The Japanese Avalanche-The first six months of the War in the Pacific

8th December 1941 – The Wave Breaks

The Origins and Trigger

The Roots of the Disaster

9th to 11th December – Continuing Disaster, Initial Response.

11th to 19th December – Battles in Northern Malaya and Hong Kong.

20th to 29th December – Battles in Central Malaya and Luzon, Surrender of Wake Island and Hong Kong, Withdrawal into Bataan, Conference in Washington and Alarm in Melbourne.

29th December to 9th January 1942 – Allied Strategy Defined, Changes in Command, Battle continues in Malaya, Air War extends to New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies. Some Reinforcements Start to Come In, Others are Committed and the President Commits to Massive Production.

10th to 16th January 1942 – Australians into Action in Malaya, Threat Builds against Australian Garrisons at Rabaul, Ambon & Timor.

16th to 22nd January – Australians Defend Muar and Bakri in Malaya, Invasion Forces Approach Rabaul, Kavieng and Balikpapan.

22nd to 26th January – Rabaul and Kavieng Abandoned, Balikpapan and Kendari Captured, the US Navy Counterattacks. Australian Forces withdraw through Yong Peng. Curtin Recuperates in Fremantle.

26th January to 1st February – Withdrawal of the Army from Malaya onto Singapore Island and of the Air Force from Singapore to Sumatra. Japanese Invade Ambon and Capture Moulmein.  USN Counterattack in the Mandates is ineffective for lack of targets.

1st to 8th February – Organisation for the defence of Singapore. US Navy withdraws from Darwin. The Battle for Ambon. Massacre of 141 prisoners from Rabaul. The Japanese tighten the ring round Singapore.

8th to 15th February – Battle for Singapore.

15th to 20th February – Debate about the destination of 1st Australian Corps. Evacuation of Sumatra. Massacres of inhabitants of and fugitives from Singapore. Curtin hospitalised. Darwin Bombed. USS Lexington’s attempted raid on Rabaul.

20th to 23rd February – Invasion of Bali and counter attack by Allied Naval forces. Invasion of Timor. Continuing Debate about the destination of 1st Australian Corps. Massacres of Australians on Ambon. Disaster at the Sittang River.

23rd to 28th February – More debate about the destination of 1st Australian Corps.  Organisation for the defence of Java. Naval actions in the Java Sea and the sinking of Perth and Houston. Assessment of the threat to Australia.

1st to 8th March – Invasion of Java. Dissolution of ABDA Naval Forces. Sinkings in the Indian Ocean. Agreement to send two brigade groups to Ceylon. Attack on Broome. Yorktown and Lexington deployed to the South Pacific. Japanese Landings at Lae and Salamaua. Fall of Rangoon.

9th to 17th March – Roosevelt decides to send 2 American Divisions to Australia. First AIF Units from the Middle East reach Australia. Air Strikes against the Lae and Salamaua invasion convoys by US Carrier taskforces. Surrender in Java. American garrison lands in New Caledonia. MacArthur leaves the Philippines for Australia.  The Air War continues.

18th to 31st March – Roosevelt takes responsibility for the defence of Australia. MacArthur appointed Supreme Commander SWP. First Fighter Squadrons reach Darwin and Port Moresby. Japanese Occupy the Andaman Islands. The Japanese land on Buka and Bougainville in New Guinea and the Shortland Islands in The Solomons. The Japanese land on Christmas Island.

1st to 15th April – Japanese raid on Ceylon and the Indian Ocean. Dorsetshire, Cornwall, Hermes and Vampire sunk. The British Eastern Fleet withdraws to Kenya and Bombay. Philippine/American forces on the Bataan Peninsular surrender. Escapes from the Islands.

16th to 30th April – Australian forces placed under MacArthur’s command. Doolittle’s air raid on Tokyo. Japanese consolidate control of Dutch New Guinea. American progress at breaking Japanese codes. Fighter defences of Darwin and Port Moresby becoming effective. Bewildering failures of American submarines. Two American carrier task forces retained in the South Pacific to defend Australia.

1st to 6th May – Forces at Port Moresby. Japanese landing at Tulagi and the US Navy counterattack. Japanese landing on Corregidor and Philippine/American surrender.

7th to 15th May – Commitment of all USN carriers in the Pacific to the Coral Sea. The Battle in the Coral Sea to defend Port Moresby. British/Indian force in Burma is caught by the Japanese army at the Chindwin river and loses all its heavy equipment.

16th to 31st May – The Air War continues from Timor to Tulagi with both sides trying to capture and build new airfields. Code breaking and other sources identify forthcoming Japanese attacks on Midway Island and the Aleutians. Admiral Nimitz rushes all the forces he can find to the defence of Midway. Port Moresby is also reinforced. Japanese midget submarines raid Sydney Harbour.

1st to 4th June – Japanese fleets are sighted approaching Midway and the Aleutian Islands. Submarines are active on the Australian east coast. The battle to defend Midway Island. Japanese landings on Attu and Kiska.

5th to 23rd June – Yorktown sinks. Sydney and Newcastle shelled by submarines. Planning for Strategic offensive after Midway. Intelligence of a threat to Moresby via Kokoda. Air and Submarine wars continue. Plans for an airfield at Milne Bay. The war for rubber supplies. The threat from malaria. Indications of Japanese airfield construction on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Situation late June 1942 – Recap Maps. Reasons for Japanese success.

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