US Invasion of Java

In 1944-45 Macarthur wanted to liberate Java with allied troops, but was ordered not to. What if, following the Borneo campaign, US Marines landed on the shores of Java? How would Sukarno, Hatta, et al react?
 
It would be logistically difficult and bypassing the chain of commands, considering that the responsibility to free Dutch East Indies were fallen to the British and the American-Filipino-Mexican insistence of finishing off Japan first. Thus the Borneo Campaign was planned by the British Commonwealth from the east (mainly ANZAC forces) while the western British forces (mainly Indians) were stuck in the jungles of Burma.

Evenmore by the time the Borneo Campaign was concluded, Indonesia was already proclaimed its independence, the British from the west were preparing to secure Malaya and Allied PoWs from Java and Sumatra, and the Americans are busy at rebuilding the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and also helping the Chinese nationalists. MacArthur himself was preoccupied with the occupation of Japan and the US Marines were stationed at Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, away from Indonesia.

I propose an earlier PoD in November 1943 when MacArthur drawn his plans to liberate the Malay Barrier. OTL, along with West Papua, he wanted to liberate the Philippines via the Moluccas. The PoD would be him decided to turn south and liberate Dutch East Indies first.
 
It would be logistically difficult and bypassing the chain of commands, considering that the responsibility to free Dutch East Indies were fallen to the British and the American-Filipino-Mexican insistence of finishing off Japan first. Thus the Borneo Campaign was planned by the British Commonwealth from the east (mainly ANZAC forces) while the western British forces (mainly Indians) were stuck in the jungles of Burma.

Evenmore by the time the Borneo Campaign was concluded, Indonesia was already proclaimed its independence, the British from the west were preparing to secure Malaya and Allied PoWs from Java and Sumatra, and the Americans are busy at rebuilding the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and also helping the Chinese nationalists. MacArthur himself was preoccupied with the occupation of Japan and the US Marines were stationed at Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, away from Indonesia.

I propose an earlier PoD in November 1943 when MacArthur drawn his plans to liberate the Malay Barrier. OTL, along with West Papua, he wanted to liberate the Philippines via the Moluccas. The PoD would be him decided to turn south and liberate Dutch East Indies

It would be logistically difficult and bypassing the chain of commands, considering that the responsibility to free Dutch East Indies were fallen to the British and the American-Filipino-Mexican insistence of finishing off Japan first. Thus the Borneo Campaign was planned by the British Commonwealth from the east (mainly ANZAC forces) while the western British forces (mainly Indians) were stuck in the jungles of Burma.

Evenmore by the time the Borneo Campaign was concluded, Indonesia was already proclaimed its independence, the British from the west were preparing to secure Malaya and Allied PoWs from Java and Sumatra, and the Americans are busy at rebuilding the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and also helping the Chinese nationalists. MacArthur himself was preoccupied with the occupation of Japan and the US Marines were stationed at Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, away from Indonesia.

I propose an earlier PoD in November 1943 when MacArthur drawn his plans to liberate the Malay Barrier. OTL, along with West Papua, he wanted to liberate the Philippines via the Moluccas. The PoD would be him decided to turn south and liberate Dutch East Indies first.
Going with your PoD, how would an eventual US-ANZAC invasion transpire? By 1945, there were 300k Japanese troops and about 60k Indonesian volunteers throughout the archipelago. If things go anything like OTL, PETA will eventually turn against their occupiers, which would be very convenient for Mac, less so for the Dutch.
 
By 1945, there were 300k Japanese troops and about 60k Indonesian volunteers throughout the archipelago.
None of whom were anywhere near the quality of, say, the men defending Iwo Jima. The Indies were hardly fortfied to that extent, either. I predict an Allied invasion force having an easier time of it than they did at Leyte and Luzon.
 
None of whom were anywhere near the quality of, say, the men defending Iwo Jima. The Indies were hardly fortfied to that extent, either. I predict an Allied invasion force having an easier time of it than they did at Leyte and Luzon.
So if the initial invasion goes more or less smoothly and the PETA uprising allows the Indonesians to establish a brittle alliance with the Allies, the Dutch can't really use the collaboration accusations as an excuse to restore the status quo.
 
