The Battle of Java Sea

As the battered Langley was disappearing beneath the water, the fate of Java was approaching its decision. The Japanese were already on Bali and it was probably from its airfield that the planes came to sink our aircraft tender with her precious load of planes.

The Japanese had lost no time in reinforcing their troops on the island. On February 24th it was learned that an enemy convoy had sailed from Makassar, evidently bound for Bali, where it could be expected to arrive on the 25th. Our striking force was not at the moment in a position to intercept these ships, so that the task fell to our submarines. On the night of the 24th Salmon reported the convoy heading westward near the Paternoster Islands and also reported gunfire off the northeast coast of Soembawa. We had no surface forces in the vicinity, so that the occasion for the firing remains a mystery. On the night of the 25th Seawolf saw a landing on the southeast coast of Bali and made a dawn attack. The British Truant also reported the enemy landing but apparently did not attack. Spearfish attacked two cruisers near Debril Rock and was very severely depth charged in return. The Japanese were now well established in Bali with only a narrow channel between them and Java and with an airfield within easy flying distance of Soerabaja.

The chief threat to Java, however, was developing in the northeast. A large expedition was being prepared in both Makassar Straits and in the Molucca Sea for a descent upon the northeast coast of Java. Simultaneously a second expedition was assembling near Banka for a landing on northwest Java, probably near Priok.

This was the situation when General Wavell left Java and Admiral Helfrich took upon his shoulders the naval defense of the remnants of the Dutch Empire.

Admiral Helfrich set about his desperate task with energy and courage. He had already ordered the Langley and Seawitch with their cargoes of fighter planes to be diverted from their Ceylon-bound convoy to Java. He ordered the few mines that the Dutch had left to be laid along the north coast, centering on Rembang. (It was possibly this hastily laid


field that cost us the British destroyer Jupiter on the night of the 27th-28th.) All available submarines were ordered into the Java Sea and were drawn into close-in defensive positions. The Dutch 0-19, K-8, K-10, the United States S-37 and S-38, and the British Truant were able to arrive at once. The S-37 was assigned patrol between the western entrance to Soerabaja and Bawean. Truant was assigned a patrol northwest of Soerabaja, near the 112th meridian, K-10 was sent north of Madoera, and the remaining submarines were stationed as follows:

American experience since the invasion of the Philippines had indicated the difficulty of attacking the Japanese close-in and the move further had the effect of depriving us of scouting information from our submarines. It seemed unlikely that our undersea craft could seriously impede the Japanese.

A western striking force had been formed at Priok, chiefly of British ships withdrawn from convoy duty. Five of these were ordered to Soerabaja to reinforce Admiral Doorman's eastern striking force, but the rest were retained in the west to meet the enemy force gathering at Banka. These were the British light cruisers Dragon and Danae, the Australian Hobart and the British destroyers Tenedos and Scout.

On the 26th an RAF plane on reconnaissance reported a fleet of 20 transports protected by cruisers and destroyers near the east coast of Sumatra, about 100 miles north of Batavia. That night (February 26th-27th) our western striking force made a sweep near Banka Strait without making any contact, and returned to Priok on the 27th. That port had for some time been subjected to daily bombings, the fuel situation was acute, and the British were anxious to withdraw their ships. Admiral Helfrich at first intended to send these vessels to Tjilatjap, but consented to their sailing for Ceylon on the 27th.24 Unless their presence could have turned the scales, it is perhaps fortunate that they were not present to be caught in the final holocaust.


It was the attempt to stop the Japanese expedition coming in from the northeast that led to the Battle of the Java Sea.

Our striking force in the east was based on Soerabaja, where its position was highly precarious. The port was subjected to daily bombings, so that our ships had to keep to sea during the day, and, since a night landing was to be expected, they had to be active through the night. Thus our men entered the battle, when it came, without proper rest after days of work and tension. Neither could our ships fuel properly in Soerabaja, for the fuel lines to the docks had been ruptured by bombs.

These were not the only difficulties faced by Admiral Doorman's striking force. It was composed of ships of four nations which had had little opportunity of joint training or of working out common tactical doctrines. There was no opportunity to promulgate a well-considered plan of battle. Communication was inadequate and broke down completely during the battle. It was carried on by flashing light in plain English or by Dutch high-frequency radio to the Houston, which relayed to our destroyers. Lieut. Otto Kolb, communication officer for Commander Destroyer Squadron 29, was on board the De Ruyter and his work made this system possible. "There were no common flag signals or signal books available, nor were there any tactical plans save of a most rudimentary nature."25

On February 25th word was received from General MacArthur that on the 20th nearly 100 Japanese ships had assembled at Jolo. The same day (25th) a reconnaissance plane reported about 80 ships (evidently the same force) on a southerly course in the Strait of Makassar. Unfortunately the reporting plane was attacked and shot down before it could transmit further details.

On the 25th it was learned also that a small force of the enemy had landed on the Bawean Islands, less than 100 miles north of the entrance to Soerabaja. The S-38 was ordered to bombard the position and did so effectively, firing her entire supply of 4-inch ammunition, with the radio station as her primary target. The night of the 25th Admiral Doorman with the Dutch ships, the Houston, and five American destroyers, made a sweep east along the north coast of Madoera in the hope of intercepting the transports reported near the Bawean Islands. No contact was made and he returned to port the following morning.


The main enemy force was definitely located on the 26th. Apparently it had come through Makassar Strait and was on a southwesterly course near the Arends Islands (off the southeast coast of Borneo).26 The southwesterly course suggested that the landing might be attempted west of Toeban, rather than on Madoera as the Dutch had anticipated. This would avoid our submarine concentration northeast of Madoera, so that a few were shifted in order to keep a strong force between the Bawean and Karimoen Djawa Islands. As a further precaution three Dutch motor torpedo boats were stationed off Toeban and three off Madoera. It was this approach of the enemy convoy which led to the decision to bring the Langley into Tjilatjap by daylight in spite of the risk involved.

Admiral Doorman was informed that at 1155 (Java Time, Zone -7½) an enemy force consisting of 30 transports protected by 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers was at position 04°50' S., 114°20' E., course 240° T., speed 10 knots. "He was directed to proceed to sea, attack after dark, then retire toward Tandjong Priok." Subsequently to these instructions was added: "You must continue attacks until the enemy is destroyed."27

The British vessels from Priok arrived at Soerabaja on the 26th, so that Admiral Doorman's striking force now consisted of the Dutch light cruisers De Ruyter (his flag) and Java, the American heavy cruiser Houston, the British heavy Exeter and the Australian light Perth. These were supported by the Dutch destroyers Kortenaer and Witte de With,28 the British Jupiter, Electra and Encounter, and five American destroyers, J. D. Edwards, Alden, Ford, Pope and Paul Jones.

