Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
Borneo Island is part of the Greater Sunda Islands (Greater Sundas). Also known as simply Borneo. Prewar, Borneo was divided between the Dutch and British into three regions: Sarawak, North Borneo (British North Borneo) and Borneo. Today, the northern and western parts of Borneo are Malaysia known as "Malaysian Borneo". The southern portion is part of Indonesia known as "Indonesian Borneo". A small area of northwest Borneo is Brunei (Sultanate of Brunei). To the north and west borders the South China Sea. To the northeast borders the Sulu Sea and beyond the Philippines. To the east borders the Celebes Sea and beyond Sulawesi (Celebes). To the south borders the Java Sea and beyond Java.

Wartime History
On December 16, 1941 when the Japanese first attacked Borneo, it was defended by a battalion of Punjabi infantry. The small force of Allied aircraft could do little against greatly superior Japanese air power. Allied naval strength in the area consisted of only 9 cruisers, 23 destroyers, and 36 submarines. Although no match for the vastly superior Japanese Fleet, the Allied warships attacked repeatedly.

On January 24, 1942 during the early morning, four Allied destroyers attacked a large convoy off Balikpapan during the Battle of Makassar Strait, the destroyers escaped unharmed after sinking four Japanese transports and a patrol ship and damaging other vessels. Subsequent engagements: Battle of Lombok Strait (February 18-19, 1942) and the Battle of the Java Sea (February 27) were not as successful for the Allies. Their losses from Japanese air and naval attacks were so severe that the surviving Allied warships were withdrawn from the Java Sea to Tjilatjap (Chilachap) on the south coast of Java. On February 28, 1942 two Allied cruisers, USS Houston and USS Perth were attempting to escape southward through the Sunda Strait, and ran into the Japanese invasion armada assaulting Batavia (Jakarta). Both cruisers were sunk after sinking three Japanese transports. Afterwards, the surviving Allied aircraft and warships were evacuated to Australia. On March 9, 1942 the Dutch surrendered the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) to the Japanese.

By late 1944, Borneo was targeted by Allied aircraft. Because Commonwealth air forces were not allowed to use the liberated U.S. American airfields in the Philippines they wanted to liberate airfields in Borneo to use as staging areas for their next planned operation to liberate Singapore. Between May 1945 until July 1945, the Australian Army 1st Corps commanded by Lt. General Morshead landed on Borneo in a campaign dubbed the "forgotten war" because it is often overlooked, happened in the final months of the Pacific War and because the invasion was largely a result of rivalries between Allied Generals and was related to future campaigns that never came to fruition before Japan surrendered in September 1945.

Brunei (Sultanate of Brunei)
Brunei (Sultanate of Brunei)  located in northwest Borneo.

Malaysia Borneo (East Malaysia)
Sarawak State  city and airfield on the northwestern coast.
Sabah State  located on the northeastern coast of Borneo.

Indonesian Borneo
North Kalimantan (Kalimantan Utara)  northeastern portion of Indonesian Borneo.
East Kalimantan Province (Kalimantan Timur)  eastern side of southern Indonesian Borneo.
South Kalimantan Province (Kalimantan Timur)  southeast tip of Indonesian Borneo
Central Kalimantan Province (Kalimantan Tengah)  southern tip of Indonesian Borneo
West Kalimantan Province (Kalimantan Barat)  southwest tip of Indonesian Borneo

Australian Army Campaign on Borneo

Contribute Information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
March 9, 2021


  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram