Diplomatic and Military Relations with Great Britain

The cornerstone of the British pre-war defensive strategy in the Far East was the defence of Singapore. However, the region was given a very low priority in the overall British war strategy. During the staff conferences held in Singapore in 1940 and 1941, the British requested that in the event of war with Japan, the Netherlands East Indies should send reinforcements to Malacca. Only in October 1941 were two ships from the British battle fleet sent from Europe to Singapore. In January 1942 the UK and the US took the initiative to set up ABDACOM, the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command. After the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, elements of the British Army that had escaped to Java assisted in the defence of that island.
The British priority during the remainder of the war was to recapture Singapore as quickly as possible in order to restore British prestige in the region. Prime Minister Churchill promised the Dutch Government a complete recovery of its colonial possessions. On 15 August 1945 the SEAC operational zone commanded by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten was expanded by the addition of Thailand, Southern Indochina and the Netherlands East Indies with the exception of Sumatra. Mountbatten lacked the resources to immediately begin providing relief to the prisoners of war and civilian internees in his area, and the re-occupation of Java and Sumatra was not his top priority. Only in October 1945 did any substantial British Indian forces arrive on the islands. Due to the volatile political situation, Mountbatten decided to forego the complete re-occupation of Java and Sumatra and instead concentrate on creating bridgeheads in key areas. The mission of the British Indian forces was to repatriate the Japanese on the islands and to provide relief to Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees. However, in October and November 1945 the Indian divisions in Surabaya came into conflict with Indonesian nationalist forces. The British commanders in Java requested the assistance of the Indonesian authorities in evacuating the Japanese and Allied civilians from Republican-held areas. The last British units left Java in November 1946.


Christopher Bayly en Tim Harper, Forgotten wars. The end of Britain's Asian empire (Londen, 2007).
Richard McMillan, The British occupation of Indonesia 1945-1946: Britain, the Netherlands and the Indonesian revolution (Londen, 2005).

Information o.a. in:

Access Number 2.22.21
- inv.no. 60 to 77 (Serie: Events leading to the Independence of Indonesia: developments 1945)
- inv.no. 78 to 117 (Serie: Situation in the Netherlands East Indies, 1945-1946)
- inv.no. 118 to 160 (Serie: Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia (Mountbatten Diaries) 1945-1945)
Access Number 2.05.80, inv.no. 275, 286 and 1131
Access Number 2.10.14, inv.no. 3589, 3592, 3594, 3595, 3596 and 4122
Access Number 2.13.72, inv.no. 984, 985, 998, 1011, 1014, 1321 and 1335
Access Number 2.21.123, inv.no. 33

See also:

- Indian Divisions
- Bersiap Period