23 October. In his first meeting with Sukarno and Hatta, held in defiance of his government, Van Mook explores the possibilities of a compromise. However, he is hampered by his suspicions of British motives and the intransigence of his political masters; the Dutch government decrees that the meeting never took place. Changing tack, Van Mook then persuades the British to inform the Republican leadership they are bound to respect Dutch sovereignty, a move that dampens Republican enthusiasm for negotiations.
25 October. Commanded by Brig.-Gen. A.W.S. Mallaby, Indian troops arrive in Surabaya to escort internees to safety. Their job is hampered because the internees are camped on the far side of the city. The same day, British forces enter Palembang as part of the operation to repatriate thousands of Allied POWs and civilian internees from Sumatra. This is achieved over the next few weeks with far less trouble than on Java where, within days of the British arrival, an initially cordial welcome turns hostile largely due to British blunders.
7 November. The Islamic political party Masjumi is founded at a conference in Yogyakarta. Most delegates are from Java, but the aim is a unitary Islamic party for the whole country. The event is significant because of Masjumi’s popularity in the coming decade and a half and because of strong Muslim support for the independence movement that it represents. Five days later, the first congress is held of the Socialist Party (Parsi) under Amir Sjarifuddin, which had already been founded on the 1st. Other political parties are also quickly formed.
30 October. When news of the situation in Surabaya is received, fighting breaks out in Semarang and quickly spreads to Magelang, where only British air attacks save the beleaguered Gurkha force. Again, Sukarno is asked to intervene. Next day he makes a radio appeal for all fighting against the British to cease; the Republic cannot withstand the power of all the Allies. On the 1st he flies to Semarang, then proceeds to Yogyakarta via Magelang after failing to arrange a truce. An agreement made next day lasts until the 10th when news arrives from Surabaya of fierce fighting there.
3 November. Vice President Hatta issues a decree allowing the formation of political parties, a natural consequence of the move towards a parliamentary system initiated in October. The text states that a range of parties will better represent the desires of different groups in the Indonesian population. The decree comes after several groups have already called meetings to establish parties.
9 November. During a week of relative quiet in Surabaya following Sukarno’s peace broadcast, up to 8,000 internees are successfully evacuated. Once completed, the British seek revenge for Mallaby’s killing. All women and children are warned to leave the city by evening and an impossible ultimatum in leaflets dropped from the air demands all arms are handed in by dawn and Mallaby’s killers handed over. With the Republican government dithering, the local authorities reject the ultimatum.
12 November. Despite the creation of a formal army, the TKR, on 5 October, defence of the new Indonesian Republic is still highly decentralized. Local commanders are negotiating with Japanese forces and assessing local vulnerabilities and opportunities without reference to any central authority. Finally, regional commanders meet in Yogyakarta and elect the commander from Banyumas Regency, a former auxiliary commander under the Japanese called Sudirman, choosing him in preference to Oerip Sumohardjo (see p. 138). The election marks a shift in Republican policy towards more forceful military resistance, as Sudirman immediately orders an assault on British and Dutch forces in Ambarawa that leads to their withdrawal.
On 13 November 1945, 100 tumultuous days had passed since the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. One thousand days later, on 9 August 1948, the forces that had been set in train by Japan’s defeat and surrender continued to shape the face of Asia.
In August 1948, the Indonesian national revolution was in dire straits. For nearly two years after the independence declaration, the new state had been in control of much of the most populous islands of Java and Sumatra. In late 1946, on the eve of the departure of British forces, Republican leaders had reached an agreement with the Netherlands to accept a federation with … (to continue reading Cribb and Li’s aftermath, click the link below)
23 October. Under Chinese pressure to allow a greater non-communist presence in his government, Ho Chi Minh signs an accord between the Viet Minh and Vietnamese Revolutionary Alliance (Dong Minh Hoi). In the next two months, three more accords are made with the DMH or Vietnam Nationalist Party (VNQDD), that on 23 December with both parties being the most important. These accords break down after the nationalists launch recruitment drives and both sides vilify each other in the press and their own propaganda.
28 October. Following British seizure of key installations in the city and an ultimatum that local forces disarm, about 120,000 pemuda attack the 4,000 well-armed but scattered Indian sepoys as well as the convoys of internees they are escorting. After an urgent British appeal, Sukarno arrives in the city early in the morning and calms the situation. After negotiations seem to have succeeded, he leaves again. Next day, scattered fighting resumes during which General Mallaby is killed. His death changes British sentiment firmly in favour of the Dutch.
10 November. With local leaders rejecting the previous day’s British ultimatum, British forces attack early next morning, their troops backed by tanks and by aerial and naval bombardment. Three weeks of savage fighting pass before the city falls. Though a crushing military defeat for Republican forces, it is a strategic and political victory as the British realize they are unable to repeat such feats across the entire country.