Background of the Battle of Surabaya 10 November 1945

Background of the Battle of Surabaya November 10, 1945 – The Battle of Surabaya was a battle between soldiers and militias proclaming Indonesian independence, the British army and British India. The climax occurred on November 10, 1945. This battle was the first war between Indonesian troops and foreign troops after the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence and one of the biggest and toughest battles in the history of the Indonesian National Revolution which became a national symbol for Indonesia’s resistance to colonialism.

After this battle, the support of the Indonesian people and the international world for Indonesia’s struggle for independence grew stronger. November 10 is celebrated every year as Hero’s Day in Indonesia.

When the Allied troops landed at the end of October 1945, Surabaya was described as “a strong united stronghold under the youth”. Fighting broke out on 30 October after the commander of the British force, Brigadier AWS Mallaby was killed in a gun battle. The British mounted a punitive counteroffensive on 10 November with the assistance of fighter planes. Colonial troops captured most of the city within three days, poorly armed Republican troops fought back for three weeks, and thousands of people died as the townspeople fled to the countryside.

Even though they lost and lost members and weapons, the battles waged by the Republican troops aroused the enthusiasm of the Indonesian people to fight for their independence and attracted international attention. The Netherlands no longer saw the Republic as a collection of troublemakers without the support of the people. This battle also convinced Britain to take a neutral stance in the Indonesian national revolution; a few years later, Britain supported Indonesia’s cause at the United Nations.

Background of the Occurrence of the November 10, 1945 War

1. Arrival of Japanese Soldiers to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia)

On March 1, 1942, Japanese troops landed on Java Island, and seven days later on March 8, 1942, the Dutch East Indies colonial government surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese Empire based on the Kalijati Agreement. After the unconditional surrender, Java Island was officially occupied by the Japanese.

2. Proclamation of Indonesian Independence

Three years later, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the allies following the dropping of atomic bombs by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The events occurred on August 14, 1945 which caused a power vacuum. In the vacuum of foreign power, Soekarno then proclaimed Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945.

3. Arrival of British and Dutch troops

After the defeat of the Japanese, the people of Indonesia and the fighters tried to disarm the Japanese soldiers. This is what causes the battles that took their lives in many areas. When the movement to disarm the Japanese troops was raging, on 15 September 1945, British troops landed in Jakarta, then landed in Surabaya on 25 October 1945.

British troops came to Indonesia to join the Allied Forces Netherlands East Indies (AFNEI) by decision and on behalf of the Allied Block, with the task of disarming the Japanese army, freeing the prisoners of war held by the Japanese, and returning Japanese troops to their countries. But apart from that the British troops who came also carried the mission of returning Indonesia to the administration of the Dutch government as a colony of the Dutch East Indies. The Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) took a ride with a group of British troops for this purpose. This triggered the turmoil the people of Indonesia and Indonesia led to the movement of popular resistance everywhere against the AFNEI and the NICA.

4. Incident at Hotel Yamato, Tunjungan, Surabaya

Hotel Orange Surabaya in 1937.

After the announcement of the Indonesian government’s announcement on 31 August 1945 stipulating that from 1 September 1945 the national flag of Sang Saka Merah Putih was hoisted continuously throughout Indonesia, the flag-raising movement spread to all corners of the city of Surabaya.

The climax of the flag-raising movement in Surabaya occurred in the incident of tearing the flag at the Yamato Hoteru/Hotel Yamato (named Oranje Hotel or Hotel Orange during colonial times, now called Hotel Majapahit) on Jalan Tunjungan No. 65 Surabaya.

A group of Dutch people under the leadership of Mr. WVCh. Ploegman on the night of 18 September 1945, at 21.00 WIB, raised the Dutch flag (Red-White-Blue), without the approval of the Regional Government of the Republic of Indonesia in Surabaya, on a pole on the top floor of the Yamato Hotel, on the north side.

The next day, the Surabaya youths saw this and became angry because they thought the Dutch had insulted Indonesian sovereignty, wanted to restore power to Indonesia, and insulted the Red and White flag-raising movement that was taking place in Surabaya.

Shortly after gathering the masses at the Yamato Hotel, Resident Soedirman, a fighter and diplomat who at that time served as Deputy Resident (Fuku Syuco Gunseikan) who was still recognized by the Dai Nippon Surabaya Syu government, as well as Regional Resident of Surabaya, Indonesian Government, came through the crowd and entered to the Yamato Hotel escorted by Sidik and Hariyono. As RI representative, he negotiated with Mr. Ploegman and his friends and asked that the Dutch flag be taken down from the Yamato Hotel building immediately.

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In these negotiations, Ploegman refused to lower the Dutch flag. The talks heated up, Ploegman pulled out a gun, and a fight broke out in the assembly hall. Ploegman was strangled by Sidik, who was also killed by Dutch soldiers who were on guard and heard Ploegman’s gunshots, while Soedirman and Hariyono fled outside the Yamato Hotel.

Outside the hotel, the youths who knew the mess of the negotiations immediately broke into the Yamato Hotel and a fight broke out in the hotel lobby. Most youths scramble up to the top of the hotel to drop the Dutch flag. Hariyono, who was originally with Soedirman, returned to the hotel and was involved in climbing the flagpole and together with Koesno Wibowo managed to lower the Dutch flag, tear off the blue part, and hoist it to the top of the flagpole again as the Red and White flag.

The raising of the Indonesian flag after the Dutch flag was torn off in blue at the Yamato Hotel.

After the incident at the Yamato Hotel, on October 27, 1945 the first battle erupted between Indonesia and the British army. These small attacks later turned into general attacks that claimed many lives on both the Indonesian and British sides, before General DC Hawthorn asked President Soekarno for help to defuse the situation.

5. Death of Brigadier General Mallaby

After the ceasefire between the Indonesian and British soldiers was signed on October 29, 1945, the situation gradually subsided. Although it still occurs armed clashes between the people and the British troops in Surabaya. The armed clashes in Surabaya culminated in the killing of Brigadier General Mallaby, (head of the British army for East Java), on 30 October 1945 at around 20.30.

Brigadier Mallaby is the commander of Brigade 49 Indian Division with a strength of ± 6,000 troops which is part of AFNEI, the Allied troops sent to Indonesia after the end of World War II to disarm the Japanese army, free Japanese prisoners of war, and return Indonesia back to the Dutch East Indies under Dutch rule. under NICA administration.

At that time, the Buick car in which Brigadier General Mallaby was traveling ran into a group of Indonesian militia when he was about to pass through Jembatan Merah. The misunderstanding led to a shootout that ended in the death of Brigadier General Mallaby by a gun shot by a young Indonesian whose identity is unknown, and the car was set on fire by a grenade explosion which made Mallaby’s body difficult to identify.

Mallaby’s death caused the British to be angry with the Indonesian side and resulted in the decision of Mallaby’s replacement, Major General Eric Carden Robert Mansergh, to issue an ultimatum on November 10, 1945 asking the Indonesian side to surrender weapons and stop fighting the AFNEI army and the NICA administration.

The Debate on the Causes of the Gunfight

Brigadier General Mallaby’s Buick car which exploded near the Internatio Building and Surabaya Red Bridge.

Tom Driberg, a British Member of Parliament from the British Labor Party (Labor Party). On February 20, 1946, in a debate in the British Parliament (House of Commons) it was doubted that the shooting was started by Indonesian troops. He said that it was strongly suspected that the shooting incident had arisen due to a misunderstanding that 20 members of the Indian troops led by Mallaby who started the shooting did not know that a ceasefire was in effect because they were cut off from contacts and telecommunications.

Here’s a quote from Tom Driberg.

… About 20 (British) Indian (soldiers), in a building on the other side of the square, had been cut off from telephone communication and had no idea about the truce. They shot sporadically into the (Indonesian) masses. Brigadier Mallaby emerged from the (truce) discussion, walked straight into the crowd, with great courage, and shouted to the Indian soldiers to cease fire. They obey him. Perhaps half an hour later, the crowd in the square became agitated again. Brigadier Mallaby, at some point in the discussion, ordered the Indians to open fire again. They opened fire with two Bren rifles and the crowd dispersed and ran for cover; then fighting broke out again in earnest. It is clear that when Brigadier Mallaby gave the order to open fire again, ceasefire negotiations have actually broken out, at least locally. Twenty minutes to half an hour after that, he (Mallaby) unfortunately died in his car – although (we) are not really sure if he was killed by Indonesians who approached his car; which exploded simultaneously with the attack on him (Mallaby). I don’t think this can be accused of being a sneaky murder… because the information I got quickly from an eyewitness, namely a British officer who was actually on the scene at the time, whose honest intentions I have no reason to question…. he (Mallaby) unfortunately died in his car-although (we) are not really sure if he was killed by Indonesians who approached his car; which exploded simultaneously with the attack on him (Mallaby). I don’t think this can be accused of being a sneaky murder… because the information I got quickly from an eyewitness, namely a British officer who was actually on the scene at the time, whose honest intentions I have no reason to question…. he (Mallaby) unfortunately died in his car-although (we) are not really sure if he was killed by Indonesians who approached his car; which exploded simultaneously with the attack on him (Mallaby). I don’t think this can be accused of being a sneaky murder… because the information I got quickly from an eyewitness, namely a British officer who was actually on the scene at the time, whose honest intentions I have no reason to question….