So if the initial invasion goes more or less smoothly and the PETA uprising allows the Indonesians to establish a brittle alliance with the Allies, the Dutch can't really use the collaboration accusations as an excuse to restore the status quo.
The moment they lost Java to the Japanese, they should have already realised that things would never, ever be the same again.
 
The moment they lost Java to the Japanese, they should have already realised that things would never, ever be the same again.
And they refused to accept that until the US threatened to pull Marshall plan money. Here, the situation is ironically worse for the Dutch, and they could very well be forced to begin negotiations for independence by 1946.
 
Okay, before y'all can guessed things that would strayed too much, i'm going to post this

Here, the situation is ironically worse for the Dutch, and they could very well be forced to begin negotiations for independence by 1946.
Yep, unlike the uppity London Government or German collaborators at the Netherlands who believes that they still deserves Indonesia after the Japanese conquest, the acting Governor-General of the Indies since March 9th 1942, Hubertus Johannes van Mook, also believes that nothing would be ever the same again for Indonesia.

In Indonesia's side, alongside reluctant collaborators such as Soekarno and Hatta, there were resistance figures who believes in the eventual Allied victory and tried to stage an uprising against Japan in accordance of an Allied invasion. Amir Sjarifudin Harahap and Sutan Sjahrir are such figures.
 
Here's a rough timeline:
1943 - Macarthur chooses to liberate the Philippines and East Indies from the Moluccas.
1944/45? - having island-hopped to Borneo with minimal resistance, the USANZAC force continues to Java. Steamrolling the Japanese, the resistance, led by Sjahrir and PETA rise up, linking with the Allies shortly before Japan's surrender.
1945/46 - A lot could happen here. As the Americans are moved elsewhere and Commonwealth trooos moved in, the Nationalists are presented with a power vacuum. The Netherlands might be forced to begin negotiations immediately, as the Indonesians have successfully switched sides, giving them no excuse. What happens concerning the future model of government, the Islamists, Communists etc. is blurry.
 
1943 - Macarthur chooses to liberate the Philippines and East Indies from the Moluccas.
1944/45? - having island-hopped to Borneo with minimal resistance, the USANZAC force continues to Java.
Logistically difficult to liberate both Philippines and the Indies in 1944, only plausible if USA adopted a "Japan-First" strategy altogether and abandoning the points agreed upon in Arcadia Conference.

But let's say if MacArthur and ANZAC forces focused only on the East Indies while the Brits-Indians are stuck in Burma, then yes, an earlier Moluccan liberation in October-December 1944 is possible.
 
Moluccans (September-January 1945)
Using Merauke as the staging point, the Liberation of Southern Moluccas is undertaken in concert with landings on Morotai from Sansapor (September-November 1944), with the 4th Southern Expeditionary Fleet under Admiral Yamagata stands between USANZAC and Western Indonesia. The Battle of Banda Sea (September-October 1944) would be proved as a decisive battle that determined the fate of East Indies, with pitched battles of Dobo (main city in Aru Islands), Saumlaki (Tanimbar), and Tual (Kei) in October 1944 between US Marines and a prepared Rikusentai (Japanese Mariens) guarding the islands became another spectacle in the American "Island Hopping" campaign.

With the clearance of IJN presence, Marine landings in Ambon and Seram (Central Moluccas) from Merauke, and Halmahera (Northern Moluccas) from Sorong in mid-November-December 1944 was undertaken. Despite fanatical resistance from IJN and the first uses of Kamikaze attacks, by Christmas the presence of Japanese forces was nowhere to be found in Ambon and Ceram, but some Japanese holdouts remained in the scattered islands in the Southern and Central Moluccan Islands until mid-1950s.

