Operation Pounce (ii)

This was a British operation on the island of Java in the Netherlands East Indies by Brigadier J. H. N. Poett’s 5th Parachute Brigade Group (winter 1945).

The brigade had been in India for ‘Zipper’, and was moved to Malaya on 17 September 1945 before being switched to Singapore for allocation to Lieutenant General Sir Philip Christison’s Indian XV Corps. This corps was moved to Java in October, and the British 5th Parachute Brigade left for the island on 18 October as part of the British force intended to intern all Japanese troops and civilians on the island, and to keep peace (threatened by the extremist Indonesian nationalist faction) until the Dutch could send forces back to the East Indies to assume control of their colony.

The 5th Parachute Brigade arrived in Batavia in December, was judged ready for action on 20 December, and was then despatched to the east to assume control of the Semarang region of northern central Java, where lawlessness was rife. The brigade was grouped in Semarang by 14 January 1946, allowing Brigadier A. W. S. Mallaby’s Indian 49th Brigade to return to the rest of Major General D. C. Hawthorn’s Indian 23rd Division around Batavia in western Java.

Unlike the other British forces in Java, the 5th Parachute Brigade had a relatively uneventful sojourn on the island, and was relieved by the Dutch ‘T’ Brigade Group by 26 April before moving back to Singapore.