Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Victory Camp & the Casino Boys

In Bellingen, writing, obituaries and skills I referred to the obituary by Strath Gordon of Dutch born Jack Dalmayer. I quote from that obituary:

In July, 1945, Dalmayer found himself in a camp in the northern NSW town of Casino, an establishment known as the ''Victory Camp'', which had been declared Dutch territory by the Australian government early in the war and was occupied by the 1st Battalion, Netherlands East Indies Army, consisting of Dutch and Indonesian soldiers. The new group came to be known as ''The Dutch Boys'' or ''The Casino Boys''. But a month later, the war in the Pacific ended.

The Casino Boys, to put it mildly, were at a loose end. The RAAF had no further interest in them. With the proclamation of Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945, many of the Indonesians felt they could no longer serve under Dutch command. The Australian union movement, supporting independence, refused to allow the Dutch servicemen to be shipped to the East Indies.

The Dutch colonial administration started jailing citizens who refused to serve with the Dutch armed forces. They chose Victory Camp to incarcerate them along with Indonesians who had been training as airmen. Suddenly the Dutch who had been training for war found themselves guarding former colleagues.

Relationships between the prisoners and their guards were relaxed. The Dutch Boys began to take part in the Casino social scene, seeing movies and playing sport. Eventually, the Indonesian soldiers were allowed to return home and the Dutch were sent back to the Netherlands.

As I said at the time, I had no knowledge of this camp, nor of the Dutch or Casino Boys, so Icampcasino did some digging around.

This photo shows, I think, a picture of Dutch Surinam soldiers at the camp. 

I didn't find a lot on-line, but what I did sounds interesting. As the obituary suggests, Casino and the camp became embroiled in the Indonesian struggle for independence. The references I have so far found:

Not a lot, but enough to hint at an interesting story. I wondered if any readers might know more.

11 comments:

Tikno said...

Interesting story and thanks for share the link especially of Suriname in WW II. No doubt, many historical links between Indonesia and Suriname.

Jim Belshaw said...

A pleasure, Tikno.

Ozhole said...

Hi Jim...unfortunately there's not much info. on the "Victory Camp".

I live not far from it and my late mother "dated" one of the Dutch Guards for a while.

The only other net info I can find other then what you already have is the camp infrastructure was tendered off in mid January 1947.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?sortby=dateAsc&q=%22victory+camp%2Ccasino%22

Interestingly there is a mention of the camp being used by homeless people between the dutch leaving and demolition and the ensuing dispute between council and the Army over the army wanting the council to disconnect the water supply in the hope they homeless would move on?

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you very much, ozhole.

Where did the last piece of info come from? It wasn't in the trove references I saw - those three were ads for sale!

Ozhole said...

There's is some more info on "trove" if you want to purse the political angle and even a story about a "Gestapo" connection.

Try an advanced search with just "casino,nsw" and limit it to 1939 to 1950 gets you about 26 pages to wade through but picked them up for me.

Cheers Tony

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Tony. I'll do that. It will also help me flesh out the broader history.

Geoff said...

Hi Jim
Not sure if you're still looking for further information about the "Casino Boys", but I may be able to help you.

My mother has written a book "Casino Boys". My father was one the "Casino Boys". The book chronicles the history of the camp and also contains personal recollections of many of those involved with the camp at the time.

Let me know if you're interested and I can put you in touch with her.

Cheers, Geoff

joop van wijk said...

Dear Geoff,
Very interested in what you'd know about the Casino Boys from what your father told you and of course the book your mother wrote. Let me know how I could get in touch with you / her / get the book.
Greetings, Joop

Jim Belshaw said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, Geoff. I would like to learn more and get a copy of your mum's book. How do Joop and I do this?

batarahutagalung said...

Dear Jim,
I'm researching the history of Indonesia 1942 - 1950, especially the period 1945 - 1950.
Have you any reference regarding the role of Australian Forces in Indonesia under command of Lieut.General Sir Leslie Morshead, 1945 - July 1946?
Please send mail to: batara44rh@yahoo.com
Thank you very much.
Greetings from Jakarta
Batara Richard Hutagalung

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Batara. I will email you.