Endau (103.614E 2.621N) was a small fishing port and the terminus of the main southwest-northeast road  in southern Malaya in 1941.

The Japanese landed 96 Airfield Battalion at Endau on 26 January 1942. The seizure of airfields would allow further projection of Japanese air power over Singapore, and a Japanese force advancing along the road through Mersing to Kluang could cut off the Australian troops putting up stiff resistance to the main Japanese advance on Singapore. The British therefore dispatched the old destroyers Vampire and Thanet on what amounted to a suicide mission to attack the landing force, which included light cruiser Sendai, six modern destroyers, and fourteen minesweepers and patrol boats. The British, whose navy was probably the only one in the world whose night fighting skills approached those of the Japanese, actually succeeded in penetrating the outer screen but failed to locate the Japanese transports. After expending their torpedoes (to no effect) against two of the Japanese escorts, the two British destroyers withdrew at high speed. The Japanese were very sluggish in their response, perhaps fearing a friendly fire incident, and Vampire actually succeeded in getting away. However, Thanet was crippled and sunk by gunfire.

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