Operation Kraai

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Operation Kraai
Part of Indonesian National Revolution
Date 19–20 December 1948[1]
Location Java and Sumatra, Indonesia[2]
Result Capture of the Indonesian Republican leadership at Yogyakarta[3]
Growing international opposition in the United Nations to Dutch attempts to assert control over Indonesia[4]
Territorial
changes
Dutch forces occupy parts of Java and Sumatra[2]
Belligerents
 Indonesia  Netherlands
Commanders and leaders
Indonesia Sukarno[1]
Indonesia Mohammad Hatta[1]
Indonesia General Abdul Haris Nasution[2]
Netherlands General Simon Hendrik Spoor[2]
Netherlands General Meyer[1]
Strength
3 Mitsubishi Zeros[2] 800–900 airborne infantry[5]
23 Douglas DC-3s[5]
Dutch fighter aircraft and bombers[5]

Operation Kraai (translation: "Operation Crow") (Dutch: Operatie Kraai) [6] was the code name for a Dutch military offensive against the newly formed Republic of Indonesia in December 1948 – January 1949. During this attack, the Dutch managed to capture the Indonesian Republic's temporary capital, Yogyakarta, and seized Indonesian leaders such as Republican President Sukarno.

Referred to by the Dutch as the second of two "Politionele acties" ("Police Actions"), it is known in Indonesia as Agresi Militer Belanda II ("Dutch military aggression II").[6]

Background[edit]

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The second Politionele Actie was aimed at forcing the Republic to cooperate with the Dutch government in the implementation of the federalist policy as stipulated in the Linggadjati Agreement. The purpose was to organize the new Indonesia as a federal state that would remain closely associated with the Netherlands.[7] The Indonesians had breached the armistice signed following Operation Product.The Renville Agreement, as the armistice was called, stipulated the withdrawal of Indonesian forces from Dutch-occupied territory in exchange for ending the Dutch naval blockade, and this was indeed put into effect. After some time, however, the Indonesian military, secretly, returned and began guerrilla operations against the Dutch.[8]

By September 1948, the Dutch military command had succeeded in decoding the Republic's encrypted secret code, gaining crucial intelligence on Indonesian military and diplomatic strategies and plans. This allowed General Simon Hendrik Spoor to counteract Republic actions on the battlefield and diplomatic stage. The Dutch were so confident of this advantage that they held a press conference in Jakarta three days prior to the actual attack.[9] The Dutch also timed their attack to coordinate with plans by the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to dispatch a private plane to fly Sukarno and Hatta to Bukittinggi in West Sumatra where they would head an emergency government. A Republican delegation led by Sukarno would then be flown to New York via New Delhi to advocate the Republic's cause in the United Nations General Assembly. Throughout the Indonesian National Revolution, newly independent India had been sympathetic to the Republic cause which they viewed as a struggle against Western imperialism.[9]

On 18 December, radio broadcasts in Jakarta reported that the Dutch High Commissioner Dr. Beel was going to give an important speech the next day. This news did not reach Yogyakarta because the Dutch had cut the communication line. Meanwhile General Spoor gave an instruction to begin a full-scale surprise attack against the republic. The operation was codenamed Operation Kraai (Kraai = Dutch: crow).[6] He timed the attack prior to coincide with Republic military exercises on 19 December, giving Dutch movements some temporary camouflage and enabling them to take the enemy by surprise. The attack was also launched without the prior knowledge of the UN Committee of Good Offices.[2]

Battle[edit]

First attack[edit]

The first attack began in the early hours of 19 December. At 04:30, Dutch aircraft took off from Bandung; heading for Yogyakarta via the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, the Dutch High Commissioner Beel announced that the Dutch were no longer bound by the Renville Agreement on radio. The operation began as the Dutch attacked major Indonesian centers in Java and Sumatra.[2] At 05:30, Maguwo airport and the radio station at military aircraft including Yogyakarta was bombed by the ML-KNIL.[2] The Republic fielded only three captured Japanese Mitsubishi Zeros[2] whereas the ML-KNIL fielded with several American-built P-40 Kittyhawk and P-51 Mustang fighters, B-25 Mitchell bombers and 23 Douglas DC-3s carrying approximately 900 troops.[5]

Dutch paratroopers landed on Maguwo airport, which was defended by 47 lightly armed Indonesian Air Force cadets who lacked anti-aircraft machine guns. In advance, dummies were landed by the Dutch to draw enemy fire which enabled Dutch fighter planes to strafe the defenders.[2] The skirmish lasted for 25 minutes ending with the Dutch taking over Maguwo; killing 128 Republicans with no casualties.[10] Having secured the airport perimeter by 06:45, the Dutch were able to land airborne troops in two successive waves and use Maguwo as an airhead for reinforcements from their main base in Semarang.[2] At 8:30 am, General Spoor gave a radio broadcast ordering his forces to cross the Van Mook line and capture Yogyakarta to "purge" the Republic of "unreliable elements".[2]

