Friday, March 16, 2018

New England Stories - Camp Victory and the Casino Boys

Netherlands East Indies troops march Melbourne 1943

Over the first part of 2017 I wrote a series of posts on my history blog telling a little of the story of Camp Victory and the Casino Boys.

The story begins with the fall of the Netherlands to the Germans and then switches to the Netherlands East Indies where the Dutch Government in exile and the Netherlands East Indies are trying to strengthen local defences in the face of a looming Japanese threat. With the fall of the Netherlands, elements of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) government and forces escape to Australia.

.In Australia a government in exile is created, the only official one ever created on Australian soil, and bases established. One, Camp Victory, was located outside Casino.

Among those who came to Camp Victory in 1945 were a group of young Dutchmen brought to Australia for pilot training. With the war winding down their training was constantly delayed.

As news of the Indonesian declaration of independence reached Australia , Indonesian soldiers serving as part of the NEI forces refused to continue service.

Now fighting to re-establish its control of the East Indies, the NIE government interned the mutinous soldiers. At Camp Victory, the Casino Boys were given basic military training and found themselves guarding troops who weeks before they had been fraternizing with.

The political situation was incredibly messy in Indonesia and in Australia with accusations that Camp Victory had become a concentration camp.

Finally, the interned soldiers were repatriated to Indonesia and most of the Casino Boys returned to Holland to complete their pilot training. There, missing Australia, most made arrangements to return as quickly as possible. They became a tight knit group known to all as the Casino Boys.

The posts that follow only give a taste of the story. They are listed in date order so that you can follow the story through.

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