DECLARATIONS OF WAR
3rd - Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to announce that Britain
was at war with Germany. France, Australia,
New Zealand and India (through the Viceroy)
declared war the same day. 6th - South Africa
German Heavy Warships
- Pocket battleship "Graf Spee" claimed four
more merchant ships in the South Atlantic before heading
into the southern Indian Ocean. Seven Allied hunting
groups were formed in the Atlantic and one in the Indian
Ocean to search for her. In total the Royal and French
Navies deployed three capital ships, four aircraft
carriers and 16 cruisers.
Empire Troop Movements - By early 1940 Australian, Indian and New Zealand forces were on their way to Egypt and the
Middle East. Troop convoys were always heavily escorted,
and the Dominion Navies played an important part in
protecting the men as they left their home shores. Australian and New Zealand cruisers were particularly active in the
-Converted from a merchantman and heavily armed,
auxiliary cruiser Atlantis sailed for the
Indian Ocean round the Cape of Good Hope. In 1941 she
moved into the South Atlantic, and operations lasted for
a total of 20 months until her loss in November 1941. She
was the first of nine active raiders, seven of which went
out in 1940. Their success was not so much due to their
sinkings and captures - a creditable average of 15 ships
of 90,000 tons for each raider, but the disruption they
caused in every ocean. At a time when the Royal Navy was
short of ships, convoys had to be organised and patrols
instituted in many areas. The first German raider was not
caught until May 1941 - 14 months from now.
Steps to War with
Japan - Japan established a Chinese
puppet-government in Nanking.
German Raiders - Orion
sailed for the Pacific and Indian Oceans around South
America's Cape Horn. She was out for 16 months before
returning to France.
German Raiders - On
her way into the Indian Ocean, Atlantis laid
mines off South Africa.
Raiders - Pinguin left for the Indian
Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope, later operated in the
Antarctic and was finally lost in May 1941.
Italy Declared War - Italy declared war on Britain and
France on the 10th. Two weeks later France was out of the
war. Still on the 10th, Australia, Canada, India, New
Zealand and South Africa declared war on Italy.
East Africa and Red Sea Area - see
East Africa & Near East for the complete campaign. However
actions taking place in the Indian Ocean as well as
operations involving Indian and East/South African forces
are included here: 19th - At the southern end of
the Red Sea, the Italian GALILEO GALILEI on patrol off Aden was captured by
armed trawler Moonstone following a gun duel.
23rd - Also in the Gulf of Aden, but off French
Somaliland, Italian boat EVANGELISTA TORICELLI
sunk by destroyers
Kandahar and Kingston with sloop
Shoreham. During the action, destroyer
an internal explosion and sank in shallow water off Perim
Island, a total loss. 23rd - Italian submarine
Galvani sank Indian patrol sloop PATHAN in the Indian Ocean.
The following day off the Gulf of Oman, GALVANI
was accounted for by sloop
Shipping War - Losses in the Mediterranean throughout
the war would generally be low as most Allied shipping to
and from the Middle East was diverted around the Cape of
Good Hope and through the Indian Ocean.
Steps to War with
Japan, June/July - With its possession of
the Chinese ports, Japan wanted to close the remaining
entry points into China. Pressure was put on France to
stop the flow of supplies through Indochina, and on
Britain to do the same with the Burma Road. Both
complied, but Britain did so only until October 1940,
when the road was reopened.
Raiders - Only 11 months before German attacked
Russia, Komet sailed for the Pacific through
the North East Passage across the top of Siberia with the
aid of Russian icebreakers. She operated in the Pacific
and Indian Oceans until returning to Germany in November
1941, the last of the first wave of surface raiders to
to War with Japan - Vichy France finally agreed
to the stationing of Japanese troops in northern
Surface Warships - Pocket battleship "Admiral
Scheer" sailed from Germany for the Atlantic and
later Indian Oceans. She got back home in March 1941.
