KNIL – Revolutionary badges from the Indonesian War of Independence

My small collection of revolutionary badges from the Indonesian War of Independence is on loan in museum Bronbeek but when I come across an interesting example I still buy them, in this blog I will show some of these.

In most cases the story behind them is lost and even the meaning of the badge can be difficult to trace as there is very little literature on this subject.

The Republic Indonesia had their own formally organised and uniformed army the TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia) during the war for independence. The Siliwangi Division is one of the best known divisions from that war and was considered an elite unit within the TNI. This cloth badge came from the estate of a Dutch Para who was killed in action in 1949 but I’ll leave the rest of that story for another time.

Next to the TNI there were many other political and religious groups often with their own battle groups. Sometimes uniformed but often not. Nevertheless al these groups had badges. These badges were taken from POW’s and casualties by the Dutch forces and used to indentify the activities of different groups by the Military Intelligence community.

Next to all military documentation there were also generic books by the Dutch Government like the one below identifying all political groupings:

Inside the book a total of 106 political groupings are identified!

The badge below came into my collection as an unknown item but I did have a feeling that it would be a revolutionary badge. With the help of Museum Bronbeek I found the meaning of this badge. It is the badge of the Indonesian People’s Revolutionary Front, in Indonesian know under the acronym BPRI which was founded in October 1945 in Surabaya by a man called Sutomo

Bronbeek museum has an identical badge with only a different serial number.

The next badge is from the PKI, the Communist party of Indonesia that had a history from long before the War of Independence, starting in 1914/1920 (depending on source) but also was very active in the Independece period and remained so until it was banned in 1965. Next to a political group they were also active in the war.

Next to political oriented groups there were also many groups with a religious background. Below the badge of the Daroel Islam and their fighting force Hizboellah. One of the DI badges has a number. Below the DI badges is the badge of the Islamic group Sabilillah with an Arabic text on the Indonesian flag.

Next are two different badges of the Barisan Banteng Republik Indonesia, a fighting force of the Republican side that was a continuation of the Barisan Pelopor (pioneer) from the Japanese period.

Not very often you come across a badge with a provenance, in this case the story of how and where a badge was captured:

This badge was taken from the body of a Japanese soldier that fought during the war of indepence as a leader of an Indonesian group during fights in August 1949 in central Java.

The name of the veteran was Frans Janse and the friend and collectors name was Leo Sassen. Several items from his collection are shown in this blog.

The exact meaning of the badge is still unknown and the Dutch soldier (Janse) writes down an idea he had about it that has not been confirmed.

The Republic also had regular police forces in place already during the revolutionary period. Below a (cap) badge.

There was also a Military Police (PT – Polisi Tentara)

The Armlet is of the Special Police (Polisi Istimewa) and is discussed in a seperate blog.

The Republic also had a small Airforce and a relatively large Navy. Below two metal ranks for a navy (ALRI) nco. These came as a pair depsite the different form of the ranks.

The amount of different badges gives a view of how widespread the opposition against the colonial rule was and how many different political and religious groupings formed that resistance.

Also there were a lot a civilians that were not directly involved in the resistance but sympahtized with the Republic Indonesia and wore badges with a form of representation of the red and white flag to show this.

This badge I have not yet been able to identify. If you have info please contact me.

Indonesian propaganda leaftlet against the Dutch (soldiers).