Free Dutch Army?

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by nightfighter, May 6, 2008.

  1. nightfighter

    nightfighter New Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    During WWII there was a Free Polish Army operating out of Great Briton. Also, there was the Free French, Chechs, and Norwegians. However, I have never heard of a "Free Dutch" movement based in Briton. You historians, was there a Free Dutch Army?
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Feb 23, 2001
    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    From Wikipedia:

    Fighting on
    With the occupation of the Netherlands, by no means all was lost. The colonies (most notably the Dutch East Indies) were still free, and Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government had left the Netherlands for London.

    The Dutch navy had managed to get most its ships to England (one, the light cruiser Jacob van Heemskerk was not finished yet and had to be towed). Also, the Netherlands had a large merchant marine, which would contribute greatly to the Allied war effort during the rest of the war.

    A few Dutch pilots also had escaped and joined the RAF to fight in the Battle of Britain. In July 1940, two all-Dutch squadrons were formed with personnel and Fokker seaplanes from the Dutch naval air force: 320 Squadron and 321 Squadron (which afterwards moved to Ceylon). The Royal Netherlands Military Flying School was re-established at Hawkins Field, Jackson, Mississippi. In 1943, an all-Dutch fighter squadron was formed in the UK, 322 Squadron.

    In 1942, an all-Dutch brigade was formed, the Princess Irene Brigade. This brigade would go on to participate in Operation Overlord in 1944.

    The Netherlands East Indies
    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Dutch government declared war on Japan. Like the defence of its mother country, the defence of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) had been hopelessly neglected; the strongest naval units available were two light cruisers (De Ruyter and Tromp), there were so few planes that American Martin B-10 light bombers had to be used as fighters, and the KNIL, the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, was poorly equipped (though better than the Dutch army had been in 1940).

    In the three months following Pearl Harbor, the Dutch East Indies (along with the rest of Southeast Asia) were overrun by the Japanese. After the Battle of the Java Sea, naval assets were gone and the Dutch East Indies surrendered on March 8, 1942.

    However, some personnel, especially aviators, managed to reach Australia. Later, three joint Australian-NEI squadrons were formed. The first of these, No. 18 (NEI) Squadron RAAF, was formed in April 1942 as a medium bomber squadron equipped with B-25 Mitchell aircraft. The second joint Australian-NEI squadron, No. 119 (NEI) Squadron RAAF, was also to be a medium bomber squadron. No. 119 NEI Squadron was only active between September and December 1943 when it was disbanded to form No. 120 (NEI) Squadron RAAF which was a fighter squadron, equipped with P-40 Kittyhawks. Both No. 18 and No. 120 Squadrons saw action against the Japanese (and against Indonesian nationalists during the Indonesian National Revolution, before being disbanded in 1950).

    Some Dutch ships were also based in Australia and Ceylon, and continued to operate in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Due to the high number of submarines present in the Netherlands East Indies (the major part of the defensive plans of the Dutch government), the Dutch were called, in the Asian Campaign, the Fourth Ally. The total number of submarines operating in the Eastern Theater was seventeen.

    During the Borneo campaign of 1945, some Dutch army units — including some from the Dutch West Indies and Dutch Guyana — were attached to Australian Army units operating in the Dutch portion of Borneo.
  3. The Royal Dutch Navy--the ships that escaped when the Netherlands fell--provided excellent assistance to Allied forces during the war, both in the Pacific, and to some extent, guarding convoys in the Atlantic. If memory serves me, one Dutch submarine managed to sink a German U-boat that had penetrated Pacific.

    From what I have read, the Dutch contributed more volunteers to the Nazi Wehrmacht during the war than any other conquered nation, enough to form a full division. At the same time though, the Dutch Resistance movement was arguably the most effective the Germans faced during the war.
  4. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    The ABDA command (American, British, Dutch, Australia) in the South West Pacific had a brief and glorious if not futile run, From December 8th '41 through about February '42, technically under command of Archibald Wavell, but the naval forces were under the command of the Senior Dutch Admiral in the De Ruyter, Doorman, who was eventually killed in action, which consisted of a flotilla of American 4 piper destroyers and a US heavy cruiser (I think it was Houston, if I remember right), the two Dutch cruisers mentioned above, a couple of US and British Light Cruisers and a couple of other Dutch and Australian DDs...while eventually chewed up and all but a few Destroyers were sunk, (or captured, as the USS Stewart was, and was later turned into a Japanese Escort vessel) they delayed the Japs in a few instances, and in a couple of major battles landed a few punches even though they were hampered by communication and language problems and a lot of just plain mass confusion.

    The ABDA command didn't do all that bad at all, especially considering their shoestring logistics, virtually no bases for any kind of maintenance or replenishment, and the fact the sailors were jerked from peacetime routine into fighting for their lives against a well trained, well armed, enemy navy with three to four times the ships committed against them, in literally HOURS.

    There were many large and small battles, the (two)Battles of the Java Sea, and a couple of others.

    At the Battle of Balikpapan, in January '42 the US contingent of a few light cruisers and 4 or 5 DDs managed to get in amongst the Jap Invasion fleet and do some real damage too, the Cruisers got some hits, and drew most of the fire, but most impressive was the US 4-stackers making several runs at full speed (as best they could manage with all funnels belching black smoke and sparks from the contaminated Javan crude they were forced to burn) and loosing a lot of obsolete 18" torpedoes and firing a lot of 3 and 4" ammo on independent fire...They sunk 4 or 5 Jap Transports killing a lot of Japanese soldiers, as well as sinking a couple of escorts was the first surface action fought by the US Navy since manila bay in 1898.

    ABDA performed a FINE service, even if they only delayed the Japanese from conquering the Indies for maybe a couple of weeks, it allowed the Australians to begin building up Moresby, and getting more US and Aussie assets to Darwin, so they MAY have saved even Australia from invasion....

    And all this happened years after the Netherlands was "conquered" in 1939...
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  5. JohnK3

    JohnK3 New Member

    May 5, 2003
    Yes, it was the Houston, the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast." Men from the Houston built the "bridge over the River Kwai" while prisoners.

    I'm originally from Houston. When The Military Book Club had as a selection the book about FDR's flagship, I had to buy it. It's a fantastic read.

    Hornfischer, James D. (2006). Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553803907. OCLC 69680190

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