Jacob Van Helsdingen - World War II - Lembang

Lembang

Van Helsdingen was killed on his 35th birthday by an A6M Zero while providing air support to Royal Dutch East Indies Army forces fighting in Lembang with three other Buffalo aircraft on 7 March 1942.

Despite the Japanese having an almost complete air superiority over Java, he nevertheless chose to take off from Andir airfield. He ordered another pilot to stand down and hand over his Buffalo aircraft (B-396) to him because he was married, despite the fact that van Helsdingen was himself married. Three other pilots, 1st Lieutenant August Deibel, Gerard Bruggink (flying B-3107) and Officer Cadet Jan Scheffer, volunteered to join him using the last three working Buffalo aircraft on the airfield.

The squadron travelled 200 metres before running into three Japanese A6M Zeros. Deibel's plane was hit in the oil tank and had to break off from combat. His wingman, Scheffer, escorted him back to Andir airfield, where Deibel crash landed his aircraft without injury. The other two remained above Lembang, but were now dogfighting six Zeroes. Van Helsdingen shot down a Zero before he too was hit, but Bruggink managed to escape into the clouds before returning to Andir airfield. Jacob's body was never found. The Dutch forces in Lembang surrendered the next day. All four Dutch pilots were awarded the Military William Order, while van Helsdingen and Scheffer (who died a prisoner of war) were posthumously awarded the honour on 14 July 1948.

Read more about this topic:  Jacob Van Helsdingen, World War II

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