Raiders - "Kormoran" was the first of the
second wave of raiders to leave for operations. She
started in the central Atlantic and later moved to the
Indian Ocean, where she was lost in November 1941.
Indian Ocean Merchant Shipping Losses, April
to December 1940
Total 24 British and
Allied ships of 173,000 tons lost
Raiders - Six of the original seven raiders were
still at sea including "Atlantis" at the
desolate island of Kerguelen in the southern Indian Ocean
and "Pinguin" in the Antarctic. All six moved
to different areas over the next few months.
Africa - The British and Dominion campaign started to
drive out the Italians from East Africa. Eritrea in the
north was invaded from the Sudan by largely Indian
forces, while East African and South African troops
attacked Italian Somaliland from Kenya to the south.
Heavy Warships - Heavy cruiser "Admiral
Hipper" and battlecruisers "Scharnhorst"
and "Gneisenau" were out in the Atlantic.
Meanwhile pocket battleship "Admiral Scheer" in
the Indian Ocean operated successfully off Madagascar
before preparing to return to Germany.
East Africa - In
the north the Indian advance into Eritrea was held up for
most of February and March by the Battle for Keren. In
the south, the Italian Somaliland capital of Mogadishu
was captured on the 25th, after which British forces
advanced northwest into Ethiopia. The East lndies
Command under Vice-Adm R. Leatham continually
supported the land campaign. 27th - After breaking
out of Massawa, Eritrea's Red Sea port, Italian armed
merchant cruiser "RAMB 1"
was located off the Indian Ocean Maldive
Islands and sunk by New Zealand cruiser
Africa - British forces were transported from Aden to
Berbera in British Somaliland on the 16th. From there,
they advanced southwest into southern Ethiopia. To the
north, Keren fell to the attacking Indian troops and the
road was opened to the Eritrean capital of Asmara and Red
Sea port of Massawa.
Raiders - Pocket battleship "Admiral
Scheer" got back to Germany after five months in the
Atlantic and Indian Oceans credited with 16 ships of
East - A
pro-German coup in Iraq on the 1st threatened Allied oil
supplies. British and Indian units were entering the
country through the Persian Gulf by the middle of the
East Africa - On
the Red Sea coast of Italian East Africa, the capture of
Eritrea was completed when Asmara was occupied on the 1st
and the port of Massawa on the 8th. Two days earlier,
Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, had been taken. Italian
resistance continued mainly in the north of the Ethiopia.
Four Italian submarines managed to escape from Massawa
and eventually reached Bordeaux, France after sailing
down the Indian Ocean and round Africa.
Steps to War with
Japan - Five Year Neutrality Pact between Japan
and Russia benefited both powers. Russia could free
troops for Europe and Japan concentrate on her expansion
On patrol north of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean,
heavy cruiser "Cornwall" found and sank German
raider "PINGUIN". This was the first raider to be
hunted down, having accounted for 28 ships of 136,000
to War with Japan - The demand for bases in
southern Indochina was now conceded by Vichy France.
Britain, Holland and the United States protested and
froze Japanese assets, but the troops went in. The Dutch
East lndies cancelled oil delivery arrangements and the
Americans shortly imposed their own oil embargo. Japan
had lost most of its sources of oil.
Raiders - "Orion" returned to France from
the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope. In 16 months
she had accounted for 9 1/2 ships of 60,000 tons, some in
co-operation with "Komet".
Middle East - The
possibility of a pro-Axis coup d'etat led to Anglo-Soviet
forces going into Persia on the 25th from points in Iraq,
the Persian Gulf and Russia. A cease-fire was announced
within four days, but later violations led to Teheran
being occupied in the middle of September. The landings
in Persia from the Gulf were made from a small force of
British, Australian and Indian warships of the East
to War with Japan - Japan and the US continued
to negotiate over their differences, but as its oil
stocks rapidly declined Japan accelerated preparations
to War with Japan - War Minister Gen Tojo became
Japanese Prime Minister.
October, Australia saw the fall of the Country Party
of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies who resigned
earlier in August. John Curtin and the Labour Party
came to power.
The recently completed fleet carrier "Indomitable"
ran aground and was
damaged off Kingston, Jamaica. She was due to accompany
capital ships "Prince of Wales" and
"Repulse" to the Far East as a deterrent to
Japanese aggression. Her absence in December may have
proved fatal to the two big ships.
Far across the Indian Ocean off Western Australia, the
Australian cruiser "Sydney" came across German
raider "Kormoran". Apparently caught unawares, "SYDNEY"
was mortally damaged and lost without
trace. "KORMORAN" also went down. In a cruise
lasting 12 months she had sunk or captured 11 other ships
of 68,000 tons.
to War with Japan - As talks dragged on and the
United States demanded the departure of Japan from China
as well as French Indochina, the Pearl Harbor Strike
Force sailed into the North Pacific. Britain's limited
naval deterrent to Japanese expansion, capital ships
"Prince of Wales" and "Repulse" met
at Colombo, Ceylon on the 28th, en route to Singapore.
Without the fleet carrier "Indomitable" they
had no ship-borne aircraft support.
and Naval Background - Indian Ocean
Britain and Dominions
Responsible for defending India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, northern
Hong Kong, Australia, New
the Papua New Guinea/Bismarck
Archipelago/Solomon Islands chain, and
numerous island groups throughout the
Indian Ocean and Central and South
Pacific. Few forces could be spared from
existing war zones to protect this vast
spread of territory and its supply
routes. Britain's main base was at Singapore with its two
recently arrived big ships. Three old
cruisers and some destroyers were in
Malayan waters, and a few old destroyers
at Hong Kong. By now the
surviving seven cruisers and smaller
ships of the Royal Australian and New
Zealand Navies were back in the area.
Japan went to war with both
the strategic and military advantages:
Japan was well placed to
occupy the territory needed for the
defence perimeter covering the Indian
Thailand and Malaya
would soon fall to the invading
forces from Hainan and Indochina.
Thereafter the capture of Burma could
proceed smoothly. The Burma Road would be
cut, India threatened, and that
perimeter was secured.
In the South:
oilfields of the Dutch East Indies
and the protection offered by the island
chain of Sumatra, Java and Bali through
island of Java was the target of two
massive pincer movements:
Westwards - From Indochina to
northern Borneo, and later direct to
Sumatra and Java.
Eastwards - From bases in
Formosa and the Carolines to the
Philippines. From there to southern
Borneo, Celebes and Moluccas, and on to
Timor and Bali. Then to eastern Java.
Declarations and Outbreak of War - Because of the International
Dateline, events that took place on the 7th in Hawaii as
far as Washington and London were concerned, were already
into the 8th in Hong Kong and Malaya. By the 8th: (1)
Japan had declared war on Britain and the US; (2)
Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa,
Holland, the United States had declared against Japan;
and (3) China declared war against the Axis powers.
South West - Thailand,
Malaya, Burma - Japanese forces landed on the Kra
Isthmus of Thailand and northeast Malaya on the 8th.
From there they drove down the west coast of Malaya
towards Singapore, outflanking the defences by land and
sea. Follow-up landings took place later in the month and
in January 1942. By the 13th December they had
crossed from Thailand into the southern tip of Burma, but
stayed there for the time being.
Loss of Repulse and Prince of
Wales: the Sinking of Force Z - By the 8th, the
battlecruiser and battleship had assembled at Singapore
as Force Z under the command of Adm Sir Tom Phillips.
That evening they sailed with four destroyers to attack
the Japanese landing on the northeast Malay coast.
