Battle of Manado

The unit of Compagnie Menado, which numbered only 188 men under Captain W.F.J. Kroon and Landstorm Compagnie with its 200 troops under 1st Lieutenant F. Masselink were not enough to oppose thousands of Japanese amphibious assault at 04:00 on January 11, 1942. Initially when the defense failed, they were instructed to retreat to Tinoör stronghold, located some five miles inland. After some sporadic fights and due to poor communication, instead defending Tinoör-line, the Compagnie Menado had to move to Koha. The Tinoör was defended by Lieutenant van de Laar from Reserve Korps Oud Militairen (RK) and the reinforcement from Landstorm Compagnie under 1st.Lt. Masselink. The fighting at Tinoör lasted until 15:00 when the KNIL was out of ammunition and had to retreat to Kakaskasen.

The Reserve Korps Oud Militairen (RK) under the command of Lieutenant Radema was responsible for the defence of Kema. He had two of his brigades placed along the coast line and one at his CP at Ajermadidih (Airmadidi). The rest of the company had to defend Mapanget airfield, Likoepang (Likupang) and Bitoeng (Bitung).
The landings at Kema started at 03:00 on 11 January 1942 and were made swiftly. The Japanese transport ships quickly left the area. When Radema heard about the Japanese landing he immediately ordered his troops to regroup at Ajermadidih. When the first Japanese troops, including three tanks, reached Ajermadidih at 09:00, Radema tried to stop the Japanese advance with few available troops. But at last, Radema had to withdraw from Ajermadidih and planned to start a guerrilla war. However due to high rate of native troops desertion, he had to give up this plan.

The defence of Lake Tondano and the airfield at Longoan was under the responsibility of the so called Tactical Command Kakas with commanding officer Captain W.C. van den Berg. Kakas is a small town name near Lake Tondano. The airfield itself was defended by 41 brigades under the command of 1st Lieutenant J.G. Wielinga. This unit was reinforced with one of the overvalwagens (armoured car). Wielinga had his CP at the kampong Langoan, where he held 11 brigades back in reserve. The rest of his troops and the overvalwagen were placed at the airfield. Sergeant-Major H.J. Robbemond was in command.

Shortly after 09:00 hours January 12, 1942, 334 Japanese paratroopers were dropped on and around the airfield. Having heard the dropping, Captain van den Berg ordered the two remaining Overvalwagens (armoured car) to attack the airfield. Although the Japanese paratroopers suffered heavy casualties, they succeeded to capture the Langoan airfield. Enraged by the heavy losses, the Japanese executed a large number of KNIL POW's. Knowing that the battle was lost, van den Berg ordered his remaining troops to retreat inland and start a guerrilla war.

In several places the remaining KNIL forces tried to start a guerrilla war against the Japanese invaders. Captain Kroon assembled what was left of the Menado Compagnie (about 50 men) and retreated towards Kembes, hoping to start an active guerrilla from this place. Due to regular desertions by his native soldiers he reached Kembes with only nine men left. Here the group was taken prisoner by the Japanese. All European members, except Kroon himself, were executed at Langoan on January 26, 1942.

Sergeant Maliëzer from E-Company did not want to surrender and started a guerrilla force with fifteen of his men. On February 8, they attacked a Japanese unit at Kanejan. The fighting lasted the whole day and the Japanese counter-attack failed. Outraged they burned nearby Kampong and executed five civilians (including two women). On February 12, they came back with a larger force and this time captured Maliëzers group. Maliëzer too was executed at Langoan with twelve of his men.

Captain van den Berg's and his group were taken prisoner on February 20, 1942. His group, made up out of pensioners, attacked the Japanese units on several occasions and inflicted heavy casualties. Out of respect for the high average age and fighting spirit, the Japanese commander spared their lives.

In 1942 the Japanese armies overran much of the territory of the European empires in the Far East. Malaya, Burma, Indonesia and Vietnam were all occupied by Japanese troops. Once Japan was in retreat the European powers were determined to reclaim their empires. With France and Holland still too weak after suffering the effects of German occupation, it fell to the British Labour government to restore French rule in Vietnam and Dutch rule in Indonesia as well as reoccupying Britain's own colonies. In both countries the British met with fierce resistance that inaugurated bloody wars of national liberation.