Overshadowed by the invasion of the Philippines, Shanghai, Wake Island and the other events at the beginning of World War 2, the Battle of the Java Sea was none the less a critical sea battle. The Allies, or what was to become the Allies, hastily threw together a battle fleet to blunt the Japanese expansion into South East Asia, Sumatra and Java.
The fleet was comprised mainly of the remnants of the American Asiatic Fleet, The British Far East Fleet and the Dutch East Indies Fleet. Outgunned and out-numbered from the start, this fleet, commanded by Dutch Admirals, had it been given proper air cover and better communications, might have stopped the Japanese expansion across the Pacific and avoided entirely the later Battle of the Coral Sea. But fate was none too kind to this fleet, and except for a few minor actions in which American destroyers inflicted some losses on the Japanese invasion fleet, it failed to have any impact on halting the Japanese in their advances in the Pacific. Still, the Battle of the Java Sea is an interesting opening action; little is known about it, perhaps because it was a defeat in the early dark days of WW2.