18 SQUADRON NEI-AF
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

The Japanese occupied the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) in early 1942. A number of Dutch airmen escaped to Australia after surviving the fierce fight with the Japanese. They mostly ended up at either Archerfield airfield in Brisbane or Melbourne. These airmen were formed into a number of operational groups under RAAF control. All of their stores and equipment were supplied by the United States of America.

The Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEI-AF) had two combat squadrons and some Transport sections in Australia during World War 2.

Lt. G. Van Rijn and a party of N.E.I. personnel arrived in Canberra in a B-25 Mitchell from Archerfield Airfield in Brisbane on 1 April 1942 to arrange for the formation and location of a new Dutch Squadron. Lt. Van Rijn was to be its acting Commanding Officer.

18 (NEI) Squadron was formed as an RAAF Squadron at Fairbairn airfield in Canberra on 4 April 1942 to establishment HD-53. Five officers and one hundred other ranks arrived from Melbourne by train on the same day. 18 (N.E.I.) Squadron took over Hangar No. 48 at Fairbairn airfield and the personnel were accommodated in the Station Barracks. Married personnel were permitted to live off the base.

The Squadron was formed from the two groups of Dutch airmen at Archerfield and Melbourne. They flew B-25 Mitchells. The Squadron's Dutch personnel (and a few Javanese) were complemented by a number RAAF personnel covering both aircrew and ground crew occupations.

The squadron was formed within the framework of the RAAF and was supplied and maintained through the RAAF organisations, with the cost being met by the N.E.I. Government. The aircrew and a considerable proportion of the ground staff were Dutch nationals and there was a RAAF component in the Squadron. At a later date the N.E.I. Personnel and Equipment Pool (NEI-PEP) was established in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory where reserve aircraft and equipment were held, and operational and other training was carried out. The RAAF supplied some of the personnel for this purpose. The Commonwealth Government decreed that the number of RAAF staff loaned to the N.E.I. units was not to exceed 700. In June 1945 the actual number of RAAF personnel was well below 700.

S/Ldr C.J. Storm, the Squadron Medical Officer and F/Lt Van Der Schroeff and F/O W.J. Burk arrived by train on 16 April 1942. F/Lt L.J. Yanssen, and a party of three Officers and twenty one other ranks arrived by train from Brisbane on 17 April 1942.

W/Cmdr B.J. Fiedeldij arrived and took over as Commanding Officer from Lt. G. Van Rijn on 21 April 1942. Lt. P. Kruyne arrived on the same day and took over duties as the Squadron Finance Officer.

18 (NEI) Squadron held a Ceremonial Parade on 30 April 1042 and hoisted the National Dutch Flag on the flag pole near the Station Post Office in honour of Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana's birthday.

On 9 May 1942 a swearing on ceremony of Dutch Officers was held starting at 0930 hours. There was a large gathering of Official Guests and Officials present. The Dutch Ambassador, the Rt. Hon. Baron Van Aerssen Beyeren Van Voshal attended the ceremony.

On 12 May 1942, His Excellency, Lord Gowrie, the Governor General of Australia paid an official visit to 18 (NEI) Squadron between 1130 and 1230 hours. W/Cmdr B.J. Fiedeldij and Lt. B. Hulscher were presented to His Excellency by F/Lt Leslie Roy Dawson (206968), the RAAF Station Adjutant.

S/Ldr Winter-Irving, arrived on 15 May 1942 and took up duties as the Squadron Administrative Officer.

W/Cmdr B.J. Fiedeldij travelled to Melbourne on 25 May 1942 for a conference with U.S.A. and RAAF officials. On the same day, F/Lt. Leslie Roy Dawson (206968) took over duties as the Squadron Administrative Officer to command all RAAF personnel in accordance with Air Board Signal PZ-922, 15/5/42.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal George Jones made a tour of inspection of 18 (NEI) Squadron and its personnel on 27 May 1942.

W/Cmdr B.J. Fiedeldij returned from the conference in Melbourne on 28 May 1942.

18 (NEI) Squadron Unit History Sheets show the following B-25 Mitchells flying missions until 12 June 1942:-

N5-132
N5-134
N5-135
N5-136
N5-151

W/Cmdr Fiedeldij proceeded by road to Melbourne for a conference on 11 June 1942. Three A-20 Bostons arrived from Richmond at 1415 hours on 12 June 1942 and were attached to 18 (NEI) Squadron.

18 (NEI) Squadron Maintenance Section moved into Hangar No. 46 on 13 June 1942. O/C F/Lt Hoogeveen, Acting Adjutant (RAAF) P/O A.S. Foster, Acting W.O.D. W/O C.H. Inman and nine American pilots arrived by air on 13 June 1942 to ferry B-25 Mitchells from 18 (NEI) Squadron to Charters Towers. Delivery of the the aircraft was refused by the C.O. of the Squadron. W/Cmdr Fiedeldij returned from his conference in Melbourne on the same day.

Orders were received from N.E.I. Headquarters on 14 June 1942 for 18 (NEI) Squadron to retain B-25 Mitchell and A-20 Boston aircraft.

P/O D.S. Cohen was appointed Adjutant for 18 (NEI) Squadron RAAF Personnel on 15 June 1942.

