Digital relief map of Kendari region

Kendari (122.543E 3.959S), on the island of Celebes, had the finest port and airfield in the Netherlands East Indies. Staring Bay, just to the south, is an excellent protected anchorage. A USAAF survey noted that the Kendari II airfield, located at the village of Amoito 12 miles (20 km) southwest of Kendari town at the foot of the Boroboro Mountains, "had a dispersal area which could accomodate 35 heavy bombers and near-by fields which could be used by pursuits; construction of extensive living quarters was well underway, and sufficient 100-octane gasoline was available" (Kehn 2008). Materiel on hand at the beginning of 1942 included 3000 bombs and more than 250,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. There were three functioning runways and the barracks under construction could house 500 men. The area garrison consisted of 400 men, but these were led by two officers whose defeatist attitude destroyed the morale of their troops. These were disposed as seven 15-man squads at the town, seven squads at the airfield, and another six in reserve along the road joining the two.

The airfield was captured by 1 Kure SNLF on 25 January 1942 at a cost of just two men wounded. The landings were scheduled to take place three days earlier, but were postponed 72 hours due to a submarine scare that turned out to be a pod of twelve or thirteen whales. This turned to the advantage of the Japanese, whose invasion force was able to approach under a storm front and take the Dutch by surprise. The force anchored off Kendari Bay at 2:00 on 24 January and landings commenced at 4:28, meeting little resistance. The airfield was taken in just over twelve hours, found to be in very good condition, and received 30 Japanese fighters and reconnaissance aircraft the next day. This quickly increased to 25 fighters and 27 bombers.

Japanese order of battle, 21 January 1942

Kendari Invasion Force (Kubo; at Menado)     

Escort Group (Kubo)

CL Nagara

Destroyer Division 15

DD Natsushio

DD Kuroshio

DD Oyashio

DD Hayashio

Destroyer Division 16

DD Yukikaze

DD Tokitsukaze

DD Hatsukaze

DD Amatsukaze

4 AM
2 CM
2 PB
1 SC

Transport Group

6 AP
Carrying 1 Kure SNLF

Thereafter Staring Bay became an important mustering point for Japanese naval forces operating in the region.

Following the Japanese surrender, nearly 100 bodies were found in mass graves in the Kendari area. A number of these were subsequently identified as crewmen from Edsall who had been beheaded by the Tokkeitai. The local commander, Mori Kunizo, was hanged by the Dutch for war crimes committed elsewhere, and the full story of what took place here was never established.


Kehn (2008)
Rottman (2002)

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