'Top Secret' till 1996: March 1946 Japanese surrender on Bali

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by davidbfpo, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    My curiousity was piqued by an IWM tweet today of a film clip, dated 2/3/1946, of Dutch troops landing on Bali, being met by a small group of Japanese and a few civilians: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060034738

    The IWM description refers to:
    The naval craft were Royal Navy.

    A March 1946 surrender? I appreciate the Allies were busy elsewhere in the Dutch East Indies (Java notably), French Indo-China and other places. The official surrender was in September 1945.

    The IWM have three other film clips for this peaceful action and one for the official Japanese surrender on 7/3/1946.

    One reason for the lack of (my) knowledge was that only in 1996 were official UK 'Top Secret' records released, discovered by a RN veteran of the operation - who was very persistent. One sample passage:
    From: BBC - WW2 People's War - British Naval Top Secret Operation - Dutch Landings and Re-occupation of Bali and Lombok - Chapter 2

    For a more Indonesian / Bali focused account try: Bali at War: The Struggle for Independence by Bill Dalton – Bali Advertiser

    I am sure there is more online, but lunch beckons and work resumes afterwards.
  2. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

    Thanks for the tip :D
  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Ah, an error:
    Checking LST 3010, built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast was transferred to the Dutch Navy in 1945, serving in the Dutch East Indies and returned to the RN in 1947. From: SS <i>Empire Cymric</i>

    LST 3502, was built by Vickers Montreal, Canada and was transferred to the Dutch Navy 1945-1946. From: History LST

    There were other British elements at the formal Japanese surrender:
    From: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060034983

    HMS Eck; this history has different dates for duties in Bali, reporting the surrender on 24/2/1946. See: HMS Loch Eck, frigate, later HMNZS Hawae
  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I rather think this all refers to the Dutch re-occupation of Bali rather than the Japanese surrender. Bali had been liberated by 5th Indian Infantry Division in 1945. Due to the problem of Indonesian insurgency/nationalism many Japanese had been retained, as elsewhere in Indonesia, to assist in peacekeeping.

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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Bali and Lombok Islands, Indonesia: operations | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 203/2519
    Bali and Lombok Islands, Indonesia: operations
    Note: Item open from 1972
    Date: 1945 Dec.-1946 Apr.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: HS/ALFSEA 370/9

    Reoccupation of Bali and Lombok by Dutch | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 203/6360
    Reoccupation of Bali and Lombok by Dutch
    Date: 1946 Feb.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: ALFSEA 414/1

    Reoccupation of Bali and Lombok by Dutch | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 203/6359
    Reoccupation of Bali and Lombok by Dutch
    Date: 1946 Jan.-Mar.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: ALFSEA 416/7

    Dutch reoccupation of Bali and Lombok Islands : detailed plan | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 203/6025
    Dutch reoccupation of Bali and Lombok Islands : detailed plan
    Date: 1946 Feb.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: ALFSEA 371/1

    This file was originally catalogued under more than one subject code. These subject... | The National Archives
    Reference: ADM 1/19681
    This file was originally catalogued under more than one subject code. These subject codes and details of this file are as follows:
    FOREIGN COUNTRIES (52): East Indies Station report of proceedings on re-occupation of Bali and Lombok.
    NAVAL STATIONS (50): East Indies Station: report of proceedings on re-occupation of Bali and Lombok
    Date: 1946
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: M4322/1946

  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    I assume you refer to this Wiki entry (albeit minus sources):
    I am going on this IWM source, which is headlined:

    The description is and with my emphasis in bold:
    I hardly think the General would have twice taken the Japanese surrender, in 1945 (undated) and In March 1946.

