1° 16' 60S Long 116° 49' 60E Balikpapan is located on the southeast coast of Borneo. Borders Balikpapan Harbor to the west. To the east is Manggar and Sepiinggang. Prewar and during the Pacific war part of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Today located in East Kalimantan Province on Borneo in Indonesia.
On February 10, 1897 the first small oil drilling and refinery was built at this location by Dutch company Mathilda. Soon afterwards, Dutch company Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM) arrived and built roads, wharves, warehouses and offices and houses to support larger scale drilling and refining of petroleum in the area.
During the middle of December 1941, USN Patrol Wing 10 briefly operated from Balikpapan after retreating from Cavite. On January 22, 1942 the Japanese occupied Balikpapan to seize the oil fields and refineries and harbor area.
In early 1942, U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-17s bombed Balikpapan Harbor targeting shipping. After Allied defeats in the region, no Allied bombers were within range of the area. For the remainder of 1942 until the middle of 1943, the Japanese operated were beyond the range of any Allied aircraft. On August 14, 1943 nine B-24 Liberators from the 380th Bombardment Group bombed the refinery and Balikpapan Harbor with more raids over the next several days. These long range raids temporarily halted production and destroyed fuel stores. By late 1944 Balikpapan was again within range of B-24 Liberators escorted by fighters and was again targeted.
Allied missions against Balikpapan
February 3, 1942–July 11, 1945
On July 1, 1945 "Operation Oboe Two" the U. S. Navy (USN) conducted an amphibious landing of the Australian Army 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades with support troops a few miles north of Balikpapan and liberated the area.
Roc Nicholas adds:
"My father was
in the Navy assigned to a barge called a Yard
Repair (YR). He said he had to keep some refrigerators running
on the island of Balikpapan. He also
told me that there was Japanese bank there.
After the take over of the island he and his friend stopped a passing
tank and asked the sergeant if he would do them a favor a blow a
hole through the door of the bank, he said sure why not. So he turned
the turret around and blew a hole through the door, wall and back wall
of the bank he said the round went skipping across the water. After
thanking the sergeant they went into the bank and found Japanese
script (funny money) lots of it. He said there was no where to spend
it. So he kept a lot of it and handed it out to his friends he said
he thinks he still might have some laying around. He will let us
know if he finds it. He also said that the locals would float old
sunken boats and barges and clean the engines out crank them up then
make houses out of them. He went tiger hunting on a few of
them up river. He then was reassigned to another PT boat and finished
out the war in the Philippines."
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September 29, 2019