Japanese forces under British command in Java, late '45 (novel)

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by Rory Marron, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Rory Marron

    Rory Marron New Member


    I am the author of BLACK SUN, RED MOON: A NOVEL OF JAVA (BSRM) and it's second and final part, MERDEKA RISING (MR). My story is based upon the (documented) use by Britain of surrendered Japanese forces alongside British, Indian and Gurkha units (23rd Indiand Div) against Indonesian nationalist forces during the Indonesian revolution in late 1945 and early 1946. BSRM was published in August 2013 and MR in December 2013.

    BSRM/MR is general 'adventure fiction' but it is based upon considerable historical research and interviews in the UK, the Netherlands and Japan (much of it related to my PhD topic). Reviews on Amazon and elsewhere— ArRSe the British Army Rumour Service, for example—have been positive, so I thought I would make myself available to answer questions about this little-known post-script to WW2. Japanese casualties under British command were not inconsiderable (approximately 1,000). It may surprise members that one Japanese major was recommended for a DSO by General Sir Philip Christison in November 1945. It was denied but as they say, 'it's the thought that counts'.

    Use by the British of Japanese forces for 'security duties' in French Indo-China is better known. Their 'peacekeeping' role in Java is less well known. There were similar occurances in Burma and Thailand, which I am researching for a non-fiction account I hope to publish next year, so if anyone has information or photographs I would be grateful if they would share it with me. (The Chinese Red Army also contained surrendered Japanese units until c. 1949.)

    I look foward to any questions (and comments about any errors over kit and armaments!)

    Note to moderator: BSRM has not been reviewed on this forum. I am aware that I am expected to provide a copy. I have tried to use the 'contact us' link to obtain the relevant address but got an error message saying 'please bear with us'. I would also be grateful if you could place this post in Books and Films and on the Far East page. RM.
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  3. Rory Marron

    Rory Marron New Member

    Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that article. In fact it was an earlier article (also in the Daily Telegraph about a surrender sword) that started my own quest for information about events in Java. Tthat article is reproduced [with permission from the DT] on my website.)

    Java was occupied by the Japanese in nine days. Huge amounts of Dutch and some British equipment and weapons were captured. Vehicles such as armoured cars were used by the Japanese. Much of the Dutch (KNIL) small arms was later issued to the PETA Indonesia, a Japanese-trained militia, which was created in the expectaton that it would assist the Japanese in the defence of Java. There were 66 PETA battalions in Java as at 15 August 1945. The Dutch had never trained Javanese (ie, Muslim) forces, only Ambonese (Christian) in the Indies. When the Japanese surrendered, although they managed to disarm the PETA, there remained a core of well-trained men and youths who were very familiar with weapons and equipment (such as artillery, light tanks and armoured cars) who could then train the masses of volunteers who joined the revolutionary cause. (I have a photo of Indonesians inspecting Marmon-Herrington armoured cars in Japanese livery that had become the property of 'the revolution'.) The PETA became the revolutionary BKA, renamed the TKR and, finally, the TNI, so it was the embryo of Indonesia's armed forces today. It was the PETA legacy that caused the British so much trouble in Java. Once the Japanese armouries were seized by the BKR and mobs in, for example, Surabaya in October 1945, the British were guaranteed a hot reception. The tragedy for 49 Indian Brigade was that they had no knowledge that the Japanese in Surabaya had capitulated to revolutionary forces shortly before they landed. The Brigade was virtually annihilated: over 430 dead in three days, including Brigadier Mallaby, its commander.

  4. ethan

    ethan Member

    I assume you've read 'The Admiral's Baby'?
  5. Rory Marron

    Rory Marron New Member

    Yes, I've read 'The Admiral's Baby'. I have also read 'Storyteller', which exposes Van der Post as an utter fantasist. Let's just say he is 'unreliable'. In my own research I have found some of his statements to be dodgy (for example wrong names, wrong locations, missing individuals who played important roles). I sometimes found VDP's name in the dozens of files (and thousands of signals/reports) I read about Java. I don't doubt most of the facts but there are serious doubts that they are 'his' facts. But it is an entertaning read and he provides good colour.
  6. ethan

    ethan Member

    Whilst LVDP's fabrications are plain enough sometimes, the biography is an absolute hatchet job, and I am particularly skeptical about the accusations Jones makes about LVDP fabricating his rank. I hope that in time a more even- handed job will be done.

    Anyway, an interesting topic.
  7. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

    Actually I am researching the Bersiap period on especially Mid-Java including the use of Japanese forces. At the moment I am busy translating an Indonesian thesis into English. But I will PM you later.
  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I note that the second post's author refers to:
    I do not doubt the fighting in Surubaya was tough; caveat aside Antony Brett-James' semi-official history of the 5th Indian Division, refers to the fighting and states the 49th Brigade had:
    Link: Anthony Brett-James. Ball of Fire. Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War. 1951. Chapter 32. Epilogue. Appendices.

    That from my armchair and knowledge of a WW2 infantry brigade is not 'virtually annihilated'.

    Louis Heren, a British soldier, then serving in Force 136 in Surabaya refers to Brigadier Mallaby's death as a "turning point":
    Link: The Death Knell of the British Empire | Standpoint
  9. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

    The 49th Brigade was in no way annihilated or demoralished. When they were relieved most of them were flown to Semarang. From here the were driven directly from the airport to the frontline at Ambarawa.

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