killed, but in view of the menace to its rear the 11th Division was ordered to withdraw.


Enemy aircraft raided the vicinity of Singapore island twice during the night.  Tengah aerodrome was again attacked and a few fires stated, but no damage to aircraft or personnel reported.  The second raid was on A.A. positions in the Johore Bharu area.



After reviewing the situation, the Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet decided to shift his flag to Batavia temporarily, and then to Colombo, the staff to take passage to Batavia in the DRAGON and DURBAN, and ANKING to follow as Base and communications ship when ready. 


Saturday 3rd January 1942


Enemy Activities


Nothing to report


Own operations and movements


1830.  Convoy BM 9 A, consisted of 5 transports, escorted by DRAGON, DURBAN, HOBART, VAMPIRE, JUPITER, and ENCOUNTER convoying the personnel of the 44th Indian Brigade group of the 17th Indian Division (6000 troops), arrived at Singapore without incident.


THANET left Batavia for Singapore.


Dutch submarine K 11 arrived Singapore from patrol.


DEMODOCUS was ordered to be sailed for Colombo as soon as possible.


Military and Air

Enemy aircraft attacked Singapore Island between 2130 and 2200.  Bombs along Thompson Road and on Tengah aerodrome.  Water main burst.  No other material damage.



Sunday 4th January 1942


Enemy Naval Activities


Enemy submarines began to be active in the East Java Sea.


SILVER CEDAR was sunk by submarine gunfire in 09-12S, 110-10E, and Dutch KUANTUNG was sunk by submarine gunfire in almost the same position at 0330LT.


Own Operations and movements


Appointment of General Wavell as Allied Supreme Commander in the South West Pacific and of Admiral Hart, United States Navy as Commander of the Allied Naval Forces in the same area was publicly announced.  No previous intimation had been received of these appointments.


Australian Commonwealth Naval Board stated that TAIPING was in hand and being fitted as Victualling Store Issue Ship for the Eastern Fleet.


Military and Air


Singapore island was raided 0430-0500 by 2 aircraft only.  No damage or casualties reported.


Removal of Headquarters of Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, from Singapore


I arrived at the decision to leave Singapore on two main arguments.  The first that Allied co operation in the South West Pacific seemed to demand some closer personal co operation with United States and Dutch Commanders and their staffs.  The second was that the time was clearly approaching rapidly when Singapore would cease, for the time being at any rate, to be of any use as a base for surface forces.


As regards the first, it was becoming clear that the concurrent discussions in Washington would shortly reach conclusions which could only be effectively implemented by Commanders and staffs working in close conjunction.


As regards the second, my immediate choice of date was due to the military situation.  It was obvious by the 2nd January, that it would be only a matter of a few days before the aerodromes at Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan would be in use by the enemy, and as soon as this was so, Singapore Island would be subjected to constant attacks by bombers heavily escorted by fighters.  Unless we could get large numbers of modern fighters into action for Singapore before this occurred it was all too certain that our air effort over Singapore would then fade out in a few days, and the Island and convoys approaching it would be at the mercy of enemy air attack.


I transferred to Batavia in the first instance, but did not intend to remain there permanently, as Colombo appeared a far more practicable centre for directing the operations of a reconstituted Eastern Fleet.  I intend to leave Rear Admiral Palliser in Java with the main object of handling the convoys of reinforcements for Singapore.  DRAGON and DURBAN were available for the passage, and I divided my staff between them.  Operational staff and records only were taken in the cruisers, and other staff, office equipment, and records followed in the ANKING later.



Monday 5th January 1942


Own Operations and Movements


1130.  Flag of Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet transferred to DRAGON.


1200.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet in DRAGON with DURBAN sailed from Singapore for Batavia.

Transports DEVONSHIRE and LANCASHIRE, escorted as far as Sunda by ENCOUNTER and VAMPIRE, (latter joining later), sailed for Colombo.


Embarked in DRAGON:  Commander in Chief and 8 Staff Officers


Embarked in DURBAN:  Chief of Staff (Rear Admiral Palliser) and 7 Staff Officers


Embarked in DEVONSHIRE:    Personnel and equipment of Far East Combined Bureau for transfer to Colombo

As from 1100 Rear Admiral Malaya assumed responsibility for immediate action in ABDA area on any situation arising, in order to obviate Commander in Chief breaking W/T silence.


SCOUT was operating off the W. Coast of Malaya between Sembilan Islands and Penang.  No reports of results seen.


Flag of Vice Admiral Tait hoisted in RESOLUTION (in home waters) as Vice Admiral 2nd in Command, Eastern Fleet.


Enemy Activities


S.S. TANIMBAR shelled by submarine in 08-30S, 109-20E.




Army reported that evacuation of Kuala Lumpur was imminent and that extrication of our forward troops in Kuantan was proving difficult.  Kuantan aerodrome now in enemy hands.




Tuesday 6th January 1942


Own Operations and Movements


1630.  Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet in DRAGON with DURBAN arrived Batavia.


Convoy BM 9 B with the M.T. and drivers for the Indian Brigade Group whose personnel were in BM 9 A arrived at Singapore safely and without incident.


Rear Admiral Malaya authorized the destruction of Port facilities at Port Swettenham and the removed of all available craft to Muar.


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies asked for the R.A.F. to take over the Singapore – Natunes Islands reconnaissance until 14th January, as arranged in PLENAPS.  This was arranged for the period 7th/12th January.


Enemy Activities


S.S. PATRAS attacked by a submarine, torpedo (missed) and gunfire, and set on fire in 08-52S, 114-44E.


S.S. CAMPHUYS torpedoed in 04-30S, 114E.  Naval seaplane brought survivors to Sourabaya.



Wednesday 7th January 1942


Own operations and movements


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet visited the Governor General and Vice Admiral Helfrich and discussed the situation.


HOBART arrived at Batavia p.m. for fuel.


DURBAN sailed from Batavia for rendezvous with convoy DM 1


DRAGON was retained at Batavia to act as W/T ship for Commander in Chief until ANKING arrived.


Admiralty instructed that ROVER was to join Eastern Fleet on completion.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet’s Headquarters were established temporarily in two rooms of Lever Bros. Building in Batavia.


Enemy Activities


Dutch DJIRAK was sunk by submarine gunfire at 1600GH in 07-15S, 116-23E.  Crew landed at Sekala.




Thursday 8th January 1942


Own Operations and Movements


U.S. Transport left Darwin for Sourabaya escorted by two cruisers and six destroyers (all United States) (n.b. BOISE, MARBLEHEAD with STEWART, POPE, and Destroyer Division 58).


H.M.S. ANKING commissioned at Singapore for service at Base W/T and depot ship at Batavia.


Admiralty ordered A.S.I.S. PHILOMEL and KHETI to remain at Port Elizabeth to avoid congestion in Ceylon.


Enemy Activities


Enemy forces probably cruisers reported by D/F in 04-30N, 108-30E at 0300Z/8.  Dutch submarine K 12 informed by Rear Admiral Malaya.


D/F indication of Japanese cruiser TYOKAI on course S. from Saigon towards Borneo.


Japanese W/T – D/F ship in 5-30N, 106-00E was bombed by R.A.F. from Malaya, but pilots reported bombs appeared to bounce off and ship apparently heavily armoured.


Dutch S.S. VAN RIEBECK sunk by submarine gunfire in 08-11S, 108-47E.


VAN RIES torpedoed and sunk in 07-53S, 106-11E.




Heavy enemy pressure in Perak.  Our forces withdrawn S. of Slim River.  Situation confused.  Our losses probably heavy.




Friday 9th January 1942


0900GH.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet resumed normal control of operations from Rear Admiral Malaya.


TEVIOTBANK sailed from Batavia for Trincomalee escorted through Sunda Straits by VAMPIRE, JUPITER, and ENCOUNTER.


Commander in Chief Far East in reply to an enquiry confirmed that convoy BM 10 (containing the second Infantry Brigade of the 17th Indian Division) should proceed to Singapore.


Admiral T.C. Hart, Commanding U.S. Asiatic Fleet arrived Batavia from Sourabaya and conferred with Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.


Nine B 17 bombers of the U.S. 19th Bombardment Group attacked Japanese ships in Davao Bay and claimed to have hit a battleship and set it on fire, also to have hit a shore A.A. Battery.




Saturday 10th January 1942


Enemy transports and warships appeared off Tarakan a.m.


General Sir Archibald Wavell, on appointment as Allied Supreme Commander in the A.B.D.A. area, arrived at Batavia by air at 1100, and was met by Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.  A conference of allied commanders was held at Vice Admiral Helfrich’s residence at 1600.


Rear Admiral Malaya reported that he was operating two Oropesa Sweepers (GOULBURN and BURNIE) in the Banka Straits on 10th, 11th, and 12th January.


U.S.S. WHIPPLE reported contact with periscopes in 012-03S, 129-37E.