Moluccan resistance proved insignificant since the heavy and harsher presence of the IJN since 1942, but nonetheless they would volunteered in the reformed KNIL under Lieutenant-General Ludolph van Oyen. Safe to say, more casualties (in proportion to the initial strength) than the OTL Battle of Leyte Gulf with estimated casualties between 9-12 thousands in Allied side and 10-12 thousands in Japanese side by early 1945. Between 15-20 thousand Moluccan civilians became casualties during the liberation of both three parts of the Moluccan Islands.

The return of NICA from December 1944 would be marred with debates between Acting Governor-General Hubertus van Mook and the Gerbrandy Cabinet (London Government) about the future East Indies' role in the Kingdom, especially after Van Mook granted province status for the Central and Southern Moluccans, effectively dividing the Molukken Province into two. But with MacArthur's backing and under accordance with the Atlantic Charter, Van Mook's position is safe for now. In Western Indonesia, a few KNIL and Moluccan prisoners of war was executed by the Imperial Japanese Army administration despite protests from Soekarno and Johannes Latuharhary (the leader of Moluccan society in Java).
 
Last edited:
With the pressure being very much on, wouldn't the Japanese be more likely to speed up the process of independence for Indonesia? IIRC this is what happened in Burma.
 
Logistically difficult to liberate both Philippines and the Indies in 1944, only plausible if USA adopted a "Japan-First" strategy altogether and abandoning the points agreed upon in Arcadia Conference.

But let's say if MacArthur and ANZAC forces focused only on the East Indies while the Brits-Indians are stuck in Burma, then yes, an earlier Moluccan liberation in October-December 1944

With the pressure being very much on, wouldn't the Japanese be more likely to speed up the process of independence for Indonesia? IIRC this is what happened in Burma.
They could, but as in Burma, the Nationalists could turn against them in return for Allied promises of independence. The British even took quite a liking to Aung San despite his relations with Japan.
 
The Dutch East Indies fell into the responsibility of Britain and The Netherlands. The U.S. was more focused on liberating the Philippines, the prized jewel of its Far Eastern holdings, even though Nimitz was against it and opted to through Formosa.

I have come to think the U.S. did not have resources to spare while still securing the Philippines and preparing for Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and the dreaded Operation Downfall.

Japanese resistance in the Philippines did not truly end until 1945, with some holdouts being reported all the way to the 1970s.
It would be logistically difficult and bypassing the chain of commands, considering that the responsibility to free Dutch East Indies were fallen to the British and the American-Filipino-Mexican insistence of finishing off Japan first
Thanks for mentioning the Mexican involvement of liberating the Philippines. The Aztec Eagles were attached to the USAAF, wherein they flew the P-47s.

Filipinos here often forget that Mexico was involved in the liberation of my country.

Not to forget, the Australians were there in Leyte Gulf as well. By 1945, I read the Royal Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy had a limited presence in the Philippines, particularly being allowed to dock in Subic Bay for South China Sea operations.
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
While interesting in its potential near and long term impact on Indonesia, and an interesting operational thought exercise, isn't Java simply *the wrong direction* for Allied forces to advance from their bases, considering it is not a movement towards the Japanese home islands, but away from them?
 
While interesting in its potential near and long term impact on Indonesia, and an interesting operational thought exercise, isn't Java simply *the wrong direction* for Allied forces to advance from their bases, considering it is not a movement towards the Japanese home islands, but away from them?
In the situation the Allies dealt with OTL, yes. As other's have correctly pointed out, this would require the US to adopt the Pacific-first strategy, which is something i had in mind but neglected to mention at the beginning. It's not necessarily in the "wrong direction" however. After all, the East Indies held significant resources and strategic waterways. Controlling these, while inflicting further casualties on the Japanese and pushing them further north could be only beneficial, provided they have the troops to spare and the situation in Europe under control.
 
