Paul Budde's History Archives

Australia becomes involved in NEI affairs

Australia, in its isolation as a western country in the Asian region was parochial and rather naïve and narrow minded in its international outlook and many people had become xenophobic.  Over previous decades a collection of policies had been implemented effectively barring people of non-European descent from immigrating to Australia.

Under the terms of this White Australia policy – the non-Europeans from NEI were accepted as refugees as long as the Dutch Government agreed to return them home at the end of the war. This largely happened without too much complication. However, as we will see later Australia did have – for a long time – problems how to classify the (half-blood) Indo people of NEI.

Most of the exiles – including members of the KNIL – were housed in re-grouping and training camps under the direct command of Dutch officers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Casino.

Following the surrender there was one more military action which took place In late 1942. The KNIL tried to land in East Timor, to reinforce Australian commandos who were waging a guerrilla campaign, however it failed and ended with the loss of 60 soldiers, this was the last offensive action by the KNIL in NEI[1]. Australian forces (the Z-Force as we will see later) kept operating in certain parts of the archipelago.

[1] The Battles for Timor – Western  Australian Museum