Borneo, with strategic waterways on all sides, was rich with oil, rubber, and other natural resources. The invasion of the island, which was defended by Dutch and British Indian troops, was Japan’s first move into the Netherlands East Indies. Resistance to the army’s Kawaguchi and Sakaguchi Detachments, each based on an infantry regiment and support units, was short-lived. The Japanese soon had control of the oilfields on the island and made preparations for future campaigns towards Sumatra and Java.
The animation takes approximately 1–2 minutes. Click on the numbered tabs to view (or print) the individual frames.
15 December 1941 – 10 February 1942
|Frame 1||Dec 1941 – Feb 1942|
Borneo was Japan’s first step into the Netherlands East Indies to secure oilfields and provide a base for the push on Sumatra and Java.
|Frame 2||15–16 Dec 1941|
The Kawaguchi Detachment, supported by the Yokosuka 2nd Special Naval Landing Party (SNLP), secures the oilfields at Miri in British Borneo.
|Frame 3||25 Dec 1941 – 11 Jan 1942|
The Kawaguchi Detachment captures oilfields and airfields at Kuching, in the south, then at Brunei, Labuan and Jesselton, in the north of the island.
|Frame 4||11 Jan 1942|
The Sakaguchi Detachment lands on Tarakan, with support from the Kure 2nd SNLP. The island and oilfields are secure by 14 January.
|Frame 5||19 Jan 1942|
The Kawaguchi Detachment, 2nd Company, travelling on several fishing boats, advances to and occupies Sandakan.
|Frame 6||24 Jan 1942|
The Sakaguchi Detachment begins landing operations at Balikpapan, quickly securing the area and preparing for future operations.
|Frame 7||29 Jan 1942|
The Kawaguchi Detachment moves overland and by sea from Kuching to Pontianak to secure the airfield near the town.
|Frame 8||10 Feb 1942|
The Sakaguchi Detachment advances overland and by sea from Balikpapan, and occupies Bandjermasin.
Western and British Borneo
Maj Gen Kawaguchi Kiyotake
35th Infantry Brigade Headquarters
124th Infantry Regiment
16th Reconnaissance Regiment (one platoon)
21st Field Heavy Artillery Battalion (one company)
22nd Field Artillery Regiment (one company)
23rd Independent Engineer Regiment (one platoon)
26th Independent Engineer Regiment (one company)
44th Embarkation Headquarters (main strength)
Line of Communication Unit (part strength)
Yokosuka 2nd Special Naval Landing Party
Maj Gen Sakaguchi Shizuo
146th Infantry Regiment
1st Engineer Company
Armoured Car Unit
56th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion
44th Field Anti-aircraft Battalion
Supply and communications units
1st Escort Force
Rear Adm Nishimura
3 submarine chasers
3 patrol boats
San’yō Maru (special submarine tender)
23rd Air Flotilla (part strength)
Kure 2nd Special Naval Landing Party
Sakaguchi Detachment: 250 killed and wounded
Hong Kong, Pacific
Celebes, Ambon, Timor