Jacob van Helsdingen

Infobox Military Person
name= Jacob Pieter van Helsdingen
lived= 7 March 1907 – 7 March 1942
placeofbirth= Soerabaja, Dutch East Indies
placeofdeath= Lembang, Java

serviceyears= 1941 – 1942
rank= Captain
unit= 2-VLG-V
battles= Battle of Malaya
Battle of Java
awards= Order of William

Captain Jacob Pieter van Helsdingen (7 March 1907 – 7 March 1942) was a pilot of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force. Jacob is credited with having shot down three Japanese aircraft during combat missions over Malaya, Singapore and Java. He was twice awarded the Order of William for bravery in battle.

World War 2


Captain Helsdingen's squadron, 2-VLG-V, was stationed at Kallang Airfield during the Battle of Malaya. His only known kill was a Ki-27 Nate on January 12, 1942, during a Japanese air raid on Singapore. His squadron returned to Java on 18 January. Helsdingen lead 8 Brewster Buffalo aircraft to Semplak, while 23 others flew to Andir and Tjilitian.

Makassar Strait

Helsdingen was awarded his first Order of William on 11 February, 1942, for carrying out attacks against Imperial Japanese Navy ships in the Makassar Strait on 23 January. Twenty Buffalo fighters carrying two 50 kg bombs each attacked a fleet of IJN ships from high altitude. Eight hits were scored on four Japanese ships, one destroyer and two cargo ships, with the Dutch losing one aircraft.


Jacob was shot down on his 35th birthday by a Japanese A6M Zero while providing close air support to ground forces in Lembang with three Brewster Buffalo aircraft on March 7, 1942, during the Battle of Java.

Despite the Japanese having an almost complete air superiority over Java, Helsdingen nevertheless chose to take off from Andir airfield to give support to ground troops fighting in Lembang. He ordered another pilot to stand down and hand over his Buffalo aircraft to him because he was married, despite the fact that Helsdingen was himself married. Three other pilots, 1st Lieutenant August Deibel, Lieutenant Gerardus Bruggink and Officer Cadet Jan Scheffer volunteered to join him using the last three working Buffalo aircraft on the airfield.

Helsdingen's squadron travelled 200 metres before they ran into three Japanese A6M Zeros. Deibel's plane was hit in the oil tank and had to break off from combat. His wingman, Jan Scheffer escorted him back to Andir airfield, where Deibel crashed landed his aircraft without suffering 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 Order of William, while Helsdingen and Scheffer (who died a PoW) were posthumously awarded the honour on July 14, 1948.

ee also

*August Deibel

External links

* [http://www.geocities.com/dutcheastindies/helsdingen.html Captain Jacob P. van Helsdingen]
* [http://www.warbirdforum.com/dutch.htm Brewster Buffalo: in Dutch service]

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