Paul Budde's History Archives

Dutch – Australian military cooperation

More by default than through thorough planning the Dutch and Australian were thrown into the war in SE Asia together with other allies such as the Brits and Americans against an incredibly rapid expanding Japanese occupation of SE Asia. Through this essay the military activities are further detailed in their relevant chapters. But as we are talking about a war situation it is important to provide this brief overview of some of the key combined military activities.

  • The Battle of Singapore and other events in the SE Asia war theatre in February 1942.
  • The fight on land against the Japanese in NEI in February and early March 1942, where Australians and Dutch fought side by side, left many Australian soldiers stranded, many of them ended up in the infamous Burma Camps.
  • A combined military activity in Timor in late 1942, which failed and became the last resistance fight against the Japanese on NEI.
  • Sharing of Australian military facilities with the members of the exiled KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger – The Royal Netherlands East Indies Army).
  • Establishing combined squadrons and naval fleets in Australia.
  • Australians had the largest Allied force in the unoccupied part of South Dutch New Guinea and fought with the Americans in the north of the island and successfully ousted the Japanese. Control was handed over to the Dutch in 1945.
  • The secret operation of the Australian Z-Force[1] to ‘kidnap’ the pro-Dutch Sultan of Ternate in 1945.
  • Australian military together with the British Army took over control of NEI, after the capitulation of Japan, they eventually handed over control to the Dutch in 1946.

[1] Z Special Unit was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia. Predominantly Australian, it was a specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit which included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members, predominantly operating in the NEI.