Dutch East Indies

Dutch East Indies Air Force - A last great hope for the Allies.

Pinning Hopes On The Dutch East Indies – No More New Cars Till After The War – January 3, 1942

Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies Air Force – A last great hope for the Allies.

January 3, 1942 – NBC News Of The World – NBC Red Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

January 3, 1942 – With news of the fall of Manila only days earlier, hopes were now pinned on The Dutch East Indies to turn fortunes around. Many felt Java and the other islands that comprised that area of South East Asia were the best organized and equipped to turn back any Japanese invasion force.

In late November of 1941, the Netherlands government in the East Indies under the Dutch government-in-exile (already at war with Imperial Japan’s Axis power ally Germany in Europe) began preparing for war against Japan itself: ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy were sent to sea and the KNIL Air Force was mobilized. On 4 December, three days after having decided on a policy of war against America, Britain and the Netherlands, the Japanese government decided instead to “treat the Netherlands as a quasi enemy until actual hostilities … occur.” This was in the hope that the Dutch would not preemptively destroy oil installations before the Japanese were ready to invade. On 8 December 1941, in a public proclamation, the Netherlands declared war on Japan. By 7:00 a.m. on the day of the attack, the Dutch East Indies government had warned merchantmen at sea to make for the nearest port. At that hour, the governor general made a public announcement over the radio that the Netherlands “accepts the challenge and takes up arms against the Japanese Empire.” Instructions had been telegraphed to the embassy in Tokyo at 2:30 a.m., even before news of the attack on Pearl Harbor had reached the Dutch government in London at 4:00. The instructions were only received on the evening of the next day, and the declaration of war was finally handed to the Japanese foreign minister, Shigenori Tōgō, by the Dutch ambassador, J. C. Pabst, on the morning of 10 December. The Swedish ambassador agreed to handle Dutch interests for the duration of the conflict.

The Dutch declaration did not alter the Japanese decision, and the latter’s declaration of war did not come until 11 January 1942. When Japan was charged with waging a “war of aggression” before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in 1946, it was argued that her attitude towards the Netherlands proved otherwise, since the Dutch had declared war first. The tribunal rejected this, on the grounds that Japan’s sole intention was “to give less time to the Netherlands for destroying oil wells.” They found that the Netherlands’ declaration was in self-defense. And on this day, all eyes were on The Dutch East Indies and all fingers were crossed.

In other news, it would soon be official that America would no longer be selling new cars, instead focusing all its automotive resources to the War effort and that new car manufacturing would cease until the end of the war.

And that’s just a small slice of what went on, this 3rd day of January in 1942 as presented by NBC’s morning wrap-up of the news overnight.

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