The Houston's after turret was still out of commission as a result of the bomb hit early in the month. She had been on convoy duty but had been sent from Darwin to Java just in time to escape the bombing of the Australian port in which the Peary was lost. She arrived at Tjilatjap on the 21st and sailed the next day via Soenda Strait with Paul Jones and Alden. The three ships joined Doorman at Soerabaja on the 24th.

Five destroyers were all that we could contribute to the striking force. The Peary had been sunk at Darwin. The Stewart, after being hit in the Bali raid, had been put into drydock at Soerabaja. Due to improper


blocking she rolled over and damaged both herself and the dock. Japanese bombs inflicted further damage, so that she was ultimately lost. Barker and Bulmer, shaken up in the Gaspar Strait bombing, were en route to Australia with the Black Hawk. Whipple, which rescued survivors of the Langley and Pecos, had been damaged in a collision with the De Ruyter, which left her unfit for heavy duty. The Edsall had dropped a depth charge at too slow a speed and was leaking badly as a result. Pillsbury and Parrott after participating in the Bali raid had been withdrawn from the striking force in urgent need of overhaul. Thus 8 of our original 13 destroyers could not be with the striking force.

Ford and Pope, arriving at Tjilatjap after the Bali raid, were sent to sea to meet the Black Hawk and receive 17 torpedoes-all that remained for our destroyers. They arrived in Soerabaja on the 24th and distributed their torpedoes in time for the Java Sea Battle. However, Pope was leaking badly in the hot-well, and the necessity for welding this prevented her taking part in the engagement on the 27th.

After receiving news of the position of the enemy convoy on the 26th Admiral Doorman held a conference in the afternoon at which it was decided to make another sweep to the eastward north of Madoera Island and then to proceed toward Batavia. "In case of contact British and Dutch destroyers were to attack at once and retire, then cruisers attack and retire, then United States destroyers come in and deliver a torpedo attack." Retirement was to be toward Priok.

The reason for this sweep to the eastward is not entirely clear. Perhaps Admiral Doorman expected that the Japanese would attempt a landing that night along the north coast of Madoera or Java. Probably he feared that if he turned north to search for and attack the convoy directly he might miss it altogether and arrive too late at the scene of the landing. As it turned out, the transports milled around near the Bawean Islands for 2 days before attempting to come in. The Japanese had previously employed similar tactics with success at other points in their advance into the Indies.

After requesting to be informed promptly of any reconnaissance reports which might come into Bandoeng, Admiral Doorman led our striking force out of Soerabaja on the evening of the 26th. His exit was somewhat delayed by the De Ruyter colliding with and sinking a tug and a water barge. Some time after 1900 he received a report that a Dutch


flying boat on reconnaissance near the Bawean Islands had been fired upon by two Japanese cruiser planes.

A much more significant item of information did not reach Admiral Doorman until very much later. At 1830 that evening, about the time that our striking force was coming out of the Westervaarwater, two United States Army bombers attacked the Japanese convoy northeast of Bawean Islands. Their report of its position was not received by the Commandant of the Soerabaja Naval District till 2200, after which it was relayed to Admiral Doorman.29 By the time he received this information Admiral Doorman must have been approaching Sapoedi Strait, which he had set as the eastern limit to his sweep. Upon reaching it at 0130 on the 27th, he turned westward.

By morning of the 27th our force was not far outside Soerabaja. At 0858 single planes flying high and fast dropped three bombs near Jupiter. A little later the Houston opened fire on a plane. No more bombs were dropped, but it appeared that the enemy was following our movements closely. Upon Admiral Doorman's reporting this incident the High Command ordered, "Notwithstanding the air attack you are to proceed eastward to search for and attack the enemy." To this Admiral Doorman replied, "Was proceeding eastwards after search from Sapoedi to Rembang. Success of action depends absolutely on getting good reconnaissance information in time, which last night failed me. Destroyers will have to refuel tomorrow."

During the forenoon our ships swept west almost to Mandalika. At 1240 Admiral Doorman reported, "Personnel have this forenoon reached the point of exhaustion." In the early afternoon our ships retired to Soerabaja to lie behind the mine fields. Our destroyers needed fuel, our men rest, and Admiral Doorman more recent information as to the position of the enemy. Only this last need was filled.

"By 5 p. m. local time on the 27th the enemy forces had been developed with reasonable accuracy," says Admiral Glassford. "It was known that a convoy of 39 to 45 transports, escorted by 2 or 3 cruisers and 8 to 12 destroyers, was in a position approximately 20 miles west of Bawean Island, 60 miles north of the west entrance to Soerabaja. It was


established furthermore that a strong covering force was then 35 to 40 miles southwest of Bawean. This force was partially developed by the British Exeter, Jupiter, and Electa, now joining Doorman from the West Java Sea.

The Exeter reported 1 enemy cruiser and 4 destroyers in this locality, and later 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers. The Electra reported 2 battleships (really heavy cruisers), 1 cruiser, and 6 destroyers; and later 1 cruiser and a large number of individual ships. The Jupiter made one report of scattered forces consisting of 4 cruisers and 14 destroyers.

Thus the two groups of the enemy, namely the convoy plus escort and the covering force to the southward of the convoy, were fairly well known and developed by early evening of the 27th.

Upon receipt of this additional information30 about 1500 Admiral Doorman turned in the channel of the mine field which our ships were just entering and signalled: "Am proceeding to intercept enemy unit. Follow me. Details later." So our striking force sortied for its last, fateful battle.

It is difficult to describe this battle accurately, for there are gaps in our information which cannot now be filled. Most of the vessels engaged did not survive to make a detailed report. Our knowledge of the engagement comes largely from the American destroyers, which alone of all the Allied ships engaged escaped afterwards. While their reports are excellent, they did not at all times have a complete view of the battle. Being out of communication with Admiral Doorman, our destroyer commanders had no means of knowing upon what information he was acting or what his intentions were. Finally, our destroyers were not present after 2100 and our information for this portion of the battle is derived chiefly from Dutch sources.31


The Battle of Java Sea

Contact with the enemy.

Our striking force stood out of Soerabaja on a northwest course in a sea made choppy by a 15-knot wind from the east. Visibility was unlimited until evening. The enemy was on the watch and his planes picked up our force at once. At 1530 Houston opened fire at planes nearly overhead, and our ships scattered. There was some overcast, so that the planes were not seen, but a minute later several heavy bombs fell 5,000 yards astern. Admiral Doorman requested fighter protection but it could not be spared. The Commander of Air Defense at Soerabaja required his eight remaining Brewster Buffaloes to escort the four dive bombers which were shortly to make an attack. The enemy made no further attack and our column reformed on course 320°, speed 18 knots.

