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    Balikpapan East Kalimantan Province | Borneo Indonesia
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USN July 1, 1945
Lat 1° 16' 60S Long 116° 49' 60E Balikpapan is located at an elevation of 3' above sea level on the southeast coast of Borneo. Borders Balikpapan Harbor to the west. To the east is Manggar and Sepiinggang and borders the Makassar Strait. 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.

Wartime History
During the middle of December 1941, USN Patrol Wing 10 briefly operated from Balikpapan after retreating from Cavite. On January 23, 1942 at 8:45pm the Japanese invasion force arrives southeast of Balikpapan and by 9:30pm begins landing without opposition the "Sakaguchi Brigade" including the 56th Mixed Infantry Group and Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (No. 2 SNLF). On January 24, 1942 after a brief battle with the small Dutch garrison and by evening occupied Balikpapan and the nearby oil fields that were only partially demolished by the Dutch and occupied Balikpapan Harbor.

Starting on January 29, 1942 U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed Japanese occupied Balikpapan Harbor targeting shipping. After Allied defeats in the region, no Allied aircraft were within range of the area until the middle of 1943. 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
January 29, 1942–July 11, 1945

On June 30, 1945 a U. S. Navy (USN) Task Group 78.4 arrives off Balikpapan and begins a pre-invasion shore bombardment. The force includes USS Cleveland (CL-55) with General Douglas Macarthur aboard to observe the operation.

On July 1, 1945 "Operation Oboe Two" U. S. Navy (USN) lands the Australian Army 7th Division including the 18th Infantry Brigades, 21st Infantry Brigades and 25th Infantry Brigades plus support troops a few miles north of Balikpapan then advance to 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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Last Updated
June 30, 2020


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