Identifying Japan as a potential aggressor, in the thirties the Dutch made an effort to strengthen their intelligence capability. In 1932 the Royal Netherlands Navy set up a radio intercept unit to monitor the activities of the Japanese Navy.

Hidden in the Department of the Navy in Batavia (now Djakarta) specially trained operators took down messages in the Japanese Morse code. Given the frequencies used by the Imperial Japanese Navy reception was best after sunset. The Dutch also intercepted coded diplomatic messages to and from the Japanese Foreign Office in Tokyo. These worldwide telegrams were intercepted by the Dutch PTT (Royal Mail) at Java, a civilian organisation. Both intercept stations provided their 'harvest' to Kamer (Room) 14, the Dutch cryptanalytical unit in the Far East. Kamer 14 managed to break into a number of Japanese codes, mainly diplomatic messages.

After 'Pearl Harbor', the Japanese Armed Forces swiftly moved south. Shortly before the fall of Singapore the British intercept & cryptanalytical unit was evacuated to Ceylon and set up shop there (Station Anderson). 

What happened to the two Dutch intercept stations shortly before the fall of Java in March 1942?

Nigel West in his book 'GCHQ, the secret wireless war 1900-86' stated after describing intercept assets in Australia:-

'In addition the Dutch government in exile [in London] had evacuated a clandestine wireless intercept station from Java in the Netherlands East Indies to a new location near Darwin. 

In his book 'Codebreaker in the Far East' Alan Stripp comments:-

'But one of the intercept stations was safely evacuated when the Japanese invaded Java shortly afterwards, and the staff finished up in Darwin and Arlington [Washington]. Nigel West calls this 'a clandestine station';

I cannot understand his choice of words. The station was of course moved before the Japanese occupation of Java was completed.'

Important Questions:- 

In "Allies in a bind; Australia and the Netherlands East Indies in the second world war" a thesis by Australian Dr. Jack M. Ford , he writes on page 218:-

'The Royal Netherlands Navy had a listening post at Batchelor in the Northern Territory.'

A Dutch radio/Intercept station is also mentioned in Ind's book "Allied intelligence Bureau".


Netherlands East Indies Forces &
Support Organisations in Australia during WWII


Netherlands East Indies Government
in Exile in Australia during WWII



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This page first produced 2 January 2005

This page last updated 15 September 2022