The main aim of Operation Kraai was to quickly destroy the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) which General Spoor thought would desperately defend their capital. Thus, with Dutch superiority both in the air and on land, the Dutch army would easily execute a final and decisive victory upon the Indonesian army. However, most of the TNI had left Yogyakarta, defending western Yogyakarta's border from another Dutch military campaign. The commander General Nasution himself was on an inspection tour in East Java.[2] The air attack found the Indonesians unprepared and within hours, the advancing Dutch army had quickly taken the airport, main road, bridge and strategic locations.[2] General Sudirman's strategy was to avoid any major contact with the Dutch main army, thus saving the Indonesians from total defeat. He would prefer to lose territory but gain extra time to consolidate his army.[10]

The capture of Yogyakarta[edit]

After hearing the surprise attack, Indonesian military commander General Sudirman broadcast Perintah kilat (quick command) via radios. He also requested Sukarno and other leaders to evacuate from Yogya, and join his guerrilla army. After a cabinet meeting, they refused and decided to stay in Yogyakarta, and keep communicating with UN and KTN envoys. Sukarno also announced the plan of "emergency government" in Sumatra, in the event something happened to the Indonesian leadership in Yogyakarta.[11]

Meanwhile 2,600 fully armed Dutch troops (infantry and paratroopers) led by Colonel D.R.A. van Langen had gathered in Maguwo, ready to capture Yogyakarta. At the same day most of Yogyakarta fell into the Dutch with key targets like the air force and chief-of-staff headquarters razed by both Indonesian "scorched earth" tactics and Dutch bombing.[12] Indonesian President Sukarno, Vice-President Mohammad Hatta, and ex prime minister Sutan Sjahrir were seized by the Dutch and subsequently exiled to Bangka.[1] They let themselves be captured hoping it would outrage international support. However, this action was later criticized among Indonesian military circles which regarded it as an act of cowardice by the political leadership.[1] Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX stayed at his palace in Yogyakarta and did not leave during the entire occupation. The Sultan himself refused to cooperate with the Dutch administration and rejected mediation attempts by the pro-Dutch Sultan of Pontianak Hamid II.[13]

By 20 December, all remaining republican troops in Yogya had been withdrawn. All parts of Indonesia except Aceh and some cantons in Sumatra fell under Dutch control. Sudirman, who was suffering from tubercolosis led the guerrillas from his sickbed. General A. H. Nasution, military commander of Java territories declared military government in Java, initiated a new guerrilla tactic called Pertahanan Keamanan Rakyat Semesta (Nation in Arms), transforming the Javan countryside into a guerrilla front with civilian support.[14]

"Emergency Government" and Guerrilla warfare[edit]

As planned before, emergency government was declared at 19 December. This was named Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Pemerintah Darurat Republik Indonesia), based on Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, led by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara. Sudirman radioed his immediate support for this government.

Aftermath[edit]

International reaction and ceasefire[edit]

This attack was well publicised internationally with many newspapers, including those in the United States condemning Dutch attacks in their editorials. The United States threatened to suspend Marshall Plan aid to the Dutch. This included funds vital for Dutch post-World War II rebuilding that had so far totalled $US 1 billion.[15] The Netherlands Government had spent an amount equivalent to almost half of this funding their campaigns in Indonesia. The perception that American aid was being used to fund "a senile and ineffectual imperialism" encouraged many key voices in the United States – including those amongst the US Republican Party – and from within American churches and NGOs to speak out in support of Indonesian independence.[16]

On 24 December, the UN Security Council called for the end of hostilities. In January 1949, it passed a resolution demanding the reinstatement of the Republican government.[17] The Dutch had achieved most of their objectives and announced a ceasefire in Java on 31 December and on the 5 January in Sumatra.[18] The guerrilla war nonetheless continued. Hostilities eventually ended on 7 May with the signing of the Roem–van Roijen Agreement.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Kahin (2003), p. 94
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kahin (2003), p. 88
  3. ^ Kahin (2003), p. 96
  4. ^ Darusman (1992), p. 63
  5. ^ a b c d Kahin (2003), p. 90
  6. ^ a b c Zweers (1995)
  7. ^ Ricklefs (1993), p.223
  8. ^ Kahin (2003), p. 19
  9. ^ a b Kahin (2003), p. 87
  10. ^ a b Operation Kraai (General Spoor) vs Surat Perintah no. 1 (General Sudirman)
  11. ^ Bertrand (2004), p. 166
  12. ^ Kahin (2003), p. 91
  13. ^ Kahin (2003), p. 106
  14. ^ Vickers (2005), p. 111
  15. ^ Friend (2003), page 37
  16. ^ Friend (2003), page 38
  17. ^ "The National Revolution, 1945–50". Country Studies, Indonesia. U.S. Library of Congress. 
  18. ^ Ricklefs (1993), p.231

References[edit]