This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: JFU 437).


Footage from the Battle of Surabaya (Sourabaya/Soerabaja) in Java, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), including mortar and artillery fire, infantry activity, and views of the city.

Indian troops advance in single file along a street in the Chinese quarter of Surabaya. Medium close-up of a dead Indonesian lying in the street 'full of Bren gun slugs' (from the dopesheet). A file of Indian troops passes camera; they are identified on the dopesheet as 5th Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles of 49th Indian Brigade, 23rd Indian Division. Indian troops crouched by an Ordnance QF 6-pounder anti-tank gun. An Indian corporal speaks on a radio in a jeep. Close-up of a 3-inch mortar bomb. Out of focus footage of mortar men with their weapons (Ordnance ML 3-inch mortars). Two mortars ready for firing. A mortar is fired. A position on a railway line held by men of 5/6th Rajputana Rifles, probably near the docks and west of the Kali Mas canal. Indian soldiers on the position. Rear quarter shot of a soldier firing his Sten submachine gun; the weapon appears to repeatedly misfire. View from a rooftop observation or command post with a Bren light machine gun entering left foreground. A sergeant wearing 23rd Indian Division insignia looking through binoculars. An officer seen sniping from behind a grassy embankment with a Lee Enfield No.5 rifle (a 'jungle carbine'). An improvised barricade across a street. A sign reads '13th Indian Field Battery, Indian Artillery' and is marked with the badge of the Indian Artillery. An Indian gun team at the ready by an Ordnance QF 25-pounder field gun. The muzzle. A probably posed sequence showing the gun team running from a small basha to their gun and taking their positions. Stacked ammunition. 25-pounder firing. Views of a battery position with smoke on the horizon. A column of smoke. Pan from battery position to smoke on the horizon. A sign reads 'NO ENTRY - ROAD UNDER FIRE'. Looking down a road over a barricade; Indonesian nationalist graffiti and flags can be seen. A few troops on a deserted street. An Indonesian flag on a pole. Thick smoke rising behind a treeline. View of bomb damage in the Chinese quarter, with a view of the Chinese Alhambra cinema facing the Kali Pegirian (or Semampir Canal). An improvised crossing over the Semampir Canal; a motionless British soldier of 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment stands guard on frame right. Debris in the canal. Wide shot showing a group of (Chinese?) civilians outside a damaged (shop?) building. View from inside a sandbagged bunker with a Bren gun left foreground and a warehouse visible through the aperture. Shot from outside; sandbags left with warehouses some distance off with an Indonesian flag flying above. A British soldier of the West Yorks stands outside the bunker with his rifle; the muzzle of the Bren gun can be seen. Shot of an Indonesian flag flying from a tower. Views of a shell-damaged government building. Views from an artillery observation post in an unnamed 'government building' in Surabaya, possibly the Governor's Offices in the city centre. Views over the city, some with smoke rising (presumably from shelling). A jeep parked by an embankment marked with graffiti. Smoke in the distance with a sandbagged emplacement in the foreground; location possibly facing the Semampir Canal (Kali Pegirian) in 9th Brigade's sector. A small barricade across a road, probably at the junction of Sociteitstraat and Regentstraat. A knocked out Indonesian light tank, previously a Japanese Army Type 95 Ha-Go. It is marked 'PRI' (probably 'Pemuda Republik Indonesia' or 'Youth of the Republic of Indonesia', an armed youth movement). A debris-strewn street. Three civilians approaching a barricade. A young pony or foal with a sandbagged emplacement behind. In the Chinese quarter a crowd of Chinese civilians stands in the street (Chinese flags are evident). Entrance to the Chinese Red Cross building. Close-up of a sign reading 'Chinese Red Cross Unit'. Red Cross flag flying at the doorway.


The first troops to arrive in Surabaya were 49th Infantry Brigade on 25 October 1945. Initially tense but peaceful, the city erupted into violence after a leaflet drop on 27 October appeared to contradict an agreement between British and Indonesian leaders the previous day. Fighting broke out on 29 October between troops of 49th Brigade and a force of tens of thousands of well trained and equipped Indonesian nationalists and even greater numbers of militia armed with small arms or edged weapons. The commander of the virtually overwhelmed 49th Brigade, Brigadier Mallaby, was killed in disputed circumstances on 30 October while attempting to negotiate and as a result 5th Indian Division (123rd and 9th Brigades) was deployed to the city. An ultimatum issued on 9 November by General Christison (commander Allied Forces Netherlands East Indies, AFNEI) was duly refused and Surabaya assaulted from the 10 November by 5th Indian Division with artillery, tank, air and naval gunfire support. The city was cleared methodically and was secure by the end of November. Casualties amounted to 600 British and Indian, while estimates for Indonesian dead range up to 16,000. While the battle was costly for the Indonesians in terms of lives and heavy weaponry it had enormous political impact, unmistakeably demonstrating the resolve of the nationalist movement.

Location information taken mostly from the references below.

The fighting in Surabaya was well covered by British official photographers whose work is held by the Imperial War Museum's Photograph Archive. See related items.

While the fighting in this film is largely implied rather than seen, this is a useful piece.



Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
10 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
838 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
War Office Directorate of Public Relations
Production company
SEAC Film Unit
Sergeant; cameraman
Davis, Desmond (Sergeant)



Production Organisations