The capture of the Andaman Islands, March 1942

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (8,293 sq km on 139 islands), are a group of islands situated in the Bay of Bengal at about 780 miles from Calcutta, 740 miles from Madras and 120 miles from Cape Nargis in Burma. The British goverment used them as a penal colony for Indian and African political prisoners, which were mainly put in the notorious Cellular Jail in Port Blair, the biggest town (port) on the islands. Today they are owned and administrated by India.

With the close of the Java Campaign, the Japanese continued their timetable for the last two major operations. The is called the 4th stage with phases one and two. Phase one was the occupation of Kutaradja and Sabang on Weh Island, called Operation "T". We will dispense from this operation and go to Phase two, the Andaman Operation known as Operation "D". It was composed of the following units:
Distant Cover
cruiser (flagship) Chokai
• Carrier Division 4
carrier Ryujo (although listed, she did not conduct air operations)
• Cruiser Division 7
heavy cruisers- Kumano, Suzuyu, Mikuma, Mogami
• Destroyer Division 11
destroyers-Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki, Murakumo
Close Cover
• Destroyer Squadron 3
light cruiser Sendai
• Destroyer Division 19
destroyers- Isonami, Uranami, Ayanami
• Destroyer Division 20
destroyers- Amagiri, Asagiri, Yugiri, Shirakumo
Invasion Force
• Escort Unit #1
light cruiser Yura and 9 Transports (one Battalion from 18th Infantry Division)
9th Base Force
training cruiser Kashii
escort ship Shimushu
minelayer Hatsutaka
converted gunboat Eiko Maru
• Minesweeper Division 1
minesweepers W1, W3, W4
• Special Minesweeper Division 91
minesweepers- Choko Maru, Shonan Maru #7, Shonan Maru #5
Air Unit
seaplane tender Sagara Maru (operated east of the Nicobars)

The British in January of 1942, had a militia composed of 23 British Officers and 300 Sikh Indians. Also in the same month, a Gurkha detachment of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment of the 16th Brigade also arrived. On March 8th, Rangoon had been evacuated and Port Blair in the Andamans became untendable. With the evacuation of Rangoon, the Gurkha detachment was withdrawn from Port Blair and sent to Akyab in the Arakan Peninsula. The British women and children and Indian Hindu priests left on March 10th, 1942. Now to secure the left flank, the Andamans were needed to be occupied, to block any attempt by the British coming from that direction. The Nicobars would be leapfrogged, but not neglected. Port Blair was needed, so as to set up a seaplane base as soon as possible. On March 23rd, the Japanese landed on Andaman Island with one Battalion from the 18th Infantry Division. There was no resistance as white flags were posted. Port Blair was occupied on the 23rd as the local militia was disarmed. The Japanese Army set about releasing 425 penal prisoners as a gesture to the local populace. The British Officers were sent to the Outram Prison in Singapore, while the Sikhs were interned with option to enlist in the INA Army of Bose, which most of them did. On March 26th, the first air detachment arrived in the form of 6 flying boats from the Toko Kokutai. 12 more were enroute before the week was out. For defence of the Andamans, fell to the newly formed fighter squadron of the Kanoya Kokutai based at Tavoy in southern Burma. This fighter squadron was the former "Yamada Unit" under the control of the 22d Koku Sentai, then based at Penang.

Bose on location on the Andaman Islands
Bose renamed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands "Shahid Deep" (Martyr) and "Swaraj Dweep" (Freedom) respectively.

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Copyright Allan Alsleben 1999-2000