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why did (ABDA) American-British-Dutch-Australian Command fail?

why did (ABDA) American-British-Dutch-Australian Command fail?

SaberMk6

Do you mean ABDA in general or in a specific battle?


KevTravels

In general


SaberMk6

ABDACOM 's main objective was to hold the Malay Barrier, after the it was broken, it lost it purpose and was dissolved. Why did the Barrier get broken? First off, up until the Japanese came knocking, it was very much a secondary theater. Much of Australia's ready military force was fighting in North Africa at the time, the Netherlands were weakened in the defeat and occupation of the homeland, US strength focused on the Philippines and while the British did have significant forces in Singapore, their main military effort was focused on Germany. Secondly the allies had underestimated the Japanese capabilities. They had next to no knowledge of the Long Lance torpedo, Yamato's or the Zero 's capabilities. In part because the Japanese were very secretive about them, in part due to the Allies inherent racism. They did not think an Asian country could build equal or even better equipment than their own or train their military as well. The initial Japanese training standards were however higher than the allies, with their high command even willing to accept fatalities in training exercises, something unacceptable to Western navies. Because of this the Kido Butai, the Japanese carrier force, was between December 1941 and June 1942 arguably the most powerful naval force in the world. And off course Japan was willing to cheat, building numerous warships heavier than the naval treaties allowed so they had 12 000 tons "treaty" cruisers, and 63 000 tons "treaty" battleships. Thirdly although nominally ABDACOM had a lot of ships under the command, most were smaller vessels and the theater they had to operate in was huge, so they were thinly spread. They had no capital ships as the only allied capital ships in theater, Force Z had been sunk in December, before ABDACOM was formed. So when the Japanese wiped out the only significant surface force ABDA had at the Battle of the Java Sea, it was only a matter of time before it collapsed. Japanese naval superiority meant that they could invade the Dutch East-Indies at will. And at the Eastern point of the line the British could do nothing but delay against the army that came south down the Malaysian Peninsula and when Singapore fell the gig was up. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


KevTravels

Thanks for such an in-depth reply. Is it fair to say that the Dutch presence in the campaign ended in 1942? It's just interesting that they seemingly were partnered on level with both the US and the UK despite the massive difference back then.


SaberMk6

Most of the Dutch surface ships in theater were sunk, the exceptions like Tromp and Abraham Crijnssen mainly doing escort service, operating from Australia until the end of the war. Several submarines also kept operating against the Japanese during the course of the war like K-XIV. And lastly Dutch troops assisted Australian troops in a guerrilla war on Timor, lasting far into 1943. The submarines were very successful in the early weeks of the war, sinking more Japanese ships than the US and UK combined, and the Dutch surface fleet was one of the more numerous in the area in late 1941, with 1 coastal defense ship, 2 cruisers, 8 destroyers and several smaller craft like minelayers/sweepers and submarines. After they lost most of those ships, militarily they did not have much influence in the rest of the war, although they received a seat at the Pacific War council, and Dutch Admiral Conrad Helfrich was present at the official surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri and signed for the Netherlands. It's just that due to the enormous inflow of US material and manpower from mid 1942/1943 an onwards that it became more and more an American fought and led war.