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Ambon


Digital relief map of Amboina


The principal port of the Spice Islands, Ambon (128.164E 3.687S) is about thirty miles (48 km) long. The island was discovered by the Portuguese in 1512 and was the site of St. Francis Xavier’s missionary work.  As a result, the southern half of the island of Amboina is largely Christian, while the northern half remains Muslim. The Protestant Ambonese were noted for their religious devotion and were highly regarded as soldiers by their Dutch rulers, who sometimes referred to them as the Black Dutch. The Japanese distrusted and mistreated them during the occupation for the same reasons.

In late 1941, the port was relatively well-developed and guarded by 19 coastal guns of various calibers up to 7” (178mm).  It also had a modern airfield at Laha (Pattimura; 128.09E 3.71S) guarded by four 40mm antiaircraft guns, and a seaplane base at Halong (128.220E 3.633S) with three large hangars and three underground fuel tanks.

The Battle of Ambon

The port and airfield fell to 1 Kure Special Landing Force and 228 Regiment (Ito) on 4 February 1942 after four days of bitter resistance by the 2600 troops of the Molukken Brigade and the 1170 Australians of Gull Force.  The Japanese landed on the south coast of the island, which the defenders had assumed would pose insurmountable terrain obstacles, and fought their way through mountainous jungle terrain to take the Allied coastal positions from the rear.

Following the battle, the Japanese murdered 300 Allied prisoners of war at Laha airfield, apparently in reprisal for the mining of W-9.

Ambon remained in Japanese hands for the remainder of the war.

Japanese order of battle, 31 January 1942:

Imperial Japanese Army     

 
228 Regiment (Ito)
From 38 Division
Imperial Japanese Navy


1 Kure Special Naval Landing Force (RADM Hatakeyama Koichiro)     


10 AP


Escort Force (RADM Tanaka Raizo)



CL Jintsu



Destroyer Squadron 2 (Tanaka)




Destroyer Division 8




DD Asashio
DD Oshio
DD Arashio
DD Michishio




Destroyer Division 15





DD Natsushio
DD Kuroshio
DD Oyashio
DD Hayashio




Destroyer Division 16





DD Amatsukaze
DD Hatsukaze
DD Yukikaze
DD Tokitsukaze



Minesweeper Division 21




AM W-7
AM W-8
AM W-9
AM W-11
AM W-12



Subchaser Division 1




SC Ch-1
SC Ch-2
SC Ch-3


Air Group (RADM Fujita Ruitaro)



Seaplane Tender Division 11




CVS Mizuho




CVS Chitose




PB P-34
PB P-39


Covering Force (RADM Takagi Takeo)



Cruiser Division 5 (Takagi)




CA Nachi
CA Haguro
DD Ikazuchi



Destroyer Division 7




DD Ushio
DD Sazanami

Allied order of battle, 31 January 1942:

Royal Dutch Army
 
Molukken Brigade (2800 men)
Royal Dutch Air Force

2-VI.G.IV (at Laha)


2 F2A Buffalo
Imperial Australian Army

Gull Force (2/21 Battalion, 1170 men)
Royal Australian Air Force

No. 13 Squadron

 
9 Hudson II (at Laha)


3 Hudson II (at Namlea, Buru Island)
United States Navy

PatWing 10 (at Halong)


AV Heron


10 PBY Catalina

Climate Information:

Elevation 14'

Temperatures: Jan 88/76, Apr 86/76, Jul 81/74, Oct 85/74, record 96/66

Rainfall: Jan 13/5.0, Apr 19/11.0, Jul 23/23.7, Oct 13/6.1 == 136.2" per annum


References

"The fall of Ambon" (accessed 2007-4-26)

Kehn (2008)

Morison (1948)

Willmott (1982)

Womack (2006)

http://www.freeport-tech.com/WWII (accessed 2002; now defunct)



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