Lt. Rose and a party of U.S. pilots left Canberra for Brisbane at 1000 hours on 16 June 1942 with the following A-20 Boston aircraft:-

"45" 40-077 with bomb sight & case M6-103
"22" 40-101 with bomb sight & case M6-180
"15" 40-82 with bomb sight & case M6-255

On 18 June 1942, F/Lt D.K. McDonald (430) of 22 Squadron RAAF, took delivery of A-20 Boston #40-155 and ferried it to Richmond. On the same day S/Ldr R.E. Jessurun and party proceeded to Melbourne by air on duty of re-organising 18 (NEI) Squadron personnel and equipment.

On 19 June 1942, Instructions were received from Station Headquarters releasing two B-25 Mitchells from operational duties.

On 22 June 1942, four B-25s and 6 A-20s were being used for general training.

On 23 June 1942, ten A-20 Bostons were handed over to F/Lt Bell of 22 Squadron RAAF and ferried to Melbourne.

On 24 June 1942, 18 Squadron Dutch Officers held a Squadron party at Hotel Canberra and invite dall RAAF Officers who were members of the Squadron.

On 29 June 1942, all RAAF Pilots and surplus Wireless Air Gunner personnel were posted from 18 (NEI) Squadron to various other destinations. A Flag Parade was held commencing at 1000 hours to commemorate Prince Consort Bernhard's birthday. Present were Baron Aerssen van Beyeren-Voshol, Netherlands Minister and Rear Admiral Frederik W. Coster, CO of the Netherlands Forces in Australia. The Rear Admiral inspected the Squadron personnel and equipment.

18 (NEI) Squadron Unit History Sheets show the following B-25 Mitchells flying missions between 21 July 1942 and 26 July 1942 :-

N5-124
N5-126
N5-127

The Commanding Officer and a party of Officers visited the Canberra Alpine Club premises at Mount Franklin on 5 July 1942.

Air Vice Marshal Anderson A.O.C. Eastern Area made an inspection of 18 (NEI) Squadron on 7 July 1942.

P/O A.M. Cobham took up duties as the Squadron Intelligence Officer on 13 July 1942.

Mitchell N5-126 piloted by Lt. Jansen crash landed at Moruya in New South Wales at 1815 hours on 22 July 1942 due to faulty undercarriage. B-25 Mitchell N5-127 took off at 0914 hours on 23 July 1942 for Moruya with the Commanding Officer to investigate damage to B-25 Mitchell N5-126. Lt. Hoogeveen left by road for Moruya on the same day to inspect the damaged B-25 N5-126.

Major Fiedeldij and Lt. Hoogeveen returned by road from Moruya on 24 July 1942.

Major Fiedeldij proceed by air to Melbourne for a Conference on 29 July 1942. Captain Jessurun acted as CO in his absence. Advice was received from Moruya that meningitis had broken out there and the Medical Authorities were removing all Air Force personnel to the aerodrome. Transport and necessary equipment was immediately despatched to Moruya. A party of N.E.I. and RAAF personnel arrived from Moruya at 2000 hours on 29 July 1942 and were placed in isolation.

Squadron strength at the end of July 1942 was 5 Officers and 220 Other Ranks.

18 (NEI) Squadron personnel were released from isolation by S/Ldr Ellis S.M.O on 1 August 1942.

B-25 Mitchell N5-125 flew to Moruya with a spare crew on 10 August 1942 to ferry N5-126, which had undergone temporary repairs, to Tocumwal for a major overhaul. Squadron personnel who had been at Moruya to repair N5-126 returned to Canberra on 12 August 1942.

On 19 August 1942 S/Ldr McKenzie, E/Area Equipment Officer; S/Ldr N.J. Duffy-Fyfe, E/Area Engineer Officer; and F/Lt Cooper E/Area Establishment Officer visited the squadron and after a conference with the C.O. and senior Officers took a draft copy to Eastern Area Headquarters of the proposed 18 Squadron's new War Establishment.

On 22 August 1942, new aircraft AC41/12935 arrived and was taken on Squadron strength.

On 23 August 1942, five new aircraft as follows arrived and were taken on strength:-

AC41/12914
AC41/12916
AC41/12919
AC41/12936
AC41/29713

W/Cmdr John Reginald Paget (0210891) S.A.S.O. Eastern Area visited the Squadron and discussed establishments on 26 August 1942.

On 27 August 1942, Lt. Col. Van Straten, Commander-in-Chief of N.E.I. Forces in Australia visited and inspected the Squadron.

On 31 August 1942, Queen Wilhemina's birthday celebrations were held. His Excellency Baron van Aerssen Beyeren van Voshal inspecte dthe Squadron and attended the celebrations.

C.O. Major Fiedeldy, and Captain Jessurun travelled to Melbourne on 1 September 1942 for a conference with RAAF and NEI Headquarters regarding Personnel and Establishments.

On 3 September 1942 four B-25 Mitchells as follows, were handed over to US personnel and ferried north for duty:-

N5-123
N5-124
N5-125
N5-127

On 5 September 1942 new B-25 Mitchells were received and taken on Squadron strength as follows:-

N5-135 (AC41-12937)
N5-136 (AC41-12912)
N5-137 (AC41-29735)
N5-138 (AC41-12934)

Note:- N5-135 and N5-136 were previously being used by the Squadron - see above).

On 11 September 1942 the following two B-25 Mitchells arrived from the USA and delivered to 18 (NEI) Squadron by US pilots:-

N5-140 (AC41-12913)
N5-141 (AC41-29725)

On 12 September 1942, Major Fiedeldij, Lt. Hoogeveen, Lt. van Deschroeff left by car at 1400 hours for a conference at R.N.F. Headquarters in Melbourne.

On 14 September 1942 the following B-25 Mitchells arrived and were taken on strength:-

N5-142 (AC41-29716)
N5-143 (AC41-29722)

On 15 September 1942, B-25 Mitchell piloted by Captain De Vries and Sgt Hoogvelt flew His Excellency, the Governor General of Australia on a tour of Inspection of Uranquinty, Wagga and Cootamundra RAAF Stations. B-25 Mitchell N5-139 (AC41-29723) was delivered by US pilots and taken on strength in 18 (NEI) Squadron.

S/Ldr Dawson and Captain Jessurun proceed by air to Headquarters, Easter Area in Sydney to discuss Squadron Establishments on 17 September 1942.

On 21 September 1942, two more B-25 Mitchells arrived and were taken on strength, brining the number of B-25s with the Squadron to eighteen:-

N5-144 (AC41-29717)
N5-145 (AC41-12798)

S/Ldr Dawson by air to visit AIRBOARD on 22 September 1942 to discuss final details of Establishment personnel and equipment matter for 18 (NEI) Squadron.

On 24 September 1942, S/Ldr Dawson, Captain Storm, P/O Middleton, Sgts Trickett, Williams and Allender visited C.S.I.R in Canberra for a course of instruction on matters relating to malaria mosquito, fly, and general tropical camp hygiene. They visited C.S.I.R. in Canberra again on 29 September for further instruction on malaria and tropical diseases.

On 26 September 1942 five B-25 Mitchells with members of the Dutch Choir flew to Sydney to broadcast a Concert programme. They returned to Canberra on 28 September.

Squadron strength at the end of September 1942 was 7 Officers and 237 Other Ranks.

A parade of all Dutch personnel was held on 2 October 1942 to witness the presentation to Lt. F. Nieuwpoort the Cross of Merit for his long and faithful service. Major Fiedeldy travelled to Melbourne for a conference with N.E.I. - RAAF Headquarters.

On 3 October 1942, the Dutch Choir rendered items before His Excellency The Governor General at his residence "Yarralumla" in Canberra. The recital was in aid of the One Shilling Services Fund.

On 5 October 1942, Major Fiedeldij and S/Ldr Dawson proceeded to Nowra by air to inspect, and make arrangements for air-to-air firing by members of 18 (NEI) Squadron at that Station.

On 8 October 1942, Major Fiedeldij, S/Ldr Dawson an party flew to Headquarters Northwest Area in B-25 Mitchell N5-134 for a conference. They returned to Canberra on 12 October. A road party from 18 (NEI) Squadron proceed to Nowra on 12 October to prepare for an air-to-air firing course.

Major Fiedeldij, S/Ldr Dawson and Lt. v.d. Broek flew to Melbourne in B-25 Mitchell N5-132 on 14 October 1942 for a conference with NEI & RAAF officials. They returned to Canberra the following day.

Fifteen B-25 Mitchells proceed to Laverton on 26 October 1942 for a ceremonial parade at Royal Park in Melbourne held at 1100 hours on 27 October. The Parade was to invest Sgt. J. Tahija, a Javanese soldier, with teh Dutch Military Willems Order and six other Privates with the Bronze War Cross. After the investiture by Lt. Col. N.L.W. von Straten Baron Van Aerssen, the N.E.I. Consul, made Sgt Tahija a Knight of the Order. This award was the equivalent of the British Victoria Cross. At the conclusion of the ceremony, a flight of 12 B-25 Mitchells crossed over the parade ground. S/Ldr Dawson then proceeded to Sydney by rail on Squadron business. The fifteen B-25 Mitchells returned to Canberra on 28 October.

Squadron strength at the end of October 1942 was 7 Officers and 264 Other Ranks.

On 11 November 1942, N.E.I. Authorities arrested 1 Officer, Lt. Burck and two NCOs, Sgt Kelder and Sgt de Lyon, on serious charges. They were all lodged in cells at Queanbeyan Police Station pending conveyance to Melbourne for further action.

On 19 November 1942, the Governor General and Lady Gowrie paid an official visit to 18 (NEI) Squadron at 1600 hours to 1700 hours. The Squadron was paraded and a March Past of the whole squadron took place. The Governor General took the salute from the Officers' mess verandah.

An Advance Party of 18 (NEI) Squadron departed by rail on 26 November 1942 for their new Squadron base at McDonald Airfield in the Northern Territory.

Major Fiedeldij, Lt. v.d. Broek and party flew in B-25 Mitchell to Melbourne on 29 November 1942.

Squadron strength at the end on November 1942 was 10 Officers and 286 Other Ranks.

On 1 December 1942, ten guards under the command of A/Sgt Moore proceeded to Melbourne to guard goods being forwarded to their new base at McDonald Airfield. One of the Guards, LAC Keith Crannon Wilcoxon (60695) RAAF suffered head injuries while loading goods for shipment to McDonald Airfield on 3 December 1942 and was admitted to Station Sick Quarters. His Next of Kin were advised as his condition was listed as "Dangerously Ill".

On 4 December 1942, B-25 Mitchell N5-142 carried Operations and Intelligence Officers and part of the Squadron Staff to the Northern Territory. The personnel were left at Batchelor Airfield and the B-25 returned to Canberra.

On 5 December 1942, the main party under the command of F/O Cohen including 124 Other Ranks of RAAF personnel and approximately 200 tons of equipment, departed by rail from Canberra at 1200 hours.

