The Battle of the Java Sea
happened exactly seventy years ago today. Austrialian, British, Dutch and American ships set sail to stop the Japanese invasion fleet steaming towards Java. It didn't end well.
Two heavy cruisers (HMS Exeter and USS Houston), three light cruisers (HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java, HMAS Perth), and nine destroyers (HMS Electra, HMS Encounter, HMS Jupiter, HNLMS Kortenaer, HNLMS Witte de With, USS Alden, USS John D. Edwards, USS John D. Ford, and USS Paul Jones) took on two heavy (Nachi and Haguro) and two light cruisers (Naka and Jintsu) and 14 destroyers in the largest sea battle since the Battle of Jutland in WWI. At first sight this looked like an relatively even battle, but while most of the ships on the Allied side were of WWI vintage, the Japanese ships were more modern, better armed and had better air support.
These differences were telling as the Japanese managed to sink two cruisers (the HNLMS de Ruyter and Java) and three destroyers for no loss of their own, sinking several more in follow-up battles in the days after, including the HMS Exeter and the USS Houston. Ten ships in total were sunk, with the loss of more than 2,000 sailors, including the commander of the allied force, admiral Karel Doorman, who was killed when his flagship HNLMS de Ruyter was sunk.
In all the battle only delayed the Japanese for a day.
, despite his failure to stop the Japanese after the war was honoured as the Netherlands' last great naval hero, with three succesive ships
named after him.
The animated history of the Fall of the Dutch East Indies
, including the battle.
A personal history of the battle
, by the son of one of the survivors.