CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS at the START, December 1941
Japanese battleships "Nagato", "Kirishima", "Ise" and "Hyuga". Click for enlargement (MQ) return to Campaigns of World War 2
Events until November 1941
Since November 1939 when the "Graf Spee" first entered the Indian Ocean, German raiders had hunted there as well as in the Pacific. The Royal and Dominion Navies had not only been busy tracking them down, but also escorting troops of Australia, India, New Zealand and other members of the British Empire to the theatres of war.
All this time Japan had manoeuvred to complete the conquest of China. By the end of 1938, northeast China as far south as Shanghai, together with the major ports was in Japanese hands. In February 1939 Japan occupied the large island of Hainan in the South China Sea. By early 1940, events were moving inexorably towards a total world war:
March - Japan established a Chinese puppet-government in Nanking.
June/July - With its possession of the Chinese ports, Japan wanted to close the remaining entry points into China. Pressure was put on France to stop the flow of supplies through Indochina, and on Britain to do the same with the Burma Road. Both complied, but Britain did so only until October 1940, when the road was reopened.
September - Vichy France finally agreed to the stationing of Japanese troops in northern Indochina.
April - Five Year Neutrality Pact between Japan and Russia benefited both powers. Russia could free troops for Europe and Japan concentrate on expansion southwards.
July - The demand for bases in southern Indochina was now conceded by Vichy France. Britain, Holland and the United States protested and froze Japanese assets, but the troops went in. The Dutch East lndies cancelled oil delivery arrangements and the Americans shortly imposed their own oil embargo. Japan had lost most of its sources of oil.