Japan Enters the War!
The worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
on the loss of Singapore 1942
Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, largely destroying America’s Pacific Fleet. At the same time it attacked British Malaya for access to its rich supplies of rubber, oil and tin.
Sparrow Force was hastily deployed to Koepang, West Timor and Gull Force to Ambon.
On 17 December, elements of the No 2 Independent Company together with Dutch troops invaded neutral Portuguese East Timor from West Timor.
They defended the airstrip near Dili to pre-empt any Japanese attack. While the Portuguese protested strongly, they did not resist.
By the end of January both Gull and Lark Forces were defeated. Within ten weeks, Japanese forces occupied most of South East Asia including the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore.
Timor was the next target and this battle commenced with the bombing of Darwin.