    There is another, short film - possibly in 1946 - and wrongly titled too. It shows supplies being unloaded by two LCTs, one is LCT 3502 and British troops supervising Japanese soldiers labouring.
    See: Landings On Bali

    Not a website I've seen before, so cannot assess its reliability. It refers to, with my emphasis in bold:
    Link: Indonesian War of Independence - New World Encyclopedia

    There is a news agency report for the surrender on Bali on 2/3/1946. SEe: LAND ON BALI - BATAVIA, March 2 (A.A.P.) - Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1926 - 1954) - 3 Mar 1946

    Searching with "japanese surrender" + "bali" I identified a book 'The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali' by Geoffrey Robinson (Pub. 1995). This confirms the Japanese were left in control of Bali until their surrender in March 1946, when the Dutch landed; there are several pages, with footnotes available via Google. Note it refers to a British recce party in October 1945. After an unapproved Dutch naval visit to Bali, in October 1945, the British ordered the Japanese to assert themselves.
  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    No, relying more on my sometimes dodgy memory and relating the events more to the official surrender and re-occupation by the Dutch rather than the actual surrender. When Colonial forces first arrived in Bali I don't know.
    Many official surrenders took place after local Japanese surrenders as in Singapore (12 Sep 45) and Hong Kong (16 Sep 45).
    Colonial forces arrived in Sumatra and Java in Oct 45 so I assumed they were also in Bali around this time. Many Japanese troops (JSP - Japanese Surrendered Personnel) remained armed in Indonesia as a protecting force both before and after the arrival of Colonial forces and again I am assuming that those Japanese on Bali were also JSPs.

  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    I recommend a look at 'The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali' by Geoffrey Robinson (Pub. 1995).via Google Books; it has all the background and detail anyone would want. The book is on JSTOR, only for institutional users though and his 1991 dissertation (two volumes) has not been published.

    I will endeavour to update Wiki one day and have tracked down Professor Robinson so will drop him an email to congratulate him on his research being of value here.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
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  9. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I've never looked at Bali before, my interest being more in Sumatra and Java with emphasis on the recovery of FEPOWs and Internees from the Camps.
    I'll try and see if I can find Professor Robinson's work. There are obvious inconsistencies raised in the references you have provided, for instance from the Bali Advertiser ref we have: "The actual official surrender of Bali took place in mid-1946, when a newly formed Dutch East Indies army arrived on Java to relieve the embattled British Commonwealth army as it was leaving."
    The definitive answer probably lies in the NA References that TD has provided.
    Thanks for an interesting thread.

  10. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    I’d also recommend “Mountbatten’s Samurai - Imperial Japanese Forces under British Control, 1945-1948” by Stephen B Connor.

    It sets out the overall picture, but Bali only gets a couple of mentions.

    I’d also query the comments above and in that other webpage about the transfer of LST3010 and a couple of others to the Dutch Navy in 1945/46. I’d like to know the basis of it. My references, including for example “Ships Without Names, The Story of the Royal Navy’s Tank Landing Ships of World War Two”, make no such mention.

    The RN in 1945 was transferring ships to the RNethN including an escort carrier and 4 destroyers in Britain and eight Bathurst class minesweepers. The latter had been RAN manned as part of the BPF. Due to political problems in Australia, they had to be turned over to RN crews to be sailed to Trincomalee to be turned over to the RNethN. But I’ve never heard of any LSTs being involved.

    At this time ships of the British East Indies Fleet were providing the bulk of the logistic support to the Dutch in the region but, AIUI, those ships remained under RN control and RN manned.

    Amongst the ships shown in the first video are a Ca class destroyer and one of the “Empire” class LSIs supplied to the RN under Lend lease.
  11. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    I too am puzzled at the transfer of the two LST to the Dutch and then their return. Could this be part of the 'Top Secret' operation? To minimise the UK role even if the destroyer was RN.

    Robinson makes clear that SEAC under Mountbatten required the Dutch to move newly arriving Dutch troops to the eastern islands where there was less nationalist resistance, unlike on Java for example. He also mentions that the Dutch force landing on Bali was eventually two thousand strong. Not being aware of how many soldiers a LST can carry I expect the two LSTs acted as transports for more troops after the initial landing.

    Curious to think about it, why was the landing over a beach (filming aside)? Was there no dock / port on Bali? It appears that the island had very limited port facilities.

