Our ships had been ordered to assemble at Tjilatjap, but it was obvious that their position would be highly precarious. The fuel situation there was very serious. After the sinking of the Langley and Pecos a bombing of the port could be expected at any time. It was a subject for wonder that it had escaped so long.

During the night of the 28th the Japanese landed at two points on the northern coast of Java. About midnight a United States Army bomber en route from Java to Australia reported a strong enemy force on a northwest course 150 miles southeast of Tjilatjap. There were two groups,


one of transports and light forces, the other consisting of two battleships or battle cruisers, accompanied by several cruisers and destroyers. Enemy submarines were active off Tjilatjap and it was known that an aircraft carrier was operating south of Java.

These considerations indicated that neither Tjilatjap nor any other port in Java was any longer tenable as a base for our surface forces. Rear Admiral Glassford had orders to retire to Australia whenever it should become necessary to abandon Java. Rear Admiral Palliser had orders from his government to withdraw British ships from Java when further resistance would serve no purpose. It appeared that that time had come. On the morning of March 1st Admiral Helfrich gave permission for the withdrawal of the British ships and instructed Admiral Glassford to order his ships to Australia.

During the forenoon, after consultation with the Governor General, Mr. van Mook, Admiral Helfrich advised the American and British Admirals that the Allied Naval Command in the Netherlands East Indies was dissolved by his own order. Sometime later he sent for Admiral Glassford and expressed to him the gratitude felt by the Dutch for the loyal support of the United States Navy under his command in the defense of Java.

With the dissolution of the Allied Command Admiral Glassford at once ordered all United States surface ships of his command then in Java waters to proceed to Australia. At Tjilatjap were the destroyers Pillsbury, and Parrott, the gunboats Tulsa and Asheville, Lanakai and Isabel, the mine sweepers Whippoorwill and Lark. Whipple and Edsall were operating south of Java. The cruiser Phoenix was en route for Java, having been released from convoy duty, and the Otus was on her way to Java from Ceylon, to which she had accompanied the Marblehead. These ships were ordered to proceed to Exmouth Gulf, Australia, through a common rendezvous, at which they were not to remain but where they might pick up other Allied ships for mutual support. British and Australian ships in the Java area received identical orders.

Of the vessels thus dispatched Edsall, Pillsbury, Asheville, and a few British corvettes have not been heard from and are considered lost. The rest while en route received orders not to put in at Exmouth Gulf unless in need of fuel, but to proceed to Fremantle, where a secure base was subsequently established.


The Japanese landing on Java meant that Allied Headquarters at Bandoeng had to be abandoned promptly. Admiral Glassford with his staff left for Tjilatjap by automobile. From that port he proceeded to Australia by plane, while others followed by plane and submarme.

Some submarines remained in the Java Sea operating against the Japanese, and Dutch and Allied forces in Java continued resistance for some time. But their efforts could only delay the occupation by the Japanese of this island with a population greater than that of England. With the abandonment of Java by the Allied navies on March 1st the Java Sea Campaign came to an end.


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Last updated: June 8, 2002

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation