2-VLG-V (ML-KNIL)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The emblem of 2-VLG-V used during the war. A Javan Rhinoceros

Tweede afdeling, vliegtuiggroep vijf (second division, squadron five) or short 2-VLG-V was a squadron of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force[1] from the 1st of July 1941 to the 8th of March 1942.

Establishment[edit]

Before of the war in Europe, the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force (ML-KNIL) consisted of old planes and a handful of pilots. The Netherlands already had plans to reorganize the ML-KNIL and when Nazi-Germany overcame the Netherlands, it was given the first priority. On 1 June 1941, the 'Tweede Afdeling' (second division) was formed on Semplak. This would be a fighter division, mainly consisting of Curtiss-Wright Model 21 Interceptors and Brewster B-339C/D Buffalos. The first squadron (1-VLG-V) would use the interceptors, but because those weren't delivered yet, 1-VLG-V was used as a test-squadron for the newly arrived Buffalos. When at the end of June the first interceptors arrived, a second squadron within this division was created on 1 July 1941, 2-VLG-V. The squadron leader was Capt. Jacob Pieter van Helsdingen.[2] The plan was that 2-VLG-V, consisting of 12 pilots, would get 12 ready to use Buffalos, and 12 spare Buffalos. However, at the end of the war, only 17 Buffalos would have been used by 2-VLG-V.

Battles[edit]

Battle of Malaya[edit]

On 25 December 1941, 12 Buffalos together with 12 pilots of 2-VLG-V were stationed at Kallang, for the defence of Singapore. These Buffalos were fitted with a bomb-rack, so that they could be used for dive-bombing. The Buffalos of the ML-KNIL didn't have bulletproof glass (it was ordered but Brewster couldn't deliver it). However the Buffalos from 2-VLG-V that helped defend Singapore were fitted with bulletproof glass from damaged British buffalos. During several actions above and near Singapore, 2-VLG-V managed to sink a Japanese destroyer,[citation needed] and shot down four Japanese aircraft. During the actions above Singapore, one pilot from 2-VLG-V was killed. The pilots and Buffalos that flew above Singapore were:

Aircraft Pilot Extra information Status
B-399 Vdg. J.F. Scheffer On the 7th of January 1942, Scheffer crashed during a landing. Aircraft was written off, pilot not wounded. -
B-3100 1st Lt. A.G. Deibel On 12 January 1942, Deibel was shot down by a Nakajima Ki-27. Deibel saved himself with his parachute, but the aircraft was lost. After this Deibel flew in B-398. -
B-3103 Vdg. F. Swarts On 15 January 1942, Swarts was shot down above Singapore by a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa. KIA
B-3105 Sgt. A. Voorbij On the 15th of January 1942, Voorbij had to make a crash landing in the sea near Biliton. He survived the crash and floated alongside the wreckage. When ships arrived at the crash scene Voorbij wasn't there anymore. MIA
B-3107 Sgt. G.M. Bruggink - -
B-3108 Vdg. J.H.A. Ellecom About 6 January 1942, Ellecom crashed during a start from Palembang I. Aircraft was written off and the pilot heavily wounded. -
B-3110 Capt. J.P. van Helsdingen - -
B-3111 Vdg. F. Pelder - -
B-3115 Vdg. R.A. Rothkrans - -
B-3117 Sgt. A.E. Stoové - -
 ? Sgt. N.G. de Groot - -
 ? 2nd Lt. P.A. Hoyer - -

Battle of Java[edit]

On the 18th of January 1942 the Buffalos that fought above Singapore were called back to help defend Java. This made them miss the Battle of Singapore. Because of several crashes and losses the squadron had to be reorganized. A couple of pilots from other squadrons were transferred to 2-VLG-V, and all the Buffalos were re-arranged. So did Deibel, who above Singapore was shot down with B-3100, and crashed with B-398 received the former aircraft of squadron leader Van Helsdingen. While Van Helsdingen received a new aircraft. Below is a short list of the re-arrangement as far as known:

