What was the Brits issue today Vice Admiral Karel Doorman of the Royal Netherlands Navy wondered. The De Ruyter was under repair at Darwin to fix damage she had suffered in a the last scrap with the Japanese Navy in the Mandates, so the flag of his new Command had been raised aboard the British Battlecruiser Hood.
They were not yet at Action Stations and for any untrained observer nothing was different but Doorman saw that the British were behaving differently, and it took him a glance at the Calendar to know why. When he saw the date he merely grinned and in his mind almost pitied any Japanese that would face the biggest Allied Surface Battle Group that had yet graced the Atlantic. The absence of Prince of Wales and Warspite wasn't an issue, as Anson, Nelson, and Barham had been sent from Europe along with the French Dunkerque, Strasbourg, and Richelieu, to the joy of Admiral Somerville who commanded the Allied Naval Forces in the Pacific. The French had also sent several Cruisers, the Suffren, Dupleix and Vortex.
Doormans group thus consisted of seven Dreadnoughts and two Battlecruisers, escorted by a wild mixture of Dutch, Australian, New Zealand, French and British Cruisers Destroyers.
Having learned from past mistakes the ASBG was covered by three full fighter Squadrons, two Australian, one Dutch at the moment in relay with more units along the northern coast of Java.
But the group was only a part of the Allied naval strenght that was out on this day. Forty miles to the East lagging behind in order to be able to cover the Surface Battle Group, while Vimy Ridge, Melbourne and Illustrious were turning into the wind to launch their Air groups. However today the target wasn't to attack the Japanese Navy, their Carriers weren't expected in this area for another four or five days but rather more to increase the number of aircraft supporting the forces ashore for today the Allies started the battle that would evict the Japanese from Java.
It was barely past sunrise, so when Doorman watched through a pair of binoculars as the turrets of all his Dreadnoughts and Battlecruisers swung to port he could see the gun flashes of several dozen Batteries of Allied Artillery. Without looking he knew that the RDF screens at the back of the bridge were full with contacts that denoted Allied Aircraft.
It was without question the most important Allied Offensive in the Pacific was underway, two months earlier than expected by most 'experts'. Doorman had spoken with Cunningham before boarding the Hood and the British Admiral had merely grinned and replied that the surest way to get promotion in the Royal Navy under the current Government was to act with dash and in front of the time table. With more seriousness in his voice he had replied that in reality it had been an effort to increase operational security aimed at lulling the Japanese in a false sense of at least temporary security and the best way to do that was to train the men and the Officers to act 'upon receipt of orders' with no actual date given which did imply that it was some time yet.
Doorman had agreed with this as it was an example of what good Staff Work could do.
“Signal from Illustrious, Sir!” came the yell from somewhere. Commodore Beattie, in command of the British contingent, had refused to shift his flag from his beloved ship in spite of the now rather cramped conditions read it aloud.
“From the Admiral to all ships: Engage the Enemy more closely!”
Doorman shook his head and only nodded. “Well, we best do what we are told. To all ships: Open fire.”
Almost as one several dozen guns from eight to fifteen inch fired, in support of the Canadian on the northern half of the Island.
The number of guns that were now concentrating on targets all over the Divisional area of the Japanese 99th Division was greater than those of their entire Corps, and they suffered for it. Extensive aerial and ground reconnaissance in the days leading up to this day had given the allies a relatively good idea of what was where.
As he surveyed the firing line he couldn't help but wonder what the French Sailors thought about going into battle on the 21st October, on Trafalgar day.
The Allied ships fired their guns as fast as they would go and on the Island itself the Allied Soldiers sat and watched.
MN Richelieu the day before, photographed from an Australian Carrier Aircraft
The Allies went onto the attack all along the line. From the North to the South-Coast of Java, where-ever there were Allied troops facing Japanese forces combat broke out in the early morning hours as the Allied Forces slowly made their way through the jungle towards the Japanese lines, hot on the heels of a creeping barrage that was expertly walked across the enemy lines.
Cunningham's subterfuge had worked perfectly and the Allies had complete strategic surprise.
That did not mean that it was easy. In spite of the massive assembly of Artillery and air power that unleashed itself on the Japanese the front was just far too long to destroy every Japanese strongpoint at a distance and the sometimes incredibly intricate log and scattered concrete fortifications that the Japanese had constructed over the last few months was very resilient to gunfire of all calibres.
Fierce fighting developed and while the Japanese forward position was pierced with relative ease many of the Allied troops were tied down with mopping up Japanese holdouts. It was then that the semi-secret Brigade was revealed. It was a good thing that several good roads led along the coastline and that the vehicles that the unit based itself around were very capable in the jungle for their size and type.
Mathilda II Crocodile, supporting the advance of a Battalion of the Australian 9th Division
The fate of the last thirty Australian Mathilda II Tanks had been sealed and they had been due to be sold to the KNIL, but the modifications that turned them into flame thrower tanks after it had turned out that Flamethrowers were very useful and that the poor Infantryman who had to carry it was even more so.
The Mathilda was slow, and while that made service in Europe impossible, on Java this was less of an issue. On this day a great many Japanese dugouts would be cleared using them.
Being split op and assigned as a Divisional asset to each of the allied units these would soon prove to be very useful to the Allied Cause.
Up north the Canadian Marines too were on the attack, but they moved slower and more cautiously than the Australians to their south. However this was not due to and deficiencies in leadership (although there were those) but more because of the sheer number of Japanese forces, more than anywhere else as a distant reminder of the Canadian probing attacks.
Most of the Allied Air Power on Java was to support the Dutch down south, so the waters just off the coast were continually lit up by muzzle flashes and in front of them the Japanese lines were churned over by the massive collection of shells.
Like their ancestors they went over the top when the whistle was blown. The guns shifted to other targets and the Canadian Marines fought among the burning, smoldering undergrowth and struggled with their Japanese counterparts.
The Japanese Divisions fought hard but were pushed back along the line. The first attacks, air and Artillery, had torn into their formations and now determined and grim-faced allied troops came at them. For many of the Japanese soldiers something amazing happened: They were afraid.
RCCM troops shortly before the attack
Comments, questions rotten Tomatoes?
The French NAVY is the only part of the French military really pulling it's weight in the Pacific aside from a few Fighter Squadrons in Burma. We will see more of the French ships in the future.
And before anyone complains: I've been looking at the weather patterns for Jakarta and figured that it could be done. They aren't exactly what they were in WW2, but close enough.
Sorry for the shortness, but I intend to go into the particulars of the campaign soon and starting that here would have been the wrong thing to do.
 TTL all the Queens were given the same upgrades over time. Barham is the last, so ironically she is the most advanced of all the Queens until Warspite gets her new Radars.
 Cunningham has now a Nimitz-type position as Allied CinCPac.
 By Pacific War standards, with a healthy dose of British understatement.