May 11th 1942. The War of the Impossible.
That’s what we could call the developing drama that is the defense of the Dutch East Indies and the fortress city of Singapore. On one hand, the Dutch-Australian defenders at Kendari, their hasty fortifications destroyed, withstand assault after assault by the numerically superior enemy, and do not yield.
On the other, in Singapore, the defenders dig in the rubble as fast as the Japanese engineers blow them out of it. Japan launched yet another all out assault on the garrison at a cost of more than 5000 casualties. The defenders lost around 1600.
Persistent, tenacious defense against impossible odds is the theme of this war so far.
May 13th 1942. Invasion force off Kendari.
A new invasion force appeared yesterday off the cratered beaches of the Dutch harbor of Kendari.
Japanese reinforcements stormed ashore as a flight of 8 Blenheim IV bombers raced in at 5000 feet. The fast bombers scored two hits on one of the ships unloading at the beach, later identified as xAK Kosei Maru. Two Dutch submarines are also reported to have tried to tangle with the invaders with no success.
As of now, Kendari still holds.
May 14th 1942. Naval Battle at Kendari.
Every now and then, when conditions are right, the allied forces strike a blow at the enemy. Picking the right time is important.
In essence, it’s all a matter of timing for both sides. Japan needs time to seize the oil and resources it craves, before its own reserves run out and its war economy grinds to a halt, before time runs out.
The allies need time too. Time to put forces in place and to build bastions that can withstand the enemy assault and then turn it back. The fierce resistance of the defenders at Bataan first and Singapore second has tied up the enemy’s sorely needed forces.
Time for a small, almost token reinforcement at Kendari that has, however, caused the enemy assault to stall, that has required reinforcements to be brought to bear; troops that were, surely, destined to go somewhere else.
At Makassar, they were thwarted. At Kendari they stalled.
Yesterday night, the allied navies showed that they, too, can be daring. Under cover of night, a force of nine destroyers led by the USN Paul Jones and including USS Pope, Dutch Tjerk Heddes, and RN’s Decoy, Encounter, Fortune, Isis, Nestor and Nizam dashed in, surprising and attacking the enemy invasion task force. The enemy's many light escorts prevented a rout by sacrificing themselves to protect the merchants. Even so, the results were very one sided:
DMS W-9, Shell hits 15, and is sunk
DMS W-15, Shell hits 7, Torpedo hits 2, and is sunk
DMS W-20, Shell hits 3, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
PB Kyo Maru #11, Shell hits 10, and is sunk
PB Shonan Maru #1, Shell hits 2, and is sunk
PB Shonan Maru #2, Shell hits 3, and is sunk
SC Ch 6, Shell hits 1, on fire
SC Ch 10, Shell hits 2
xAK Kosei Maru, on fire.
xAK Yamagiku Maru, Shell hits 4
xAK Yuzan Maru, Shell hits 5, heavy fires
xAK Toyokawa Maru, Shell hits 2, heavy fires
xAK Kosin Maru, Shell hits 1
xAK Aki Maru, Shell hits 1
xAK Soyo Maru, Shell hits 1, Torpedo hits 3, and is sunk
xAK Ueizuru Maru, Shell hits 6, heavy fires
xAK Yasuteru Maru, Shell hits 21, heavy fires, heavy damage
xAK Chuko Maru, Shell hits 12, on fire
The enemy finally was able to escape with 16 intact merchants.
There was a price to be paid for this raid however.
By dawn, the allied destroyers were withdrawing, at full speed, back to their base when the alarm broke out.
Enemy aircraft, 13 dive bombers, and 24 Zero fighters were sighted. The bombers screamed their way on to the allied ships that put up a wall of AA fire and weaved this way and that on the blue sea. 4 Val bombers were damaged, but one small bomb hit USS Pope. The carrier aircraft were assumed to be operating at extreme range since the bombs were identified as the small 60 Kg ones and not the larger, 250Kg ordnance these dive bombers usually carry.
Blenheim bombers attacked Kendari in the afternoon but did not hit anything. They did confirm the heavy damage and fire on the xAK Kosei Maru.
Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.