August Deibel - World War II - Dutch East Indies

Dutch East Indies

When a formation of 35 Japanese aircraft attacked Semplak on 19 February, eight Buffaloes (including Deibel) engaged them. Deibel managed to fire twice at an A6M Zero, but was wounded by a 20 mm shell ten minutes later, forcing him to land. 11 Japanese planes were shot down, with the Dutch losing four Buffaloes and two pilots. The raid destroyed three RAF Lockheed Hudsons and two KNILM Sikorskys.

On 7 March, Japanese troops had reached the plateau of Lembang. Deibel, along with Lieutenant Gerard Bruggink and Officer Cadet Jan Scheffer, volunteered to join Captain Jacob van Helsdingen on his mission using the last three working Buffalo aircraft. The four pilots took off from Andir airfield and proceeded to Lembang to provide air support for ground troops fighting in the city.

Helsdingen's squadron travelled 200 metres when they encountered a Japanese aircraft, which Deibel attacked before it escaped. Some time later, three Japanese A6M Zeros appeared. Deibel fired at two of them which turned away, but was hit in the oil tank by the third Zero and had to break off from combat. His wingman, Scheffer, escorted him back to Andir airfield under a tropical rainstorm, shooting down a Nakajima Ki-43 fighter. One of Deibel's landing gears, damaged during the fight, broke off from his aircraft, causing it to crash in a ground loop. He survived without sustaining any injuries. Helsdingen and Bruggink remained above Lembang, but were now dogfighting six Zeroes. Helsdingen was soon shot down, but Bruggink managed to escape into the clouds before returning to Andir airfield. Dutch forces in Lembang surrendered the next day. All four Dutch pilots were awarded the Military William Order on July 14, 1948.

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