Our cruisers were in column formation with De Ruyter in the lead, followed by Exeter, Houston, Perth, and Java in that order. Electra was ahead of the column, with Jupiter to the starboard and Encounter to port of the De Ruyter. The four American destroyers were in column astern, with the two Dutch destroyers about 4,000 yards to port of Edwards. The Dutch destroyers were endeavoring to work up to the van of the formation, where they belonged, but boiler trouble limited Kortenaer to about 24 knots and they were having little success. The American destroyers were laboring under contradictory orders. Their assigned position was on the disengaged bow of the cruisers, but at the same time they were under orders not to pass ahead of the Dutch destroyers. As a matter of fact, the Americans too had little speed to spare; with their old machinery, leaky condensers and fouled bottoms they had all they could do to keep up with the cruisers through the ensuing engagement.

At about 1600 the British destroyers sent contact reports, one of which mentioned two battleships. At 1611 our American destroyers sighted the enemy ships bearing between 315° and 340°, which put them only a few points on our starboard bow.32 Our ships went to general quarters and increased speed to 24 knots. Evidently we had run into the enemy's covering force, which was known to lie between us and the convoy.

The composition of the enemy force was not determined with complete accuracy. The battle opened "at extreme range of visibility," and later


Disposition of Enemy at First Contact

smoke obscured the view, but it appears that we had to deal with from 4 to 7 cruisers and 2 heavier ships described as battleships of either the Kongo or Ise class. Possibly these latter were in fact heavy cruisers.33 The other cruisers are variously described: There were 2 or 3 heavy cruisers of the Nati class, or possibly of the Atago class, which is quite


similar. Most accounts agree that there were also present 2 or 3 light cruisers of the Sendai class. Lt. Comdr. Lewis E. Coley of the Alden says that Nati class cruisers led the enemy line while some of the Kako class brought up the rear, and remarks that "the latter must have suffered heavy damage." These were accompanied by 13 destroyers in 2 flotillas of either 7 and 6 or 8 and 5 ships respectively.34 When first sighted these enemy cruisers were to the northwest of our force, while the 2 heavy ships were considerably farther east. The latter gradually came in and closed the range all through the battle.

The enemy opened fire at 1616. Our cruisers changed course to about 290° and replied a minute or two later, the Houston or Exeter first, followed shortly by the De Ruyter and Perth.35 On the Dutch destroyers it was thought that the Java too opened fire at this time. As the range was approximately 30,000 yards it seems doubtful that the 5.9 and 6-inch guns of the light cruisers were effective in the early stages of the action. As enemy shells began to come near our ships, Jupiter and Electra, which had come under fire from a Sendai class cruiser, left their exposed position for the disengaged side of our cruisers. The former took a station abeam the main body, or about 800 yards on the port bow of the Edwards.

The two cruiser columns36 moved on roughly parallel courses in a westerly or northwesterly direction with the Japanese vessels somewhat ahead of our own. From time to time our cruisers turned either toward


or away from the enemy, but it appears that in general the range diminished. Japanese fire was good, and they had the advantage of a seaplane overhead to spot for them.37 Six- and eight-inch splashes appeared around our cruisers. In this early stage the De Ruyter and Houston appeared to be bearing the brunt of the battle. At 1622 the first enemy salvo landed about 1,000 yards over the De Ruyter. At 1629 a salvo straddled that ship as did a second salvo a minute later. In another minute she appeared to be hit, though not seriously.38 The splashes around the Houston appeared to be from 6-inch shells, although the two hits she received during the battle were 8-inch. Shells were soon falling within a few yards of the Exeter. Lt. Comdr. Jacob E. Cooper of the Ford remarks that about every fourth Japanese salvo was a straddle. The spread of the salvos was very small.39 Our ships escaped serious damage only because, owing to the great range, the shells came down almost perpendicularly.

Meanwhile our American destroyers had worked up to a position about 3,000 yards on the disengaged quarter of the Java. In order to avoid being pocketed along the Java shore they stayed as close to the cruiser column as they dared. They kept the splashes of the overs fired at the Java and Houston about 1,000 yards on the starboard bow of the Edwards, leading our destroyer column, but occasional ricochet shells came close. Several large splashes were seen on the port bow of the Edwards, "apparently from single gun salvos of a battleship."

Good as was the Japanese fire, our own cruisers were doing better. Admiral Helfrich remarks that the Houston was firing five or six salvos a minute, while the De Ruyter was also maintaining a high rate of fire. In the early stages of the battle most of our shells were falling around two enemy cruisers, but one of our 6-inch cruisers was sending up splashes around an enemy destroyer. There does not appear to have been any plan of fire distribution, but since the enemy ships were somewhat ahead of ours and our heavy cruisers were near the middle of our column it seems that they were probably firing on the rear of the Japanese column. "At 1634 enemy gunfire appeared to decrease considerably,


and at 1635, plainly visible from Alden's bridge an explosion took place on the rear enemy cruiser (Kako class) and a column of smoke about 300 feet high rose into the air." 40 Lt. Comdr. Cooper of the Ford says that "during this time two columns of smoke were observed which appeared to be hits on the enemy by our main body."41

It was perhaps to cover their crippled cruisers and force us to open the range that the Japanese made a destroyer torpedo attack at 1634. Apparently it came from the direction of the enemy cruiser column now about 28,000 yards distant, bearing 325° T. But there is another possibility. While our cruisers were engaged in their gun duel, eight destroyers were observed laying a smoke screen across the horizon bearing about 295°. As our ships were then on course 290° this meant that the enemy destroyers were almost ahead of us some 24,000 yards distant.42 This destroyer attack was repulsed by gunfire, Perth hitting and possibly sinking an enemy destroyer.43 This circumstance seems to indicate that the attack must have come from the vicinity of the enemy cruisers, for Perth, near the rear of our column, could scarcely have hit a destroyer 24,000 yards ahead. Also, it appears that the Japanese purpose was to protect their cruisers by driving us to greater range, and to accomplish this the attack must have come from the north.

