What did the seven million Australian inhabitants have to fear? They had to fear the Japanese army, which had it sights on a full Australian takeover. The key to taking the country over was the island of Java. Java was rich in Japanese-needed minerals such as oil and rice. It was weakly defended, and provided for an easy takeover.
The U.S. tried to tighten the island, which lay between the Java Sea and Indian Ocean, by sending their carrier Langley to the island. It was sunk by the Japanese, however, which was a devestating loss.
On December 24, 1941, the Japanese army stormed the beaches of Luching and later that week Brunei. The two territories contained valuable oil which was seized by the Japanese. The Japanese then turned to New Guinea and deployed troops there, and also at Rabaul in New Britain.
The Japanese then struck Java on January 23, 1942. Four American destroyers and some Dutch ships destroyed 15 transports. Many other transports were sunk. By the end of February, however, the Allied cruisers and destroyers which numbered 5 and 9 of each, were to challenge two Japanese flotillas. They were under Dutch Admiral Helfrich; and little did he know this would be the last attempt to save Java from Japan. This tremendous sea battle started on February 27th and and ended on the 30th. The whole Allied fleet was wiped out.
The Japanese now had control of Java, and after the fall of Singapore, the Japanese had control of the supply-rich East Indies. The Japanese pushed ahead in Java with well laid roads aiding their conquest. By March 9, 1942, 98,000 people surrendered. Lieutenant Governor General Dr. Van Mook, who was controlling the East Indies, escaped to Australia. There, he would try to gather up forces.
General MacArthur, who escaped to Australia from the Philippines, tried to build up defenses once he was on Australia. Heavy reinforcements repeatidly flowed into Australia.
The Japanese were getting ready to fight.