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"A Turn Too Far: Reconstructing the End of the Battle of ..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jul 2021 9:17 p.m. PST

…the Java Sea

"While in modern military history there is little that can compare to the stand of the "300" Spartans (if you ignore their 1300 or so troops from other Greek allies) against the invading Xerxes and his 100,000 Achaemenid Persian troops at Thermopylae, a very good case can be made that the Java Sea Campaign in the early days of World War II in the Pacific does just that. This three-month campaign to defend Malaya (now Malaysia) and the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) from the Japanese with a combined force of American, British, Dutch and Australian (ABDA) forces culminated in the disastrous Battle of the Java Sea, in which organized naval resistance to the Japanese advance was swept away. While there were no dramatic speeches, no tossing of insults, no troops fighting in their underwear, no trolls, no orcs dressed as Immortals not that there were actually trolls or orcs at the original Thermopylae no convenient betrayal by a treacherous goat farmer, and ultimately there was not nearly the same effectiveness as Leonidas and his Lakedaemonians, there was every bit the courage in the face of hopeless odds and the determination in the face of death to do everything they could to stop or at least delay the enemy until reinforcements this time in the form of ships and planes produced by American industrial might could take the offensive.

The Java Sea campaign has gotten little in the way of analysis in the English-speaking press, and what coverage it has gotten has largely focused on the role of the crews of individual ships such as the US cruiser Houston, the Australian cruiser Perth and the British cruiser Exeter, particularly in their futile efforts to escape the Java Sea, James Hornfischer's excellent book Ship of Ghosts being a case in point. This relative silence is understandable for several reasons. First of all, we lost. Unless the defeat can be used to bash the United States like Vietnam is, defeats tend to get less play in the media. Furthermore, the territory being defended was a Dutch colony, which, since the Dutch mainland was under Nazi occupation, was effectively serving as their homeland, and thus meant much more to the Dutch than the Anglos, who found the campaign small in comparison to their overall war effort in the Pacific.

But a major reason why it has not gotten much examination is simply because of a lack of information, which is exemplified no better than in the ending of the Battle of the Java Sea. This decisive action that took over seven hours ended in what amounted to a midnight fog. The last ditch effort of the ABDA Combined Striking Force under Dutch schout-bij-nacht (rear admiral) Karel W.F.M. Doorman, now down to only four ships, was literally torpedoed by a Japanese force under Rear Admiral Takagi Takeo just before midnight on February 27, 1942. Most histories simply state that Takagi's cruisers Nachi and Haguro torpedoed and sank the Dutch light cruisers De Ruyter and Java, while Perth and Houston sped off "into the night." They usually say "into the night," too.[1] That is usually where the narrative of the battle ends…"
Full text here

By the way…

The Unsolved Disaster of Midway – The Flight to Nowhere

YouTube link


Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2021 8:21 a.m. PST

Very interesting and thought provoking article. I've read Ship of Ghosts but none of the others to which the article's author refers.

Thanks, Armand.


Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2021 8:41 a.m. PST

Thank you very much for this.


Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2021 10:17 a.m. PST

An excellent article. I recommend Cox's books to those who have not read them.

BW195921 Jul 2021 2:32 p.m. PST

A very good article, thanks for posting the link

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2021 9:35 p.m. PST

A votre service mes amis…


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2021 3:44 p.m. PST




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