Dutch day of remembrance in Australia’s capital

This article has photo gallery Published on POIS Phillip Cullinan (author and photographer), LSML-C Nadav Harel (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra

Topic(s): Operations, Events, 75th Anniversary

Chief of Navy representative, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, Dutch veteran Mr Lou Westende and Colonel Harold Jacobs, Defence Attach� at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on completion of the Netherlands Remembrance Day service held in Canberra. (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Chief of Navy representative, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, Dutch veteran Mr Lou Westende and Colonel Harold Jacobs, Defence Attach� at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on completion of the Netherlands Remembrance Day service held in Canberra.

As many Australians were focussed on the Battle of the Coral Sea, the enduring Dutch-Australian defence relationship was also commemorated at Russell Offices on 4 May with a Netherlands Remembrance Day service in Canberra. 

The Netherlands Australia Memorial in the centre of the Australian Defence Headquarters precinct, honours the servicemen and women of the Dutch forces who operated from Australia between 1941 and 1945. 

The Dutch, along with the United States, were the only non-Commonwealth countries to establish bases in Australia during the Second World War.
 
Four panels for the navy, army, air and merchant marine components, together with a large panel displaying the bronze lion from the Netherlands’ coat of arms adorn the structure.
 
A commemorative address by Her Excellency Mrs Erica Schouten, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, highlighted the importance of the day, noting five years of occupation by the German armed forces in Northwestern Europe, there was finally a surrender. 
 
"On the eve of Dutch Liberation Day, we pause to remember the Dutch war victims," Ambassador Schouten said.
 
"We first commemorate, only then can we celebrate," she said.
 
Members of Dutch forces operated from Australia as part of the Allied opposition to Japan in the Second World War. 

When the Netherlands East Indies fell to the Japanese, troops from the Dutch forces relocated to Australia. They were joined by Dutch people from Europe and elsewhere to form fighting and support units. 
 
Reformed and re-equipped with equipment that was available, Dutch forces went into defensive positions in Northern Australia ready to fight again had the Japanese landed in Australia.
 
Three squadrons of B-25 Mitchell bombers were formed in Australia and were mostly crewed by the Dutch and had Australian ground crews from the Royal Australian Air Force, and had flown over 900 operational sorties during the war. 

Operating from Australian bases for the rest of the war, these Dutch forces made an important contribution to the defence of Australia and eventual Allied victory.