Fighter cover was requested but not readily available. In
the evening of the 9th, Force Z was well up into
the South China Sea. Japanese aircraft were spotted and
Adm Phillips decided to return. Around midnight he
received a false report of landings at Kuantan, further
down the Malay Peninsular and set course for there. The
ships had by now been reported by a submarine, and a
naval aircraft strike force was despatched from
Indochina. Attacks started around 11.00 on the 10th
December, and in less than three hours PRINCE OF
had been hit by a number of torpedoes and sent to the
bottom. Nearly a thousand men were lost, but 2,000 were
picked up by the destroyers.
Following the Pearl
Harbor attack, not one of the Allies' 10 battleships
in the Pacific area remained in service.
South - Northern Borneo
and Philippines Islands - The first landings in
northern Borneo took place in Sarawak and Brunei on the
16th December, and continued through until late January
1942. In the Philippines, the island of Luzon was the
main target. Between the 10th and 22nd, landings were
made in the north of the island, in the south, and at
Lingayen Gulf in the west. The Japanese forces made a
combined drive on the capital of Manila, which was
declared an open city. They entered on 2nd January 1942
by which time preparations were being made to attack Gen
MacArthur's US and Filipino troops now withdrawn into the
Bataan Peninsular just to the west of Manila. The
southern island of Mindanao was invaded on 20th December
Indian Ocean Merchant Shipping Losses,
January to December 1941
Total 20 British and
Allied ships of 73,000 tons lost
Arcadia Conference -
In late December and early January, Winston Churchill and
President Roosevelt with their Chiefs of Staff met in
Washington DC. They agreed to the setting up of a
Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee and to the defeat of
Germany as the first priority, Japan second.
Allied Command -
Early in the month, Gen Wavell was appointed to command
ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) forces
responsible for holding Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.
West - Malaya and Burma
- In their drive on Singapore, the Japanese captured
Kuala Lumpur on the 11th. To the north they crossed into
southern Burma from the Kra Isthmus on the 15th, and on
the 20th started the invasion of Burma from central
Thailand. Thailand shortly declared war on Britain and
the United States. On the last day of January, the
retreating British, Australian and Indian troops withdrew
into Singapore Island, having been driven down the length
of the Malay Peninsula. By then carrier
"Indomitable" had flown off 48 Hurricanes for
Singapore via Java.
South - Philippines and
Dutch East lndies - As the US and Filipinos were
slowly pushed into Bataan, the Japanese began the
invasion of the Dutch East lndies from southern
Philippines. First landings took place on the 11th at
Tarakan in Borneo and in the Celebes. More followed later
in the month, but which time they had reached the
Moluccas in the drive south towards Java.
17th - Japanese
submarine "I-60" tried to pass through the Sunda Strait for
the Indian Ocean. She was located and sunk by destroyer
"Jupiter" escorting a convoy to Singapore.
20th - Submarine "I-124" minelaying off Darwin, northern
Australia, was sunk by Australian minesweepers
"Lithgow" and US destroyer "Edsall".
27th - Two old
destroyers, "Thanet" and Australian
"Vampire" attack well-protected troop
transports off Endau, southeast Malaya. "THANET"
sunk by the 5.5in cruiser
"Sendai" and destroyers.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 13
merchant ships of 46,000 tons
West - Malaya,
Singapore and Burma - On the 8th, Japanese forces
started crossing over to Singapore Island. Heavy fighting
took place, but by the 15th Singapore surrendered and
over 80,000 mainly Australian, British and Indian troops
were doomed to captivity. Many would not survive. The
Allies had lost the key to South East Asia and the South
West Pacific. In Burma the Japanese pushed on towards
Rangoon. 12th - Light cruiser "Durban"
was damaged in bombing attacks off
Singapore. 14th - Attempting to escape to Batavia,
auxiliary patrol ship "LI WO" with a single 4in gun attacked a
troop convoy south of Singapore and was soon sunk by a
Japanese cruiser. Commanding officer Lt Thomas Wilkinson
RNR was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
South - Dutch East
lndies - The two-pronged advance on Java continued
with airborne landings on Palembang in southern Sumatra
on the 14th, followed up by landings from the sea one day
later by forces carried from Indochina. A few days later
the islands of Bali and Timor were invaded from the
Celebes and Moluccas respectively. The scene was set for
the conquest of Java.
