This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: JFU 444).


A mobile column of motorised infantry and tanks drives to Ambarawa in Java, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) to evacuate Dutch civilian internees to Semarang, while the Royal Air Force provides assistance.

Officers conferring over a map. Brigadier Bethell, commander of the CRA [Commander Royal Artillery] Brigade Group (a composite force) confers with Brigadier Morris, commander of 49th Indian Infantry Brigade (23rd Indian Division). Column of waiting lorries at Oengaran (roughly halfway between Ambarawa and Semarang). Men load the lorries. The column of lorries passes camera. Footage from the moving column - the cameraman's vehicle drives around fallen trees, laid across the road by Indonesian nationalists. A knocked out Stuart ('Honey') light tank, victim of an Indonesian mine; its turret is traversed to the rear and appears to bear the name 'Allenby'. Passing stones and a barbed wire entanglement that had been laid across the road. The convoy halted with Indian troops (probably 4th Battalion 5th Mahratta Light Infantry) in a ditch keeping watch. One soldier climbs a steep bank to act as a lookout. Two Ordnance ML 3-inch mortars at the ready. A mortar is adjusted. A mortarman holds a bomb ready at the muzzle. Brigadier Bethell points out an Indonesian position in the distance; a steep mountain (a volcano?) can be seen in the distance. Tanks (probably of 11th Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry) advance along the road and infantry hurry from one side to the other. Infantry accompany a tank along the road. Tanks with infantry in a ditch. Long shot of troops entering a village. Long lens shot of a soldier removing some debris from the road. Troops enter a village. Long lens landscape shot. Troops walk through a tall open-sided building. Two Stuarts; one fires its main gun and both fire their machine guns, apparently at an Indonesian roadblock. A tank approaches, framed in shot by two others; an Indian officer beckons it forward. Troops cross a road towards a small building; it appears to have an inscription above the door and so may be an office of some kind. Brief glimpse of an RAF Mosquito fighter-bomber overhead. Smoke rising from a burning kampong or village ('If our troops are fired on it is a practice to burn down the hutments from which the fire came' - from the dopesheet). Lorries approaching camera; they negotiate a roadblock and smoke drifts from a burning hut to their right. Tank frame right with a burning hut behind and an officer speaking on a radio. Sikh troops (engineers?) at work on an Ordnance QF 2-pouder anti-tank gun recaptured from the Indonesians. Four men carry a stretcher with a comrade recently killed in action by mortar and machine gun fire. Dutch civilian internees are helped aboard a lorry; many are women, children or elderly. Two young boys, two women and a man outside their billet; they seem in good spirits. Exterior billet; various household objects, furniture, suitcases etc are piled around. Another exterior shot with internees waving to the camera. Good long lens views of a Mosquito patrolling overhead. Internees board a lorry, some laden with whatever personal belongings they can carry; a naval officer is present. Two young boys on a lorry. Lorries being loaded. A truckload of smiling internees. Piles of baggage. Mosquito overhead. A smiling young girl with her pet puppy wrapped in a blanket. More loading. Wide view of the camp with vehicles and mortar emplacements in the foreground. A section of wall of the internment camp with an opening knocked out of it. Closer shot shows a 6-pounder anti-tank gun; the gun is traversed past the camera to show its arc of fire. Lorries leave camp; some are covered in mattresses (presumably against the sun) and people wave as they pass. A Dodge light lorry flying a Union flag; the air is smoky from the burning village. Another view of a light lorry flying a Union flag, followed by a truck fitted with a (20mm Oerlikon?) gun manned by naval ratings. Back at Semarang the lorries return to camp. More lorries arrive and freed internees watch them.


In the aftermath of the Japanese surrender and the Indonesian proclamation of independence on 17 August 1945 an extremely complex situation developed. Occupying Japanese troops, having previously encouraged Indonesian nationalism as a tool against the Dutch, were obliged to lay down their arms before the arrival of sufficient Allied troops to take over the administration. Dutch attempts to restore their pre-war administration with the apparent support of the British sparked violence between Japanese-trained Indonesian troops, large numbers of militia and British and Indian forces. In the Ambarawa area up to 15,000 European (mainly Dutch) and Eurasian civilians had been interned and attempts to evacuate them were hampered by Indonesian control of the only road in the area. 49th Brigade was flown to Semarang from Surabaya on 27 November 1945, moving to Oengaran that day before launching the operation seen in this film on 30 November, with the evacuation of internees beginning the next day. According to the official history, 10,700 internees and a further 200 Eurasian and Chinese civilians were evacuated by 10 December 1945.

For film showing the RAF's contribution to these operations, see related items.

A well-shot item with a clear narrative documenting an important episode in the British occupation of Indonesia. Also a rare instance of the filming of a dead Allied soldier.



Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
11 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
958 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
War Office Directorate of Public Relations
Miller, E E (Sergeant)
Production company
SEAC Film Unit



Production Organisations