Piracy during WW2?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
driftwood
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Location: EU

Piracy during WW2?

Post by driftwood » 29 Jun 2020 10:17

Does anyone know if there was much activity by pirates (not commerce raiders from an official navy) in the Asia-Pacific during WW2, or did the increased naval activity of the war effectively bring a temporary stop to piracy in the region? Areas like the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca have long been hot spots for piracy (and parts still are today). The days of big pirate warlords like Ching Shih were long gone, but I know there were definitely still incidents of less organised piracy and hijacking in southeast Asia during the 1920s-30s, so I'm curious if anything was still going on during 1941-45.

Also, I'm kind of curious to know whether any of the belligerent nations in this theatre took advantage of local pirates and their knowledge of local waters, whether as spies, raiders, etc. Japan paid off bandits as auxiliaries on land in northern China, so it'd be interesting to know if something similar happened at sea.

EwenS
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Re: Piracy during WW2?

Post by EwenS » 30 Jun 2020 10:36

One of the first actions taken by the RN and RAF following the re-occupation of Hong Kong in Sept 1945 was to institute anti-piracy patrols of the surrounding Chinese coastal areas by both sea and air. For example, this was a significant role for 132 Spitfire squadron while it was there between Sept 1945 and its disbandment in 1946.

So I suspect that it never really went away, war or no war. Maybe just made it a bit more dangerous for those engaged in it!

It is also worth remembering that Japan did not occupy the whole of the Chinese coastline even after the outbreak of war with the Western Allies in Dec 1941. Coastal areas east and north of Hong Kong remained under Chinese control throughout the war. See here
https://www.pacificatrocities.org/blog/ ... est-extent#

driftwood
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Location: EU

Re: Piracy during WW2?

Post by driftwood » 30 Jun 2020 12:13

EwenS wrote:
30 Jun 2020 10:36
One of the first actions taken by the RN and RAF following the re-occupation of Hong Kong in Sept 1945 was to institute anti-piracy patrols of the surrounding Chinese coastal areas by both sea and air. For example, this was a significant role for 132 Spitfire squadron while it was there between Sept 1945 and its disbandment in 1946.

So I suspect that it never really went away, war or no war. Maybe just made it a bit more dangerous for those engaged in it!
That's interesting. I'd imagine maybe the Brits were also concerned about an increase in piracy due to the somewhat disorganised situation that arose in many parts of Asia immediately following the Japanese surrender, and the economic hardship that had been brought about by years of war.
EwenS wrote:
30 Jun 2020 10:36
It is also worth remembering that Japan did not occupy the whole of the Chinese coastline even after the outbreak of war with the Western Allies in Dec 1941.
That's true. But they also controlled Indonesia and Malaysia, which have been pirate bases for generations. It would be interesting to know whether they actively sought to curb it, or tried to hire some of those guys for their own purposes.

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