Jim Belshaw begins the story of Camp Victory and the Casino Boys
Melbourne 1943. KNIL Netherlands East Indies troops who escaped march through the streets of Mebourne.Growing up, I was always a little confused that an uncle had apparently served in the Dutch Air Force during the Second World War. How did a boy from
The answer to this question provides another thread in the complex history of Northern NSW, one that would give the quiet
a place in Dutch military history and in the history of the Indonesian struggle
for independence. Casino
The Nazi Germany invasion of neutral
began on 10 May 1940. Four days later, the main elements of the Dutch army
surrendered. Queen Wilhelmina escaped to Netherlands ,
followed a day later by the Dutch government. London
With the fall of
Dutch PM De Geer concluded that the war was lost and sought to return to to negotiate
surrender terms with the Germans. Queen Wilhelmina, later described by Winston
Churchill as the only man in the Dutch Government, would have none of this. She
dismissed De Geer, replacing him as PM with Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy. Holland
Despite the loss of the mother country, the Dutch Government in exile still controlled the Dutch overseas possessions and especially the
Dutch East Indies with its resources
including oil supplies. However, the position in the Far East was becoming
increasingly cloudy with the growing threat from . Japan
The Dutch Government’s main military asset in the
Dutch East Indies was the Royal
Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL, short for Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch
Leger). Air cover was provided by the KNIL's air arm, the Royal Netherlands
East Indies Army Air Force (ML-KNIL). There were also some elements of the
Royal Dutch Navy.
These forces were ill-equipped to face the growing Japanese threat. Urgent efforts began to expand and modernise them, but there were difficulties in acquiring skilled manpower and new equipment.
On 7 December 1941, the Japanese attacked
The Dutch Government declared war on Pearl Harbour the following day. Japan
January 1942. Netherlands East Indies Martin 166 bombers in action over Malaya
Dutch East India oil supplies were of critical importance to
The already prepared Japanese invasion began on 17 December 1941. The Allies
established a unified command including the British and Americans, but the
ill-equipped KNIL ground and air forces could not stop the advance. Japan
On 8 March, 1942, the Dutch were forced surrender. In two months, the Japanese had seized effective control of all the
Dutch East Indies, including its oil resources.
Dutch East Indies General Hein ter Poorten surrenders to the Japanese following heavy defeats.
Remnants of both the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army and Air Force escaped to
, laying the basis for the
story that would follow. Australia
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 1 February 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.