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The Borneo Campaign
Double Crown

  • 75 years Commemorative Coin

  • Australian forces last major operation during World War Two

  • Struck to Proof quality from 2oz 999 Silver with 24 carat gold accents

  • Exclusive limited mintage of only 199!

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The Borneo Campaign was the last major operation for Australian forces during World War Two campaign. Also known as Operation Oboe, it was one of the most complex operations involving Australian land, air and sea forces during the war (supported by US and other Allied air and naval forces) and was conceived to liberate Japanese-held British Borneo and Dutch Borneo in Indonesia.

Since early 1942 the Japanese Imperial Forces had been occupying Borneo and many prisoners of war, including Australians where held captive here at various locations on the island. In 1944, Australian Special Forces troops of the Services Reconnaissance Department – commonly known as 'Z' Force – where also sent to the island to encourage the local Dyak villagers to engage the Japanese in guerrilla warfare. This was highly successful, and resulted in about 2000 Japanese being killed. The liberation commenced on 1st May, 1945 with the Allies launching a brutal three-pronged attack on Borneo.

The first was on the island of Tarakan off north-east Borneo, the objective of landing here was for the construction of airfields to cover subsequent operations. The operation was code-named OBOE 1, and conducted by the 26th Infantry Brigade (part of the 9th Division). Over the next seven weeks, there would be fierce fighting as the Australians pushed inland to take the whole island. Before the last Japanese positions fell on 20th June 1945, more than 200 Australians were killed in action. Amongst these courageous heroes that sacrificed their lives was one of the most famous Australian soldiers of the war, Lieutenant Tom 'Diver' Derrick VC DCM, 2/48th Battalion, and also the sole recipient of the Victoria Cross for actions on Tarakan Island, Corporal John Mackey, 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion.


The second operation, code-named OBOE 6, was a landing on Labuan Island in Brunei Bay, north-west Borneo. Despite a delay in landing due to shipping challenges on 10th June 1945 Australian troops stormed ashore under the cover of a Naval bombardment and air support. The two objectives of this operation was to secure the Brunei Bay area so it could be used as an advanced naval base, and secondly to capture the oilfields, rubber plantations and production plants.

On Labuan Island, the Allies met with a significant resilient force which consisted of several hundred Japanese who made a determined stand in a swampy, jungle-clad area known as 'the pocket.' Over time they were blasted out by naval and air attacks and finally Allied infantry was sent in to finish the job, but the fighting continued on this front until the war's end, by which time more than 100 Australians had been killed.

On the 1st July 1945 the largest ever amphibious assault by Australian forces commenced – this formed part of the third and final operation, code-named OBOE 2, it was at Balikpapan, south-east Borneo. This huge Allied effect consisted of more than 33,000 army, air force and navy personnel making the landing. As with the other operations, the Australian troops were well supported with naval and air attacks which couldn’t be matched by the Japanese. Through great planning, courage and determination there was never any doubt that this Australian assault would not succeed despite the Japanese’s resilience. 

The war ended on 15th August 1945, by this stage all major objectives had been achieved. There was a sad footnote to the campaign in regards to the loss of many prisoners of war who had been held at Sandakan in north Borneo. Between 1942 and 1943, more than 2000 Australian and British prisoners of war had been sent there from Singapore and Java. They suffered dreadfully during this time, and by the start of 1945, many had died of starvation, overwork and disease. The Japanese ordered more than 1,000 supposedly 'fit' men to march into the mountains to a more isolated base at Ranau. Nearly 300 men too sick to attempt the march either died or were killed at Sandakan. Out of those who undertook the march, only six men – all Australians – survived. They had escaped and were rescued by Allied forces.

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