35th Brigade (Kawaguchi Detachment) at Labuan

Smiling Japanese soldiers land in Victoria, Labuan in this propaganda photo taken after the occupation. Labuan was captured by two platoons under the command of Colonel Watanabe of the Imperial Japanese Army's 124th Regiment, 35th Brigade, 18th Division, Southern Expeditionary Army. Overall command of the Borneo operation fell to Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi (December 3, 1892-May 16, 1961). The Japanese encountered no resistance, as the British Colonial Government recognized in 1940 that Borneo lacked sufficient defense to prevent any hostile invasion. The British Colonial Resident (sort of a consular official), Arthur H. P. Humphrey (June 18, 1911-October 9, 2001) later stated that upon his capture at Labuan, he was "repeatedly hit by a Japanese officer with his sword (in its scabbard) and exhibited for 24 hours to the public in an improvised cage, on the grounds that, before the Japanese arrived, I had sabotaged the war effort of the Imperial Japanese Forces by destroying stocks of aviation fuel on the island." These Japanese soldiers of the Kawaguchi Detachment, aboard one of four transports that survived the initial invasion of Borneo the month before, would end up on Guadalcanal, where they would suffer heavy losses the following October in the Battle of Edson's Ridge. Kawaguchi was relieved of command in 1943 and sent into retirement. Humphreys was interned in Sarawak until September 1945 and eventually returned to the United Kingdom when Borneo was granted independence.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Australian War Memorial
Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Wednesday, January 14, 1942