Kendari is a small town on the southeast peninsula of Celebes facing the Banda Sea towards Amboina Island. In World War II was Kendari considered as a very important air and naval base by both sides, Japanese and Allied. Especially significant for the war effort in advancing south, Kendari airfield was an important objective from which planes (bombers) could interdict routes between Australia and the Netherlands East Indies, also able to bomb major centres on east Java and Timor Islands, like for instance Soerabaja and Koepang.
In the night of 23-24 January 1942 soldiers and officers of the Japanese Sasebo Combined Special Naval Landing Force went ashore north of Kendari. They soon (a couple of hours later) reached their main objective-the Kendari airfield. The KNIL coastal guarding detachment couldn't call because line was down. Everybody on the airfield was panicking and all this made Japanese soldiers easy to capture the airfield. Little resistance was offered and only 2 Japanese soldiers were wounded. Destruction of the Kendari airfield was incomplete. On 24 January 1942 Japanese Eastern Invasion Force appeared off Kendari. An American seaplane tender Childs (built in 1920; main arnament: 2 x 10.2cm (4in) guns)), upon leaving Kendari harbor, spotted the Japanese. A rain squall obscured the seaplane tender Childs for a while, allowing her to avoid two Japanese destroyers. Than she was attacked by six Japanese plans at 0800 but it was unhit and escaped to the south. By the evening of 24 January 1942 Kendari was fully occupied. Most of the Dutch KNIL troops officered by KNIL Army Captain F.B. van Straalen were captured by Japanese, some fought a guerilla war for a short period, while others tried to escape to safer parts of archipelago. Kendari Air Base was considered th best in the Dutch East Indies and was immediately put into operation by the Japanese 21st Air Flotilla.
On 25 January 25 Japanese fighters landed on the airfield and on 26 January 27 bombers followed by a lot more
of them later. The airfield was extremly important as the Japanese could now control the important life line from Australia to Java Island and they could also bomb Java Island (Soerabaja Naval Base among others) itself. Above all a primary naval base was established at
Staring Bay, just to the south of Kendari.
Note These carriers didn't operate under the direct command of Rear-Admiral Fujita. They had to provide protection for the eastern flank by bombing Ambon Island during the landings at Kendari. The ships arrived in the waters east of Halmahera Island on January 23rd.
Note The heavy cruiser Myoko was damaged during a bombardment of Davao City, Philippines on January 4th and had to return to Sasebo Naval Base for repairs. She left this port on February 20th and arrived at Makassar (Celebes Island) six days later.