Battle of Balikpapan (1945)
The Battle of Balikpapan was the concluding stage of the Operation Oboe. The landings took place on 1 July 1945. The Australian 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades, with support troops, made an amphibious landing, codenamed Operation Oboe Two a few miles north of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. The landing had been preceded by heavy bombing and shelling by Australian and US air and naval forces. The Japanese were outnumbered and outgunned, but like the other battles of the Pacific War, many of them fought to the death.
Major operations had ceased by July 21. The 7th Division's casualties were significantly lighter than they had suffered in previous campaigns. The battle was one of the last to occur in World War II, beginning a few weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war. Japan surrendered while the Australians were combing the jungle for stragglers.
Following the surrender the three Brigades were committed to occupation duties until around February 1946. The 21st Brigade was detached to Makassar in the Celebes Islands to accept surrender of the Japanese forces, release POWs and maintain civil order.
Order of battle
Allied Units ("Oboe Two Force")
- 7th Australian Division
- Divisional Units
- Divisional Artillery
- 2/4 Field Regiment (Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun-howitzers)
- 2/5 Field Regiment (25 pounder guns)
- 2/6 Field Regiment (25 pounder guns)
- 2/2 Tank Attack Regiment
- Divisional Engineers
- 2/4 Field Company
- 2/5 Field Company
- 2/6 Field Company
- 2/9 Field Company
- 2/25 Field Park Company
- 18 Infantry Brigade
- 21 Infantry Brigade
- 25 Infantry Brigade
- I Australian Corps units
- Royal Netherlands East Indies Army
- 1 Company, 1 NEI Battalion
- United States Army
- 727th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (less one company)
- One company, 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion
- One boat company, Boat Battalion, 593rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment
- 79 (General Reconnaissance – Bomber) Wing Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
- 78 (Fighter) Wing RAAF (from June 30)
- 82 (Bomber) Wing RAAF
- Detachment, 83 (Army Co-Operation) Wing
- Det, 9 Local Air Supply Unit
- No. 54 Squadron RAF (Spitfire)
- 13th Air Force
- 42nd Bombardment Group (B-25)
- 69, 70, 75, 100, 390 Bombardment Squadrons (Palawan Island)
- 5th Bombardment Group (B-24)
- 23, 31, 72, 394 Bombardment Squadrons (Samar Island)
- 307th Bombardment Group (B-24)
- 370, 371, 372, 424 Bombardment Squadrons (Morotai Island)
- 868th Bombardment Squadron (SB-24, LAB: Low Altitude radar Bomb.) flew maritime surveillance patrols
- 18th Fighter Group (Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter)
- 67, 68, 339 Fighter Squadrons (Palawan Island)
- 419th Night Fighter Squadron (P-61) (Zamboanga and Palawan)
- 4 Reconnaissance Group (F-5 and B-25)
- 17th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron Det. (Palawan Island)
- 42nd Bombardment Group (B-25)
- 5th Air Force
- VMB-611 (PBJ) flying from Zamboanga
- Marine Air Group 2 (flying from the USN escort carriers)
- Fleet Air Wing 17 (Palawan Island)
- Navy Escort Carrier Group 40 (CVEG-40) on carrier USS Suwannee (CVE-27)
- Fighting Squadron 40 (VF-40) (F6F-5)
- Torpedo Squadron 40 (VT-40) (TBM-3)
- Attack Group 78.2
- Transports: 1 AGC USS Wasatch, 1 CGC, 3 LSI (HMAS Manoora, HMAS Westralia, HMAS Kanimbla), 1 AKA (USS Titania), 1 LSD (USS Carter Hall), 5 APD (Newman, Liddle, Kephart, Lloyd, Diachenko), 1 LCF(F), 22 LSM, 35 LST, 16 LCI(L),19 LCT, 2 PC, 3 SC
- Close Support: 10 LCS(L) (No. 8, 27, 28, 29, 30, 41, 43, 44, 48, 50), 8 LCI(R) (No. 31, 34, 73, 226, 230, 331, 337, 338), 6 LCI(G) (No. 21, 22, 24, 61, 66, 67), 3 LCI(M)
- Screen: 10 Destroyers (USS Robinson, Saufley, Waller, Philip, Bailey, Frazier, Flusser, Drayton, Conyngham, Smith), 5 Destroyer Escorts (USS Chaffee, L.E. Thomas, E.A.Howard, J. Rutherford, Key), 1 Frigate (HMAS Gascoyne)
- Minesweeping Group: 1 APD (Cofer), 3 AM (Sentry, Scout, Scuffle), 39 YMS, 1 LSM
- Service, Salvage and miscellaneous units: Tugs Cable, ATR-61, Pinto, Oilers Chepachet, Sakatonchee, Gualala, Banshee, Cargo Poinsett, Repair ship Creon
- Covering Force 74
- Covering Group 74.1
- Covering Group 74.2
- Covering Group 74.3
- Destroyers: 4 from 15 June, 7 from 27 June.
- High Speed transport: USS Schmitt, Kline (from 23 June)
- United States Navy Escort Carrier Group 78.4: (from 1–3 July)
- 8 USN PT boats arrived with the tender USS Mobjack on 27 June, and this force was expanded to two PT boat squadrons (10 and 27) on 6 July.
- 22 Base Force
- 454 Independent Infantry Battalion
- Australian Official Histories of World War II
- ‘Japanese Monograph Number 26: Borneo Operations. 1941–1945’ in War in Asia and the Pacific. Volume 6. The Southern Area (Part I).
- Wesley Craven and James Cate (1953), The Army Air Forces in World War Two. Volume V: Matterhorn to Nagasaki. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.
- Major General R.N. Hopkins (Retired). Australian Armour. A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972. Australian Government Publishing Service. 1978.
- Samuel Eliot Morison (1989), The Liberation of the Philippines: Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas 1944–1945. Little, Brown and Company, Boston.
- Gordon L. Rottman, US Marine Corps Order of Battle. Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939–1945. Greenwood Press. Westport. 2002.
- Royal Navy (1959), Naval Staff History Second World War: War with Japan, Volume VI; The Advance to Japan. British Admiralty, London.
- James J. Fahey (1992), Pacific War Diary, 1942–1945: The Secret Diary of an American Sailor Houghton Mifflin ISBN 0-395-64022-9 (gives a shipboard view of the naval operations around the island, in particular the terrible beating the minesweepers took in clearing the harbour)
- British Pathe newsreel of the Battle: 'Australians from Balikpapan'
- British Pathe newsreel of the Battle: 'Pacific Island Warfare'