NEI-TSB, NEI-TSM, 1 NEI- Transport Squadron,
and 19 (NEI) Transport Squadron


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.

There were no formal Dutch Transport Squadrons until September 1944. There were initially two transport sections:-

NEI-Transport Section, Brisbane (NEI-TSB)
NEI-TSB was equipped with three Lockheed Lodestars and five B-25 Mitchell´s. They were based at Archerfield.

NEI-Transport Section, Melbourne (NEI-TSM)
NEI-TSM was equipped with a number of de-armed B-25 Mitchell´s and nine Lockheed Lodestars

Both of these Transport Sections were used to ferry men and material to 120 (NEI) Squadron in Merauke (later Biak) and 18 (NEI) Squadron at Batchelor.

In November 1944, both the above Transport Sections were combined into No. 1 NEI-Transport Squadron. The aircraft pool was expanded with four C-47´s and five Lockheed 12a light transports.

On 15 August 1945, the unofficial transports used by the Netherlands East Indies KLM (KNILM) was renamed 19 (NEI) Transport Squadron and officially taken on the strength of the RAAF. It had 13 Dakota´s located at Archerfield. It came under the command of Eastern Area Headquarters on its formation. It was intended that at a later date 19 (NEI) Transport Squadron would relocate to Bundaberg where it would be associated with other N.E.I. units. Bundaberg had been handed over to the N.E.I. authorities as a base for the N.E.I. Air Force in Australia. The squadron was staffed by Dutch aircrew and civilian ground staff and was to later be wholly staffed by Dutch nationals. RAAF personnel were not employed in the Squadron.


Dutch Lockheed Lodestar damaged at Archerfield
on 18 February 1942


Dutch DC-3 shot down by Japanese off the coast from Broome,
plus loss of 5 Dornier Flying Boats, 4 Catalinas, a Lockheed Lodestar
and another DC-3 on 3 March 1942 during a Japanese air raid on Broome


Captain Smirnoff - Pilot of the above DC-3
Russia's 2nd highest ace in WWI
A naturalised Dutch citizen


Crash landing of a NEI-AF C-47 Dakota at
Cairns Airfield on 5 September 1944


Crash of a NEI-AF C-47 Dakota near Mossman on 7 September 1944
(7 pilots from 120 (NEI) Squadron were killed)


At about 1440 hours on 26 February 1947, a C-47 Dakota 699, radio call sign VHRET, of 19 (NEI) Squadron caught fire and crashed into about 10 fathoms of water about 1 mile north west of Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island. It was piloted by Lt. Smits Van Burgst. Also onboard was the two other NEI crew members and three Australian civilians. The aircraft was on its first flight following a 300 hours inspection. Seven eye witnesses on Stradbroke Island confirmed a small fire was first noticed in the port engine which increased in intensity very quickly. A large piece of the aircraft then fell away. Most witnesses said it was the port mainplane. By the 5 March 1947 no bodies or wreckage had washed up on the Island or mainland. On 19 March 1947 parts of the Dutch Dakota were located by a diver in 74 feet of water. The wreckage was partly buried in sand. The undercarriage, with the port wing and motor attached, and part of the starboard wing were still intact. The fuselage had not been found. No trace of the bodies were found.

Those onboard were as follows:-

Lieutenant Hannes Smits van Burgst - Pilot
Sgt. Major S. Rookmaker - Radio Operator
Sgt. Major H. Bekema (or Bekemba) - Flight Engineer
Victor Mole (or Mile) of Annerley, Brisbane
Norman Dow of Hamilton, Brisbane
Christy Douris Bachadours of West End, Brisbane

Lieutenant Smits van Burgst was married to an Australian girl and lived in Bonney Avenue, Clayfield.


E-mails from Eddie Coates regarding
Lockheed Lodestars of the NEI-AF


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.



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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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

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This page first produced 3 June 2022

This page last updated 03 June 2022