Retreat to the South: "Exeter" damaged, "Kortenaer" sunk

Apparently the battle continued for several minutes with the cruisers in parallel columns. At approximately 1645 Allied planes from Java attacked the enemy. The planes themselves could not be seen, but the geysers sent up by their bombs could be distinguished from the splashes of the shells from our cruisers.44 Sometime between 1645 and 1655 the


First Japanese Torpedo Attack


Java was hit, and immediately afterwards our cruisers turned by simultaneous movements to the left. This falling away to the southwest may have been to open the range, as one-gun salvos from the "battleships" continued to fall close astern of the Java, but it seems more likely that our ships turned to avoid torpedoes launched on their starboard bow.45

Situation at 1655

During the next half hour numerous torpedoes were seen. Some were undoubtedly launched by the enemy cruisers or destroyers, but it seems clear that we had come upon an enemy submarine group, too. At 1650 Jupiter turned sharply to starboard across the bow of Edwards, signalling "torpedo," and a few minutes later a torpedo passed astern of Edwards, between her and Ford. (At this time our destroyers were still in column on a west-northwest course, while our cruisers were coming toward them on a southwesterly course. See diagram.) About 1658 torpedoes and a periscope were reported on the Edwards' port quarter. Two minutes


later a "huge geyser of water resembling a torpedo explosion" shot up in the same vicinity. With it went debris and "two large pieces of metal observed falling end over end."46 There were no surface ships near the spot, so that it appeared that the enemy had hit one of his own submarines.47

After holding a southwesterly course for only a few minutes our cruisers again (at 1706) reformed their column on a course of about 290° and renewed the action. Almost at once one of our cruisers scored a hit on the stern of the foremost Japanese cruiser.48 It was perhaps about this time that the Houston received an 8-inch hit in the engine room and slowed for a moment. However, the shell did not explode and she was soon able to resume speed.

At about 1710 3 additional enemy cruisers and several destroyers were seen over the horizon on our starboard bow. At about the same time the two enemy destroyer flotillas of the force with which we were already engaged made an attack.49 While our cruisers were maneuvering to avoid their torpedoes the Exeter was hit in a boiler room by an 8-inch shell. It killed 14 men and cut out 6 of her 8 boilers, reducing her speed first to about 20, then to about 15 knots. At about the same time-it is not clear whether it was just before or after the Exeter was hit-our cruisers turned by individual movements to the south.50 As our ships


turned south the De Ruyter lagged behind to close the enemy, whose cruisers had turned behind a smoke screen and were moving toward us behind their attacking destroyers. Our cruisers opened a concentrated fire and the destroyers were driven back, but not before the De Ruyter had sunk one of them.

From the Ford, now on a southerly course,51 a torpedo was seen on the port quarter, overtaking and converging on the destroyer at about a 20° angle. Skillful maneuvering avoided the danger. At about the same time Edwards put her rudder hard left to avoid a torpedo ahead, and several torpedoes surfaced in the vicinity of our destroyers. The Kortenaer, which was about 700 yards to starboard of the Edwards, was caught in the starboard quarter at 1713 by a torpedo which came from behind.52 There was a "heavy, whitish explosion flinging debris 100 feet in the air. She heeled way over and yawed 90° to the right. She poised momentarily and then turned turtle and folded up like a jackknife so that bow and stern came together. The stern end sank at once and the bow within 50 seconds of the original explosion. Men were blown high in the air and several jumped into the water or scrambled up her side as she heeled over. No survivors could be seen in the water."53

The torpedo which sank the Kortenaer, like the one dodged by Ford, came from the north, that is, from the direction of the enemy battle line. But others, like the one avoided by the Edwards, came from the west. The danger continued for several minutes. At 1721 a submarine was sighted to port of the Edwards and shortly afterward a torpedo was seen coming from the same direction.


Loss of the Kortenaer

It was apparently after the sinking of the Kortenaer that the Exeter slowed seriously and our formation fell into confusion. The enemy closed in from the north to take advantage of the situation. Commander Eccles of the Edwards remarks, "It appeared that the striking force had suffered heavy damage and that the enemy was pushing home an attack to drive us east." A diagram accompanying the Alden report tends to confirm this, but one accompanying the Edwards report shows the enemy cruisers and "battleships" working around to the east of our force. Since their convoy lay to the northeast, this would have been a logical maneuver. Moreover, the coast of Java, to which we were quite close at this time, runs northwest in this region, so that by driving us west the Japanese might have pocketed our force along the shore.

Our column reforms.

But our confusion did not last long. While our destroyers laid smoke to cover our cruisers Admiral Doorman reformed his column. At 1726


Our Column Reforms

he signaled for all ships to follow the De Ruyter, and the other cruisers, minus the Exeter, fell in behind him. Perth, followed by Electra and Encounter, delayed only long enough to dash between the Exeter and the advancing enemy line to cover the crippled cruiser with smoke, after which she fell in behind the others.54 The Exeter started to withdraw slowly to the south. At this point there was another heavy explosion 2,000 yards on the Edwards' starboard bow. Several torpedo tracks were seen from Witte de With, and a torpedo exploded to starboard, then another to port, as they finished their runs. The Dutch destroyer dropped several depth charges, indicating that submarines were in the vicinity.


The enemy, however, was pressing his advantage and was sending in his destroyers to finish off the Exeter. Only the British destroyers were in a position to intercept them. About 1730 the De Ruyter signaled "Counterattack." Electra hoisted "TOR I" and entered the smoke to attack. As she swung to starboard she met three enemy destroyers coming toward her through the smoke. All four destroyers opened fire. Electra scored four hits on one of the Japanese ships, but was herself badly hit in return. One shell entered her boiler room, while another demolished her steering engine. She stopped and lay helpless. The destroyer she had hit turned away and broke off the engagement, but the remaining two poured shell after shell into the British destroyer, coming so close that even their machine guns could be used. Many survivors of the Electra were wounded in the water.55

Counter Attack by British Destroyers

Jupiter followed Electra into the smoke. By the time she reached the spot where her sister ship had last been seen, the Electra had disappeared


and Jupiter found only two enemy destroyers, now apparently starting an attack on the Exeter. Jupiter opened fire and the two Japanese ships turned away and disappeared in the smoke and the failing light.

The Exeter, which had had her guns trained to port on the approaching Nati cruisers, now turned them to starboard and opened fire on the Sendai class cruiser which was supporting the destroyer attack. The Japanese ship promptly turned away and disappeared in the smoke.

Witte de With, which was ordered by Admiral Doorman to escort the Exeter to Soerabaja, now saw on her starboard quarter a Japanese destroyer engaging one of the British and opened fire. The Japanese ship shifted her fire from the British to the Dutch destroyer. In the brief exchange which followed, Witte scored two hits before her opponent turned away. Witte was not hit, but she suffered extensive damage when one of her own depth charges fell overboard and exploded close astern.