Sunday 11th January 1942


Enemy Activities


Enemy had landed during the night at Tarakan and at Minahada in N. Celebes, including a parachute landing.  Dutch bombers attacked enemy transport fleet and claimed to have hit two transports and scored a near miss on a cruiser.  3 enemy aircraft were shot down by Dutch aircraft.


A Dutch submarine (O 19 ?) sank two transports off Singora, one of which was the AKITA MARU which was heard making a W/T distress signal.


Dutch S.S. TOBUALI bombed and sunk S. of Sineboi.


Own Operations and Movements


TOOWOOMBA, BALLARAT, and WOLLONGONG were ordered to proceed to Batavia with all despatch.




Monday 12th January 1942


Convoy DM 1, which consisted of transports SUSSEX, ABBEKERK, AORANGI, NARKUNDA, and MOUNT VERNON escorted by EMERALD, EXETER, DURBAN, DE RUYTER, JUMNA, JUPITER, ENCOUNTER, and VAMPIRE passed northward through the Banka Straits.  This was the most important troop convoy to data, as it conveyed:


51 Hurricane aircraft with 18 pilots, of No. 232 Squadron


53rd Infantry Brigade Group (the leading Brigade of the 18th Division and the first white reinforcements put into Singapore).


1 Heavy A.A. Regiment


1 Light A.A. Regiment


1 Anti tank Regiment.


At 0856 a large formation of enemy aircraft was reported by Rear Admiral Malaya as approaching the Banka Straits from the North; at 0903 this was amplified to “two large formations” and at 0930 a formation of aircraft passing along Banka Strait from the North.


The situation appeared dangerous as it seemed certain the enemy had located the convoy and it would be heavily attacked in a position where little or no fighter protection was possible.  Fortunately, however, no attack developed, and it seems probable that these formations of aircraft were squadrons which had attacked Singapore and were making a wide sweep south before returning.


EMERALD broke W/T silence to report that the Convoy had not been attacked, which appeared an excessively foolhardy proceeding, but escaped the fate it perhaps deserved.


Singapore was attacked in fact by several waves of bombers escorted by fighters between 0800 and 1030, this being the first daylight raid of the Island.  No naval damage was done.


ANKING and TENEDOS sailed from Singapore for Batavia at 1200GH escorting HAI HING and KLANG with 200 R.A.F. personnel and 600 tons of R.A.F. stores.


Admiralty approved the aware of the D.S.O. to Lieutenant Commander Groeneveld of Dutch submarine K 14.




Tuesday 13th January 1942


Tarakan capitulated to Japanese at 0730.


Convoy DM 1 arrived Singapore safely a.m.  It was not attacked by enemy aircraft, though there was considerable enemy air activity over Singapore and the Johore Straits during the forenoon.


Singapore was raided by 50 Type 97 bombers escorted by 20 Navy “O” fighters at 1115.  40 to 50 bombs were dropped in the Kallang area, the R.A.F. mess and other aerodrome buildings were slightly damaged.  Other bombs fell in the Adam Camp area and near Serangoon Road.  10 Fighter Sections went up to intercept.  1 enemy aircraft was shot down, 3 probably destroyed, and two damaged.  We lost four and two damaged.  Enemy fighters apparently came from Kuantan.  Enemy scale of air effort in Malaya on this day was 173 aircraft.


Submarine Operations


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet instructed Rear Admiral Malaya to order Dutch submarines K 11 and K 12 to return to Sourabaya as soon as convenient, but that O 19 would remain under his orders until both TRUSTY and TRUANT had joined.


K 14 was ordered back to the Java Sea by Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces from her patrol in South China Sea area.


K 11 was ordered by Rear Admiral Malaya to operate on the west coast of Malaya.  (n.b. chopped after “operate”, but information taken from other source)


Admiralty stated that the arrival of the military stores in S.S. GLENARTNEY in ABDA area was of great importance.  The ship was then at Bombay and carried 15” guns and ammunition originally for Singapore, in addition to military stores.  Admiralty stated the guns and ammunition could not be unloaded before sailing for ABDA area as this delay was inacceptable.  Commander in Chief East Indies were therefore asked to put her in the next convoy for Sunda.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Admiralty to amend the limits of the China Station to conform with the new ABDA area and W/T organisation.




Wednesday 14th January 1942


Enemy Activities


S.S. JALARJAN sunk by submarine in 00-16S, 88-00E (S.O. (I) Singapore Message 0755/22).


Own Operations and movements


THANET and EXPRESS left Singapore for Batavia p.m.  ANKING arrived Batavia 1500GH, and summed duty as Base W/T and Depot ship.  Hospital ship TALAMBA arrived Singapore.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet suggested of Rear Admiral Malaya that ABDIEL should be employed on offense mining operations (0630/14).


Submarine Operations


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the Far East ordered K 14 to Makassar Straits in vicinity of Balikpapan and air reconnaissance thence to Mangkalihat.


Rear Admiral Malaya reported he was sailing K 12 from Singapore on 17th January (docking deferred).  K 11 was returning from patrol on 20th January and would sail as soon afterwards as possible. (0830Z/14).


Naval Officer i/c Rangoon reported that a minewatching patrol of small craft was in force, but this was unreliable.  He was asked for further assistance.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet suggested to Rear Admiral Malaya that Banka Straits should be kept permanently searched for minelaying while important troop convoys were in prospect.


Military and Air


In Malaya the withdrawal of the army to the North Johore line continued.  There was only small daylight air raid on Singapore which caused no damage.




The Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet informed Admiralty that the Tarakan oil field had been fully destroyed before the Japanese landed.  (Verbal assurance from Dutch).




Thursday 15th January 1942


Enemy Activities


0133Z/15.  Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in East Indies reported an unknown submarine off S. Natuna Islands.


Own Operations and Movements


EMERALD, DANAE, EXETER, ELECTRA, and STRONGHOLD arrived at Batavia.  DANAE and EXETER sailed to meet convoy.


INDOMITABLE, escorted by NAPIER, NESTOR, and NIZAM sailed from Aden for Port Sudan to carry out operation OPPONENT.  (Ferrying aircraft to convey reinforcements to aircraft to Malaya, Sumatra, or Java).


ENDEAVOUR left Batavia for Padang and Colombo


Rear Admiral Malaya ordered TRUSTY (on passage from Colombo to Singapore) to sink any surface craft sighted in the Malacca Straits North of 2 degrees N. especially any proceeding from Malaya to Sumatra by night.  O 19 returned to Singapore from patrol and reported having sunk one heavily laden 2000 ton supply ship.


Military and Air


Rear Admiral Malaya reported that WESTFORCE (consisting of Indian reinforcements and Australian Division) were consolidating on the Muar – Mersing line.  H.Q. of 3rd Indian Corps was brought back to Johore Bahru, and 9th Division at Segamat.


Small enemy parties landed between Muar and Batu Pahat.  ML 1069, off coast, was informed of 3 vessels towing barges off Muar River, course south.


Heavy daylight raids on Singapore Island; on raid on naval base caused some damage in Mata Area.


Tengah, Seletar, and Kallang were the only aerodromes remaining serviceable in Malaya.




Friday 16th January 1942


Own Operations and Movements


Flag of Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet was transferred to EMERALD from DRAGON at 1600GH.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet in EMERALD sailed from Batavia for Colombo at 1700GH.


Broad Pendant of Commodore J.A. Collins, CB, R.A.N. was hoisted in ANKING was Commodore Commanding British Eastern Squadron (title changed later by Admiralty to China Force.)


As from 0001Z, the Rear Admiral Malaya and Commodore Commanding China Force assumed their duties and responsibilities under the control of the Supreme Commander in the ABDA area.  Rear Admiral Palliser assumed duty as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff at Supreme Headquarters (see directives in Appendix VIII).


TENEDOS escorting KLANG with R.A.F. reinforcements and stores arrived Tjilatjap.


Command in Chief Eastern Fleet instructed Rear …..(n.b. bottom two lines chopped).. for Australia to reload….


Hospital ship TALAMBA left Singapore for Colombo with sick and wounded.


H.M.S. KELANA was sunk by dive bombing in the Endau River while bombarding enemy positions.  No casualties.


K 11 was recalled from patrol by Rear Admiral Malaya and directed to arrive Singapore by 18th January.


Commander in Chief Netherlands Naval Forces in the East Indies reported a large number of floating mines E. of Bintang and in the Rhio Straits.  This was passed to Rear Admiral Malaya, but not regarded as very reliable.


NARKUNDA and AORANGI sailed from Singapore for Australia independently.


Military and Air


Heavy fighting in Gemas area in Malaya with much dive bombing and machine gunning of forward areas.  Heavy fighting also at Muar.


Heavy rain restricting our air operations.  Several bombs dropped in Kranji area.




REMARKS OF PERIOD 5th – 16th January 1942


During the period in which I had my Headquarters temporarily installed at Batavia, the “ABDA” organisation for the command and operations of Allied Forces in the South West Pacific was set up.


I had the opportunity of discussing the situation full with General Wavell, Lieutenant General Pownall, Admiral Hart, Rear Admiral Purnell, and Vice Admiral Helfrich.  I have commented on these discussions in my report No. 11/4682 of 20/1/42 and do not wish to add to this for the present.


