Today everyone understands the role of
oil in the society. Oil was the main goal, and often, the main weapon in
the wars of the twentieth century, especially during the Second World
It all started with the exacerbation of
the relations between Japan and the United States, when President
Roosevelt imposed an embargo on the supply of crude oil to Japan. This
was a big blow to Japan, since in 1939-1940 the country was producing
only some 2.7 million barrels of oil a year in its own fields. About a
million barrels of oil were coming from the occupied Korea and
Manchuria, the Soviet Union sold the same amount from the island of
Sakhalin, and there was some mining in Taiwan. The production of
synthetic fuels under the U.S. patent was negligible, and what was Japan
to do if 80 percent of its oil was imported from Mexico and the U.S.?
U.S. analysts after the embargo decided that the next move will be an
advance of the Empire to the south in Indonesia, and this was a severe
miscalculation. However, by July 25th of 1941, that is, at
the time of the imposition of the embargo by the United States, Japan
had a two-year supply of peacetime fuel and one-year supply of military
fuel. In addition, Japan negotiated with Mexico to sell prospective oil
fields, and with the governments of the Netherlands in exile, the
Japanese had a certain advantage. It lasted until December 7th of 1941, and in the morning of the 7th Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War.
On its own, this operation from a
military standpoint was a big mistake. The pilots suggested striking not
only at the ships, but also the on-shore fuel tanks, but Admiral Nagumo
decided that everything possible was done, and ordered to retreat.
Meanwhile, these containers contained 4.5 million barrels of oil, a
reserve that the Americans had been accumulating for 10 years. Damaged
ships could be repaired, but the Americans did not have another ten
years to resupply the fuel at Pearl Harbor. No wonder Admiral Nimitz
later wrote that if the Japanese had destroyed them with a few guns of
50th gauge, the war would have dragged on for another two years. The
American ships would not be able to effectively fight from California.
However, none of the higher ranks of the Navy of Japan thought of this.
On February 14th of 1942, a
battalion of Japanese paratroopers landed in Indonesia and seized two
oil refineries, Shell and Standard. Soon, the Japanese reached the rich
oil mines Balikpapan in Borneo. As a result, by May 1942 the Japanese
finally achieved what Hitler failed to achieve in Europe - provided fuel
for Japan's full independence. Now it was able to receive 18 million
barrels of oil a year, which was enough for everything. However, the
Americans soon hit back.
In the summer of 1942 the U.S. Submarine
"Grenadier" torpedoed and sank "Taiyo Maru" ship that transported over
1,000 specialists in oil production and Petroleum Engineers, nearly the
entire group of professionals of the Japanese oil industry, to the East
Indies.780 of them died.
Then, the U.S. decoders deciphered a
Japanese radio code and gained access to all Japanese transport routes.
All forces and mainly a pack of submarines were sent to intercept
tankers, and by the end of the war it yielded an impressive result - one
hundred and ten Japanese tankers have sunk. General LeMay was given all
the planes based in Guam with a single order - to bomb everything that
produced and transported fuel.
The commanders of the Joint Japanese
Navy have shown rare self-confidence. Only by late 1943 they realized
the possible consequences and organized convoys for tankers. It was too
late, and such a great loss of vessels was not easy to overcome. In
addition, the fuel shortage has affected the fleet. There was not enough
fuel during the battle of Leyte Gulf, the Battle of the Solomon
Islands, the Coral Sea and, finally, the Philippine Sea. However, not
everyone knows that a shortage of fuel in the Japanese navy was caused
not only by the American pilots and submariners, but also Dayaks savages
of Borneo. They were famous for cutting off the heads of their defeated
enemies. They did not just cut them, but also "prepared" them in a
special way, and then hung them under the roofs of their huts. Warriors
who earned the heads of the Europeans enjoyed special honor because the
natives believed that such a head can give the tribe the same benefits
that white people had. These heads were the Dayaks' best currency. No
Dayak boy could marry without bringing his bride and her relatives at
least one head of the killed enemy.
The English Major Harrison
and his two assistants who could speak Malay were sent to these people.
The British brought savages guns and taught them how to use them. The
Dayaks began attacking the Japanese garrisons and killing Japanese
soldiers. The Japanese could do nothing because they did not know how to
fight in the jungle.
Another way to hurt the Japanese was
common wild boar hunting. In Borneo people had long been hunting boar
when migrating herds were crossing the river. Boars were shot with
rifles and spears. Wounded animals were carried down the river, where
they were picked up by women and children. At first villagers would eat
wild boar, but then trophies became so numerous that only fat was cut
off wild boar carcasses, and the rest was thrown away. Crocodiles
enjoyed the leftovers; however, there was so much of it that they simply
could not eat it all. Then the river carried boar corpses to the coast,
where they would fall into the bay. This is where the oil rigs were
located. Oil extraction became impossible. First, the poisoned water
from the river was not drinkable. Second, because of the decomposing pig
carcasses the water stank and attracted a great deal of crocodiles and
sharks. An accidental fall into the water meant certain death. The
Japanese went on a rampage, but since the mines employed Indonesian
Muslims, it was impossible to make them touch a pig. Then Native
American commandos arrived to the island and on top of everything else
blew a few towers, which resulted in a reduction of oil production in
Aravaca to a minimum.
The Japanese, however, tried to punish
the Dayaks bombing their villages from the air. They aimed at bonfires
strategically placed by the Dayaks, and only wasted their bombs. In the
woods they were met with bamboo pegs driven into the ground and
smothered in pig manure, traps with nests of wild bees and poisonous
arrows of the Dayak for which there was no antidote. The Japanese were
forced to leave the island.
Because of this and many others similar
operations and mass destruction of the Japanese tankers, oil was lacking
not only for ships but also refineries, and, accordingly, gasoline for
airplanes, not to mention cars in Japan.
As a result, the
streets of Japanese cities were filled with gas generating cars that ran
on wood and rice straw. The U.S. Air Force even stopped bombing the
Japanese oil refineries because there was nothing there to refine. Only
in August of 1945 the last such plant in Japan was eliminated and the
plant in Taiwan was severely damaged.
As a result, when American soldiers came
to arrest the Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and he tried to
commit suicide, they had to look for an ambulance with fuel for two
hours, because all of them were empty.