Brunei in the 2nd World War

I didn't realise there was a lot of interest in the WWII photographs I posted recently. I have a number of articles about the war and the invasion of Brunei. The one I found interesting was in the Time Magazine issue of June 25th, 1945, where an article entitled "Walkover on Borneo" described how the Allied Forces liberated the island of Borneo from the Japanese. The most interesting bit is the one that described Brunei Town. You can read the original at this link. The article is reproduced below (with the italics mine):

--- "Quote" --- Two hundred warships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet stood in to Brunei Bay in northwest Borneo. Off went the landing craft, with less than a division of hardbitten, hard-swearing Australian veterans. One week later, with spectacular ease, they had conquered a major harbor, three airfields, three towns, two islands and a peninsula. With minor losses, they had given General Douglas MacArthur a military base midway between Manila and Singapore, virtually choked off the South China Sea and opened new fields for Allied bombers. After two visits ashore, the General exulted: "Rarely was such a strategic prize obtained at such a low cost of lives."

Aside from the spongy swamps, thick jungles and steaming heat, it was a walk over for the "rats of Tobruk"—Australia's 9th Division. The Japanese, as usual, left only rearguards around the beach, and pulled back into the mountains and jungles with 2,000 to 5,000 troops. On the first day the Aussies found only 61 enemy dead and took one prisoner; they lost not a single man in the landing.

Island & Thumb. One force—including mechanized Commandos—took Labuan Island, key to the harbor, from a Japanese garrison of 500. With it came Victoria town, two airfields, 4,000 Japanese bombs, rubber and coconut plantations. Stronger groups pounced on the thumb of land that poked up into the bay from the mainland —and on its satellite, Muara Island. They went in standing up and quickly took the hamlet of Brooketon, where tun-bellied Major General George Frederick Wootten, 250-lb. division commander, set up headquarters. Then they moved into Brunei town—a dismal conglomeration of dilapidated native shacks built on stilts over mud flats. Natives call it Daru'l Salam—Abode of Peace—and it showed little fight.

Ahead lay coastal Tutong, 25 miles away, then the Seria-Miri oilfields, a rich prize 25 miles further. But beetle-browed Lieut. General Sir Leslie Morshead, tactical commander, was not deceived by the easy beginning. Ahead lay rivers, mountains, swamps and lurking Japanese. Predicted Morshead: "A tedious and arduous campaign—the real fighting is yet to come." --- "unquote" ---

For those still wanting to see old photographs, here is the second collection of photographs of the Australian Army which came to Brunei, landing at the beach off Muara and then marching to Brunei Town - a dismal conglomeration of dilapidated native shacks built on stitls over mud flats. How sad. I will post a third collection of another 6 photographs in the future.

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