I had wished personally to leave Rear Admiral Palliser at Batavia to conduct the operation of our convoys destined for Singapore, but after considerable discussion it was agreed that General Wavell should have a senior British Naval Officer as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff at Supreme Headquarters, and Captain J.A. Collins, CB, R.A.N. who was acting as my Assistant Chief of Staff, and whom I had proposed to take to Colombo as Chief of Staff for the Eastern Fleet, assumed direction of the British Forces in the ABDA area as Commodore Commanding, China Force.


As soon as these arrangements were complete, there was no further point in my remaining at Batavia, where indeed my presence as Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet might well been embarrassing to the new organisation, and accordingly as previously approved by Their Lordships, I proceeded to Colombo.


It will be appreciated that these changes of Headquarters, and the splitting up and reduplication of staffs as new organisations were set up, have naturally made the keeping of complete records a difficult matter, particularly so since Singapore and Java were soon to fall into enemy hands.


As soon as the necessary arrangements could be made, the old French Consulate at Batavia was taken over as British Naval Headquarters, and I occupied these temporarily until my departure, when they became the Headquarters of Commodore Commanding, China Force.


Rear Admiral Palliser moved to Lembang to join Supreme Headquarters, with a small Naval Staff consisting of Captain D. Gilmour, Commander A.N. Grey, and Paymaster Commander Crisp.










On passage Colombo Singapore












On passage Tarakan – Singapore



Hong Kong



Hong Kong



On passage Batavia – Singapore



On passage Batavia – Singapore



On passage 2 degrees South  to Singapore



On passage 2 degrees South to Singapore



On passage Batavia area to Singapore









Refitting Singapore



Refitting Singapore



Refitting Singapore






On passage Durban to Aden
























Due Colombo 18.12.41















Port T to Seychelles



Aden to 23-50N, 60E escort duty



Singapore – Fremantle



Port T






Diego Garcia















Auckland to Suva on escort duty



To leave Auckland 17/12 on escort duty



Refitting Auckland



On patrol



Amboina to Port Moresby



On patrol with CANBERRA



Refitting Melbourne



Refitting Sydney



Leaves Calcutta 15/12






Mediterranean to Australia.  Due Aden 13/12



Relieving DIOMEDE on Galapagos patrol.



To Bermuda on relief by DESPATCH



Refitting San Diego (August)



































Karimata Strait to Sourabaya



Between Christmas Is. and Wynjoops Bay



Sourabaya out of commission



Karimata Strait



Near Banka Strait






Karimata Strait



Tanjong Prior to Tjilatjap escorting floating dock



Karimata Strait



Celebes Sea



Sourabaya – out of commission









Phillips Strait



Refitting Sourabaya





M.T.B.'s 3 – 12




S/M refitting Sourabaya



S/M refitting Sourabaya



Sourabaya – Karimata Strait 2/12/41






Off Kuantan and Pahang









About 60 miles north of Karimata Strait



About 60 miles north of Karimata Strait



About 60 miles north of Karimata Strait



Off Kuantan and Pahang



Sourabaya – refitting


O 16

Returning to Singapore


O 19

Songhkle area


O 20

Songhkle area



On passage to Singapore










Should arrived Sourabaya p.m. 17th



Makassar (due 17th)






Makassar (Note:  First mentioned today as being in this Fleet)



Balikpapan 13/12 then to Sourabaya



Sourabaya (n.b. this is ALDEN, not ALLEN)



Molucca Straits



Balikpapan 13/12, then to Sourabaya



Balikpapan 13/12, then to Sourabaya



Sourabaya  (n.b. this is EDSALL, not EDGALL)






Arrived Balikpapan 13th for Sourabaya






Arrived Balikpapan 13th for Sourabaya









Arrived Balikpapan 13th for Sourabaya



Due Sourabaya 10/12



Whereabouts unknown



Molucca Straits



Manila to Balikpapan









Due Makassar 17/12



Due Menado 17/12



Due Balikpapan 16/12










            EMPRESS  (n.b. EXPRESS, not EMPRESS)







            K 11

            K 12


Operating from Singapore


            O 19

            O 20






Rhio Archipelago to Tandjong Priok












            DE RUYTER


            PIET HEIN


            VAN NES





Caspar Strait to Makassar Strait

            K 14



            ASHEVILLE (U.S.)

            TULSA (U.S.)

            TENEDOS, due 15th



            K 8

            K 13

            K 15

            K 18



            STEWART (U.S.)

            PARROT (U.S.)

            BARKER (U.S.)

            SWORDFISH (U.S. S/M)

            S 38 (U.S. S/M)

            LARK (U.S.)

            WHIPPOORWILL (U.S.)


Makassar Strait to Soerabaya

            K 10

            SARGO (U.S. S/M)


Concentrating in Flores Sea





            J.D. FORD



Also Strait to Soerabaya

            VAN GHENT



            W.B. PRESTON (U.S.)


North of Bali

            J. PAUL JONES (U.S.)


Sibutu Passage

            S 36 (U.S. S/M)


Near Menado

            PIKE (U.S.)

            SEA RAVEN (U.S.)


Davao Bay

            SALMON (U.S.)

            SAILFISH (U.S.)

            PICKEREL (U.S.)


Near Kema

            PERMIT (U.S.)


Celebes Sea

            SAURY (U.S.)

            SCULPIN (U.S.)


Near Tarakan

            SPEARFISH (U.S.)

            S 37 (U.S. S/M)

            S 41 (U.S. S/M)



            S 40 (U.S. S/M)


Darwin to Batavia







1.  To:   C.Z.M.                                                                                                  From:  C. in C. E.F.


(R) C in C A.F.






Admiralty 803


Log No. 25                                                        Anglo-French                             13th December 1941


B.N.L.O. Batavia has informed me of the views expressed by you to Admiral Royle and Commodore Parry at your recent meeting.  My comments under the existing circumstances are as follows:


2.  I am most grateful for your offer of 6 destroyers to work with Eastern Fleet when reformed.  Question of employment of Netherlands Cruiser and Destroyers with Fleet must however now be in abeyance.


3.  Regarding employment of U.S. Forces, I am endeavouring to obtain Admiral Hart’s present intentions and suggest you get with touch with Admiral Glassford commanding Task Force 5.  I am inclined to think that this force in existing circumstances might operate with success in N.E.I. waters based if necessary in a N.E.I. port.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0537Z/13



2.  To : C.Z.M. pass to C. in C. E.F.                                                                   From: C. in C. A.F.


            U.S. Chief of Naval Operations


One group of ships consisting of gunboats TULSA ASHEVILLE and minesweepers LARK also WHIPPOORWILL proceeding independently are to enter Celebes Sea today en route to Balikpapan.  U.S. Destroyer PRESTON and U.S. Aircraft tender HERO ordered from Tarakan to (2 groups) (n.b. this indicates a corrupt code group that could not be decoded).  I do not intend to route any more warships via Makassar for the present.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0918Z/14.12/41


3.  To:  C.Z.M.                                                                                                   From C. in C. A.F.


            (r) C. in C. E.F.


            Commander Task Group 5


Commander patrol wing 10 proceed in U.S. Seaplane Tender CHILDS for operations under Commander Task Group 5 and due Minado 17th December.  After arrival Captain Wagner will bring in about 10 seaplanes will request small amount bunker fuelling and gasoline.  No plans early sailing through Melluca Passage.  Could you supply Glass with (1 group)


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1115Z/14.12.41



4.  To:  C. in C.  E.F.                                                                                                     From:  C.Z.M.


            (r) C. in C. A.F.




Referring to our 0221 14th December and your 0640 13th December from C. in C. A.F.


Although I am informed sufficiently about the movements of U.S.A. Men of War in my N.E.I. Station, I consider state of affairs unsatisfactory as long as I am not informed of the purpose of these movements and further plans except for fuelling.


More co operation with N.E.I. Naval Forces is recommended in order to come to logical dispositions and division of tasks.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0721Z/15.12.41


5.  To:  C. in C. A.F.                                                                                                      From:  C. in C. E.F.


            (r) C.Z.M.




Dispositions of Allied ships in the Far East Area under my operational control will be signaled periodically.  Ships used for local defence will not be included.


It would be appreciated if you could make similar arrangements.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0944Z/15.12.41



6.  To:  C. in C. E.F.                                                                                                      From C.Z.M.






1115Z 14 December telegram 13 December without time of origin from C. in C. A.F.  Please suggest to C. in C. A.F. to cooperate with the Dutch Naval Force in the N.E.I. sphere instead of around in Indian waters without aim and without a fixed programme.  In my opinion only close cooperation with C.Z.M. will support out common cause.  I would be grateful if you will suggest to C. in C. A.F., repetition to C. in C. A.F., to order Admiral Glassford to Batavia after his arrival to make the absolutely necessary arrangements.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1213Z/15.12.41



7.  To:  C.Z.M.                                                                                                   From: C. in C. A.F.


            (r)  (? 1 Group)




Reference your 0721 of 15th December.  I agree and regret the necessity of having to move my ships into your area without being able to give you full information as to my intentions.  My Chief of Staff will arrived Balikpapan afternoon 16th December.  As soon as possible thereafter he and Admiral Glassford will confer with you on all questions.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1440/15.12.41



8.  To:  C.Z.M.                                                                                                   From: C. in C. E.F.


Reference message 1440/15 from C. in C. A.F. I hope you will persuade Admiral Glassford of importance of using N.E.I. air reconnaissance on the Sandakan New Guinea line and obtain information of enemy forces moving South so as to attack them in Makassar, Molucca, or Gilolo Straits rather than wait for them to come nearer to Sourabaya.


2.  Please signal a summary of any arrangements you make with Glassford


3.  My own information of U.S. intentions is scanty.  I received a message this morning from British Admiralty Delegation Washington T.O.O. 2035R/14 giving views of U.S. Navy Department and a summary follows.  I have so far made no comment to Admiralty.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0510Z/16.12.41



9.  To: C.Z.M.                                                                                                                From:  C. in C. E.F.


My 0510Z/16.  Following is summary referred to.  The views of the U.S. Navy Department are as follows:


1).  U.S. Chief of Naval Operations considers A.B.C. annex II provides for collaboration by local commanders in planning and execution of operations.  Strategic direction of U.S. forces remains with the U.S. Chief of Naval Staff operations British Forces with Admiralty and Dominion Governments Dutch Forces with N.E.I. authorities.


2).  Enemy control of air over Philippines (may) shortly threaten Fleet Base possibilities shortly.  Prevention of enemy fuel replenishment strongest strategic weapon in long war.


3).  C. In C. A.F. intends to operate submarines from Manila as long as possible with the primary objective important enemy ships.  All other available ships being organized under Admiral Glassford to operate at present on general lines Sourabaya Darwin.


4).  Fall of Luzon and Singapore would shift pressure to N.E.I.  Essential to close Eastern Malaya barrier passages to raiders to give time to build up N/W Australian defences.  Retirement in direction of Australia will also make possible ultimate junction with Pacific Fleet.


5).  Operations of submarines from Manila with objective as in paragraph 3 approved by Washington with addition of support Army defence Luzon, but advise using more southerly bases before retirement cut off Northern area.


6).  U.S. Chief of Naval Operations indicate that U.S. Asiatic Fleet surface forces should continue to operate in area Sourabaya – Thursday Is.  He assumes British will close Malacca Strait to enemy and expects Dutch to guard Sunda Strait with all assistance British can afford.


                                                                                                                                                T.O.O. 0521Z/16.12.41



10.  To:  C.Z.M.                                                                                                             From:  C. in C. E.F.


My 0512Z/16 para 4.  My only comment at present is that it is the British intention that Singapore shall not (R) not fall.


                                                                                                                                                T.O.O. 0541Z/16.12.41



11.  To:  C. in C. E.F.                                                                                                                From:  C.Z.M.


Your 0510/16 and 0541/16 entirely agreed with your wishes and comments.  Purnell arrives today especially I shall signal all arrangements and my comments immediately.


                                                                                                                                                T.O.O. 0525Z/17.12.41



12.  To:  C. In C. A.F.                                                                                                                From:  C.Z.M.


            (r)  C. in C. E.F.




Admiral Purnell arrived at Sourabaya 17th December 0700 local time.  Will continue 18th December with Admiral Glassford to Batavia.


                                                                                                                                                T.O.O. 1155Z/17.12.41



13.  To:  C.Z.M.                                                                                                             From:  EASFAR


            (r) C.L.G.




Personal for Admiral Helfrich from Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.  With Japanese now established in South Thailand and North Malaya any shipping used in Malacca Straits is liable to considerable scale of air attack.  It is also possible that Japanese may attempt a landing on N.E. coast Sumatra either to seize air bases or to deny them.  Air reconnaissance from Medan and or Sabang would be powerful factor in locating attempt at landings which could only be from small craft.  Before making arrangements to search in this area from attenuated reconnaissance resources remaining at my disposal I would be glad to know whether you could station one or two flying boats in the area in the near future.  Admiral Layton tells me his is raising with you the question of the possible location of light surface vessels to this area with the same objective in view.


                                                                                                                                                T.O.O. 1650/18.12.41



14.  To:  C. in C. E.F.                                                                                                                From:  C.Z.M.


            (r) C. in C. U.S. A.F.


            Naval Commander Sourabaya


            (Pass to Admiral Purnell)






Reference your 0521Z/16, 0510Z/16, and 0541Z/16th, and my 0525/17th.


Following is summary of discussions with Admiral Purnell on 18th December.  Firstly discussions based on declarations from Washington that strategic direction suggests remains with U.S.A. U.S. Chief of N.O. and on direction from Washington to Purnell.  No matter of strategic command discussed.


Secondly, strategic ideas is reinforcement of Amboina with U.S.A. submarines and reconnaissance aircraft for guarding Melluca and Jailele Passage.  U.S.A. Force will guard Celebes Sea and Makassar Straits.  Sourabaya and port Darwin will be used as repair bases.  From both sides agreed with possibility of ships transferring from one another’s operational command.  Small U.S.A. craft for local defence will come under the command of Dutch local commander.


Thirdly U.S.A. Fleet will operate in  East part of D.E.I. sphere.  Suggested limited of U.S.A. part are as follows:


East Boundary unchanged


Guard against Southern border from south point of boundary between British and Dutch New Guinea to Cape Arnhem thence  following the coast of Australia to Port Darwin thence to a point 015 degrees and 120 degrees East thence to South point Bali.


Western boundary from East point Bali to Sekala Island thence to Sebuku Island and thence following coast of Borneo.


No Northern limit.


Fourthly, since it is clear from your 0521Z/16th that the strategic direction of the U.S.A. Asiatic Fleet remains with U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, the above given division of the Dutch sphere will mean that south east part of the Far East area (zone) becomes U.S.A. strategic responsibility.  I wish to stress that the (1 group) direction within my part of the Dutch sphere remains with you.


Fifthly Admiral Glassford with staff will move to Batavia for the purpose of close co operation with me.  Commander of material and some Staff Officers for supply and so on will settle at Sourabaya.  Further is the appointment of U.S.A. Naval Officer to ACH Amboina part of withdrawal of Dutch Naval reconnaissance aircraft taken into my part of sphere.  The necessary liaison officer will be appointed to bombing practice force.


Sixthly, the further disposition and use of U.S.A. force will be discussed with Admiral Glassford.


Seventhly, I assumed that you will inform and consult with the appropriate authority.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1231Z/19.12.41



15.  To:  C. in C. E.F.                                                                                                    From: B.N.L.O. Batavia


                                                                                                                                    22nd December 1941


AIDAC HUSH from Captain Collins.


Meeting this afternoon with CZM and Glassford.  Glassford critical Washington attitude.  Complete agreement on Duff Cooper telegram.  Glassford is sending signal to Washington saying he is not (r) not looking southeast and intends reforming in the Celebes area.  He is ready to consider assisting with convoys as an operation.  He is moving to Batavia shortly.


CZM co operative as ever.


Returning Wednesday 24th.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1130Z/22.12.41



16.  To:  C. in C. U.S. Asiatic Fleet                                                                               From:  A.C.N.B.


            (r) C. in C. Eastern Fleet




            Commander Task Force 5




Your 0927 22nd December.  It is considered that strategical control agreed by you and C.Z.M. is satisfactory.  I also fully concur in your force ought to make use of Darwin as repair bases.    As regards operational control in the area defined as Eastern Part of Dutch East Indies sphere.  It is requested that in order to avoid confusion Area Combined Headquarters should be kept informed of movements and orders issued to your forces in this area so that when possible assistance with anti submarine escort and air cover can be provided.  Request confirmation that the radio organisation laid down in ANDUSCALL, Article 405 will be adhered to.


C.Z.M. pass to Commander Task Force 5.


                                                                                                                                    (T.O.O. chopped)



17.  To:  C. in C. China                                                                                     From B.N.L.O. Batavia






Immediate from Captain Collins.


My 1130Z/22.  Following received from Commander Task Force 5 now at Surabaya.  Addressed C.Z.M.  Begins.  Upon returning to Surabaya received orders from Washington dated 22nd which confirms (1 group).


General distribution of this force for the purpose of promoting


i).  Collaboration with you N.E.I. Defence Eastern Area, Dutch E.I.


ii).  Establishment of U.S. Army Navy Bases Darwin.


iii).  Protection of vital lines of communications Australia Philippine Islands.


U.S. Line of supplies will be from Panama or San Francisco to Darwin via Torres Straits South Australia or Good Hope, alternate route to Melbourne or Brisbane with transshipment to Darwin.  Under these circumstances concentration of my forces South Celebes Area as discussed yesterday cannot be contemplated.  Please report to Captain Collins with request for Admiral Layton to be informed.