27th February-1st March - Battles of the
Java Sea - ABDA's
main naval force was commanded by the Dutch Adm Doorman
and consisted of a mixed squadron of cruisers and
destroyers for the defence of Java: heavy cruisers
"Exeter" and the US "Houston" (above -
Maritime Quest), light
cruisers "Perth" (Australian), "De Ruyter" and Java" (both Dutch), and destroyers
"Jupiter", plus two Dutch and four American.
They put to sea on the 26th on the news that
invasion convoys were approaching. Failing to find them
they headed back to Surabaya the next day, but before
getting in, more reports arrived and the Allied force
went out again towards a position to the northwest. The
main battle started on the 27th at around 16.00
against the two heavy, two light cruisers and 14
destroyers covering the Japanese transports. Both Allied
heavies opened fire at long range, but "Exeter"
soon hit and her speed reduced. In
the resulting confusion one of the Dutch destroyers was
torpedoed and sunk. As "Exeter" returned to
Surabaya with the second Dutch destroyer, the Royal Navy
destroyers went in to attack and
by gunfire. Adm Doorman headed back south towards the
Java coast and sent off the US destroyers to refuel. He
then turned to the north with his remaining four cruisers
and two British destroyers. By now it was late evening
probably on a Dutch mine. "Encounter" picked up
survivors from the first Dutch destroyer and shortly
followed the Americans to Surabaya. The four cruisers,
now without any destroyers, were in action sometime
before midnight and both "DE RUYTER" and "JAVA"
were blasted apart by the big Japanese
torpedoes. "Perth" and "Houston" made
for Batavia, further west along the north coast of Java.
The next evening, on the 28th, "Perth"
and "Houston" left Batavia and sailed west for
the Sunda Strait to break through to the Indian Ocean.
From Surabaya three of the US destroyers went east and
eventually reached safety through the shallow Bali
Strait. "Exeter's" draught was too great for
this route and the damaged cruiser had to make for the
Sunda Strait accompanied by destroyer
"Encounter" and US destroyer "Pope".
28th/1st March - BattIe of the Sunda
Strait - Late that
evening "PERTH" and "HOUSTON" ran into the Japanese invasion fleet in the
Strait and attacked the transports. They were soon
overwhelmed by the gunfire and torpedoes of the covering
cruisers and destroyers and sank in the opening minutes
of the 1st March. A Dutch destroyer following astern
suffered the same fate.
Later on the morning of
the 1st March "EXETER", "ENCOUNTER" and "POPE" fought a lengthy action with a
cruiser force to the northwest of Surabaya before they
Of the entire Allied
force, only three old US destroyers managed to get
Aircraft from four of the Pearl Harbor Strike carriers
raided Darwin, Northern Territories on the 19th. One
American destroyer and a number of valuable transports
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 18
merchant ships of 38,000 tons
German Raiders -
Raider "Michel" sailed for the South Atlantic
and later Indian and Pacific Oceans.
West - Burma -
Rangoon, the entry port for the Burma Road, fell to the
Japanese on the 8th. Towards the end of the month the
Andaman Island group in the Indian Ocean flanking the
south of Burma was occupied.