The American destroyers apparently did not participate in this counterattack. At 1728 they had started laying a smoke screen to protect the other cruisers and probably were not in a position to meet this attack which seems to have been aimed at the Exeter.56

Admiral Doorman meanwhile had gathered his cruisers into column on a southeasterly course, then turned north toward the enemy to renew the engagement. Probably his object was to draw the Japanese away from the Exeter. As he was making this turn (about 1745), our cruisers opened fire with their antiaircraft batteries and a stick of bombs fell 1,000 yards to port of our destroyers. Five minutes later two more sticks fell near our ships without doing any damage. Furthermore, splashes from enemy 6-inch shells were drawing close and were straddling just astern of the Edwards. Torpedo tracks were seen now and again.

But our cruisers had emerged from the smoke and were again slinging shells at the enemy at a range of about 18,000 yards. "Their fire was particularly effective, as fire was seen on one of the enemy battleships and two fires noted on one of the enemy cruisers. These did not appear to have been brought under control as long as we could see them."57

The De Ruyter's short-wave radio had been damaged and hand signal lamps were the only means by which Admiral Doorman could com-


municate with his force. On board the Houston, too, the T. B. S.,58 upon which our destroyers relied for communication, had cut out. As one of our destroyer commanders remarks, henceforward "the crystal ball was our only method of anticipating the intention of Commander Combined Striking Force."

At 1806 a signal came by flashing light from the De Ruyter: "Counterattack." Our destroyers were preparing to carry out this order when Admiral Doorman signaled, "Cancel counterattack."59 and then "Make smoke." Our destroyers again laid smoke to cover the retirement of the Exeter and perhaps to cover our cruiser column. While they were thus engaged Admiral Doorman signaled, "Cover my retirement."

The reason for this order, when our cruisers were more than holding their own, is not entirely clear, but it appears that Admiral Doorman was anxious to break off the engagement in order to go after his real objective, the enemy transports.60 It was now growing dark and visibility had decreased to about 15 miles, so that he might be able to slip into the convoy under cover of darkness.

When they received this order the four American destroyers were between our cruiser line and the enemy. To Comdr. Binford a torpedo attack seemed the most effective means of covering our retirement. Breaking out of the smoke they had just laid, our destroyers saw the Japanese battle line some 22,000 yards distant on the starboard bow.61 They closed the range to 14,000 or 15,000 yards before firing their starboard torpedo broadside at 1822. The enemy cruisers attempted to stop them by gunfire, but their shells were falling about 800 yards short. As these first torpedoes hit the water there was a large explosion on "the right hand" enemy ship, apparently the result of our cruisers' gunfire. Our destroyers then turned by a column movement and fired their port torpedoes at 1827. Lt. Comdr. Coley of the Alden remarks that at this


time "the rear ship of the enemy column appeared to be on fire aft, and to have a fire in her high forward turret or superstructure."62

At 1831 there was a signal from the De Ruyter, "Follow me." Our destroyers turned under cover of smoke, crossed under the stern of our cruiser column and took a position on their disengaged quarter on a course between east and northeast. Comdr. Binford reported to Admiral Helfrich that all our torpedoes had been expended.

Torpedo Attack by United States Destroyers

This torpedo attack had been made at long range with the object of forcing the enemy to turn back. In this it was successful, for "immediately after our torpedo attack the two Japanese heavy cruisers turned by column movement to the north."63 Lt. Comdr. Coley remarks, "It is


definitely considered that the Exeter was saved by this attack." It was too much to hope for a hit at the distance at which our torpedoes were fired, and yet about 1830, approximately 10 minutes after our starboard broadside, a large explosion was seen in the Japanese battle line and it seemed very probable that a torpedo had found its mark.

Thrust to the north.

Within a few minutes the opening range and poor visibility forced an end to our cruiser gun action as we moved off on a northeasterly course. Our destroyers trailed. "Darkness set in and we followed the main body endeavoring to regain station, and having not the slightest idea as to his [Doorman's] plans and still only a vague idea to what the enemy was doing."64

The withdrawal of the enemy was at once reported to Admiral Helfrich by Admiral Doorman, who at the same time asked for further information as to the location of the enemy transports. This request indicates that he had not received the 1805 report. It is possible that it was again sent to him in reply, for he changed course to lead his ships to the northwest toward this last reported position of the convoy. But the men in our destroyers could only guess his intention. "There were no more signals and no one could tell what the next move would be. Attempts were made to communicate again with Houston and De Ruyter with no results."65

If Admiral Doorman hoped to avoid the enemy cruisers in this thrust at the transports he was disappointed. Japanese planes followed our course with flares, thus eliminating any chance of a surprise attack, and we made intermittent contacts with enemy warships during the entire run. At 1902, while our force was on a course of 290°, enemy ships, perhaps the ones with which we had just broken off our engagement, were observed on bearing 240°.66 Our striking force changed course to the north. At 1912 the Japanese were reported bearing 212° T. from us and gunfire was seen again.


Our ships pulled away and again lost contact with the enemy for several minutes, but about 1930 planes dropped eight green parachute flares over our column, apparently to mark its position for their cruisers. Four ships now appeared on our port bow, bearing about 300° T. It seems scarcely possible that this was the same group encountered a few minutes earlier. It may be that our previous contacts had been with a covering force while this last was possibly with a screening force close to the convoy. The De Ruyter signaled, "Target to port." Our cruisers sent over a few star shells and opened fire. The engagement was brisk but lasted only a few minutes. Admiral Doorman's objective was the convoy and he was probably not anxious to reengage enemy warships.When flashes in the enemy's direction indicated that the Japanese were firing torpedoes our column turned away to the east, and soon afterward a succession of small changes of course brought us again toward the south.

Why Admiral Doorman so easily abandoned this attempt to reach the convoy is not clear. To the men on our destroyers, struggling at full speed to keep their position, it appeared that he was retiring to Soerabaja. Actually his intention, as it subsequently appeared, was either to sweep westward along the north coast of Java to intercept an enemy landing, or to attempt to get around the enemy covering force to the southward.

About the time our striking force turned back to the south, Rear Admiral Pieter Koenraad, Commandant of the Soerabaja Naval District, received a report from a United States Army bomber which had attacked the convoy that evening at 1700. At that time there were 45 transports, 3 cruisers, and 12 destroyers on a westerly course 20 miles west of Bawean. This was approximately the same position in which they had been found at about 1350 that afternoon. The news was forwarded to Admiral Doorman, but presumably he was already well on his way south when he received it.

Enemy planes continued to follow our movements-as indeed they did the rest of the night. At 2009, while our ships were on a southerly course, a single flare was dropped above them. One of our cruisers, seemingly the Houston, fired star shells, but nothing was to be seen. A few minutes later (at 2023) what appeared to be four enemy destroyers were observed on our port bow. It was thought that they fired torpedoes and our ships turned left to avoid them. Again at 2043 it was reported that torpedoes were fired, on our starboard bow this time, and course was altered to 175°.