Cannot make westward commitments now.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0825Z/23.12.41.  Ends


Consider no use pursuing matter with Glassford whose hands are tied.  As U.S. are now taking large share of Australian securities suggest resulting deficiency here might be made good from there.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0301Z/24.12.41



18.  To :  C.L.G.                                                                                                            From:  A.C.N.B.


            (r) C.Z.M.


            C. in C. E.F. pass to C. in C. A.F.


            C. in C. F.E.


Following from C.A.S. Melbourne A 537 24th December.


I have just seen your 1231Z/19th and C. in C. U.S. A.F.’s 0927Z/22nd referring to the proposed change  in strategic spheres.  With regard to Anglo-Dutch-Australian conversations at Singapore in February last and American-Dutch-British conversations in April last under mutual reinforcements of Australia agree to every effort by taking over from Dutch responsibility of air reconnaissance and air striking forces south of (1 Group) north coast Timor – Molu Island –Southern point of boundary between Dutch and British New Guinea.  Air operational control to be exercised through Area Combined H.Q. Darwin.  It was also agreed that Australia is to provide an air striking force in N.E.I. area responsibilities at Amboina and that an Area Combing H.Q. comprising of Dutch and Australian Staff should control and ensure co ordination of N.E.I. reconnaissance and Australian striking forces in Amboina area.  These plans have been implemented and are now in operation.  Australian Army troops are providing protection.  I am not clear as to what proposed changes mean.   It would appear U.S. is to take over part of your Eastern sphere including Amboina and also part of the Australian sphere including Timor and Darwin.  Whilst we are only too ready to cooperate there are certain points that require clearing up.


a).  Is the Australian air unit at Amboina to be replaced by Americans and Australian components of the Air Combined H.Q. Amboina to be released.


b).  Is the North Western boundary area Australian air responsibility to be withdrawn to coincide with existing boundaries of Naval Australian Station and in consequence is the Australian Air Unit at Koepang no longer required.


I consider at this stage that no change in air responsibility should be made and that Air Force at Timor must remain under control of Area Combined H.Q. Darwin.  Any Dutch and American Naval or Air Forces working from Darwin or Koepang (should be?) co ordinate through Area Combined H.Q., otherwise I fear confusion will arise.


            C.Z.M. pass to C.L.G.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 0900Z/24.12.41



19.  To:  C. in C. E.F.                                                                                                    From B.N.L.O. Batavia




During interview with C. in C. A.F. this afternoon he requested to be informed as to where General Wavell will be setting up his headquarters.


2).  C. in C. U.S.A.F. is not enquiring of General Brett as to where he intends to set up his command.


3).  I informed C. in C. U.S.A.F. of your departure from Singapore and B.B.C. announcement of his command, also of your immediate movements and expressed the hope that with the three Naval C. in C.’ s working closely together cooperation will be simplified.


4).  He states “This command has hit me between the eyes, it is tired very greatly by responsibilities and I do not like it, I probably dislike it more than Admiral Layton and Admiral Helfrich does.”  He appeared tired and worried.


5).  He returns to Sourabaya tonight but future movements are uncertain.


                                                                                                                                    T.O.O. 1050/4.1.42












Title of Convoy 












BM 9 A



Bombay 21.12.41


45th Indian Infantry Brigade







BM 9 B





M.T. and Stores for 45th Indian Infantry







DM 1

(WS 23ZM)





53rd Infantry Brigade Group, 233 Squadron, R.A.F., 6th Heavy A.A.   Regiment, 35th Light A.A. Regiment, 85th Anti Tank Regiment







BM 10





44th Indian Infantry Brigade Group (6000 troops) M.T. and stores for 18th Division Carriers for Reconnaissance Regiment







MS 2

AQUITANIA (to Ratai Bay Java).  Transhipped into smaller Dutch steamers for on carriage to Singapore



Ratai Bay

Singapore (after transshipment to smaller vessels) 24.1.42

2/4 M.G. Battalion.
A.I.F. reinforcements to 8th Division (3,350).







BM 11



Bombay 19.1.42


5 Light A.A. Batteries.
1 Light Tank Squadron. Railway Companies.
18th Division (less 53rd Brigade Group) Stores







BM 12





Drafts for 9th and 11th Divisions (3800 troops) Stores. Divisional Troops for 18th Division








Convoys BM 12 and DM 2 (ex WS 14 D) combined at 0501Z/28 in 01-05N, 91-28E, but DM 2 afterwards diverted to Batavia, except CITY OF CANTERBURY, which went to Singapore. (Not known what units were on board this ship).


DM 2






Wing H.Q. and Ground Staffs for 3 fighter Squadrons.
77th Heavy A.A. Regiment.
21st Light A.A. Regiment. (4000 troops) A.A. Guns, M.T. and Stores.
48th Light A.A. Regiment







The Rt. Hon. A. Duff Cooper, DSO, M.P., Minister for the Far East

Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, GCVO, KCB, CMB, DWO, AFC, Commander in Chief, Far East

Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, KCB, DSO, Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet

Rear Admiral Palliser

Major General H. Gordon Bennett, CB, CMG, DSO, VD

Captain J.A. Collins, CB, R.A.N.

Captain L.G.L. Van der Kun, Netherlands Navy

Lieutenant – Colonel F.G. Brink, U.S.A.

Major R.B. Pape, U.S.A.

Captain J.N. Creighton, U.S.A.

Commander F.K.H. St Aubyn, DSC




The Minister explained to the meeting that the Conference arose from a suggestion made by the President of the United States that three naval and military conferences should be held simultaneously in Moscow, Chungking, and Singapore.  The intention was that agreement should be reached on preliminary recommendations to prepare the way for common action against common enemies as soon respectively from various angles.  The Conference was instructed to reported by December 20th, the members reporting separately to their own governments.  As this information was received only on December 16th it had not been possible to obtain representative from China or New Zealand, but Commander St Aubyn, who had been working in New Zealand, had been asked to attend, and the Minister himself had been authorized to represent the New  Zealand Government.


Continuing, Mr. Duff Cooper said what he thought the Conference should aim at was to produce a statement which should convey an accurate account of the present situation, of future prospects, of the plans that were being made, and of the most urgent needs of the fighting forces.  He asked the Commander in Chief Far East to open the discussion.


Sir Robert Brooke-Popham said:


1.  That Singapore garrison and defences were intact.  With regard to the military forces in the Malayan Peninsula about half had suffered heavy losses and were very tired.  The enemy had command over the China Sea and air superiority in North Malaya.  In order to preserve sufficient forces to safe guard the Naval Base, we should have to withdraw from the Northern Half of Malaya.


2.  This would give the enemy air control over the Malacca Straits and part of the Bay of Bengal as far West as the Andamans and Nicobars.


3.  We could not restore the situation in Malaya with the forces we had available at the present and therefore must be reinforced by Sea, Land, and Air.  We learnt our lesson as regards of an incomplete section of a Fleet in Singapore and the formation of a Fleet must therefore take place at Ceylon (?).  In the meantime any reinforcements of submarines and destroyers would be most valuable.


4.  With regard to military reinforcements, it would be probably too dangerous for them to come down the Malacca Straits mainly owing to the danger of air attack, therefore they must come through the Straits of Sunda and protection must be afford to them from these Straits up to Singapore.


5.  With regard to air reinforcements, Sir R. Brooke-Popham said he could not expect to use Tavoy or Mergui and therefore must fly direct from Rangoon to Sabang at the northern end of Sumatra.  An intermediate refuelling base in the Andamans would be very valuable.  But how long would Sabang remain serviceable?  It was only 300 miles from aerodromes in Kedah.  If Sabang became impossible we should be reduced to reinforcements by aeroplanes in cases or off an Aircraft Carrier.


6.  Control of the Java Sea was of vital importance.  This meant not only also the air.  In order to ensure this Fighters and some Bombers were needed in Western Borneo and in Sumatra.  How long could we expect to hold Western Borneo.  The Japanese could not do everything at once.  In any case defended aerodromes in Sumatra were obviously of the utmost importance.


7.  Overseas communication in the Indian Ocean were essential to the British war effort.  This meant that we must maintain the N.E.I. Barrier.  The weakest point at present appeared to be between Singapore and Western Borneo.


The Commander in Chief East Fleet, who followed, said that as the result of loss of two battleships we were once more back in the same situation that we had occupied before, namely, the period before reinforcement.  We had therefore to look forward to three stages.


1).  The present, in which we must hold on with our army and air force to what we could in order to secure Singapore.


2).  The reinforcement of land and air forces in Singapore, and finally,


3).  After the arrival of reinforcements, when we must drive the Japanese up the Malay Peninsula and hit them in the air until the arrival of the Eastern Fleet.  By that time it was hoped that the U.S. Pacific Fleet would also be in a position to take the offensive and co operate with the British Fleet


At the present time, the most urgent need was for submarines, and even more submarines.


The Admiral referred also to Admiral Glassford’s cruiser force which was at present suitably base at  Sourabaya.  He was very much opposed to the withdrawal of that fleet to Darwin, which he considered tantamount to abandoning the Far Eastern area.