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Suparto Brata, historian of Surabaya, said that until now, who killed Mallaby remains a mystery. “No one knows or witnesses saw who killed Mallaby,” said Suparto Brata.

In his story as outlined in a book, the late Roeslan Abdulgani also recounted that the battle in front of the Internatio building was triggered by British soldiers who were confined in the building shooting indiscriminately at the fighters. However, the figure that killed him is unknown because there have never been eyewitnesses. Mallaby’s death remains a mystery.

Freedom or Death motto

The ultimatums distributed by air flyers by the British army made the people of Surabaya very angry. Almost all corners of the city of Surabaya were filled with youths and armed groups. In the memory of Suhario alias Hario Kecik (Deputy Commander of the People’s Security Police), hundreds of youths gathered around him, all carrying guns and automatic pistols.

Hario Kecik said that those who were called incomplete carried grenades. A meeting of youths and armed groups in Surabaya decided to appoint Sungkono as Defense Commander for the City of Surabaya and appoint Surachman as Combat Commander. From here, the motto “Freedom or Death” and the Surabaya Warriors’ Oath emerged as follows.

Stay Free!

We will seriously defend the Sovereignty of the Indonesian State and Nation which was proclaimed on August 17, 1945, full of shared responsibility, unity, sincere sacrifice with the determination: Freedom or Death! Once Free, Always Free!

— Surabaya, November 9, 1945, at 18:46

Bung Tomo in Surabaya, one of Indonesia’s most respected revolutionary leaders. This famous photo for many people who were involved in the Indonesian National Revolution represented the soul of Indonesia’s main revolutionary struggle at that time.

After the killing of Brigadier General Mallaby, his replacement, Major General Robert Mansergh issued an ultimatum which stated that all Indonesian leaders and people who were armed must report and put their weapons in the designated place and surrender by raising their hands above. The ultimatum cutoff was 6.00am on November 10, 1945.

The ultimatum was then seen as an insult to the fighters and the people who had formed many fighting bodies or militias. The ultimatum was rejected by the Indonesian side on the grounds that the Republic of Indonesia had already been established at that time, and the TKR (People’s Security Army) had also been formed as a state troop.

In addition, many armed struggle organizations have been formed by the community, including among youths, students and students who oppose the re-entry of the Dutch government which piggybacks on the presence of British troops in Indonesia. On the morning of November 10, the British army began to launch an offensive. The allied forces encountered resistance from Indonesian troops and militia.

Apart from Bung Tomo, there were also other influential figures in mobilizing the people of Surabaya at that time, some coming from religious backgrounds such as KH Hasyim Asy’ari, KH Wahab Hasbullah, and other Islamic boarding school clerics who also mobilized their students and civil society. as a resistance militia (at that time the people were not so obedient to the government, but they were more obedient and obedient to the kiai/ulama), so that the Indonesian resistance lasted tough, from day to day, until from week to week. The people’s resistance, which at first was spontaneous and uncoordinated, has become more and more organized day by day. This battle took about three weeks.

At least 6,000-16,000 fighters from the Indonesian side were killed and 200,000 civilians fled from Surabaya. Casualties for the British and Indian troops were estimated at 600-2,000 soldiers. The bloody battle in Surabaya which claimed thousands of lives has stirred people’s resistance throughout Indonesia to fight. The number of fallen fighters and civilians who became victims on November 10 was later remembered as Heroes’ Day by the Republic of Indonesia until now.

So, that’s a brief explanation of the chronology that led to the Battle of Surabaya on November 10, 1945. Appreciating the services of the heroes involved in the battle is not only done by remembering and thanking them, but also by emulating their attitudes and actions.

Sinaumed’s can visit sinaumedia’s book collection at to get references about other heroes, starting from their life background, education, and struggle history.

The following is a recommendation for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about the history of the Battle of November 10, 1945 so they can fully interpret it. Happy reading.

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