Skip to content

Far East 1930 - 1947:

British Troops in Borneo and Java

The United Kingdom had three protectorates in the East Indies, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei. The rest of the East Indies were Dutch, known as the Netherland East Indies (N.E.I.). The N.E.I. included the islands of Sumatra and Java.


Command Troops
» British Troops in Borneo and Netherland East Indies (1941-42)

In February 1941, the 2 Bn 15 Punjab Regiment was detached from the 6 Indian Infantry Brigade, (which had moved to Malaya from India in November 1940); from where it was posted to Borneo. Lieutenant Colonel C. M LANE was the commanding officer of the battalion, being designated as the Officer Commanding British Troops in Borneo. The Japanese landed at Kuching on the 24 December 1941, and despite fierce resistance by the Punjabis, the Allied forces were forced back. The remaining members of the battalion surrendered on the 1 April 1942.

The 16 Anti-Aircraft Brigade had been formed in the United Kingdom. The commanding officer was Brigadier H. D. W. SITWELL. The brigade headquarters, together with the 77 H.A.A. Regiment and 21 & 48 L.A.A. Regiments arrived at Batavia on the 4 February 1942 and were deployed in . Some anti-aircraft units that had been sent from Singapore were deployed to Sumatra to guard P1 and P2 Airfields on the island, but with the invasion of the Japanese troops, these units were withdrawn to Java where they served as infantry.

Also part of the force that was diverted to the Netherland East Indies was Number 4 Group Headquarters and the 175 Pioneer Company of the Pioneer Corps. On arrival, the units formed a sub-area command at Oosthaven. Later, the same units formed a sub-area command at Batavia on Java, although the 175 Pioneer Company was detached to Bandoeng.

The 16 Anti-Aircraft Brigade and all other Allied troops were captured with the fall of Java on 12 March 1942. The exception were the personnel from No. 4 Group Headquarters who escaped on board the ‘Zandaam’, but the personnel of 175 Pioneer Company were captured. Those captured then suffered nearly three years and a half years in captivity. Many did not return.

Back To Top