There was, at the present time, an important convoy on its way from the U.S. bound for Brisbane.  In the opinion of the Admiral, it should be directed to Sourabaya, from whence it could (n.b. bottom line chopped)……to Singapore.


He thought there was a tendency to look South and East whereas in his opinion we should rather direct our gaze to the North and West.


Colonel Brink, who followed, read out a telegram which he had received from Admiral Hart and General MacArthur, the text of which is as follows:


“The Japanese have secured three positions at distant, undefended points on the Island of Luzon, each with a small airfield and each behind a difficult defile.  They can support a ground attack from these positions, or assist in efforts to blockade Balintang Channel and San Bernadino Straits.


The enemy has command of the air and our remaining air forces are weak and our remaining air forces are week.  However, there has been a marked reduction in the enemy air pressure in the last 48 hours.


The defending land forces are in intact.  There are no local indications of a major attack here.


Facilities available for basing naval operations here:  The basing facilities are badly damaged and the remaining ones are vulnerable to injury.  The operation of naval surface forces from this base is quite impracticable.  As long as sufficient basing facilities for the operation of submarines are available, we will continue to operate the powerful submarine force on hand.


The enemy has dispose sufficient naval forces to blockade Luzon effectively, unless they are driven out by forces which are greater than we have available here.  We cannot, therefore, with the forces we have here, assure the maintenance of sea communications in this area.


We reiterate the strategic policy enunciated by President Roosevelt:  The Far East area is now the dominate locus of the war the most rapid and concentrated effort should be made by convergent action of the allies.”


Colonel Brink added that the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet had been ordered by the Navy Department to send everything south for the purpose of closing the passages in the Eastern Malay Barrier and supporting the defence of the N.E.I. and Australia.  He therefore could make no other commitments at present.  Admirals Glassford and Purnell were conferring with the Dutch and the result of their conversations would be communicated to Singapore.


The Commander in Chief Far East, while recognizing the force of the views expressed, said that they appeared to be taking into consideration only the point of view of the Philippines and that it was essential from the point of Singapore that we should hold the Northern barrier guard.


Captain Creighton instead upon the strategic value of Luzon.  The Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet agreed, but said that at the same time, if the enemy captured it he would obtain none of the commodities to help him in his war effort, such as rubber and oil which would fall to him if her succeeded in capturing Borneo and Sumatra.


There was general agreement between the British and American representatives but it was desirable that the American convoy now bound for Brisbane should be directed to Sourabaya.  Captain Collins, in this connection, stressed the importance of  strong escort for the convoy in passing through Torres Straits.


With regard to the future, Commander in Chief Far East expressed the view that considerable time must elapse before we should sufficient forces to enable us to drive the enemy out of Malaya.


General Gordon Bennett suggested that an attempt should be made to hold up the enemy as far North as possible.  The further we retreated South, the greater would be our casualties, the more tired our troops would become, and the more difficult the land would be our defensive warfare, owing to the increased number of lateral roads.  At the same time, the enemy would be encouraged by a series of successes.  He himself felt strongly that an Australian Division from the Middle East, not now engaged in active warfare, should be despatched to Malaya without delay.


The Minister suggested that it was easier to concentrate such forces as we are present possessed in the South, as we could withdraw the forces from the North whereas we could not advance the forces which were now in the South and which, if they advance, would leave undefended territory behind them.  The Commander in Chief Far East agreed with this view, pointing out that we could not denude Johore and the troops that were now in it.


Doubt was expressed as to whether it would be possible to obtain any reinforcements from the Middle East pending the conclusion of the campaign there, but it was generally agreed that two Divisions would be better than one, and the fact that the larger the strength of our reinforcements the better, especially if they were provided with adequate air support.


Captain Van der Kun agreed with the views expressed by the Commander in Chief.  He thought the defences of Sumatra were not strong.  He was not able to make a statement with regard to the possibility of obtaining military reinforcements from the N.E.I.  It was discovered that the military representative from the N.E.I. had not been warned that the meeting was taking place.  The Minister asked Captain Van de Kun to express to the Dutch military representatives his regret and apologies.


Captain Van de Kun suggested the possibility of the Chinese operating in the rear of the Japanese attacking forces.  The Commander in Chief Far East said there would be great difficulty in such an operation owing to the nature of the country.


The possibility of Russian intervention was discussed, and the view was taken that H.M.G. did not at present consider it desirable to press the Russian Government to intervene in view of the task they had before them in defeating the Germans in Europe.


The importance of obtaining long distance bombers was emphasized.  They would enable the Allies to bomb not only Japan,  but also Hangkow and Yunan, Singora, Pattani, etc.


The Commander in Chief Far East was asked for a statement with regard to the priority of the weapons which we needed.  He put fighters first, then anti aircraft guns, thirdly bombers to give us hitting power, and Long Distance Fighters to escort the bombers by day.


Colonel Brink pointed out that when considering the question of reinforcements we should not measure out needs by the forces which were now opposing us but rather by that the Japanese were in a position to put into the field later.  The first thing which we should do was to form to the best of our ability an estimate of the potential strength of the Japanese in the future.


On enquiry being made Captain Creighton said that he had no precise knowledge as to the present whereabouts, strength, or activity of the American Pacific Fleet.  He concluded from such evidence as had reached him that it must have suffered serious damage in the attack on Pearl Harbour.  He knew that its first mission was to have been to deny the Marshall and Gilbert Islands to the enemy.  It might possibly be engaged in that task at the present time.


The Minister, on closing the meeting, said that he would circulate the minutes of it on the following day together with a draft telegram which he would propose sending to H.M.G. Members of the Committee which would have an opportunity of considering these documents, and a further meeting might be held on Saturday at 11 o’clock.  This was agreed to.










The objectives in Miri were:


1.  Electric plant

2.  Machine shop boiler, compressor, and various units

3.  Pujut Water pump station

4.  Part of Sungei Liku water pump station.

5.  Cranes at Marine Wharf and Main Stores Wharf.


The work on Items 1, 2, 3, and 4, was carried out completely according to plan, and the engines, generators, pumps, and switchboards could not be rehabilitated.


The 5 ton and 10 ton hand cranes were effectively demolished, the boilers of the 4 ton and 3 ton steam cranes were burnt out, but the charges on the jibs of these two were not fired.  The 6 ton steam was crane was to assist in the evacuation and was left intact.


All the wells in Miri were destroyed in September, and all the equipment except for the above had already been removed to Singapore.  All cars and trucks not in use had been immobilized, but the ones used in the evacuation were left undamaged though these were to be immobilized by Mr. Parry.


The 150 ton tanker TIONG, 5 dumb lights, 4 motor lights, and 7 launches were left intact, one launch was left on the wharf under repair.


The steam lighters BURONG and ANGAS were left moored up the Baram River at Marudi.


The 3 ferry pontoons were left intact, as also was the cold storage plant with 2-30 h.p. oil engines and 2 – 1 ½ ton ammonia compressors, small stocks of lubricating oil, kerosene, benzine dieseline, fuel oil for the launches and cars were left intact at Miri Wharf.


No oil production could be obtained in Miri and probably never will be again.




The blowing of craters in the landing ground was carried out according to instructions in collaboration with Lt. Hancock, R.E. and a detachment of H.M. Troops.  The 20 holes 9 feet deep with 70 lbs. gelignite in each were exploded as was also were 10 holes 18 feet deep with 210 lbs. Gelignite.  The craters forced were from 25 to 35 feet in diameter and 6 to 8 feet deep at the centre.


The stock of aviation benzene at the landing ground was run out and lit.  Hancock removed the fuses, detonators, etc. from the R.A.F. bomb store.  He also decided to destroy the bombs, but it is not known if he did so.


It is estimated that with the coolies available in this area, the landing ground could be put into serviceable shape in one to two weeks.





The 5 sea loading lines were blown up according to plan, the essential parts of all the plant were cut up by oxyacetylene torches and the pumps and engines were then destroyed with explosives.  The takes of the boilers and heaters were burned.  A certain part of the refinery plant which had already been dismantled and transported to the Lutong Wharf for shipment to Egypt was destroyed by explosions or thrown into the river.


All stocks of oil in the Main Tank Farm and Rundown Tank Farm were run out and fired, and this caused the collapse of those tanks which had sufficient oil in them.  The fire was started on Monday at 5 p.m. and was still burning on Saturday although very much diminished.


The two cranes on the Lutong Wharf were demolished by H.M. Forces after their gear had been loaded.


None of the plant at Lutong will be available for use by the enemy.









As a basis for an appreciation of the extent of the Emergency Denial Scheme in preventing the exploitation of oil by the enemy the following brief resume of the former potentialities of the Field and methods of handling the oil should be of use.


The Seria Field previous to September 1941 was capable of producing 3500 M3 of light waxy oil and 3500 M3 of heavier oil per day (24 hours).  Of this total of 7000 M3 all was obtainable from naturally flowing wells with the exception of 1250 M3 which was obtainable by the use of high pressure gas.  This high pressure gas was obtained from wells No. 14, 40, and 134, together with a smaller amount of gas compressed to 370 lbs per square inch by the Compressor Plant.  The oil which flowed or was lifted by this gas was collected firstly in small tank groups in the immediate area of the wells and thence was pumped by steam pumps to a larger central tank farm.  From this larger tank farm it was pumped to Luton Refinery by internal combustion engines driving large reciprocating pumps.


In September 1941 all flowing wells were cemented off, thus effectually rending them useless as producers of oil.


This left only the gas lift wells with a production of 1250 M3 daily to be dealt with in the Emergency Denial Scheme.


The Company Personnel had the assistance of Lt. Withers of the Royals with 12 Military Personnel.


At 10:00 a.m. on December 8th the undersigned received instructions to proceed immediately to carry out the Emergency Denial Scheme.  This consisted of the following operations:


1.  To render useless the Compressor Station which was used to compress gas to augment the high pressure gas from wells 14, 40, and 143 in lifting oil from the gas lift wells.


This was done by use of oxy-acetylene torches in cutting through the crankshafts of the 5 compressor units and the five I.C. engines driving them and burning the magnetos of all engines. Cutting torches were then destroyed.  All Compressor barrels were then blown up with charges of gun cotton as well as the two cranes used to lifted machinery for overhaul in the Compressor Station.


2.  To Render Useless the Main Oil Pump Station


This station consisted of 3 Thomassen 90 H.P. Gas Engines driving three BPM reciprocating pumps.  Oxy-acetylene torches were used to cut the crankshanks of the pumps also the gears, plungers, and connecting rods.  The magnetos and skew gears of the engines were respectively burned and cut.  The lubricating system of the engines was smashed with hammers.  Gun cotton charges were placed on cylinder barrels of the pumps and on overhead cranes and fired.  All torches were destroyed and oxygen cylinders emptied.


3.  To Render Useless the Water Pump Station


This station consisted of 4 Tangye Reciprocating pumps each driven by one 30 H.P. Ruston gas engine.  It supplied water to Seria Field and Kuala Belait.


Oxy-acetylene torches were used to cut crankshafts, gears, connecting rods, and valve chamgers (n.b. chambers ?) of the pumps and skew gears and liners, and burn magnetos of engines.  Gauges, lubricating system, and torches were destroyed by hammers.


4.  To Render Useless the four Electric Stations supply light to various areas and installation in various parts of the Field.


This was effectively carried out with oxy acetylene torches by burning the windings of the generators and engine magnetos and cutting the crankshanks, skew gears, and liners of the engines, and smashing the lubricating systems with hammers.  Finally, destroying the torches and emptying the oxygen cylinders.


5.  Destruction of the Portable Compressor and Portable C.H. & E. Pump


This was done by firing gun cotton charges on cylinder barrels and engine cylinder block on the Portable Compressor and the Pump Cylinder block on the Portable Compressor and the Pump cylinders and engine cylinder block of the C.H. & E. Pump.


6.  Destruction of all boilers and boiler feed pumps used for handling oil


This was done by lighting the gas burners of the boilers and blowing them down, thus destroying the boiler tubes.  The boilers themselves  …..(n.b. illegible)..destroyed by gun cotton.


7.  Destruction of Production Block Station pumps and those of the Mud Pump Station


This was done by means of firing gun cotton charges at the fluid ends of the pumps.


8.   Destruction of the 3 Portable Cement Outfits


This was accomplished in the same manner as 7 above.


9.   Main Tank Farm


The three main oil storage tanks were emptied of all oil into the retaining fire walls.  The oil was set alight and effectively destroyed the tanks.  The oil continued to burn for several days.  The remaining tanks in this tank farm area were demolished by explosives with the exception of 2 small tanks (capacity 350 cub. Metresgeach) containing mud which several attempts failed to demolish.


10.   The Three Gas Supply Wells No. 14, 40, and 134


Gun cotton charges of respectively 60 lbs, 60 lbs, and 100 lbs were placed around the well heads and hired.  This blew off the well head or effectively damaged them.  Well 134 was completely demolished above land surface and all gas flow stopped.  Well 40 caught fire and was left flowing wild and burning.  Well 14 blew wild gas and water and could not be set on fire, due to percentage of water present.


It is considered that the whole Emergency Scheme was effectively carried out.  It should be noted that all drilling equipment had already been shipped to Singapore; this includes pumps and boilers used for drilling purposes.





This area contains the Marine, Blacksmith and Welding Shops, Electric Station, Boiler battery, and Steam Cranes, also lubricating oil and benzene stocks.


1.  Machine Shop


All lathes, drilling machines, etc., were destroyed with oxy acetylene torches.


2.  Electric Station


This was rendered useless in the same manner as the Seria electric stations – refer to Seria 4.


3.  Welding Shop


All welding and cutting torches, gauges, and regulators were destroyed.


4.  Boiler Battery


Boilers were rendered useless in the same manner as at Seria – refer to Seria 6.


5.  Blacksmith’s Shop


Steam hammers were rendered useless with cutting torches.


6.  Steam Cranes


Steam cranes on wharf were destroyed by firing gun cotton slabs as were all machine shop and other cranes.


7.  Lubricating Oil and Benzine Stocks


These were run out into open ground.  Kerosene was also dissipated in the same way.  All Club stocks of spirits (whisky, gin, etc) were destroyed.





The heavy oil wells in Seria would probably naturally flow for a few days, and say 25 to 30 tons per day obtained from them for a period, though this is problematical.  By using the pumps left to supply water to the civil population this could be pumped to Kuala Belait and loaded into the TIONG which can carry about 150 tons at a time.  This could be transferred to the other craft at sea.


To obtain any appreciable quantity of oil, it would be necessary


1).  To import drilling equipment of from 50 to 100 tons weight in all.  This equipment could drill one well each month giving a production of 150 tons per day each well.


2).  Get one or more of the gas wells under control and use the gas to produce from the heavy oil wells.  This requires considerable technical skill and some imported equipment and would take about one month (if actually possible).  The maximum production would be about 1000 tons per day if all three wells were got back into production, but it is very doubtful if any of these wells could actually be repaired and made to produce gas.


The possible methods of loading this oil would be


1).  Barges from Kuala Belait


2).  Laying a sea line to Seria – time say 2 to 3 months.


3).  Laying a pipe line to Brunei Bay, length 70 miles where deeper draught ships could load.  This would mean importing high pressure pumps and time to lay the line again 2 to 3 months, but ships would load in a protected harbour.


The estimated times given are for the most favourable conditions and would in all probability be exceeded.


                                                                                    (Signed)  A.C. BUCHAN


                                                                                                                  R.N. CONNOCK




22nd December 1941




Saturday 17th January 1942


Operations and Movements


JUPITER engaged and sank Japanese submarine I 60 in 6-19S, 104-49E, after parting company with U.S.S. MOUNT VERNON, which she had escorted through Sunda Straits.  The enemy submarine, located by Asdic, and brought to the surface by a well judged depth charge attack, after which she was engaged and sunk by long and short range gunfire.  Three of the crew were picked up JUPITER, one of them dead.  JUPITER sustained one hit on No. 1 gun, which put it out of action and caused 12 casualties (3 killed and 9 wounded).  The enemy submarine was fought with great determination, her gun’s crews being continually reinforced from inside the submarine until put out of action.  The latter apparently left Kobe on 2nd January.


A Greek ship reported being torpedoed in 3-44N, 96-21E, at 0350Z.


TRUANT left Aden for Colombo




There were heavy daylight raids on Singapore Island.  200 killed in Singapore Town.  14 bombs fell in the Naval Base.  ISIS was damaged by a near miss.  Other damage was negligible.  6 Asiatic civilians killed and 21 wounded.


SCORPION, BENDIGO, MARYBOROUGH, and M.L.’s were operating off the West Coast of Malaya.




Sunday 18th January 1942


Operations and Movements


Hudson aircraft reported submarine track off West Coast of Sumatra in 5-25N, 95-12E at 1015GH


DURBAN sailed from Singapore for Malaya.


Admiralty allotted HERMES and VAMPIRE to Anzac area.




Heavy fighting in Gemas area.  Situation at Muar obscure.  No landing at Endau yet.


Air attack on Senoko oil depot, Singapore.  4 tanks fired.  Some damage to Fleet Shore Accommodation, H.M. Base.  12 casualties (2 Asiatics killed, 1 R.N. rating, and 9 Asiatics wounded)




Monday 19th January 1942


Operations and Movements


Admiralty 1742/19 placed EREBUS under orders of Commander in Chief East Indies.


V.S.I.S. DEMODOCUS left Singapore for Fremantle to load and thence to proceed Colombo.




No daylight raids on Singapore.


SCORPION bombarded Muar night of 19th-20th and fired 313 rounds.




Enemy attacked and captured Tavoy and it was decided to evacuate Mergui.  Naval Officer in Charge Rangoon asked for more small ships with good anti aircraft armament, but these could not be supplied from resources of either Eastern Fleet or East Indies Station.




