30 JANUARY 1942, Page 1

The Macassar Straits Victory

The long running battle in the Macassar Straits which lasted for several days has given the Allies their first considerable vicr.uy in the Pacific zone. A convoy, estimated to have numbered a hundred Japanese vessels escorted by powerful warships, of which one is believed to have been a battleship, entered the confined waters of the strait last Friday, and there was subjected day after day to attacks by American cruisers and destroyers and determined bombing by Dutch and American

aircraft. On Friday last the large vessel presumed to be a battleship was sunk, and two cruisers, four large transports and a destroyer were set on fire. On the days following more heavy losses were inflicted on the enemy with the result that in the first three days II ships and probably six more were sunk and 17...others were seriously damaged. The casualties in all are thought to have included, besides the battleship, one aircraft- carrier, four cruisers, and at least two destroyers, and it is suggested that some 25,000 Japanese have been killed or drowned. The attacks were still continuing at the moment of going to press, and it seems likely that the major part of this large convoy will have been destroyed by the carefully planned concentration of power at the right point. The news is heartening for many reasons. The victory has diminished the superiority of the Japanese fleet. It shows that substantial American aid is now beginning to arrive in the fighting zone. It evidences good co-operation between the American ships and the Dutch Air Force. It is a reminder, too, that the Japanese lines of com- munication are long and vulnerable, and that a sustained offensive against them may prove the best form of defence.