British Indian Army in Dutch East Indies

Discussion in 'British Indian Army' started by Tijger, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. Tijger

    Tijger Junior Member

    In my research on the Dutch Tiger Brigade on Java. I am very interested in getting information on especially 49th Brigade and 5th Airborne Brigade and their time on Mid Java 1945-1946.
  2. Pitman

    Pitman Junior Member

    The last volume of the British official history of the war in Asia contains a fair amount of material on Java.

    The unit histories that I own that have the most information on the conflict are the unit histories of the 23rd Indian Division and the 5th Indian Division.
  3. Steen Ammentorp

    Steen Ammentorp Senior Member

    Regarding 49th Indian Infantry Brigade:

    In 1945 the brigade went to Malaya, Landing at Port Dickson on 12th September and then moving to Pahang where it remained until being sent to the Dutch East Indies, landing at Sourabaya on 25th October 1945. The brigade came under attack from the 29th and casualties were taken both in the brigade in the civilian convoys they were protecting. A cease-fire was attempted but on the 30th October the Brigade Major was killed whilst trying to negotiate and that evening Brigadier Mallaby was shot whilst trying to enforce the cease-fire with the Indonesian authorities. From 9th to 27th November the brigade was under command 5th Division at Sourabaya the reverted to 23rd Division and moved to Semerang then to Batavia and Bandoeng from 14th January 1946, leaving the DEI on 10th September 1946 and moving to Malaya in advance of 23rd Division.

    Source: Chris Kempton: Loyalty & Honour : The Indian Army September 1939 – August 1947. Vol. II. (2003). P. 50.

    Same source has no mention of a 5th Indian Airborne Brigade. I can create an OBB of the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade for the period if you want me to.
  4. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    Have you the article "Unexpected Allies Java 1945-1946With the 5th Parachute Brigade"?

    There is also a book called "The British occupation of Indonesia 1945-1946 " by Richard McMillan (Routledge, 2005. ISBN: 0415355516). The table of contents:

    Chapter I: The Arrival of British Forces in Indonesia
    Planning the British occupation of Indonesia
    The British deployment in West Java
    The British deployment in Central Java
    Chapter II: The Battle of Surabaya
    The British creation of an internee problem and British plans for the occupation of Surabaya
    The arrival of 49th Indian Infantry Brigade at Surabaya
    The dropping of leaflets and the outbreak of fighting
    The death of Brigadier Mallaby
    49th Indian Infantry Brigade regroups
    5th Indian Division arrives at Surabaya
    The failure of negotiations at the local level
    5th Indian Division occupies Surabaya
    Chapter III: Anglo-Indonesian relations in the aftermath of Surabaya
    The consolidation of British power in West Java
    Casualties, reprisals and atrocities
    Anglo-Indonesian co-operation
    Chapter IV: Anglo-Dutch relations and the British withdrawal
    from Java
    The tensions of Anglo-Dutch military co-operation in the Batavia area
    British relations with Dutch internees
    The Dutch takeover in Central and East Java
    The Dutch takeover in West Java
    Chapter V: The British Occupation of Sumatra
    The arrival of British forces in Sumatra
    The deterioration of Anglo-Indonesian relations
    Anglo-Indonesian co-operation
    The British and the Social Revolution in Northern Sumatra
    The deployment of the Japanese
    Anglo-Dutch relations and the British withdrawal from Sumatra
    Chapter VI: Morale
    The morale of British officers in British and Indian battalions
    The morale of British other ranks
    Political repercussions of the use of Indian troops in Indonesia
    The morale of Indian other ranks in Indonesia
    Appendix 1 Structure of Indian Divisions in Indonesia
    Diagram 1 Composition of 23rd Indian Division in October 1945
    Diagram 2 Composition of 26th Indian Division in October 1945
    Diagram 3 Composition of 5th Indian Division in October 1945
    Notes to Diagrams 1, 2 and 3
    Appendix 2 Typical Brigade Headquarters
    Appendix 3 Typical structure of a battalion
    Appendix 4 Chronology of the British Occupation of Indonesia
    Appendix 5 Chronology of events in Surabaya:
    25 October 1945 - 29 November 1945
    Appendix 6 Dramatis Personae
    Appendix 7 British, Indian, Dutch, Japanese and Indonesian
    Map 1 South East Asia, showing the extension of the
    boundaries of South East Asia Command
    Map 2 Malaya and Sumatra
    Map 3 Java, Bali, Lombok and Borneo
    Map 4 The Outer Islands of the Netherlands East Indies
    Plan 1 Town plan of Surabaya
    Plan 2 Town plan of Medan
    Plan 3 Town plan of Padang
    Plan 4 Town plan of Palembang
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Now long ago I interviewed a Rhodesian born, British Indian Army officer, who served in a Gurkha infantry battalion in WW2 and he descried the fighting in DEI as the toughest they had faced. Before DEI his unit had been in Saigon, French Indo-China, under General Gracey's command and remarked the Viet Minh (Nationalist-Communist) had been a tough opponent.
  6. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    I could not currently access the article, but found an archived version of the article.

