Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Merdeka! – Game Background for 1 Jan 2017

This is some background on Merdeka! by Jaap Boender which will be run at the CLWG session on 1 January 2017.

Dutch conquests from the Portuguese in the Eas...

Dutch conquests from the Portuguese in the East Indies “Indonesia by Patrick Witton, 2003 960 pages” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Merdeka – Game Background

Merdeka is set in November 17, 1945. The place, Indonesia (depending on whom one asks, also known as the Dutch East Indies).

The Second World War has just ended, but that does not mean the status quo has been restored. In the outlying parts of the country (Sumatra, Celebes, the Indonesian part of Borneo, the Moluccas and the western part of New Guinea) all has remained relatively quiet, but not so in Java.

Recent events

Two days after the Japanese surrender, on August 17, a small group of Indonesian notables, led by Sukarno, Hatta and Sjahrir, proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia. This Republic claimed the entire territory of the Dutch East Indies, but in practice it only occupies the island of Java. Since about half the population of the country lives in Java, this is a serious situation.

Key Players

The situation in Java is extremely murky. Officially, the area comes under Lord Mountbatten’s South East Asia Command, who are supposed to take over from the Japanese pending a return of the Dutch administration. To this end, a small force of British and British Indian troops have landed, but they only occupy a few key areas (the capital, Batavia, as well as the cities of Semarang, Buitenzorg and Surabaya). Even in these areas, their hold is very tenuous.

The Dutch are in no position to take over: they only have a small group of administrative and military personnel in place, led by the Deputy Governor-General, H.J. van Mook.

Finally, also present in Java is a large amount of Japanese troops. In the absence of an Allied military presence, keeping order has been their responsibility, even after the Japanese surrender.

In early October, the situation in Java has taken a turn for the worse. After it became clear that neither the British nor the Dutch would be occupying Java in force anytime soon, violence broke out all over the island. The main victims of this violence were Europeans, but also Indonesians who had supported the Dutch and the Japanese. It is estimated that there are several thousands of victims to deplore.

In reaction, the Dutch and British strategy has two main points. The Dutch administration has declared its willingness to negotiate with the Indonesian Republic, and the British have stepped up military action.

This military action has not been an unqualified success: heavy fighting has broken out in the city of Surabaya after the commander of the British brigade sent in to secure the city was killed. The British have also run into trouble trying to evacuate Dutch civilians from Central Java.

It is in these circumstances that Dutch and Indonesian representatives meet to negotiate to try and stop the violence.

The Indonesians are aiming for independence, but this is obviously not on the Dutch agenda.

Can anything be done to find a solution?


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