South - Philippines and
Dutch East lndies - As the US and Filipinos struggled
to hold on to Bataan, Gen MacArthur was ordered to leave
for Australia. There he assumed the post of Supreme
Commander, South West Pacific. US Adm Nimitz was to
command the rest of the Pacific. The Java landings went
ahead on the 1st and Batavia, the capital of all the DEI,
fell. The Allied surrender was agreed on the 9th. On the
12th, northern Sumatra was occupied and the rest of March
was spent consolidating the Japanese hold throughout the
many islands. Japan's southern perimeter had been secured
in less than four months. 2nd - Strong Japanese
naval forces patrolled the Indian Ocean south of Java to
stop the escape of Allied shipping. Old destroyer "STRONGHOLD"
was sunk in action with the 8in cruiser
"Maya" and two destroyers. 4th - Two
days later Australian sloop "YARRA" and the ships she was escorting were also
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 65
merchant ships of 68,000 tons
5th-9th - Japanese Carrier Attacks on
Ceylon - A new
Eastern Fleet had been assembled under the command of Adm
Sir James Somerville, recently of Force H. The variety of
ships were split into two groups. A fast group included
battleship "Warspite", carriers
"Indomitable" and "Formidable", heavy
cruisers "Cornwall" and
"Dorsetshire", two light cruisers plus
destroyers. In the slower group were four 'R' class
battleships, old carrier "Hermes" and some
cruisers and destroyers. Two Australian destroyers
accompanied each group. As the Ceylon bases of Colombo
and Trincomalee were poorly defended and too far forward,
Adm Somerville was operating out of the secret base of
Addu Atoll in the Maldive Islands SW of Ceylon. Early in
April, two Japanese forces headed into the Indian Ocean.
One under Adm Ozawa with carrier "Ryujo" and
six cruisers made for the Bay of Bengal and east coast of
India. In a matter of days 23 ships of 112,000 tons were
sunk. Japanese submarines sank a further five off the
Indian west coast. Bad as this threat was, the real one
came from the carrier strike force of Adm Nagumo with
five Pearl Harbor carriers - "Akagi",
"Hiryu", "Soryu", "Shokaku"
and "Zuikaku" - plus four battleships and three
The Japanese fleet was
first sighted on the 4th south of Ceylon, and
shipping cleared from the ports. In the morning of the 5th
a heavy raid on Colombo sank destroyer
and armed merchant cruiser "HECTOR". Heavy cruisers "CORNWALL"
and "DORSETSHIRE" were to the southwest,
sailing from Colombo to rejoin the Royal Navy's fast
group. Found at noon they soon went to the bottom under a
series of aircraft attacks. But Adm Nagumo had not yet
finished. As Adm Somerville's two groups searched for the
Japanese from a position between Addu Atoll and Ceylon,
they circled round to the east. From there, on the 9th,
Japanese aircraft found the shipping cleared from
Trincomalee and back on its way in. Carrier "HERMES", Australian destroyer "VAMPIRE"
and corvette "HOLLYHOCK"
amongst those that
soon went down. The Japanese ships left the Indian Ocean,
never to return again in force. Not knowing this, the
surviving ships of the Royal Navy withdrew - the slow
group to Kilindini in East Africa and the other to the
6th - Indian sloop "INDUS"
was bombed and sunk off Akyab on the
Arakan coast of Burma.
Conclusion - Japanese units made their final push on
Bataan and on the 9th, the Americans and Filipinos
surrendered. The island fortress of Corregidor held out
until the 6th May. Some resistance continues on other
Philippines islands. The infamous "Bataan
March" of American and Filipino POW's followed.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 31
merchant ships of 154,000 tons
and Maritime Situation - Indian and Pacific
To the west
and south the Japanese had secured their
perimeter to plan. They also did so in the southwest
as the British, together with the Chinese in the
northeast, were steadily driven out of Burma. The
debate was now whether or not to push out to the southeast
towards Australia and New Zealand, and eastwards
to the United States. Japanese gains had been at
little cost, not least on the naval side as coan
be seen from the losses up to end of April from
2 + 6*
battleships sunk at their moorings or
8th - Landings at Diego Saurez,
Madagascar: Operation 'Ironclad' - Concerned about the Japanese carrier sorties
into the Indian Ocean and the vulnerability of the Cape
of Good Hope/Middle East convoy routes, Britain decided
to take Diego Saurez at the north end of Vichy French
Madagascar. Under the command of Rear-Adm E. N. Syfret
(recently appointed to Force H), a large force of ships
including battleship "Ramillies" and carriers
"Indomitable" and "Illustrious"
assembled at Durban, South Africa towards the end of
April. The assault took place on 5th May in Courrier Bay
to the west of Diego Saurez. As usual the Vichy French
forces resisted strongly. Submarine "BEVEZIERS"
was sunk, but the only Royal Navy casualty was corvette "AURICULA" mined on the 5th. The advance on
Diego Saurez was held up and next day a Royal Marine unit
stormed the town from the sea. By the 7th the fighting
was over and the important anchorage was in British
hands. On the 7th and 8th, French submarines "LE
HEROS" and "MONGE" were sunk by joint air
and sea attacks. On the night of the 30th,
Japanese submarines "I-16" and "I-20"
launched midget submarines for attacks on Diego Saurez. "Ramillies"
was torpedoed and badly damaged and a
tanker sunk. By September the complete occupation of
Madagascar became necessary.