Escape of United States Destroyers through Bali Strait

Retirement of American destroyers; loss of "Jupiter".

By 2100 our striking force was again near the coast of Java, between Soerabaja and Toeban. Our destroyers had not had opportunity to take on fuel the preceding afternoon, and their supply was low. After 24 hours of high-speed steaming they were experiencing increasing difficulty in keeping up with the cruisers. Comdr. Binford says, "Realizing that I had no more torpedoes and that further contact with the enemy would be useless, since my speed and gunpower were less than anything I would encounter . . . I retired to Soerabaja, which was about 50 miles away."

This retirement of Division 58 did not escape the notice of the enemy, for as our destroyers were entering the channel in the mine field a plane dropped a flare above them. While they were still in the channel orders came from Admiral Doorman to retire to Batavia and to receive orders later for torpedo replacements. Comdr. Binford replied that it was impossible to get through to Batavia and that he was entering Soerabaja to fuel, after which he would proceed as directed. He never received another message from the commander of the striking force.

Pope, which had completed repairs and had been standing outside the mine field waiting for an opportunity to join our striking force, was ordered to return to Soerabaja with our other destroyers. The Exeter and Witte de With were already there when our ships tied up at Holland Pier and started fueling. They left the pier and returned to the anchorage well before morning brought the daily air raid.

After the departure of the American destroyers the remaining ships of our striking force turned westward along the north coast of Java. They were in a single column led by Encounter, followed by De Ruyter, Perth, Houston, Java, and Jupiter. They had been on this westerly course for about 20 minutes when at 2125 there was an underwater explosion on Jupiter's starboard side abreast her engine room and she flashed a signal to the Java, "Jupiter torpedoed."67

A survivor describes the situation: "We had not blown up. We had not sunk. We had, in fact, just stopped, and the same oppressive silence of a ship in dock during the night watches descended on us." There was ample time for the launching of boats and rafts, but before the boats


could return from the beach for a second load the destroyer heeled over to port and sank at about 0130. A detachment of the Dutch Army on guard along the coast came to the aid of the survivors.68

Loss of "De Ruyter" and "Java."

Immediately after the loss of the Jupiter our striking force turned north. At 2217 it again passed the spot where the Kortenaer had gone down that afternoon, and survivors of the Dutch destroyer saw our cruisers foam past at high speed. Encounter was ordered to stop and picked up 113 men of the Kortenaer's crew of 153. It was at first intended to take them to Batavia, but upon learning of a strong Japanese force to the west the captain returned to Soerabaja.

The cruisers of our striking force were now left without any destroyer protection whatever. This dangerous situation was aggravated by the fact that enemy planes continued to light their course with flares. But Admiral Doorman's orders were, "You must continue attacks until the enemy is destroyed," and he pressed on north with a grim determination to reach the enemy convoy.

It is doubtful if he ever knew how close he did come to reaching it in this last magnificent attempt. The convoy had in fact remained in the area west or southwest of Bawean. At 1850 a PBY from Patrol Wing TEN had taken off to shadow it in the bright moonlight. At 1955 this plane saw star shells above 3 cruisers and 8 destroyers on a northerly course about 30 miles southwest of Bawean. As these appeared to be our own striking force no contact report was made.69 At 2235 our PBY found the convoy southwest of Bawean. Twenty-eight ships were counted in 2 groups, escorted by a cruiser and a destroyer. At this moment Admiral Doorman was headed toward this very spot, but it is doubtful if he ever received our plane's report. It reached the Commander of the Naval Forces at Soerabaja at 2352, after which it was sent on to the commander of our striking force; but by that time both the De Ruyter and Java were already beneath the waters of the Java Sea. At 2315 the De Ruyter signalled, "Target at port four points." In that direction were seen two cruisers which opened fire from a distance of


about 9,000 yards. Perth replied with two or three salvos which landed on one of the enemy cruisers for several hits. The Japanese thereupon fired star shells which exploded between their ships and ours so that we could no longer see them.

Shortly afterward the De Ruyter received a hit aft and turned to starboard away from the enemy, followed by our other cruisers. As the Java, which had not been under enemy fire, turned to follow there was a tremendous explosion aft, evidently caused by a torpedo coming from port. Within a few seconds the whole after part of the ship was enveloped in flames.

The De Ruyter had continued her turn onto a southeasterly course when, very closely after the Java, she too was caught by a torpedo. United States Signalman Sholar, who was on board and was subsequently rescued, reported having seen a torpedo track on relative bearing 135°. There was an extraordinarily heavy explosion followed by fire. Perth, behind the flagship, swung sharply to the left to avoid a collision, while the Houston turned out of column to starboard. The crew of the De Ruyter assembled forward, as the after part of the ship up to the catapult was in flames. In a moment the 40-mm. ammunition began to explode, causing many casualties, and the ship had to be abandoned. She sank within a few minutes. For some time her foremast structure remained above the water, until a heavy explosion took the ship completely out of sight.70

The torpedoes which sank the two Dutch cruisers apparently came from the direction of the enemy cruisers and were probably fired by them. Both Sendai and Nati class cruisers are equipped with eight torpedo tubes.

Of our entire striking force, only the Houston and Perth now remained. They had expended most of their ammunition and were still followed by enemy aircraft. There seemed no possibility of reaching the enemy convoy, and about 0100 (February 28th) the two cruisers set course for Tandjong Priok in accordance with the original plan for retirement after the battle. On the way Perth informed Admiral Koenraad at Soerabaja of their destination and reported that the De Ruyter and Java had been disabled by heavy explosions at latitude 06°00' S., longitude


Sinking of the JAVA and DE RUYTER

112°00' E.71 The hospital ship Op ten Noort was immediately dispatched toward the scene of their loss, but it is doubtful if she ever reached it. Some time later Admiral Helfrich lost radio contact with the ship, and a plane reported seeing her in the custody of two Japanese destroyers.

The Japanese convoy remained west of Bawean. About 0130 our PBY saw a column led by a cruiser, followed by four destroyers with a second cruiser bringing up the rear. This was about 25 miles from the convoy and moving toward it. For a while our pilot believed that it was our striking force about to attain its objective, but a little later it became apparent that this was merely the enemy screening force-possibly the same ships which had just sunk the De Ruyter and Java. When our PBY left shortly after 0200 a Dutch Catalina plane took up shadowing the convoy, which remained in approximately the same position until dawn.

During the forenoon of the 28th as the Perth and Houston approached Priok, they were followed by Japanese reconnaissance planes. Fighters came out from Batavia to protect them, but there was no attack and the two cruisers reached port safely at 1330.


