Between May and August 1945 Australian military
forces fought to liberate the island of Borneo from more than three
years of Japanese occupation.
In well-planned and co-ordinated seaborne assaults at; Tarakan, Brunei
bay and Balikpapan, Australian soldiers overwhelmed and outfought
determined and well prepared Japanese defenders. Australian and American
air and naval forces closely supported the Australian soldiers.
Tarakan Island was the site of the first Australian assault launched on
1 May, 1945. The main objective was to capture the airfield for a future
allied air base.
After a preliminary 20-day air bombardment, Australian troops landed
unopposed at Lingkas beach and the town was soon captured. Japanese
resistance however steadily increased and the airfield which was 4 km
from the town, was not captured until 5 May. The subsequent fighting,
which was vicious and costly, continued until 14 June and was mainly
within a 7 km zone around the town.
The airfield was damaged beyond repair, but the Tarakan battle prepared
the Australians well for the later landings at Labuan and Balikpapan.