This project was initiated by Leo Bloemhard and Gerard van Haren, both being the sons of soldiers who served in the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (Dutch: Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger, abbr.: KNIL) and who both fought on the island of Timor. The aim of this project is to raise awareness of the tenacious (guerrilla) struggle of Dutch and Australian soldiers on Timor against the Japanese occupier. This story is quite well known in Australia, but relatively unknown in the Netherlands.
After the Japanese invasion of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) in January until March 1942 and the subsequent, rather dramatic surrender at ‘Kalidjati’ on Java, a part of the KNIL bravely carried on the resistance in Timor, an island situated just above Australia. They managed to continue their resistance for about ten months, after which the decision to evacuate was made. On these colonial territories of both the Netherlands and Portugal, around 250 military men of the KNIL and around 500 of the Australian commandos waged both a tenacious and fierce guerrilla war against the Japanese invasion army.
Their resistance and guerrilla warfare inflicted losses on the Japanese army and severely disrupted a potential Japanese advance into Australia. These ‘Timor Guerrillas’ were some of the few combat groups of the KNIL who did not surrender in the Netherlands Indies, and their perseverance and courage remain a great inspiration to others.
The soldiers were evacuated in December 1942 by the Dutch destroyer Hr. Ms. Tjerk Hiddes and were evacuated to Australia. Within three dangerous missions, Hr. Ms. Tjerk Hiddes managed not only to evacuate the remaining soldiers, but also Timorese civilians, missionaries, and Portuguese refugees. After the evacuation, the surviving soldiers were trained in Australia and prepared to be deployed in other warzones throughout Southeast Asia.
Relatively little is known in the Netherlands about the Timor guerrilla fight. In contrast, in Australia, more attention was given to this resistance on Timor. This special, yet unknown story of courageous Dutch resistance and the joint steadfast action of Dutch and Australian soldiers deserves more attention in the Netherlands. The undaunted efforts of all involved, both on the island of Timor and in the perilous evacuation and crossing to Australia, should earn more respect and admiration. Their unyielding demeanour, displayed in Timor more than 75 years ago, is an example of taking responsibility and devotion to duty.
Both the KNIL soldiers and the crew of ‘Hr. Ms. Tjerk Hiddes’ received an award for their efforts: ‘The Decoration of Honor for Special Military Operations with Clasp – Timor 1942’. In addition, a number of veterans were also awarded with other high decorations. Lt. Colonel van Straten was awarded the Military Order of William (“Militaire Willemsorde”, the Highest Dutch Military decoration). Others were decorated with the ‘Bronze Cross’ or the ‘Bronze Lion’, like Captain C. van Swieten, 1st. Lieutenant J.W. Zijlstra, Lieutenant. C.F. Mackenzie and Sergeant Major H.G.P. from Haren.
This project has received a subsidy from the Mondriaan Fund and was finalized in the second quarter of 2023 by means of a publication and creation of this website.
The follow-up has now started in which we would like to inform you in more detail about the Timor battle, under the Blog page, and give you the opportunity to provide us with information about the 1942 guerrilla war on the island of Timor
If you wish to learn more about the project, please visit our Facebook page Dutch Australian Resistance and our Instagram page @verzettimor1942.
We are sorry to inform you that the contents of this website are only available in Dutch. If you have a question or would like an explanation about a Dutch text, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the contact page on the website, or send an email to .
(P.S. And who knows, perhaps somewhere in the future, an English translation of the book and the website may become available…)
Decoration on February 3, 1943 of KNIL guerrilla fighters after return from Timor in Darley Camp Australia. Inspection by Rear Admiral P.W. Coster, Second-in-Command of the East Armed Forces, together with Lieutenant Colonel N.L.W. van Straten, Acting commander of the Dutch East Indies forces in Australia and former commander of the KNIL guerrilla forces in Timor.
In honor of those who took part in the guerrilla war in Timor in 1942
Battle of Timor 1942
The Battle of Timor 1942: A Detailed Chronological Historical View.
The overview of Timor veterans: decorated, fallen and missing.
Some personal stories about Timor Veterans (with input from family)
Summary of the projectmembers of the project team “Resistance Timor 1942”