On 6 December 1942, Lt. Col. Fiedeldij, Dr. Storm and other Dutch Officers travelled to McDonald Airfield in B-25 Mitchell N5-131 to make preliminary arrangements for the establishment of their Camp. They returned to Canberra later that day.

On 9 December 1942 all aircraft of the Squadron commenced flying in turn to Laverton Airfield for fitting of an additional bomb-bay fuel tank. B-25 Mitchell N5-131 with Captain Jessurun in command of the Advance Air Party arrived at McDonald Airfield.

On 11 December 1942, the Advance Road Party under the command of P/O Middleton and including 73 Other Ranks of RAAF personnel arrived at McDonald Airfield. Included with this Advance Road Party were 45 Motor Vehicles and approximately 100 tons of equipment and NEI personnel. LAC Tohill became ill at Adelaide and was left in Adelaide at the Station Sick Quarters at 4 S.T.T.

The First Section of the Main (Road) Party arrived at McDonald Airfield on 22 December 1942 under the command of W/O Elliott. Approximately half the equipment and further personnel of the Main Party arrived at McDonald Airfield on 23 December 1942.

The balance of the equipment and personnel under the command of F/O Cohen of the Main Party arrived at McDonald Airfield on 24 December 1942.

Nine aircraft left Canberra on 26 December 1942 for McDonald Airfield. B-25 Mitchell N5-133 made a forced landing 80 miles north of Cloncurry.

The following six B-25 Mitchells arrived at McDonald Airfield from Canberra on 27 December 1942:-

N5-128
N5-129
N5-130
N5-132
N5-137
N5-138

The Rear Party plus the balance of the Squadron's Transport, under the command of P/O Smelcher, left Canberra for 2 E.D. in Sydney on 29 December 1942 to be embarked for travel by ship to Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Lt. Col. Fiedeldij and S/Ldr Dawson arrived at McDonald Airfield from Canberra in B-25 Mitchell N5-134 on 30 December 1942.

The following B-25 Mitchells arrived at McDonald Airfield on 31 December 1942:-

N5-134
N5-135
N5-144
N5-145

The Rear Party embarked at Sydney on 31 December 1942 for travel to Darwin by sea.

B-25 Mitchells N5-141 and N5-142 arrived at McDonald Airfield from Laverton and N5-133 arrived from Canberra on 2 January 1943. On 4 January 1943, B-25 Mitchell N-140 arrived from Laverton.

On 11 January 1943 four flights made a reconnaissance flight from McDonald Airfield to famiairse themselves with he new area and test Radio Compasses and H/F D/F equipment. The flights were as follows:-

No. 1 Flight - N5-131, N5-133 and N5-140 - to Port Keats - Cape Fourcroy - Darwin - McDonald

No. 2 Flight - N5-129, N5-132 and N5-137 - to Queens Channel - Fog Bay - Cape Fourcroy - Darwin - McDonald

No. 3 Flight - N5-128, N5-130 and N5-142 - to Drysdale - Cape Fourcroy - Darwin - McDonald

Four P-40 Kittyhawks from 76 Squadron RAAF arrived at McDonald Airfield on 11 January 1943, to participate in exercises with 18 (NEI) Squadron aircraft which were held on 12 and 13 January 1943. The Rear Party from Canberra which had travelled by sea to Darwin arrived at McDonald Airfield on 11 January 1943.

The Four P-40s from 76 Squadron returned to Strauss Airfield on 14 January 1943. No. 2 Flight took off for Darwin on Standby duties on 17 January 1943. Each aircraft carried three 500 lb bombs. A portion of the store sand equipment of the Rear Party arrived at McDonald Airfield on 17 January.

No. 5 Flight (N5-143, N5-144 and N5-145) took off for Darwin for Standby duties on 18 January 1943. Each aircraft carried three 500 lb General Purpose bombs. On the same day, No. 2 Flight carried out reconnaissance from Darwin to Tanimbar Islands looking fir enemy shipping without success.

No. 5 Flight carried out Offensive Reconnaissance from Darwin to Toeal in the Kei Islands on 19 January 1943. An alternative target was successfully attacked. N5-143 sustained 3 hits and N5-144 received 4 hits from machine gun fire from the ground. All aircraft returned safely to McDonald Airfield. No. 2 Flight and 3 Flight proceeded to Darwin on Standby duties with each aircraft carrying three 500 lb bombs.

On 20 Januray 1943, No. 1 Flight with Captain Jessurun as Navigator carried out an Offensive reconnaissance from Darwin to attack any shipping to Sermati Islands then on to the Kisar Islands. The Flight carried ten 500 lb bombs. No shipping was sighted and they were unable to attack alternative targets due to heavy cloud. The Flight was attacked by 5 Japanese Zekes over Fuilor, and they were also attacked by A/A Bofors and .50calibre machine guns. Two Zekes were probably destroyed with no damage sustained to the B-25s.

On 20 January 1943, No. 2 Flight carried out an Offensive Reconnaissance to Dobo to attack any enemy shipping sighted. No shipping was sighted and alternative jetty areas were attacked with 7 bombs. No hits were observed. No. 2 Flight was attacked by three Japanese Dave floatplanes. One enemy Dave was probably destroyed. No damage was sustained to the B-25s.

