The history of World War Two has dedicated little relative attention to the Far East theater of operations. Big events like the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces are well-researched. Success stories–like Chindit operations in Burma and Malaya–are celebrated.
Yet, in the midst of the period 1941-1942 a series of small defenses of myriad islands took place in an effort to stop the Imperial Japanese Army from leapfrogging across the continent. They mostly failed.
The men who undertook to arrest this wave of Japanese invasion did so at significant personal cost and in the absence of all but the most rudimentary of supplies and weapons systems. If the ground conditions of Indonesia 1941-1942 had occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan in the 2000s there would quickly. be a Parliamentary Enquiry.
Alas, when fighting a war on two fronts, the one closest to home gets the lionshare of resources. This was certainly true for British forces and the U.S. Marines in the Pacific who fought in places like Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, Guam, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
All of these men deserve our gratitude. And they deserve our attention to their story in order that we may never forget the direst of situations in which they fought and died.