NEFIS, Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service

On 1 April 1943 the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service (NEFIS) was established in Melbourne under the command of Lieutenant Commander G.B. Salm. Its task was to collect intelligence about the occupied Netherlands East Indies and the Japanese activities there. Naval Lieutenant J.J. Quéré and his Section III (Special Intelligence and Operations) trained and led intelligence 'parties' deployed to the Netherlands East Indies. By war's end NEFIS had deployed a total of 37 such intelligence parties. In 1942 the organisation sent missions to Central Celebes, Java, the Aru Islands and Ceram, but without success. The teams found it very difficult to successfully infiltrate an area, as almost all of the white Europeans had been removed from society. The Indo-Europeans who had managed to stay out of the camps were placed in a difficult situation. Military historian J.J. Nortier explains why a large number of parties, especially those sent to Java, ended in failure:

'Many Indonesians saw the Japanese as liberators. Throughout the archipelago, Dutch officials had been replaced by pro-Japanese Indonesians. Organisations with considerable influence on public life, such as the police forces, had turned completely pro-Japanese. Numerous youth organisations, some of them armed, provided varying degrees of support to the occupiers. Every Dutch or Indo-European person was placed under surveillance in public, and appearing anywhere after sunset made them especially suspect. The situation was in no way comparable to that in occupied Europe: the Dutch and Indo-Europeans had become foreigners in their own country [...] living in constant fear of the serious consequences of all sorts of inconsequential actions. There were no safe houses or other forms of support for agents infiltrated into the country, as anyone active in resistance or in aiding the resistance was sure to be targeted for elimination.'

In 1944 NEFIS intelligence operations to the eastern East Indies were given priority, as the American line of advance to the Philippines ran along the northern coast of New Guinea and the Northern Moluccas. These intelligence operations had purely military objectives, and their chances of success were therefore significantly higher than those parties sent to the more populous islands of Java and Ambon.


J.J. Nortier, Acties in de archipel. De intelligence-operaties van NEFIS-III in de Pacific-oorlog (Franeker, 1985)

Information a.o. in:

Access Number 2.22.21, 399 to 467 (Serie: Collection of Special Operations Australia).

Available in the reading room

Access Number 2.10.62, 44 to 56 (Interrogation reports and compilations of interrogation reports drawn up by NEFIS concerning military, political and economic developments in the Netherlands East Indies, with maps 1944 1945).
Access Number 2.12.37, 327 to 331 (Interrogation reports drawn up by NEFIS, 1944-1945)