On 20 January 1943, No. 3 Flight carried out an Offensive Reconnaissance to attack shipping through to Moa Island.They then flew on to Komang Island, then Kisar Island and finally to their alternative target at Lantem. Nil shipping was sighted. Four bombs were dropped at Lantem which all fell short of the target. 5 bombs failed to release. No Japanese opposition was encountered.

The 18 (NEI Squadron) Unit History Sheets show a second entry for No. 1 Flight on 20 January 1943 with Captain Jessurun as Navigator carrying out Standby duty at Darwin with each aircraft carrying three 500 lb bombs.

On 21 January 1943, B-25 Micthell N5-139 piloted by Captain de Vries, left Laverton and was the last of 18 (NEI) Squadron aircraft to arrive at McDonald Airfield.

On 22 January 1943, No. 2 Flight and No. 4 Flight (N5-134, N5-136 and N5-139) flew to Darwin for Standby duty. Each aircraft carried three 500 lb bombs.

On 23 January 1943, Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Flights carried out an attack on Dilli in Portuguese Timor. Visibility was good until they approached the target which was totally obscured by clouds. No bombs were dropped. Three Zeke or Oscar aircraft were sighted with one making several attacks on the B-25 Mitchells which returned fire with approximately 600 rounds of ammunition. There was no apparent damage to either sides aircraft.

On 24 January 1943, No. 5 Flight (N5-143, N5-144 and N5-140) flew to Darwin on Standby duty with each aircraft carrying three 500 lb bombs.

On 25 January 1943, B-25 Mitchell N5-136 of No. 4 Flight carrying three 500 lb bombs flew to Darwin on Standby duty.

On 26 January 1943, No. 1 Flight (N5-131, N5-133 and N5-135) flew to Darwin on Standby duty. After taking off, N5-131 had landing gear troubles and the flight was forced to return to McDonald Airfield. The Flight Commander. Lt. Janssen transferred to N5-135, replacing Lt. E.L. Swane, and two aircraft (N5-135 and N5-133) flew to Darwin.

On 26 January 1943, No. 5 Flight with N5-136 of No. 4 Flight, conducted an Offensive sweep to the maximum of endurance in the direction of Toeal to attack three enemy Motor Vessels reported in the area. Bad weather was encountered over the target area and although the aircraft went down to 1,000 feet there were no sightings. The Flight returned to Darwin but did not proceed on to McDonald Airfield.

On 27 January 1943, N5-135 of No. 1 Flight flew from Darwin to McDonald Airfield to collect CO.2 and then returned to Darwin. Flight No. 3 (N5-128, N5-130 and N5-138) proceeded to Darwin on Standby duty. N5-131 of No. 1 Flight flew to Darwin on Standby duty, but later returned to McDonald Airfield. N5-136 of No. 4 Flight also returned to McDonald Airfield from Darwin.

On 28 January 1943, No. 3 Flight (N5-128, N5-130, and N5-138) and Flight No. 5 (N5-140, N5-143, and N5-144)were ordered by A.O.R. N. W. A. to attack Dilli in Portuguese Timor with shipping in the harbour and aerodrome as their targets. Due to N5-128 and all of No. 5 Flight becoming unserviceable, the operation was abandoned. No. 5 Flight returned to McDonald Airfield. N5-135 of No. 1 Flight proceeded from McDonald Airfield to Darwin dropping in to Batchelor Airfield enroute with spare parts and later returned to McDonald Airfield. No. 4 Flight (N5-134, N5-136 and N5-139) proceed to Darwin on Standby duty each aircraft carrying three 500 lb bombs. No. 4 Flight and N5-130 and N5-138 of No. 3 Flight were instructed to return from Darwin to McDonald Airfield for examination of their aircraft leaving N5-128 of No. 3 Flight at Darwin.

On 29 January 1943 No. 2 Flight (N5-129, N5-132, and N5-137) proceeded to Darwin on Standby duty with each aircraft carrying three 500 lb bombs.

On 30 January 1943, N5-128 which had remained in Darwin with a damaged wheel and N5-132 returned to McDonald Airfield. N5-132 collected C.O.2 and returned to Darwin on Standby duty rejoining No. 2 Flight. No. 4 Flight (N5-134, N5-134 and N5-139) proceeded to Darwin on Standby duty.

On 31 January 1943, Flight No. 2 (N5-129, N5-132 and N5-137) and Flight No. 4 (N5-134, N5-135 and N5-139) made a dawn attack on Dilli on ships and the airfield. There was zero visibility over the target. There were no enemy sightings, no interception by the enemy and Nil bombs were dropped. On return N5-134 (Lt. Cooke) made a forced landing on the runway at Ports Keats due to a shortage of fuel. There was no injuries or damage to the aircraft. N5-139 (S/M de Jongh) made a forced landing in marsh ground at 086 Tree Point 14 miles due to a shortage of fuel. See Link below for more details.

 

Forced landing of two B-25 Mitchells N5-139 (#41-12913)
and N5-134, #41-12885
on 31 January 1943

 

Squadron Strength at the end of January 1943 was 13 Officers and 298 Other Ranks.

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

B-25 Mitchells of 18 Squadron NEI-AF at Fairbairn airfield
The aircraft in the foreground is N5-134, #41-12885
This aircraft later crashed at Port Keats, NT on 31 January 1943

 

18 (NEI) Squadron was scheduled to take delivery of eighteen B-25 Mitchell bombers when it was first formed, but these aircraft were re-assigned to the USAAF for combat duties in New Guinea. They eventually received five B-25 Mitchell in April 1942.

