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Christmas Island - WWII Japanese Occupation era


Territory of Australia
Christmas Island Japanese Occupation Era - 1942 to 1945
Ruin of Shinto Temple, Japanese naval gun, Japanese Army Headquarters on Christmas Island

Battle Of Christmas Island:
Japanese forces occupied Christmas Island, on 31 March 1942, during World War II. Because of a mutiny by Indian soldiers against their British officers, Japanese troops were able to occupy Christmas Island without any resistance. However, the United States Navy submarine Seawolf caused severe damage to the Japanese cruiser Naka.

From the outbreak of war in South East Asia in December 1941, Christmas Island was a target for Japanese occupation because of its rich phosphate deposits. Christmas Island at the time was a British possession under administrative control of the Straits Settlement, situated 300 kilometers south of Java. It was important for two reasons: it was a perfect control post for the east Indian Ocean area; and it was an important source of phosphates, which were needed by Japanese industry.
After the occupation of Java Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued orders for “Operation X” (The Invasion and Occupation of Christmas Island).
Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura was assigned to command the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet’s Occupation Force, with the light cruiser Naka as his flagship. The fleet also consisted of the light cruisers Nagara and Natori, and destroyers Minegumo, Natsugumo, Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Satsuki, Minazuki, Fumizuki and Nagatsuki, oiler Akebono Maru and transports Kimishima Maru and Kumagawa Maru, with 850 men of the 21st, 24th Special Base Forces and the 102nd Construction Unit.
Opposing this invasion force was an old 6-inch gun brought down from Singapore after World War I, and possibly up to three anti-aircraft guns. The British garrison, a detachment of the Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery, numbered 32 men, mostly Indian troops led by a British officer and four NCOs.
The first attack was by a Japanese submarine that torpedoed a Norwegian vessel, the Eidsvold, loading phosphate in Flying Fish Cove. This was on 21 January 1942. The vessel drifted and eventually sank off West White Beach. 50 European and Asian staff and their families were evacuated to Perth. In late February and early March 1942, two aerial bombing raids and shelling from the sea led the District Officer to hoist the white flag. After the Japanese naval group sailed away the British officer raised the Union Jack once more. During the night of 10 – 11 March, a mutiny of the Indian troops, abetted by the Sikh policemen, led to the murder of the five British soldiers and the imprisonment of the remaining 21 Europeans.
Indian troops, apparently believing Japanese propaganda concerning the liberation of India from British rule, mutinied and killed their sleeping British superiors on 10 March 1942, then locked up the District Officer and the few other European inhabitants of the island pending an execution that apparently was thwarted by the Japanese occupation.
At dawn on 31 March 1942, a dozen Japanese bombers launched the attack, destroying the radio station, which stood roughly where the post office is today. Fragments of bombs dropped were still being found into the 1980s in the Post Office Padang. Because of the mutiny, the Japanese expeditionary corps was able to disembark at Flying Fish Cove without opposition.
At 0949 the same morning, the USN submarine Seawolf fired four torpedoes at the Naka; all missed. Seawolf attacked again at 0650 the following morning, firing three torpedoes at Natori, missing again. That evening, with her final two torpedoes, from 1,100 yards (1,000 m), Seawolf managed to hit Naka on her starboard side, near her No.1 boiler. The damage was severe enough Naka had to be towed back Singapore by Natori, and eventually was forced to return to Japan for a year of repairs.
On 31 March a Japanese fleet of 9 vessels arrived and the Island was surrendered. A naval brigade, phosphate engineers and 700 marines came ashore and rounded up the workforce, most of whom had fled to the jungle. Sabotaged equipment was repaired and preparations were made to resume the mining and export of phosphate.
Isolated acts of sabotage and the torpedoing of the Nissei Maru at the wharf on 17 November 1942 meant that only small amounts of phosphate were exported to Japan during the occupation. In November 1943, over 60% of the Island’s population was evacuated to Surabayan prison camps, leaving of total population of just under 500 Chinese and Malays and 15 Japanese to survive as best they could. In October 1945 HMS Rother reoccupied Christmas Island.
From Christmas Island, and other bases in the East Timor and New Guinea area, Imperial Japanese Army Mitsubishi Ki-46 “Dinah” aircraft performed reconnaissance missions over northern Australia.
Natori returned to Christmas Island and withdrew all elements of the occupation force with the exception of a twenty-man garrison detachment to Banten Bay on 3 April 1942. All that the Japanese had gained was the phosphate rock which was loaded on the transport ships.
At the end of the occupation, British troops arrive to the island on 18 October 1945 on HMS ROTHER with a marine detachement which re-occupied Christmas Island, destroyed a Shinto shrine at which the Japanese had reportedly forced many local Muslims to worship.
The Indian mutineers were prosecuted by a Military Court in Singapore and five were sentenced to death in 1947. The sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after the governments of India and Pakistan protested.

Order of battle for Japanese Army: Christmas Island Battle, Operation "X"
Guard Force:
Transport Group consisted of two transport ships
Kimishima Maru (5,193t) and Kumagawa Maru (6,774t), carrying 850 officers and enlisted men of the 21st, 24th Special Base Forces and 102nd Construction Unit.
They were escorted by:
• Destroyer Squadron 4 light cruiser Naka
• 16th Cruiser Division cruisers- Nagara, Natori
• 9th Destroyer Division, first section destroyers- Natsugumo, Minegumo
• 22nd Destroyer Division destroyers- Satsuki, Minazuki, Fumitsuki, Nagatsuki (escort for cruiser Naka)
• Patrol Boat Squadron 1, patrol boats- P-34, P-36
Main Unit:
• 16th Destroyer Division, second section, destroyers- Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze
• Fuel Group, tanker Akebono Maru (10,182t)

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  • Model Number: misC07
  • 62 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 01 February, 2011.

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