    According to Wiki the RAF contingent was 2748 Field Squadron, RAF Regiment; citing Oliver, K (2002). The RAF Regiment at War; whose tour of duty January 1945-March 1946 was:
    From: List of RAF Regiment units

    Similar info here, except it disbanded in Bali: Regiment Sqns 2700-2850

    There is a 2006 book 'The British Occupation of Indonesia: 1945-1946: Britain, The Netherlands and the Indonesian Revolution by Richard Mcmillan; upon examination Bali has very few entries and none of consequence. It is fully available via: The British Occupation of Indonesia 1945-1946 The publisher's website has a short summary: https://www.routledge.com/The-Briti...The-Netherlands/Mcmillan/p/book/9780415406093
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  12. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Re 2748 Field Sqn RAF Regt I have “Constant Vigilance The RAF Regiment in the Burma Campaign” in the library with a short chapter on the postwar position.

    According to that, 2748 was at Santa Cruz, Bombay, on 24 Aug 1945 and moved to land across the Morib beaches as part of Operation Zipper on 11 Sept. Next day it began a road movement to Singapore. The next mention is that by Jan 1946 it had joined the rest of the Wing on Java and deployed to Surabaya. So all in accordance so far with the link you posted.

    It remained there until 30/3/46 when it was “broken up” (note no reference to disbandment at that point) to provide airmen for the other squadrons in the Wing which were then badly depleted, probably due to numbers eligible for demob.

    The only other mention of 2748 around this time is that in Feb 1946 2943 Field Squadron disbanded. Half of it had already gone home and the remaining 70 officers and men paraded for the last time before being split between 2962 at Kemajoran and 2748 at Surabaya.

    So any time 2748 spent on Bali was minimal and seems to have been limited to April 1946 and was probably only the remaining rump of the unit however big that might have been.
  13. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    I also meant to add that an Empire class LSI could carry about 1500 men, maybe increased to 2000 or so for a very short journey. It usually carried 16 LCA (5 seen in the film) and a couple of larger LCM to land those personnel. That would leave about one third to one half of the force to be accommodated on the LSTs present along with all the vehicles and any other ships present.
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  14. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Here is the full story of the landings on Bali from the BBC WW2 People’s War site including the Chapter 2 link posted above.

    BBC - WW2 People's War - British Naval Top Secret Operation - Dutch Landings and the Re-occupation of Bali and Lombok - Chapter 1
    BBC - WW2 People's War - British Naval Top Secret Operation - Dutch Landings and Re-occupation of Bali and Lombok - Chapter 2
    BBC - WW2 People's War - British Naval Top Secret Operation - Dutch Landings and Re-occupation of Bali and Lombok - Chapter 3

    Chapter 3 refutes the story of the transfer of the 3 LST to the RNethN by a rating who served on LST3010 from late 1945 to 1947 when she returned to the U.K., and right at the foot of it a confirmation from a second rating. He seems to have done his research on events at The National Archives about the operation. So it seems Wiki is in error about these ships.

    The British Official History talks of 2 Dutch Batts being landed on 3rd March 1946, preceded by a British Mission to take the surrender of the Japanese forces on the island. Then on 27th one batt moved to Lombok. The landing of Dutch troops on Java was supposed to happen the same day but was postponed until 9th March. On Bali the Dutch were well received but a few clashes arose in the following weeks. On Lombok the reception was described as “cordial”.

    There were clearly political sensitivities at the time and British personnel were being restricted to the beach area on Bali. That is not in itself surprising in view of the losses being suffered elsewhere in the DEI at the time. Best to wait and see what the reception was going to be like.

    The story of the transfer of the LST to the Dutch Navy now seems to me more about a cover story to give the impression to locals of a wholly Dutch operation.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
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  15. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

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  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    I think the footage of the frigate / destroyer is too indistinct to tell. Might be better photos of that class of ship on the second link.

    Returning to the cited source for HMS Eck I notice several items:
    From: HMS Loch Eck, frigate, later HMNZS Hawae

    If this record is correct then HMS Eck was not involved in the Bali landings, with Dutch troops. Nor was the Japanese surrender in March 1946. Puzzling, unless this is an edited history to conceal HMS Eck's presence.