 

18 (NEI) Squadron flies under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

The following link describes an American version of how 24 B-25 Mitchells were acquired form the Dutch Air Force. Bas Kreuger, the Curator of the Military Aviation Museum RNlAF in Soesterberg, the Netherlands, advised me that the Mitchells mentioned below were actually handed over to the Americans rather than being "stolen". The other point with the story below is that it refers to a Batchelor airfield in Melbourne. Batchelor field was actually in the Northern Territory.

 

How the 3rd Bomb Group USAAF acquired (stole)
their B-25 Mitchells (24 off) from the Dutch Air Force

 

The original five B-25's were replaced by ten Douglas Bostons (a mixture of DB-7N's and A-20A's). Their early days in Canberra consisted of training and anti-submarine patrols. On 5 June 1942, during one of these anti-submarine patrols, the Squadron encountered a Japanese submarine off Sydney, which was reportedly sunk by B-25 Mitchell N5-151 piloted by F/O W.F.A. Winckel. This later proved to be not the case. At about 1130 hours on 5 June 1942, B-25 Mitchell N5-134 piloted by F/Lt L.J. Janssen made a forced landing at Point Perpendicular, Jervis Bay when it ran out of fuel.

On 6 July 1942, 18 Squadron was officially disbanded as an RAAF Squadron and became part of the Netherlands East Indies Air Force, but still under RAAF command.

The Bostons were then replaced between 23 August 1942 and 18 September 1942 with eighteen new B-25 Mitchells.

18 (NEI) Squadron was relocated to McDonald airfield in the Northern Territory on 5 December 1942. McDonald airfield required a lot of work. 18 (NEI) Squadron personnel built dispersal areas and taxiways between these areas and the short airfield. The granite gravel airfield would wash out badly in heavy rain and often required repairs. By mid January 943, the Squadron achieved operational status at McDonald airfield.

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

Dutch Commander presenting
WW2 medals to a Dutch Crew

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

B-25 Mitchell at McDonald airfield

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

B-25 Mitchell at McDonald airfield

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

Maintenance work at McDonald airfield

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

Dutch personnel at McDonald airfield

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

McDonald airfield

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

Sworn in at McDonald, WA

 

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Photo:- from Ted Brault

A Crash at Exmouth

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

On parade in Broome, WA

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

On parade in Broome, WA, 1942

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

On parade in Broome, WA, 1942

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

Some Spitfires in Darwin
BS231 is in the foreground

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

Ted Brault in a boxing match

 

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Photo:- Ted Brault

Ted Brault is third from the right

 

Their first operational flight was a reconnaissance patrol on 18 January 1943 to the Tanimbar Islands looking for reported enemy shipping. They flew their first operational attack on 19 January 1943 to Toeal in the Kai Islands and the next day they shot down two "Zeros" over Fuiloro and a "Dave" (Nakajima E8N1 floatplane) at Dobo during a raid on Timor.

On 31 January 1943, while returning from a dawn raid on Dili, two Mitchells from 18 (NEI) Squadron made forced landings due to a shortage of fuel. There were no casualties.

 

B-25 Mitchell #133?, crashed 76 miles south of Cloncurry

 

Crash of a B-25D Mitchell on 21 October 1942 in Northern Territory

 

 

Crash of a B-25 Mitchell N5-132 near McDonald airfield
on 5 February 1943 - all the crew were killed

 

On 18 February 1943, during a raid on Dili, Timor, six Mitchells of 18 (NEI) Squadron were intercepted by two Zeros. B-25 Mitchell Serial No. N5-144 was shot down by the Japanese and fell into the sea. One Zero was destroyed. The crew of the downed Mitchell were spotted in their rescue dinghy by the other Mitchells as they departed the area, low on fuel. Three Hudson later dropped supplies to the downed crew, who were subsequently rescued by HMAS Vendetta. It was then discovered that the pilot and bombardier had been shot dead and the co-pilot wounded by the strafing Zero. While in their rescue dinghy they had been attacked by a large shark which attempted to bite the back of the wounded co-pilot. They also had to ward off a large sea bird which attacked them in their dinghy.

18 (NEI) Squadron Mitchells suffered a number of forced landings short of their base at McDonald airfield. Their long bombing missions, often meant they returned very low on fuel.

Later in February 1943, 18 (NEI) Squadron shot down another "Zero", claimed one probable and damaged three others.

 

Crash of a B25D Mitchell, N5-133
at Point Jahleel, Melville Island, NT on 30 March 1943

 

Edmond (Ted) Brault served in the 18th Squadron NEI-AF. He initially served at McDonald airfield. He was then posted to Oakey airfield in 1944 and served as a guard in the Security Guard Unit using guard dogs.

Between the 13 April 1943 and 8 May 1943, 18 (NEI) Squadron relocated from McDonald airfield further north to the better equipped Batchelor airfield. They then flew from Batchelor until the end of the war.

 


Photo:- via Alby Anderson

18 Squadron personnel assembled, possibly at Batchelor Airfield. The short fellow with the moustache and pith helmet is Fred "Pul" Pelder who was the pilot whose name is on the restored B-25 Mitchell in Adelaide. The man to the right of him, also with a moustache and sunglasses, is Ros Van Loggem. Both were Dutch members of the Squadron.

 

p920742.jpg (73554 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI, Batchelor, 1944. B-25 Mitchells N5-188, N5-218, N5-230 and N5-226.

