Australian War Memorial (Canberra, Australia)

The Australian War Memorial preserves documents regarding the military operations of Australian forces in the Netherlands East Indies during all phases of the war.
The islands to the north of Australia, such as New Guinea, Timor and the Moluccas, were of strategic importance for Australia as they could act as a staging point for an invasion of the mainland, which was within range of Japanese Army Air Force aircraft based on these islands. To address this problem Australian, British, American and Dutch military delegations met in Singapore for a number of conferences before the war to discuss the defence of the area. To reinforce the defences of the East Indies, Australia also sent troops to Timor (Sparrow Force) and Ambon (Gull Force).
Starting in January 1943 Dutch pilots from 18 Squadron (NEI) RAAF began attacking Japanese shipping and land targets on islands such as Timor and the Aru Islands from their bases in Northern Australia.
On the eastern islands of the archipelago Australian troops played a vital role in the liberation of New Guinea (Merauke Force) and Borneo (7th and 9th Divisions, in operations Oboe Two and Oboe Six). They also performed occupational tasks in five areas of the eastern islands immediately after the Japanese surrender (Timor Force, Ambon Force, Menado Force, Makassar Force and the Ternate Detachment). There they were responsible for preserving order and repatriating the Japanese forces in the area until the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) could take over. The Australians remained in their occupational zone until the spring of 1946.

The selection

Reproductions originate from AWM54, Ministry of Defence written records, 1939-1945. From this immense collection documents have been selected that relate to the defence of the Dutch East Indies, including:
- Netherlands East-Indies General, Access number 2.22.21, inv. no. 661 to 684;
- Ambon (1941-1942) Gull Force, Access number 2.22.21, inv. no. 685 to 706;
and to the liberation of Borneo and the eastern East Indies by Australian forces:
- Merauke Force, Access number 2.22.21, inv. no. 707 to 731;
- Celebes, Halmaheras (including Morotai) and Adjacent Islands, inv. no. 732 to 784;
- Armistices and Surrenders - Allied and Japanese, Access number 2.22.21, inv. no. 609 to 637.
Reproductions have also been made of documents dealing with the war period from AWM 123, Special Collection II' Defense Committee records, and AWM 124 Collection of the Royal Australian Navy.