Aircraft Pilot Extra Information Status
B-3107 Sgt. G.M. Bruggink - -
B-3110 1st Lt. A.G. Deibel - -
B-3111 Vdg. F. Pelder - -
B-3115 Vdg. R.A. Rothkrans On the 23rd of January 1942, Rothkrans was shot down during an air raid on the Japanese fleet near Balikpapan. KIA
B-3117 Sgt. A.E. Stoové - -
B-3118 Capt. J.P. van Helsdingen On the 7th of March 1942, van Helsdingen participated in the last defence action of the ML-KNIL. He and Sgt. Bruggink encountered six Mitsubishi A6Ms. Bruggink managed to dive into clouds, however van Helsdingen responded to late and was shot down. KIA
B-3132 Vdg. J.P. Kuijpers On the 19th of February, Kuijpers was shot down near Semplak by a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa. The aircraft went down and Kuijpers was killed in action. Kuijpers joined 2-VLG-V after their return from Singapore. Before probably served in 1-VLG-V or 3-VLG-V. KIA
 ? Sgt. N.G. de Groot On the 19th of February, de Groot was shot down near Semplak by a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa. The aircraft went down and De Groot was killed in action. KIA
 ? 2nd Lt. P.A. Hoyer - -
 ? Vdg. J.F. Scheffer - -
 ? Vdg. P.C. 't Hart - -

On the 19th of January, 8 Buffalos from 2-VLG-V intercepted a formation of about 35 Japanese bombers with an escort of about 20 Zeros. The Buffalo pilots destroyed 11 Japanese aircraft. Vdg. J.P. Kuijpers, Sgt. N.G. de Groot, Vdg. J. Scheffer, and Sgt. P.C. 't Hart were all shot down, Kuijper and de Groot were killed.

Battle of Balikpapan[edit]

In the afternoon of January 23, all Buffalos from 2-VLG-V together with several Buffalos from 3-VLG-V and nine Martin Model 166 bombers attacked the Japanese fleet in the Makassar Strait. One pilot (Rothkrans) was shot down and killed during this action. The Buffalos were all fitted with bomb-racks and two 110 lbs bombs. The Buffalos from 2-VLG-V were given 8 positive hits on several ships. One ship, the Nana Maru was sunk.[3]

On Sunday, March 1, at 5:30 nine Brewster Buffalos set out for Eretanwetan, one flight of four aircraft of 2-VLG-V led by Captain van Helsdingen, the other flight - from 1-VLG-V - led by Captain van Rest. Three Glenn Martin Bombers of 3-VLG-III also took part in this action. One Japanese transport was claimed sunk, but the Glenn Martins also lost one of their number; Lieutenant B. Groenendijk and his crew were killed in action. One of the Brewsters belly-landed at Andir airfield, the pilot being unable to lower his undercarriage.[4]

Last Flight[edit]

On 7 March 1942, van Helsdingen was given the order to give air support to Royal Dutch East Indies Army forces fighting in Lembang. Despite the Japanese having an almost complete air superiority over Java, he nevertheless chose to take off from Andir airfield. He asked all available pilots who wanted to volunteer. All pilots volunteered and van Helsdingen picked four pilots who then jumped in the four last remaining Buffalos. Just before take-off, van Helsdingen was informed by another pilot that one of the chosen pilots was married. Despite being married himself van Helsdingen took the place of the married pilot, and the four Buffalos took off.[2] The three other pilots were: 1st Lieutenant August Deibel, Sergeant Gerard Bruggink and Officer Cadet Jan Scheffer. After only travelling 200 meters they ran into three Mitsubishi A6Ms. Deibel's plane was hit in the oil tank and he had to break off from combat. His wingman, Scheffer, escorted him back to Andir airfield, where Deibel crash landed his aircraft without injury. The other two remained above Lembang, but were now dogfighting six Mitsubishi A6Ms. Van Helsdingen was soon shot down, but Bruggink managed to escape into the clouds before returning to Andir airfield. The Dutch forces in Lembang surrendered the next day. Bruggink and Deibel were awarded the Military William Order, the highest award available from the Netherlands, while van Helsdingen and Scheffer (who died a prisoner of war) were posthumously awarded the honour on 14 July 1948.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Broshot, James A. "Dutch Air Force Order of Battle in the Dutch East Indies, 30 November 1941". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Captain Jacob P. van Helsdingen - Hero of the Dutch East Indies, 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  3. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "The Japanese Shipping Losses in the Pacific and Southeast Asia". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  4. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "The conquest of Java Island, March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 

References[edit]