Tuesday 20th January 1942


Operations and Movements


Convoy M.S. 2 (AQUITANIA with 4000 reinforcements for Singapore) arrived Ratai Bay, Java, for trans shipment.


Rear Admiral Malaya suggested ROVER and ISIS be sent elsewhere in tow to complete repairs, which would require three months and five months, respectively, under peace conditions.  Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet concurred.  (1124/21)


A large Japanese force (15 warships and 30 – 40 transports) reported by the Dutch in the S.W. Celebes Sea, course south.




One enemy battalion occupied Endau.  Our forces were withdrawn south of Segamat.  Strong enemy pressure and incessant air attacks around Muar.  Two heavy daylight raids on Singapore by bombers with large fighters.  Some damage to Naval Base, and Seletar and Sembawang aerodromes, but both serviceable.  H.M.S. KUNG WO and workshops in dockyard damaged.  One naval officer and seven Asiatics killed, one naval officer, two ratings, one soldier, and twenty seven Asiatics wounded in Naval Base.  Oil tanks fired on 18th were out by the evening.  Communications on Singapore Island beginning to be affected by air attacks, scale of which was becoming heavier.


Our aircraft raided Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur twice successfully.  A.S. guns in South Johore shot down 3 enemy aircraft.


Rear Admiral Malaya reported that plans had been prepared for destruction of base facilities and oil installations at Singapore, but evacuation of machinery would probably be impracticable.




Wednesday 21st January 1942


Operations and Movements


EMERALD, flying flag of Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet arrived Colombo 0800Z.  Flag of Commander in Chief East Indies transferred to shore at Colombo.


RAMILLIES arrived Mombasa.


Enemy submarine reported in 11-30N, 45-04E, bombed by an Albacore and believed damaged.




Singapore Island attacked as usual during forenoon.  Damage to Naval Base, Fleet Shore Accommodation, and dockside area.  8 Asiatics killed and 4 R.N. ratings and 5 Asiatics wounded in the Base.  This, however, was the only really successful day for our fighter interception over Singapore, largely due to intelligent anticipation and the enemy’s regular habits.  12 enemy aircraft were shot down.  We lost 2.  Enemy aircraft W/T was heard to remark “the battle is desperate”.  Seletar and Sembawang aerodromes attacked.


Rear Admiral Malaya reported that there was heavy enemy air activity between 0900 and 1100, but no sign so far of enemy reconnaissance of the Banka Strait convoy route.




ABDAFLOAT concurred in use of ABDIEL for mining in Andaman Islands area (1029/21)




Thursday 22nd JanuaryY 1942


Enemy Activities


Dutch VAN OVESTRATEN gunned by submarine in 4-40N, 90-13E at 1130Z.


Own Operations and Movements


ENDEAVOUR attacked by 2 aircraft in 5-20N, 95-20E, 3 bombs, no hits, no casualties, but possibly slightly damaged by near miss.


RAMILLIES given 10 days to boiler clean at Mombasa (C in C 0812/22)


WAR SIRDAR was ordered to Padang for fleet fuelling duties after loading at Pladjoe. (0615/22)


ABDIEL instructed to proceed to Batavia after completing Andamans minefield, fuelling at Padang.


Commander in Chief East Indies announced intention of laying extra mines to seaward of Trincomalee for defensive purposes, using TEVIOTBANK (0815/22)


Admiralty approved H.M. ships GANNET and FALCON (laid up in China) being present to Chiang Kai Shek.


RAUB and LARUT, operating off N. coast of Sumatra, were attacked by enemy aircraft and bombed and sunk.  (Note:  There is no local support for the statement in NATEL 1981A/85 that these vessels shot down an enemy 4 engined bomber).




Admiralty message 0012/16 was received which said that ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, EXPRESS, and JUPITER must be withdrawn into the Indian Ocean when FORMIDABLE (due to leave United Kingdom mid February) arrived in that area.  It was concluded that the destroyers would have to leave the ABDA area about the end of February to meet her at the Cape.  (Note:  Subsequent instructions permitted them to remain until the end of April).




Usual heavy air raids on Singapore; scale of attack 122 enemy aircraft over Malaya.  Aerodromes heavily attacked by enemy and considerable damage done to hangers and buildings at Sembawang and Kallang.  Our fighters shot down 6 enemy aircraft and 2 probable.  3 believed to have made forced landings on return journey.


No evidence of enemy air or submarine activity between Banka Straits and Singapore.




Friday 23rd January 1942


Enemy Activities


NORD and CHATSANG reported sunk by submarine in approaches to Rangoon p.m. 21st and p.m. 22nd in 15-28N, 94-36E.


Own Operations and Movements


Rear Admiral Malaya informed SCOUT that air protection could not be provided for ships operating off Sumatra, and they must patrol at night and lie up in concealment during the day.


Rear Admiral Malaya stated that he intended to send SPRINGDALE to Batavia at first opportunity (0823/23)


Admiralty 2334A/23 stated that it had been decided to send the Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands East Indies.


Commodore Commanding China Force reported that he had been informed by the Dutch, without previous warning, that there was no more oil fuel at Batavia.  He had diverted BRITISH JUDGE as fuel would be required within 48 hours for two 8 inch cruiser and destroyers (0950/23)




Army reported in contact at Mersing, no increase in enemy strength.  Withdrawal in centre proceeding along Labis – Yong Peng Road.  Heavy fighting in Batu Pahat area, and situation in this area obscure.  Seletar aerodrome was heavily attacked by 24 bombers escorted by 40 fighters, and we lost 10 machines on the ground.




Saturday 24th January 1942


Operations and Movements


Convoy MS 2 A, containing troops ex AQUITANIA, arrived at Singapore safely and without incident.


CANBERRA sailed from Batavia to Fremantle at 2230Z/24


Commander in Chief East Indies postponed minelaying operations off Trincomalee by TEVIOTBANK


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet directed Commodore Commanding China Force to get the Dutch to replace their oil stocks at Batavia as soon as possible and meanwhile to use WAR SIRDAR.  He was also asked what could be done with facilities at Padang.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet instructed Rear Admiral Malay to consider moving VENDETTA to another refitting port as well as ISIS.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet asked Commander in Chief East Indies to sail BATHURST and LISMORE for Singapore as soon as convenient.


Submarine attack on unknown vessel at 0510Z in 15-47N, 93-57E (in approaches to Rangoon.)




All forward troops moved south of Yong Pend.  Troops in contact with enemy N.E. of Yong Peng and along Yong Peng – Labis Road.


23rd Infantry Brigade taken up positions on Bukit Payong.  Batu Pahat still held.  Many Australian and Indian troops got back from Muar after severe fighting.


Kluang aerodrome, the only remaining landing group outside Singapore Island, was evacuated.


Troops in Malaya were now trying out a mobile defence against a determined offensive by Japanese 5th and Guards Divisions.


Owing to bad weather there was no day raid on Singapore Island, but Thai aircraft were identified over Malaya.




Evacuation of Mergui proceeded.  Some of the Tavoi Garrison got through.  16th Brigade withdrawal was not pressed.


There were two raids on Rangoon in which we shot down 15 fighters and 4 bombers, and lost 2.


Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet reported the minesweeping position in Rangoon in message 0840/24.


ABDACOM urged on BURMARMY the importance of denial of small craft on Burmese coast.




Sunday 25th January 1942


Enemy Activity


Large enemy escorted convoys which had been reported in the Makassar Strait carried out landings in Eastern Borneo.  These forces were repeatedly attacked by Dutch and U.S. Naval Forces between 23rd to 25th January, and considerable losses inflicted.  The enemy however succeeded in landing about a division at Balikpapan, and a brigade at Kendari.  The enemy offensive was accompanied by numerous air attacks in the N.E.I. area.


Operations and Movements


Convoy BM 10 arrived at Singapore safely and without incident.  This convoy contained the 44th Infantry Brigade of the 17th Indian Division.


ABDIEL left Trincomalee for minelaying operations in Andaman Islands.


Admiralty ordered Commander in Chief South Atlantic to sail 5 corvettes to join Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.


Commodore Commanding China Force reported that Dutch expected to have 10,000 tons of oil at Batavia by 27th January.


TRUANT arrived at Colombo




Patrol activity in Mersing area.  Further fighting at Kluang.  Enemy occupied Batu Pahat, after heavy fighting, and increased pressure in Ayer Hitam area.  Enemy were also active on the Pontian Kechil Road.


DRAGONFLY bombarded Batu Pahat.  Muar, Batu Pahat, and Kuala Lumpur were bombed by our aircraft.


There was one raid by 20 aircraft on Singapore Island which was driven off by fighters, bombs falling in the water in Keppel Harbour.


Tengah runway unserviceable owing to heavy rain.


Commodore Superintendent report that several Naval guns in reserve at Singapore had been damaged by bombs.




Evacuation of Mergui completed.  Although 16th Brigade succeeded in breaking off yesterday they were reported to have lost much equipment and M.T.  No further contact with the enemy.