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920743.jpg (87081 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI, Batchelor, 1944. B-25 Mitchells N5-188, N5-218, N5-230 and N5-226.

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920744.jpg (89601 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI, Batchelor, 1944. B-25 Mitchells N5-230 and N5-226. Note the painted out American markings.

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920747.jpg (159995 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI-AF, Batchelor, 1944. Four B-25 Mitchells.

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920705.jpg (141834 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI, Batchelor, May 1944. Capt Ajses and GpCapt Charles Eaton, OC No 79 Wing.

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920707.jpg (132439 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI, Batchelor, May 1944. Capt Ajses and GpCapt Charles Eaton, OC No 79 Wing. 

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

p920797.jpg (161789 bytes) No 18 Squadron, NEI. Disbandment parade with Mitchell N5-246. 

Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

 

Crash of a B-25 Mitchell N5-152 "Tangerine"
at Batchelor airfield
on 23 May 1943

 

Crash of a B-25 Mitchell N5-153
at Batchelor airfield
on 9 September 1943

 

Crash of an NEI-AF B-25 Mitchell,
N5-145 "The Flying Dutchman"
on 18 October 1943 

 

In April 1943, 18 (NEI) Squadron, along with Beaufighters of 31 Squadron RAAF, and Liberators of the 319th Bomb Squadron,  flew almost daily raids on enemy bases and shipping. On 18 April 1943, 13 Hudsons of 2 Squadron RAAF, and 9 Mitchells of 18 (NEI) Squadron made a night raid on Penfui. 18 (NEI) Squadron were the first to attack. They met heavy AA fire.

On 2 May 1943, 18 (NEI) Squadron bombed Penfui by the light of flares. On 6 May 1943, they bombed Dili in Timor.

18 (NEI) Squadron's first mission out of Batchelor was on 11 May 1943. This was a reconnaissance of Somniloquy-Tanimbar Island and Laha-Ambon, plus operations over Penfoei, Koepang Harbour and Dili.

18 (NEI) Squadron carried out many mast-height attacks on Japanese shipping which proved to be very dangerous. On some occasions bombs exploded before they fully left the aircraft due to faulty delayed-action fuses.

On 11 June 1943, Lieutenant Colonel J.J. Zomer started as their new Commanding Officer.

In September 1943, new heavily armed and better equipped B-25's arrived complete with newly trained crews. These crews had been trained at a joint Dutch Army-Navy flying school that had been established at Jackson, Mississippi, in the States.

The Squadron acquired itself a Squadron badge which depicted a Dutch farmer's wife sweeping out dust with a large broom. It was affectionately known as the "Dutch Cleanser". This was in recognition of their success against the Japanese. From 17 November 1943 until 4 January 1944, 18 (NEI) Squadron was responsible for the destruction of six Japanese ships totalling 25,545 tons, plus numerous other small enemy vessels.

In December 1943, 18 (NEI) Squadron and 31 Squadron RAAF combined forces to attack Japanese shipping. On 15 December 1943, eight Beaufighters from 31 Squadron attacked Manatuto where they sank two barges and damaged six schooners. They then attacked a convoy. They sunk a 500 tonne ship. That afternoon, five Mitchells from 18 (NEI) Squadron attacked the same convoy. They sank the "Wakatsu Maru" of 5,123 tonnes. The Beaufighters continued the attack on the convoy the next day.

On 8 March 1944, a number of RAAF Squadrons were ordered to carry out prearranged emergency movements to counter a suspected Japanese naval attack on Fremantle in Western Australia. As part of this exercise 18 (NEI) Squadron and 31 Squadron RAAF were moved to Learmonth airfield in the Potshot area (Exmouth Gulf area) on 10 March 1944. 18 (NEI) Squadron moved to Potshot in sixteen B-25 Mitchells and eight C-47 Dakotas.

120 (NEI) Squadron was also moved from Canberra to Potshot. The suspected attack never eventuated and on 20 March 1944 all squadrons were ordered back to their normal bases. 18 (NEI) Squadron left Potshot for Batchelor on 23 March 1944. They resumed operations from Batchelor on 30 March 1944 when eight B-25 Mitchells bombed Penfoei. It was around this time that they received a new batch of B-25 Mitchells fitted with tail guns.

In April 1944, Koepang, Dili, Penfui and Lautem became daily targets for 2 Squadron's Beauforts and 18 (NEI) Squadron's Mitchells.

Lieutenant Colonel E.J.G. teRoller became the new Commanding Officer of 18 (NEI) Squadron in April 1944.

On 19 April 1944, eight Beaufighters and fifteen Beauforts of 1 Squadron RAAF and twelve Mitchells of 18 (NEI) Squadron struck Su Barracks and the town area.

During May 1944, various targets on Timor were constantly attacked by Nos. 1 and 31 Squadrons RAAF and 18 (NEI) Squadron. On 18 May 1944, Mitchell Serial No. N5-177, of 18 (NEI) Squadron was shot down by AA fire while it was strafing Saumlaki village. On 23 May 1944, another Mitchell, Serial No. N5-162 was lost due to AA fire during a raid on Timor.

On 23 June 1944, the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. teRoller was killed, when the Mitchell that he was co-piloting, was hit by anti-aircraft fire and exploded when it fell into the sea during a shipping raid near Tioor Island. Three Japanese vessels were destroyed or damaged during this raid.

