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


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433 hits since 11 Feb 2022
©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 9:26 p.m. PST

…of 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…"
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Armand

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2022 9:57 p.m. PST

As the article indicates, Cox did write a book on this campaign. There are also a couple of other English-language books on this campaign, such as those by Tom Womack. Morison also covered it briefly, though less accurately, in one of his early volumes.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2022 3:28 p.m. PST

Thanks!

Armand

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