Burma - On 29th
April, Lashio was captured and the Burma Road cut in the
north. Supplies for China now had to be flown over high
mountains known as the 'Hump' for nearly three years
until a new road was finally completed in early 1945.
Mandalay fell on the 1st and by mid-month the retreating
British Army was crossing the border into India. Chinese
forces were also back in China as well as India. With the
conquest of Burma, Japan's western defence line was in
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 4
merchant ships of 22,000 tons
Summary: Indian Ocean - 18 merchant ships of 90,000
Summary: Indian Ocean - 9 merchant ships of 47,000
Ocean - Adm Somerville's Eastern Fleet carried out
diversionary moves in the Indian Ocean at the time of the
Guadalcanal landings by the US Marine Corps in the
Pacific. But he was continually losing ships to other
theatres and by month's end was down to battleships
"Warspite", "Valiant", carrier
"Illustrious" and a few cruisers and
destroyers. There were also few escorts.
Shipping War - By this time Japanese submarines
were appearing in the Indian Ocean and taking a steady
toll of Allied shipping, sometimes accompanied by
atrocities against ship's survivors. Until the end of
1944 they were joined for various periods by German
U-boats, sometimes direct from Europe and at other times
operating out of Penang on the west coast of Malaya.
Summary: Indian Ocean - 1 merchant ship of 5,000 tons
Britain decided to occupy the rest of the Vichy French
island. Starting on the 10th, British, East African and
South African troops were landed through the month at
points in the northwest, east and southwest. By the 23rd
the capital, Tananarive, was captured but fighting
continued into October. The Vichy French did not
surrender until early November, by which time they had
been driven down into the extreme southeast corner of the
23rd - Australian
troops were carried to the occupied island of Timor by
Australian destroyer "VOYAGER" to strengthen the Sparrow Force
guerrilla unit. She ran aground on the south coast,
bombed by the Japanese and had to be destroyed.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 6
merchant ships of 30,000 tons
Burma - In the First
Arakan Campaign a limited offensive was launched from
India to take Akyab. By year's end the British and Indian
forces were still short of their objective.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 11
merchant ships of 64,000 tons
11th - Action of the "Bengal"
and "Ondina" - Two Japanese raiders armed with 6in guns
attacked the Dutch tanker "Ondina" (one 4in
gun) and her escort, the Royal Indian navy minesweeper
"Bengal" (single 12pdr) commanded by Lt-Cdr W.
J. Wilson RINR to the southwest of the Cocos Islands in
the Indian Ocean. "Bengal" hit "HOKOKU
shortly blew up. The other raider soon disappeared. Both
Allied ships were damaged and separated, but reached port
safely after this small ship action which ranked with the
sinking of the "Stier" by the "Stephen
Hopkins" just two months earlier.
Merchant Shipping War
- A few Japanese submarines continued to operate in the
Indian Ocean and were now joined by a number of German
U-boats on patrol off the east coast of South Africa.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only -
23 merchant ships of 131,000 tons
Summary: Indian Ocean only - 6 merchant ships of