On 1 July 1944, Lieutenant Colonel D.L. Asjes became the new Commanding Officer of 18 (NEI) Squadron.

In July 1944, 18 (NEI) Squadron combined with Nos. 2 and 31 Squadrons RAAF, to attack enemy barge movements between Timor Babar, Sermata and Leti Islands. On 29 July 1944, nine Mitchells from 2 Squadron RAAF and nine Mitchells from 18 (NEI) Squadron attacked Penfui at sunset.

It was around this time that the Squadron flew 14 hour daylight missions over internment camps on Java dropping leaflets.

 

Fire in a B-25 Mitchell (N5-170) at Batchelor on 18 August 1944

 

On 7 October 1944, Lieutenant Colonel M. Van Haselen became the new Commanding Officer.

In October 1944, 2 Squadron RAAF and 18 (NEI) Squadron, between them, sank or damaged 54 vessels. On 6 November 1944, the two Squadrons attacked Waimgapu, Sumba Island, and sank the Japanese Navy's "Special Submarine Chaser" No. 118. Later in November 1944, they sank two small merchant vessels off the coast of Timor.

 

Crash of a B-25 Mitchell (N5-211) at Batchelor airfield on 2 January 1945

 

Crash of a B-25 Mitchell (N5-217) at RSU at Gorrie airfield on 9 February 1945

 

On 6 April 1945, eleven Mitchells of 18 (NEI) Squadron and ten B-24's of 21 Squadron RAAF attacked a Japanese convoy, escorted by the light cruiser Isuzu, in the Flores Sea. They were evacuating Japanese troops from Timor. Two B-24's were shot down by Japanese aircraft protecting the convoy. 18 (NEI) Squadron's Mitchells scored two direct hits on the Isuzu. The badly damaged Isuzu was easy prey the next day, when it was sunk by submarines Char and Gabilan.

On 25 February 1945, 18 (NEI) Squadron had commenced its planned relocation to Jacquinot Bay in New Britain. Supplies had already been sent by ship but the move was abandoned when the Squadron was taken off operations. The Dutch had wanted to go to the East Indies and had pleaded with MacArthur for a change in plans. He relented and the Squadron was redirected to Morotai in the Halmaheras. Another late change, saw the Squadron relocating from Batchelor to Balikpapan on 15 July 1945. They arrived in Balikpapan on 17 July 1945. Their main activities in Balikpapan was leaflet and food and supply drops to prison camps in Borneo, the Celebes and Java.

In July 1945, the Mitchells of 2 Squadron RAAF and 18 (NEI) Squadron, which were part of 79 Wing, joined the First TAF.

On 8 September 1945, the Mitchells of 2 Squadron RAA and 18 (NEI) Squadron flew air cover for the surrender by the Japanese commanders on HMAS Burdekin.

On 21 September 1945, 18 (NEI) Squadron provided air cover for the 7th Australian Division as they landed on Makassar.

The RAAF components of 18 (NEI) Squadron were withdrawn on 25 November 1945 and operational control of the Squadron was passed back to the Dutch on 15 January 1946.

The veterans' organisation, "18 Squadron NEI-RAAF Forces Association" was dissolved in 1999. It published an excellent Newsletter with all sorts of information. Its final issue was No.63 dated October 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I would like to thank Bas Kreuger, the Curator of the Military Aviation Museum RNlAF, in Soesterberg, the Netherlands, for his assistance with information on the role of the Netherlands East Indies Air Force in Australia during World War 2.

I would also like to thank the late Lindsay Peet from Western Australia with his help, particularly with the list of Reference Books below.

I'd also like to thank John A. Deknatel, Sean Carwardine, Alby Anderson, Coert Munk, Zanette Crowden and David Hursthouse for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Randell Summerville and his cousin Rod Brault (son of Ted Brault) for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Alford, Bob (1992), "Darwin's air war 1942-1945: an illustrated history", Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory & Coleman's Printing, Darwin, NT.

Barnes, Norman (2000), "The RAAF and the flying squadrons", Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Eather, Steve (1995), "Flying squadrons of the Australian Defence Force", Aerospace Publications, Weston Creek, ACT.

Hurst, Doug , "The Fourth Ally - The Dutch forces in Australia in WWII" 

Odgers, George (1957), "Air war against Japan 1943-45", Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 3 (Air), Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Parnell, N.M. & Lynch, C.A., "Australian Air Force since 1911"

Pentland, Geoffrey (1974), "The P-40 Kittyhawk in service", Kookaburra Technical Publications, Melbourne.

Powell, Alan (1988), "The shadow's edge: Australia's northern war", Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria.

RAAF Historical (1995), "Fighter units", Units of the RAAF, vol. 2, AGPS, Canberra. [120 NEI Sqn)

RAAF Historical (1995), "Bomber units", Units of the RAAF, vol. 3, AGPS, Canberra. [18 NEI Sqn]

Wallace, Gordon (1983), "Are you there Don R?", The Author, Surrey Hills, Victoria. [later reprinted under the title "Up in Darwin with the Dutch"]

Wallace, Gordon (1986), "Those air force days", The Author, Surrey Hills, Victoria.

Wilson, Stewart (1988), " The Spitfire, Mustang and Kittyhawk in Australian service", Aerospace Publications, n.p. [?Weston Creek, ACT].

Wilson, Stewart (1992), "Boston, Mitchell & Liberator in Australian service", Aerospace Publications, Weston Creek, ACT.

 

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