Oil was first discovered at Canada Hill near the little fishing village of Miri, on the northwest coast of Borneo (113.960E 4.349N), in 1910.  Production was about 2.1 million barrels in 1940.  Other oil fields in the vicinity were Seria and Lutong.  Both Miri and Lutong had their own refineries.  Port facilities, however, were limited to what was necessary to supply the oil fields and refineries and to load the oil into tankers.

The Japanese landed elements of 35 Brigade (Kawaguchi Detachment) and 2 Yokosuka SNLF near Miri on 16 December 1941.  The British and Dutch defenders (a single company of 15 Punjab Regiment supported by Dutch militia) held long enough to demolish the oil plant before retreating into the Borneo jungle. However, Tojo claimed in a speech to the Diet two days later that the Japanese found 70 of the 150 wells still operable.

Miri was recaptured by elements of the Australian 9 Division on 20 July 1945. The Japanese lost 1234 killed at a cost to the Allies of 114 Australians and four Americans.


Gilbert (1989)

Hoyt (1993)

Rottman (2002)

Willmott (1982)

Van Royen and Bowles (1952)

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