History at a glance.
The No.18 Squadron NEI (Netherlands East Indies) was established on the 4th of April 1942 at Fairbairn airbase, Canberra.
It was a combined Dutch-Australian bomber squadron, first under RAAF command and later under ML KNIL (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army) command. They flew B-25 Mitchell bombers.
At first the squadron consisted of aircrew that were sent to Australia as a detachment called ‘Boot‘ on February 14th 1942 in order to pick up the new airplanes, the B-25 Mitchells.
This detachment was then joined by the Detachment “Wittert”, who also had to pick up the B-25s, but from the British East Indies.
At the end of February 1942 the air force and other ML KNIL members (Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger) made their way by boat to the west coast of Australia and from there to the south. A few months later these groups went to the US by boat to undergo further training.
These were the pilots, not other personnel. Hence the addition of Australians and pilots and other crew who had been trained at the RNMFS in Jackson, Mississippi and who took the new B-25’s from the US to Australia.
The 18th squadron was stationed:
- At the time of their foundation: in Canberra
- From December 1942: in MacDonald (near Darwin)
- From May 1943 : in Batchelor
- Just before the surrender of Japan : in Balakpatpan on Borneo
- During the Indonesian National revolution: in Tjililitan on Java.
They were called on during three time periods :
- WW2 during the war against Japan,
- After the surrender of Japan : supporting tasks
- During the Indonesian National Revolution: the military actions in October 1946 and December 1948.
Period 1: military tasks such as bombing raids and air support for ground troops during the war against Japan. At the end of the Japanese occupation a large wave of refugees made their way to Australia. A few pilots managed to escape in spectacular fashion, among whom was Pulk Pelder in March 1942 in the Lockheed L2 12.
Period 2: more supporting roles such as: reconnaissance flights, finding internment camps, droppings of food and medicine supplies, distribution of pamphlets and transportation of ex- interns to Australia.
Period 3: further military tasks such as bombing raids, air support for ground troops and elimination of the TNI air force.
The No.18 squadron was disbanded on May 15, 1950. All materials were handed over to the AURIS of the Indonesian Republic.
AURI(S) : Ankala Udara Republik Indonesia (Serikat), freely translated as The Airforce of the united Republic of Indonesia.
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