Photograph of Tjilatjap harbor

National Archives #80-G-237439

Tjilatjap (Cilacap; 109.000E 7.735S) was the only ocean port of any significance on the south coast of Java. It had a very small anchorage and narrow channel, and correspondingly limited facilities. These included a small commercial floating dry dock insufficient to lift anything heavier than a destroyer. The port was defended on 7 December 1941 by a reinforced battalion of mostly militia.

The port became important in February 1942, as the Japanese were closing in on Java. As the naval bases at Batavia and Surabaya came within range of Japanese bombers, Allied submarines and light warships retreated to the relative safety of Tjilatjap, and such few supplies and reinforcements as still got through to Java came through the port. The loss of the port to 230 Regiment on 7 March spelled the end of effective Allied resistance on Java, which surrendered the next day.

It has been suggested (e.g. by Kehn 2008) that the Japanese deliberately spared the port in order to bait Allied naval forces into the area to attempt an evacuation of troops from Java, which would then be intercepted by 1 Air Fleet operating south of the island.

Rail connections




Kehn (2008)
"The Java Sea Campaign" (1943; accessed 2011-12-29)

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