Doorman, Admiral Karel, 1889-1942

Doorman was a Dutch Admiral who lost his life in the Battle of Java Sea in February 1942. Doorman led a combined Striking Force of five cruisers and nine destroyers to protect the Dutch East Indies. The ships had not trained together and were manned by men of different nationalities. On 27 February 1941 Doorman sighted a Japanese force of four modernized cruisers and fourteen destroyers north of Surabaya. This force matched Doorman’s; however it had the edge because it was equipped with ‘long lance’ torpedoes which were much faster than Western torpedoes. At first the action was inconclusive with the Exeter, De Ruyter and Houston all hit by gunfire. Later the Exeter was more seriously damaged and returned to Surabaya. Doorman decided to withdraw and also sent his destroyers back to base. However the Japanese ships caught up with his force and sank Doorman’s flagship De Ruyter, for the loss of all hands.

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