Battle of Christmas Island

The Battle of Christmas Island is a commitment that took place on 31 March 1942 for the control of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean between the Allies and the Empire of Japan in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Due to a mutiny of soldiers Indian officers against their British, Japanese troops managed to occupy the island without resistance. However, the submarine American USS Seawolf (SS-197) causes significant damage to the Japanese cruiser Naka.


Christmas Island was then a British possession part of the institutions of the Straits (Straits Settlements), located 298 km south of Java. She gets up to be important for two reasons: it is a perfect outpost control of the Indian Ocean and has resources phosphate necessary for the Japanese industry.

After the occupation of Java in February-March 1942, the Imperial Headquarters Japanese gives the orders for Operation X (the invasion and occupation of Christmas Island) March 14, 1942.

The cons-Admiral Nishimura Shōji is assigned command of the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet with the light cruiser Naka for flagship. The fleet also consists cruisers Nagara, Natori, as well as destroyers Minegumo, Natsugumo, Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Satsuki, Minazuki, Fumizuki, Nagatsuki, oil Akebono Maru transport ships Kimishima Maru and Kumagawa Maru and 850 men the 21 th and 24th Special Forces base and the 102nd construction unit.

On the island, the British garrison (32 soldiers, mostly Indians, led by a British officer and four NCOs), has a 155 mm gun made ​​after the First World War from Singapore and probably three anti guns -aircraft.

Indian troops, apparently believing Japanese propaganda about the liberation of India from British rule, mutinied and killed their officers on the night of 10 March 1942 and imprison some other European inhabitants of the island until a performance that apparently will be thwarted by the Japanese occupation ,.

Course of the battle

At dawn on March 31, 1942, a dozen bombers Japanese launch a raid on the island destroying the radio station (now located at the site of the post office).

Fragments of bombs dropped are still observable in the 1980s. Because of the mutiny, the Japanese expeditionary force able to land at Flying Fish Cove ally without opposition.

At 9:49, the American submarine USS Seawolf launched four torpedoes against the Naka all miss their target. This attack again at 6:50 the next morning, launching three torpedoes against the Natori also missed. In the evening, with his last two torpedoes with a range of 1000 m , the Seawolf manages to touch the Naka on its starboard side, near the boiler room No. 1. The damage is severe enough to the point that Naka had to be towed by Natori to return to Singapore, before being forced to return to Japan to undergo a year of repairs. After the success of the attack, the Japanese vessels conduct a hunt underwater for more than seven hours, but the Seawolf escapes.

And consequences

The Natori returns on Christmas Island and the Japanese re-embarked April 3, 1942, with the exception of a detachment of 20 men in Banten Bay. The phosphate extract is loaded onto transport ships. After the end of the occupation in 1945, during which the Japanese have forced many local Muslims to devote themselves to worship, the liberating Allied troops destroyed a shrine Shinto.

7 mutineers Indian survivors found are pursued by a military court in Singapore and five of them were sentenced to death in 1947. The sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after the governments of India and Pakistan have opposed their execution.


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