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23 Also called the Battle of Bawean Islands and Action off Soerabaja.

24 According to Admiral Helfrich's and Admiral Glassford's reports. A British report says that this western striking force left Tandjong Priok on the night of 27th-28th to intercept an enemy force north of Batavia, which was reported to consist of four cruisers, three destroyers and three merchantmen. After failing to find the enemy the British ships returned to Priok, went on to Padang to pick up refugees, and sailed on the afternoon of the 28th for Ceylon. They arrived safely at Trincornalee. These dates are surely mistaken, as the ships were not at Priok on the 28th.

25 From report of Comdr. Henry E. Eccles, C. O., J.D. Edwards.

26 According to Admiral Glassford's report it now consisted of about 24 transports with a heavy escort. For contact reports before and during the Battle of Java Sea see chart opposite p.43, and appendix II.

27 From Admiral Glassford's report.

28 The Dutch Banckert had been damaged during a Japanese bombing of Soerabaja. It was further damaged in a subsequent raid and was ultimately lost.

29 The convoy was reported at lat. 05°30' S., long. 113°00' E., as of 1830. At 0255 Admiral Doorman received an amplified report describing the convoy as consisting of 15 or more ships, one of which was possibly an aircraft carrier or battleship.

30 Specifically, the reports were:

At 1340: Twenty ships, unknown number of destroyers. Position, lat. 04°45' S., long. 112°15' E., course 180° (approximately north of Bawean Island).
At 1345: One cruiser, lat. 04°04' S., long. 111°07' E., course 220° (far northwest of Bawean, nearer south coast of Borneo).
At 1350: A great fleet with 2 cruisers, 6 destroyers, 25 transports; position 20 miles west of Bawean, course south. One cruiser and 4 destroyers proceeding south full speed, transports behind.
See chart opposite p.43, and appendix II.

31 These have been made available through the courtesy of the Netherlands Naval Representatives to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

32 Accounts vary as to the exact position of the enemy ships when first sighted. Comdr. Thomas H. Binford, commanding DesDiv 58, on the Edwards says 340° T. Comdr. Henry E. Eccles of the Edwards says 325°, while the Edwards log says 320°. Lt. Comdr. John J. Hourihan of the Paul Jones, which was at the rear, says 295°. But it seems clear they were on our starboard bow.

33 Perhaps of the Mogami Class, which has subsequently been discovered to be exceptionally large. Eight-inch shells were the largest definitely seen, and Admiral Glassford remarks that these ships were really heavy cruisers.

34 Comdr. Eccles of the Edwards: "Contact reports indicated a force of cruisers and destroyers and 1 battleship reported by a plane." Log of the Edwards: "Enemy main body appeared from fore top to consist of 2 battleships and 7 cruisers, but were not clearly visible from bridge. This was confirmed by contact reports from plane and Exeter." Lt. Comdr. Cooper of the Ford: "The Japanese force appeared to consist of 2 battleships, either of the Kongo or Ise class, 7 cruisers, 3 of which were of the Atago class, and a number of destroyers." Lt. Comdr. Parker: "Very little could be seen of the enemy forces, but they appeared to be in at least 2 groups, fairly widely separated. The eastern group was reported by the foretop spotter of the Ford to be composed of 2 battleships." Perth reported 2 cruisers of the Nati class preceded by 2 Sendai cruisers, with 13 destroyers in 2 groups. This is confirmed by a survivor of the Jupiter, who adds that the destroyers were divided into 2 flotillas of 6 and 7 ships respectively. A second Jupiter survivor reported 2 battleships, 4 or 7 cruisers and several destroyers. Another British report mentions 3 Sendai and 2 Nati cruisers, and 13 destroyers divided 8 and 5. A Boeing plane reported 5 cruisers and 12 destroyers. Admiral Helfrich says that "it may safely be inferred that our striking force was opposed by at least 2 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers and 13 destroyers."

35 According to the log of the Edwards, transports could be seen from time to time beyond the enemy cruisers, and our shells fell among them. The Japanese started laying smoke to protect them and opened fire only "after an appreciable delay." No other account mentions the transports, although it is agreed that the Japanese laid smoke.

36 The enemy cruisers may not have been in column. There is some evidence that they were grouped according to class. See the diagram p.58, based on Jupiter's contact report.

37 Admiral Helfrich says that the enemy used R. D. F. to get the range more accurately.

38 The shell passed through her armor and through two decks before exploding. It started a fire which was quickly extinguished. Casualties were one dead and six wounded.

39 The log of the Edwards notes that both 6- and 8-inch salvos had a pattern of about 1,200 yards.

40 From the report of Lt. Comdr. Coley of the Alden. The Perth reported that in this phase of the battle we scored heavily on a Nati cruiser.

41 Admiral Glassford's "appreciation" of the battle indicates that the two enemy heavy cruisers turned out of column after being hit. There is nothing in the reports from our destroyers to indicate this. Rather one gathers from them that the enemy cruisers remained in column.

42 Comdr. Coley of the Alden says that the eight destroyers were of the Sigure class, with a Zintu class light cruiser as a destroyer leader. A diagram shows the cruiser somewhat to the north of the destroyers.

43 Admiral Helfrich says that Kortenaer made three hits on an enemy destroyer and that the British destroyer assisted in repelling this attack. Admiral Glassford's account says: Jupiter and Electra advance from cruiser van to repel this attack and are promptly sunk by concentrated gunfire." This is surely a mistake. It was a later attack which the two British destroyers met, and the Jupiter was certainly not sunk in doing it.

44 Apparently not from the decks of our destroyers, however, as their reports do not mention this air attack, which is described in Dutch sources.

45 Lt. Comdr. Cooper of the Ford: "At 1655 the Java appeared to be hit.... Just after the Java was hit torpedoes were fired on the starboard of the main body; all ships turned left to avoid being hit. At 1706 we again paralleled the enemy and action was resumed." Lt. Comdr. Edward N. Parker, commanding DesDiv 59: "At about 1655 it is believed that torpedoes were fired by the Japanese destroyers on the starboard bow of our cruiser formation." Probably these were fired at long range, perhaps by the cruisers, for it was 15 minutes later that the enemy destroyers pressed their attack.

46 From the log of the Edwards.

47 This may have been merely a torpedo exploding at the end of its run.

48 The time is given as 1702, but it seems more likely to have occurred after this renewal of the action.

49 Admiral Helfrich says that about 1700 the De Ruyter turned sharply to starboard, evidently to close the range between the two fleets and thinks that the Japanese destroyers' attack was made at this time. None of our destroyer accounts mentions this incident, but a survivor of the Jupiter says that the De Ruyter turned 180° (apparently to go south), indicating that she had been headed north, toward the enemy. According to Admiral Helfrich's version, it was while our cruisers were maneuvering to avoid the torpedoes fired by the Japanese destroyers that the Exeter was hit and turned out of line.

50 According to Admiral Glassford's account, when the Exeter was hit she turned out of column. The other cruisers followed her movement, thus breaking off the engagement. An account by a survivor of the Jupiter is similar: ". . . the enemy did not register any success until 1715 when the Exeter was hit in a boiler room and had to haul out of the line to port. The De Ruyter altered course 180° without signal and the remainder of the cruisers followed her round." The accounts from our destroyers are somewhat different. Lt. Comdr. Cooper says: "At 1708 heavy smoke was seen coming from the stacks of the Exeter and she was noticed to slow down, the three cruisers astern overtaking and passing her." The other accounts make no mention of this, but give the impression that she turned into line on a southward course with the other cruisers (as the diagrams accompanying the Edwards' report indicate) and did not noticeably lose speed until several minutes later. Our ships may have turned out of column south not because of the hit on the Exeter but to avoid the torpedoes. Edwards log: "1711 hard left rudder to dodge torpedo ahead. Cruiser had executed ships left 90° dodging torpedoes and Exeter slowed and was making white smoke, later resuming a speed of about 20 knots and laying a heavy smoke screen." (Comdr. Eccles of the Edwards remarks on the "gallant conduct" of the Exeter "after receiving severe damage in holding her course at best speed across the track of enemy torpedoes so as to lay a smoke screen to cover the other cruisers.") Lt. Comdr. Coley: "At 1708 Allied cruisers turned by ship movements to south, whether to open the range or to escape torpedo fire could only be guessed." A British account: "At 1707 Japanese destroyers made a second attack, but were forced to keep their distance by the gun-fire of our ships. While evading action was being taken the Exeter was hit by an 8-inch shell in a boiler room, which reduced her speed to 16 knots and forced her out of the battle line." On two of our destroyers the damage to the Exeter was not noticed until after the Kortenaer blew up, when all our ships were headed southward.

51 At 1710 our destroyers turned by column movement to 160°, and at 1712 to 220°.

52 Survivors thought that their ship had been torpedoed by a submarine, as the Japanese destroyers were at rather long range at the time, but it is entirely possible that the torpedo was fired by a destroyer. The position was lat. 16°25' S., long. 112°08' E.

53 From the log of the Edwards, kept by Lt. William J. Giles, Jr. Later in Soerabaja it was learned that Encounter picked up 113 survivors that night when our ships again passed through the area.

54 Comdr. Eccles of the Edwards speaks of the "gallant and conspicuous manner in which H. M. A. S. Perth, as soon as possible reversed her course and covered the crippled Exeter, by covering her by smoke from a distance of about 800 yards on the engaged side, exposing herself to concentrated enemy fire, then enabling Exeter to withdraw."

55 The other ships of our striking force merely saw the Electra disappear into the smoke, after which she was "never seen again." This description is from a Dutch source, based on accounts of survivors of the Electra, 58 of whom, including 5 badly wounded, were picked up the following morning by the United States submarine S-38. They were transferred to a Dutch minelayer off Soerabaja. While they were floating on their rafts, during the night of the 27th, these survivors saw a submarine, probably Japanese, pass on the surface.

56 This is confirmed by the statement of a survivor of the Jupiter that Admiral Doorman's signal was "British destroyers attack." A Dutch account gives the same version of the signal.

57 From the report of Lt. Comdr. Cooper of the Ford. It seems that Perth deserves credit for one of these hits. She is said to have smothered one of the enemy cruisers with two salvos directly on the target.

58 Short-wave voice radio.

59 It appears that the occasion for these orders was still another Japanese destroyer attack, which was promptly turned back by gunfire from our cruisers.

60 At 1805 Admiral Helfrich sent Admiral Doorman a report that, at 1757, 35 ships, including 1 cruiser and 4 destroyers (evidently the main convoy) were on course 170° at lat. 05°10' S., long. 111°35' E. This position is northwest of the Bawean Islands. The report added that, at 1630, 5 large ships and several small ones were at lat. 06°20' S., long. 115°30' E., on course 315°. This latter group had been attacked by bombers, which hit and stopped a cruiser. It is doubtful if Admiral Doorman received this, for not long afterwards he asked the position of the enemy convoy.

61 Probably our destroyers were on a westerly or northerly course at this time.

62 For the disposition of our ships during this attack, see Appendix I, page 85. An American plane which saw this portion of the battle reported that one of the burning 8-inch enemy cruisers succeeded in controlling its fires and resumed its place in line. The same plane also reported that three enemy destroyers were on fire and were left behind.

63 Report of Lt. Comdr. Coley of the Alden. A British account (apparently based on Perth's report) says: "At 1812 the enemy cruisers turned away under cover of a smoke screen, and when last seen the rear cruiser had been hit and was burning fiercely. The De Ruyter led round to the northeast and gave chase, but failed to gain touch with the enemy in the failing light." This was certainly later than 1812, for it was after and a result of our torpedo attack. Also it seems doubtful that Admiral Doorman was trying to regain contact with the enemy warships.

64 Commander Eccles' report.

65 Commander Binford's report.

66 Lt. Comdr. Cooper of the Ford says that our cruisers opened fire briefly. No other report mentions our firing at this time.

67 The position was lat. 06°45' S., long. 112°5.5' E. It has been suggested that Jupiter may have struck one of the newly laid Dutch mines. However, the fact that she was the last ship of a column makes this appear unlikely. Furthermore, Admiral Doorman certainly knew the position of the mine field. The impression on board the destroyer was that she had been torpedoed.

68 A survivor says that 83 men, including 5 wounded, reached the beach, but in Soerabaja next day Comdr. Eccles heard that 214 survivors were at Toeban. This larger figure is probably correct, as under the circumstances most of the crew should have reached shore safely. Probably 83 landed at a single point.

69 It seems unlikely that these were ours, as the striking force was on a southerly course at that time.

70 0n the afternoon of the 28th the United States submarine S-37 found a lifeboat crowded with 60 survivors of the De Ruyter. She took on board U. S. Signalman Sholar and another of the American liaison group, but could not take more. She left 5 days' rations and water for the others. There is no mention of their reaching Java and it seems likely that they were taken by the Japanese.

71 How close our striking force came to reaching the convoy is indicated by the fact that our PBY reported the transports at lat. 06°07' S., long. 112°05' E., at 2235.

Last updated: June 14, 2002

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation