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The Battle of Surabaya

Following the Japanese surrender at the beginning of September, 1945 British forces were in action in French Indochina and the former Dutch East Indies, Indonesia. One empire was collapsing – another was struggling to be born… By September Mountbatten could no longer put off tackling the tumult in Indonesia. Although the SOE was being wound down, SEAC was receiving misleading reports from Dutch agents, known as ‘Flying Dutchmen’, that the situation in Java was calm. SEAC had set up RAPWI (Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees) to locate the POW and internment camps in Java and Sumatra and provide assistance and support to the prisoners. An agreement had been hammered out with the Dutch on 24 August that handed responsibility for Java and Sumatra to the British and the outer islands to the Australians. They would work towards the ‘Netherlands Indies Civil Affair Administration’, the NICA, that had been established in Australia by the Dutch colonial government in exile. In the Netherlands Queen Wilhelmina was under pressure from the Dutch business elite to ‘sort out the Indonesians’. The Queen obliged by insisting that her kingdom was ‘indivisible’. With an eye on the Americans the Dutch government made a […]
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