ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY STATION
BATCHELOR, NT

 

After the Battle in the Java Sea, the Dutch navy evacuated to Ceylon and Australia. In Australia the Dutch set up a new communications radio network. 

At Yuroke, 5 kms west of Craigieburn, a Wireless Telegraphy station was set up with help of Australian authorities. In July 1942 a radio link was opened with the Dutch Navy's radio station at Ceylon, HQ of Admiral Helfrich who was C. in C. of all Dutch forces in the Far East.

Dutch intelligence in Australia was NEFIS, Netherlands [Armed] Forces Intelligence Service, which was an element of Allied Intelligence Bureau. This service wanted to send intelligence parties to Java to find out what was happening under the Japanese occupation. For radio communication with these small groups of agents the naval radio station at Craigieburn near Melbourne was not suited. These parties would use small, low powered radio's to transmit their intelligence, so a forward radio-station was created at Batchelor 60 miles south of Darwin.

The Dutch naval historian Bezemer wrote:-

"Housed in tents and huts in the bush, Navy W/T personal had a demanding job listening for the faint signals of agents trying to make contact and report. Batchelor acted as a post-office. After receiving a coded message, it was then sent via Craigieburn to NEFIS in Melbourne vv. Later also American and Australian intelligence services started using Batchelor for communications with their intelligence parties in the different operational areas. For instance secret information from American parties in the Philippines passed through Batchelor to MacArthur's HQ. The exchange of messages with the Philippines ended abruptly during the successful landings at Leyte in October 1944."

Tens of thousands of code groups were handled by the radio station. At its peak Batchelor was in contact with up to twenty Dutch, Australian and American intelligence parties in enemy territory.

1st Lt Jan Wallbrink of the Netherlands Navy was stationed at Batchelor during WWII and was one of the officers in charge of the wireless station. His son, Peter Wallbrink told me that they were the contact point for many Coast Watchers on Timor and the Netherlands East Indies. Peter recalls his father saying that the wireless station was either next to or near an American Air Force Base at Batchelor.

Winifred Hay Lawrence, a civilian, worked at the Royal Netherlands Navy Wireless Telegraphy Station at Batchelor. Winifred returned to the UK at the end of 1943. Winifred was a British citizen and went to Australia before the war as a maid to the Governor General's wife and spent time in Government House before the war. Winifred volunteered for war service at the outbreak of the conflict with Japan. She also stated that she had visited the islands between Australia and Japan and left just before invasion. After the war, Winifred corresponded with other women who she said were also based in the Northern Territory. Winifred's son, Peter Tebby, told me that Winifred had a book that had been signed by a number of RAAF pilots.

 

Can anyone help me with more information
on this Dutch Radio Station?

 

Wireless Intercept Station, Royal Netherlands Navy, Batchelor, NT

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Andre Willemsen and Peter Wallbring for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Peter Tebby in the UK for his assistance with this web page. Peter is the son of Winifred Tebby (nee Lawrence) who worked as a civilian at the Wireless Telegraphy Station.

 

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This page first produced 2 January 2005

This page last updated 14 January 2015