The extraordinary adventures of a group of airmen who escaped
the Japanese and became the RAAF's celebrated 18th Squadron

by Marianne van Velzen

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The unknown story of a unique RAAF squadron, its men
and its mission to halt the Japanese advance in the Pacific.

March 1942. Java is about to fall. An Australian military dispatch rider and a Dutch air force transport pilot embark on a frightening escape from the advancing Japanese that takes them from Bandung to a crash landing just north of Darwin. Both would later join a unique band of flyers determined to strike back at the enemy.

"Bomber Boys" is the extraordinary and little known story of more than 100 Dutch airmen, stranded in Australia with no country to return to, who were joined by a contingent of Australians to make up the RAAF's No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron. Formed in Canberra in April 1942, the squadron flew operational coastal patrols before eventually being relocated to the secret MacDonald Airfield, north of Pine Creek in the Northern Territory, and eventually Batchelor, near Darwin.

This is, however, more than a story about the 900 bombing raids, reconnaissance missions and attacks on Japanese shipping that the squadron flew in its three years of existence under Australian control. At its heart, is a powerful and compelling story of a group of very different men, thrown together for a common purpose, and the strange and sometimes difficult friendships they formed.


The Author:- Marianne van Velzen is a Dutch journalist who lived in Australia for many years. She has a life-long interest in the country. She is the author of Call of the Outback, the story of Ernestine Hill, published in 2016.


Soft Cover

305 pages

16 pages of photographs



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This page first produced 5 April 2017

This page last updated 24 February 2020