The first confrontations at Vogelkop.
Monday, December 8th 1941.
8 o'clock in the morning, New-Guinea time. Via the NIROM, the Dutch East Indies Radio Station the voice came from the Governor-General at Sorong, Manokwart and Babo. In the Bernhard camp and Idenburg river and on the federal posts at the Wissel lakes: "Fellow countrymen! Through unexpected attacks on American and British regions, while diplomatic negotiations were still going on, the Japanese empire consciously took the decision to use violence "
The commander of GVT 2 (Groep Vliegtuigen
2, Group Airplanes), Lieutenant 2nd class W.J. Reynierse, at that
moment staying in Sorong, was already informed by Soerabaja. His
three Do-24K-1's (X-11,
X-12 and X-25) were moored at the docks
of Sorong, nearby the supporting ship Arend. Sorong was only the
temporary base. In the past days the seagoing MLD group was stationed
at Ambon and Morotai, an island north of the Halmaheira, operating
together with GVT 5, and taking care of guarding the northeastern
gateway to the archipelago. To be precise the line Sorong - Morotai
- Talaud Islands - south coast Mindenao - Philippines.
The same day GVT 2 was caught in the first war action of the MLD in the Dutch East Indies. During a reconnaissance mission northwest of Vogelkop the crew of X-12 saw a group of Japanese pearl fishing boats and a big schooner in the Straight of Bougainville (between the islands of Sajang and Waigeo) trying to make a run for home. For years the crews had shadowed these suspicious ships and had made fake attacks, mostly without result. This time the opportunity was there to use all forces necessary, to get rid of the frustrations and tensions. Shots were fired, after a strafing 50 kg bombs were dropped, on of which only just missed a boat. Commander of the X-12 was A. Höfelt, a later KLM captain.
Commander Reynierse of GVT 2 took no risks, the distance between the unprotected base of Sorong and the closest Japanese base on the Palaoe Islands north of New-Guinea was only 1000 km, short enough for an attack. The group evacuated to a hiding place, deeper inland, but returned a few days later to Sorong. In the meantime the X-11 and X-25 had rediscovered the Schooner and shot it into flames and the X-12 had gone to Ambon to get new bombs.
A week later, on December 16th 1941, the first confrontation with an enemy plane occurred. That tuesday out of the blue a big Japanese Kawanishi flying boat appeared above Sorong. Flying like it was on a show flight the Japanese attacker closed in on the docks, the target being the Arend supporting ship for the flying boats. The Arend was not hit and the X-12 and X-25 managed to get airborne to attack the Japanese plane. During the chase the Dutch unfortunately came to the conclusion that the big Kawanishi could fly faster than their own Dorniers.
The next day the enemy returned, again a Kawanishi, possibly the same. Three bombs exploded behind the accelerating X-11. The two other Do-24K-1's were already airborne with the aim to intercept the Kawanishi. The plan failed and the faster Kawanishi escaped in the clouds.