Lesser Sunda Islands (late December-March 1945)
The Reconquest of Ambon did sent a grave warning for the 2nd and 4th Southern Expeditionary Fleets of the IJN, as their control on their part of the Indonesian Archipelago is shaky at best, with the populace is still angry at them (compared to the much more subdued sentiments in Java and Sumatra). On Western Indonesia, despite a few more executions towards Allied PoWs (especially of Moluccan descent), Lieutenant-General Kumakichi Harada of the IJA established the Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence in Java and Sumatra in January 8th (OTL the Javanese Committee was not established until March 1st and the Sumatran one not until July 25th).

Two months after the landings on Southern Moluccas, two USMC divisions continued their island-hopping campaigns towards Timor and Wetar Islands in December 24th. While the Southwestern Islands were quickly subdued by the American Marines, Wetar, Alor, and Timor were proved to be an obstacle with at least five Rikusentai battalions protecting the southwesternmost gateway to the Banda Sea to the last man. Wetar and Alor was secured in early February, whilst Timor was finally secured in mid-February 1945 by the combined Australian and USMC units and its eastern portion were immediately handed over to the Portuguese.

Buru and Taliabu Islands in the western part of Moluccan Islands was raided by the Marines from Ceram, and finally invaded in January 3rd after the Navy make a short work of the stragglers from the 4th Fleet. Air raids was frequently launched from Morotai towards Manado (Northern Sulawesi), and Ambon towards Kendari and Makassar (Southern Sulawesi), causing distressing situations for the naval government in Sulawesi.

Another naval battle took place in the first two weeks of February 1945, in the leading days to the Invasion of Buton and Selayar Islands on the western fringe of Banda Sea, which would secured access to Java Sea, with 2nd Southern EF under Admiral Kawase facing William Halsey's 3rd Fleet. Despite 5 destroyers and 3 light/escort carriers sunk, Admiral Kawase's fleet was thoroughly annihilated with the Admiral himself going down with his fleet in February 16th.

Using Darwin as the staging point, the invasion of Waingapoe (Sumba) and Ende (Flores) were launched in February 14th with two Marine divisions supported by ANZAC forces. A concurrent invasion launched from Ambon with a Marine division supported by two Australian battalions, aimed to take Buton and Selayar Islands. Despite heavy resistance, both three divisions were succeeding in their initial objectives, with Buton was mostly cleared from IJN presence by March 1st, Sumba in March 5th, and Maumere was captured in February 27th. Continued advance towards Reo and Ruteng were halted until the end of March with defensive measures taken by the Japanese, including transporting an Army division to secure the rest of the Lesser Sunda Islands.
 
In 1944-45 Macarthur wanted to liberate Java with allied troops, but was ordered not to. What if, following the Borneo campaign, US Marines landed on the shores of Java? How would Sukarno, Hatta, et al react?
At least no Bersiap or terror at a much smaller scale. A true liberation for the Europeans, Indos and Chinees.
No udea how it end wth Hatta and Soekarno, I hope bad
 
At least no Bersiap or terror at a much smaller scale. A true liberation for the Europeans, Indos and Chinees.
No udea how it end wth Hatta and Soekarno, I hope bad
An earlier Soekarno's death would bring chaos to the IJA admimistration for sure, as no one else was as charismatic to the Indonesians as him despite a few of them are more administrally competent (I.E. Tan Malaka and Mohammad Hatta). Especially with Kempetai getting twitchy after they failed to oust Hatta and Amir Syarifudin as Indonesian Resistance members in 1943 because of Soekarno's personal intervention (they were right, btw), and the Allied forces getting closer and closer towards Java.

Also, it was Soekarno who managed to bring all Japanese-trained Indonesian militias under control of the Indonesian Army and stopped Bersiap by early 1946. Earlier death of his and actual Allied battles in Java and Sumatra warranted a bloodier Bersiap.
 
Last edited:
At least no Bersiap or terror at a much smaller scale. A true liberation for the Europeans, Indos and Chinees.
No udea how it end wth Hatta and Soekarno, I hope bad
It's going to be hard to do anything on that scale when PETA are being thrown into suicide charges against the USMC or running into the the jungle to join the resistance.
 
Top