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    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.

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Campaign name

Borneo campaign

Campaign dates

15 December 1941 10 February 1942

Campaign codename

B Operation

Campaign overview

Frame 1Dec 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 215–16 Dec 1941
The Kawaguchi Detachment, supported by the Yokosuka 2nd Special Naval Landing Party (SNLP), secures the oilfields at Miri in British Borneo.
Frame 325 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 411 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 519 Jan 1942
The Kawaguchi Detachment, 2nd Company, travelling on several fishing boats, advances to and occupies Sandakan.
Frame 624 Jan 1942
The Sakaguchi Detachment begins landing operations at Balikpapan, quickly securing the area and preparing for future operations.
Frame 729 Jan 1942
The Kawaguchi Detachment moves overland and by sea from Kuching to Pontianak to secure the airfield near the town.
Frame 810 Feb 1942
The Sakaguchi Detachment advances overland and by sea from Balikpapan, and occupies Bandjermasin.


Campaign strength

Western and British Borneo


Kawaguchi Detachment
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)


Escort Force

Yokosuka 2nd Special Naval Landing Party

Eastern Borneo


Sakaguchi Detachment
Maj Gen Sakaguchi Shizuo
    146th Infantry Regiment
    1st Engineer Company
    Medical Unit
    Armoured Car Unit
    56th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion
    44th Field Anti-aircraft Battalion
    Supply and communications units


1st Escort Force
Rear Adm Nishimura
    10 destroyers
    3 submarine chasers
    3 patrol boats

Cooperating Force
    San’yō Maru (special submarine tender)
    Sanuki Maru
    23rd Air Flotilla (part strength)

Kure 2nd Special Naval Landing Party

Campaign casualties

Sakaguchi Detachment: 250 killed and wounded

Printer version

Hong Kong, Pacific
Celebes, Ambon, Timor
New Britain
Sumatra, Java

Reference links
Show details for Dispositions–DeathsDispositions–Deaths
Show details for CampaignsCampaigns

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