    Richard McMillan's book was based on a 2002 PhD Thesis (Royal Holloway, University of London) which may be downloaded from British Library EThOS.
    British Library EThOS: The British occupation of Indonesia : 1945-1946

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  7. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Do you know maybe which regiment he was in? 20th Indian Division returned to India after French Indochina. 4/2nd Gurkha Rifles was sent to British Borneo and I think that they were at some time in DEI. Both battalions of 1st Gurkha Rifles returned to India, I think that 3/8th Gurkha Rifles also went home, not sure about 4/10th Gurkha Rifles.
  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    My original notes are not readily available and to be fair my focus was on other, far later matters. Digging away I found a South African historian, J.R.T. Wood, in one of his books on Rhodesia refers to him being commissioned in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and the 8th Gurkha Rifles.

    I see this 20th Infantry Division (India) - Wikipedia refers to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Gurkha Rifles being part of the 20th Indian Division. Plus the Division returned to India after Indo-China; where later the 8th Gurkha Rifles transferred to the Indian Army.

    I have researched the officer on the Web and cannot help further, though I did find a few items unknown to me.
  9. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Yes, 3/8th Gurkha Rifles was posted to Saigon with 32nd Indian Brigade of the 20th Indian division. After Saigon brigade was posted to the North Borneo. If you want I can check his name in the Indian Army List?
  10. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  11. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

    Just checked my Excel which I believe is the best ORBAT for the British/Indian Army in NEI. Only battalion from the 8 Gurkhas to serve I believe was 1/8 Gurkhas.
    I am not 100% because I do not have all the WD in my collection. But 80 INF BDE was posted to the Greater East (NEI minus Java and Sumatra). And was they not part of the 20 IND INF DIV?
    In that case the only Gurkha unit to serve in both FIC and NEI will be 3/1 Gurkha Rifles.

    In case any of you have any information on the British/Indian in NEI I am still eager to hear about it.
  12. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Yes. While 20th Indian Division returned to India, two of its brigades were sent elsewhere. 32nd Brigade was sent to Borneo, seems only in British part of the island, and 80th Brigade to Celebes. 3/1st Gurkha Rifles was based in Makassar and had quite peaceful time while there. Regimental history doesn't mention any serious incident during battalion time in DTI.
  13. TijgerB

    TijgerB Member

    My list of casualties mention two:

    Naik Harka Baradur Gurung 3 June 46
    Rifleman Jit Baradur Gurung 13 May 46
  14. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    TijgerB likes this.
  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    This is how activity started on this thread and now I have found some of the letters exchanged with Robert Adair Goodacre Prentice, who was commissioned in the Warwickshire Regiment (no dates) and then transferred to the 3/8th Gurkha Battalion for the duration of WW2, becoming a Company C.O. On reflection my memory was amiss about the battalion being in the NEI; perhaps he meant the toughest fighting was in French Indo-China?

    Did a little research yesterday and confirmed that after Saigon the 32nd Brigade served in Borneo from January 1946. In 1946 when a VIP visited the 3/8th formed they part of the guard of honour. Alas no film, just a pointer to the newsreel which is held at the Imperial War Museum (2 mins); GENERAL SIR MILES DEMPSEY VISITS TROOPS IN BORNEO | colonialfilm The two other brigades went onto the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) see: Phlitt | Operations & Codenames of WWII

    The imperial War Museum (IWM) Oral History Collection has an interview with an officer from the 3/8th and Reel 5 refers to the time in Saigon. Alas it is not available online: Bainbridge, Harry (Oral history)

    The 3/8th transferred to the Indian Army upon independence in August 1947: 8th Gorkha Rifles - Wikipedia

    I will try to add some of this research to a thread on the 20th Division post-VJ day intervention in French Indo-China, mainly around Saigon.

    Robert 'Bob' Prentice after WW2 emigrated to Rhodesia, he finally became a brigadier and retired in the late 1970's before the insurgency was widespread - this part of his life is for another place and time.

    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    The 8th Gurkha Rifles were always part of the Indian Army - no matter what Wikipedia says.
  17. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    As the 'main' thread on this period I recommend this 2010 article 'the Death Knell of the British Empire' by Patrick Heren, whose father Louis Heren served in Force 136 in the Netherlands east Indies, now Indonesia:

    The last three paragraphs are even more appropriate for the UK and others are recent events in Afghanistan:

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