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Battle of Balikpapan (1945)
Part of the Pacific Theatre of World War II
American manned Alligators during the landing of Australian troops at Balikpapan, Borneo
American manned Alligators during the landing of Australian troops at Balikpapan, Borneo
Date1–21 July 1945
LocationBalikpapan, Netherlands East Indies
Result Allied victory
 United States
 United Kingdom
 Empire of Japan

The Battle of Balikpapan was the concluding stage of the Operation Oboe. The landings took place on 1 July 1945. The Australian 7th Division,[1] 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

A map of the battle

Members of the 7th Division at Balikpapan

Allied Units ("Oboe Two Force")

Land forces

  • 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

Air Units

Royal Australian Air Force

United States Army Air Forces

United States Marine Corps

United States Navy

  • Fleet Air Wing 17 (Palawan Island)
    • Patrol Bombing Squadron 128 (VPB-128) (PV-1)
    • Patrol Bombing Squadron 106 (VPB-106) (PB4Y-2)
    • Patrol Bombing Squadron 111 (VPB-111) (PB4Y-2)
  • 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)

Naval Forces

  • 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.

Japanese Units

  • 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)

External links

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