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45 Entries in Netherlands Graves Managed by CWGC Database
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is the second youngest operational part of the Dutch Armed Forces, which consists of four parts: Navy, Army, Air Force and Military Police.

Dutch air power started in July 1913 with the founding of the Army Aviation Group (Luchtvaartafdeeling or LVA) at Soesterberg airfield (vliegbasis Soesterberg). When founded, the Army Aviation Group operated one aircraft, the Brik, which was supplemented with three French Farman HF.20 aircraft a few months later.

These aircraft were soon outdated and the Dutch government ordered several fighter/reconnaissance Nieuport and Caudron aircraft to replace them.

The Netherlands maintained a neutral position during World War I and the Army Aviation Group did not take part in any action, instead developing the force's capabilities.

Pilot training was opened for ranks below officer, and technical, aerial photography, meteorological and navigation flights were established. New airfields were established at Arnhem, Gilze-Rijen air base, Venlo and Vlissingen.

After the end of World War I the Dutch government cut the defence budget and the Army Aviation Group was almost dissolved. As political tensions in Europe increased during the late 1930s the government tried to rebuild the armed forces again in 1938 but there were many problems, not least the shortage of pilot instructors, navigators and pilots to fly the new multiple engine aircraft. Lack of standardisation and resulting maintenance issues added to the complexity of the rebuilding task.

As war loomed, in July 1939 the Army Aviation Group was renamed the Army Aviation Brigade (Luchtvaartbrigade).

In August 1939, the Netherlands government mobilised its armed forces, but due to limited budgets the Army Aviation Brigade operated only 176 combat aircraft of the following types:
16 Fokker T.V type bombers
36 Fokker D.XXI single-engine fighters
35 Fokker G.I twin-engine fighters
7 Fokker D.XVII single engine fighters
17 Douglas DB-8A-3N light bombers
20 Fokker C.X light bombers
33 Fokker C.V reconnaissance aircraft
20 Koolhoven FK-51 artillery observer aircraft

In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Within five days the Dutch Army Aviation Brigade was taken out by the German Luftwaffe. All of the Brigade's bombers, along with 30 D.XXI and 17 G.I fighters were shot down; two D.XXI and eight G.I were destroyed on the ground. Two G.I were captured by German forces, one of which was later flown to England by a Fokker pilot. The Douglas bombers were used as fighters because no suitable bombs were available; these aircraft were poorly suited for this role and eight were shot down and three destroyed on the ground in the first hours of the conflict.

In spite of their numerical inferiority, the Dutch armed forces did enjoy success against the Luftwaffe, having 350 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, although many of these were lost to anti-aircraft fire and crashes at improvised landing fields in the Netherlands rather than due to action by Dutch fighters. The cost was high – almost 95% of the Dutch pilots were lost. In recognition of their actions Queen Wilhelmina granted the highest Dutch military decoration, the Militaire Willemsorde (MWO), to the Army Aviation Brigade collectively.

Some aircrews escaped to England and on 1 June 1940, 320 Squadron and 321 Squadron were established there under RAF operational command. Due to a shortage of personnel, 321 Squadron was absorbed by 320 Sqn in January 1941. Although their personnel were predominantly from the Navy Air Service, Army Aviation aircrew also served with 320 Sqn until the end of the war.

In 1941, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying-School was re-established, in the United States at Jackson Field (also known as Hawkins Field), Jackson, Mississippi, operating lend-lease aircraft and training all military aircrew for the Netherlands. The separate Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (ML-KNIL; Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Military Air Service) continued in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), until its occupation by Japan in 1942.[3][4] Some personnel escaped to Australia and Ceylon. 321 Squadron was re-formed in Ceylon, in March 1942, from Dutch aviators.

In 1942, 18 (NEI) Squadron, a joint Dutch-Australian unit was established, in Canberra, equipped with B-25 Mitchell bombers. It saw action in the New Guinea campaign and over the Dutch East Indies. In 1943, 120 (NEI) Squadron was established. Equipped with Kittyhawk fighters, it flew many missions under Australian command, including the recapturing of Dutch New Guinea.

In June 1943, a Dutch fighter squadron was established in England. 322 (Dutch) Squadron, equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, saw action as part of the RAF. 322 Sqn aircraft featured the British RAF roundels as well as the Dutch orange triangle. 322 Sqn was successfully deployed against incoming V-1 flying bombs. From mid-1944, during the invasion of Normandy, it executed ground attack missions over France and Belgium.

In July 1944, the Directorate of Netherlands Airpower was established in London The Netherlands Naval Aviation Service (Dutch: Marineluchtvaartdienst, shortened to MLD) is the naval aviation branch of the Royal Netherlands Navy. As wehave seen, the German invasion of the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, rapidly overwhelmed Dutch resistance and the MLD aircraft were redeployed to France before the Dutch formally surrendered on 15 May. Shortly after, the MLD was ordered to Britain, where Dutch personnel formed No. 320 Squadron RAF, Coastal Command, in June 1940. A second squadron, 321 Squadron, was also formed, but later merged with 320 Squadron. Other MLD personnel served on MAC ships in the Fleet Air Arm's 860 and 861 Naval Air Squadrons, flying the Fairey Swordfish.

At this time efforts were made to strengthen the MLD in the Dutch East Indies. When the war started in December 1941, the MLD numbered 130 aircraft. The main types were 37 Dornier Do 24 K-1 flying boats and 36 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boats. The major base was at Naval Air Station Morokrembangan near Soerabaja in eastern Java. The MLD had secondary bases as well as seaplane tenders that enabled it to spread out and cover the entire Netherlands East Indies. It was organized into 18 squadrons (GVT, Groep Vliegtuigen) of about three aircraft each to provide reconnaissance, anti-submarine patrols, convoy escort in support of Dutch forces. The MLD did not have radar. The MLD fought about 95 combat actions, sank one Japanese ship (the destroyer Shinonome), damaged some others, shot down a few Japanese aircraft and inflicted some casualties on Japanese personnel on the ground. That was not enough to stop the Japanese, and eventually the MLD was forced to evacuate to Ceylon and Australia. They lost 95% of their aircraft and 50% of their personnel.

On March 3, 1942, nine MLD Dornier and Catalina flying boats were destroyed in the Japanese air attack on Broome, in Australia. About 58 MLD personnel were killed, wounded, or missing. Later that year, on July 1 in Ceylon, 321 Squadron was re-formed under the command of Willem van Prooijen, with MLD PBY Catalinas. The PBYs in Australia were transferred to Ceylon, and the surviving Dorniers were sold to the Australian government. The flight school was relocated to the United States.

The Royal Netherlands Military Flying School was established in the United States, at Jackson Field (also known as Hawkins Field), Jackson, Mississippi, operating lend-lease aircraft, training all military aircrew for the Netherlands. The intention was to return to the Netherlands and to participate in the war against Japan. After liberation, the main MLD base was established at Valkenburg, with De Kooy as the overhaul and repair base.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Source for Data: acknowledgement and thanks to CWGC with enhancements added by Aircrew Remembered editors.

To discover the names of Cemeteries in which Netherlands (Holland) personnel are buried or to check the spelling of a name, click the Names List button above.
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