Hero of the Dutch East Indies, 1942
Captain Jacob P. van Helsdingen
Hero of the Dutch East Indies, 1941-1942
The ML-KNIL Captain Jacob P. van Helsdingen commanded 2-VLG-V squadron of Brewster Buffalos which fought over Singapore. He was afterwards sent to Eastern Borneo (Samarinda II) with what was left of his squadron. He scored a total of three aircraft kills during the whole Netherlands East Indies Campaign 1941-1942.
He escorted Glenn Martin bombers on their sorties, and was one of the pilots who bombed the Japanese invasion fleet off Balikpapan. After Samarinda II was discovered, the Japanese launched air attacks on the airfield. Van Helsdingen took off once with an aircraft whose machine-guns jammed. He then attacked bombers without being able to harm them, for the sole purpose to inspire his men.
He then returned to Java where he was engaged in many air battles against Japanese Zeros, and was grounded on March 1 1942 while stationed on Andir. It was the idea to send him to Australia to command the contingent of cadet-pilots. Then the assignment arrives to support the infantry near Lembang. There were plenty of fighter pilots, but only four Brewsters still flyable. He asks for volunteers. All pilots present volunteered and he appointed four pilots. Then he changes his mind. One of the pilots is married, so he takes the man's place. Van Helsdingen was married himself.....Van Helsdingen picks out the worst Brewster, takes off and was shot down.