This is an area of warfare I am very interested in. Unfortunately, books like this only come along once every 10 to 20 years. This fills a gap in our knowledge of events leading up to and through the Pacific War against Japan.
The MLD, or Dutch Naval Air Force of the Netherlands East Indies, probably had the best organized reconnaissance force in the southwest Pacific area at the time. Maintaining neutrality in wars spreading around the globe was difficult, but the Netherlands East Indies were doing all they could not to become involved, and to be a haven for those trying to escape the European, African and Chinese theatre wars. The Japanese had different plans.
Once the fighting started though, the MLD was right in the thick of it, fighting hard right alongside their British, Australian and American allies against a Japanese war machine far superior to anything the allies could cobble together. Flying older German designed Do-24s, American PBYs, and Fokker seaplanes, the MLD kept up what pressure they could as the Japanese invasion forces swept through the East Indies, southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean in the late fall of 1941, and the winter and spring of 1942. Most of the MLD crews paid with their lives to keep the allies abreast of where the Japanese forces were located and what they were doing. Some of the "invincibility" that became associated with the superb Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, and in general the Japanese naval forces, was established and enhanced during this campaign.
When the smoke cleared, the Japanese were in control of the Netherlands East Indies, and the remaining MLD crews and ground personnel, if not captured, were evacuated to Australia or Ceylon. It was a story of too little, too late. The Dutch had tried to get more aircraft, AA guns and ordinance prior to the Japanese invasion, but a lack of interest on the part of her future allies, and a greater concern for the European conflict, even by the Dutch government-in-exile, left the MLD with only a handful of aircraft and hardware with which to face battle-hardened Japanese forces.
The book has many excellent and previously unpublished photographs of personnel, aircraft, and bases of the MLD. If your interests are for stories of some of the little known campaigns and more exotic places that became embroiled in the global conflagration known as World War Two, you will enjoy this book. Tom Womack is to be commended for researching, compiling and fleshing out this story,