    The cited source has an explanation as to credibility and source material in 1996:
    From: HMS Loch Achray and other Loch-class frigates in Dutch East Indies, post August 1945

    Now to the cited press report, dated 5/3/1946:
    From: AIR OF CALM OVER BALI, BUT PROBLEMS AHEAD FOR DUTCH - Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) - 5 Mar 1946

    Note Royal Navy landing ships, not transferred to the Dutch Navy.

    There are traces of a Royal Canadian Navy officer, Horatio Nelson Lay, serving in WW2 and he was a Captain after January 1945, whose ship, a RN aircraft carrier HMS Nabob, with Canadian crew was sunk in 1944 and Wiki refers to:
    From: Lay, Horatio Nelson - TracesOfWar.com ; Capt. Horatio Nelson Lay , OBE of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) - Allied Warship Commanders of WWII - uboat.net and Horatio Nelson Lay (admiral)

    Personally the press reporter was using some licence, let alone the wrong rank. Could the Canadian navy officer have been there?
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
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  17. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    It is not the cruiser Tromp. See below for a 1945 photo.

    Nor her sister Jacob Van Heemskerk.

    I'm seeing 2 gun mounts aft not one as in Van Galen & Tjerk Hiddes. Also the platform between the two sets of torpedo tubes is too large for the N class destroyers while there is not enough immediately aft of the funnel for there to be a quad pom-pom.

    On thinking further it might be the Dutch Kortenaer (ex HMS Scorpion) or Evertsen (ex HMS Scourge) which had commissioned into the RNethN in Oct & Dec 1945. But not Banckert (ex HMS Quilliam) which retained her sloped tripod mast at this time or Piet Hein (ex HMS Serapis) which had a shorter lattice mast. All were around the DEI in this period. The directors at the back of the bridge look a bit too stacked up for a Ca.

    Evertsen in 1951 not much changed from her wartime days.
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  18. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    From the "Loch Class Frigates" by Patrick Bomiface, HMS Loch Eck (not HMS Eck) sailed from Singapore on 8th Feb to Surabaya to replace Loch Scavaig, with reporters and newsmen aboard to record the formal surrender of Bali which took place on 24th Feb. Then she continued to operate around Surabaya and Bali until taking the surrender of Japanese forces on Lombok on 18th March. Then it was back to Singapore via Macassar & Surabaya.

    As I previously noted the Dutch batt landed on Lombok on 27th March.

    For Loch Scavaig it notes she "arrived at Sourabaya on 28th January and then arrived at the regions capital Bali. Her first patrol started the very next day." After that she patrolled waters off Surabaya and Semerang before arriving back at Singapore on 12th Feb.

    It looks like the process was the formal surrender of the Japanese to British SEAC representatives followed by a handover approx 10 days later to the Dutch troops.

    The politics of the whole surrender period were complicated as the British had insufficient troops to immediately occupy all of the expanded SEAC area on 15 August 1945. That previously agreed expansion, against Mountbatten's wishes, just happened to coincide with the Japanese surrender. On top of that the MacArthur wouldn't let any local surrenders take place until the main surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay on 2nd Sept 1945. That itself was delayed for a couple of weeks due to typhoon weather around Japan. For Britain, France and Netherlands that left a period of limbo in which various nationalist forces organised to try to gain their independence. And the USA certainly didn't make life easy for the Colonial powers to regain their territory. Britain had to rely on instructing the Japanese to maintain order until they could get there.
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  19. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    From Navy List 1945, Commanding Officer of LST3502 was Lt Cdr J C H Nelson, RN

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  20. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Thank you David and Ewen and Tim for your replies, which I will study.

    Here's another profile of the Tromp, given to my late father when he was a Liaison Officer on the Van Galen, September 1945 to April 1946. I have some photos of him patrolling ashore somewhere. I know far more about the French submarine he was on. He didn't say much about the Far East: too upset , I rather think, to want to remember much because his brother was a POW who was killed when the Hofuku Maru sank in September, 1944.


    Attached Files:

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