The event took place 72 years ago, precisely July 29, 1947, one year after the establishment of Indonesia Air Force. However, for the Air Force, the two events that occured at that time had great significance, which needed to be experienced and honoured by every Indonesian Air Force soldier. So, it is very appropriate if the day is then commemorated as the Indonesian Air Force Service Day. First, the Indonesian Air Force air strikes on the Dutch occupation areas in Ambarawa, Salatiga, and Semarang, carried out by Aviation Cadet Sutardjo Sigit, Suharmoko Harbani, and Mulyono, assisted by three technicians acting as air shooters namely Sutardjo, Kaput, and Dulrachman. The air raids carried out before dawn used two Chureng and a Guntei aircraft which are obtained from the spoils of Japanese Soldiers. Secondly, the death of three pioneers of the Indonesian Air Force, each Air Commodore Adisucipto, Young Air Commodore Prof. Dr. Abdulrachman Saleh, and Air Junior Officer Adisumarmo. When, the Dakota VT-CLA plane that was boarded and carrying medicines was assisted by the Malaya Red Cross, three Dutch Kitty-hawk planes shot and made it crashed in Ngoto Village, 3 km South of Yogyakarta.
Both events began with the Linggarjati agreement which was an attempt to resolve the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands, but the Dutch denied it. Because, unilaterally sever diplomatic relations and take military action. Namely, by carrying out simultaneous attacks on the territory of the Republic of Indonesia on July 21, 1947 known as Dutch Aggression I.
THE FIRST GENERAL AIR STRIKES OF INDONESIAN AIR FORCE
After the independence of the Republic of Indonesia which has proclaimed by Soekarno and Moh. Hatta on August 17th, 1945, the Netherland Goverment was still tried to took over the legal goverment of the Republic of Indonesia to became one of the commonwealth countries of the Netherland based on their own perception. According to this perception, the Netherland decided to directly attack the Republic of Indonesia in order to acces commodities in Republican-held areas, in particular sugar, oil and rubber as they had for more than 350 years before the independence of the Republic of Indonesia. The first military aggression was held in July 21, 1947 by deployed three divisions in Java and three brigades in Sumatra. The Netherlands launched a massive offensive into various parts of Indonesia, including at several air bases and the main target was the Yogyakarta Maguwo Air Base, because it was considered the center of the Republic of Indonesia's air power. However, due to bad weather, the attack failed and the Dutch transferred to other air bases such as Panasan Solo Air Base, Maospati Madiun, Malang Bugis, Pandanwangi Lumajang, Gorda Banten, Kalijati Subang, and Cibeureum Tasikmalaya. While outside Java, the Dutch attacked Gadut Air Base, Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. The main objective of this aggresion was to seize rich plantation areas and the other areas which had natural resources, especially oil. As a cover for the international world, the Netherland called this military aggression as a police action and declared this action as domestic affairs. At that time the number of Dutch troops had reached more than 100,000 personnel with modern weapons, ammunition and also including heavy weapons granted by British soldiers and Australian soldiers.
The First Dutch Military Action provoked anger, apart from denying the agreed-upon Linggarjati Agreement, it also violated the legal provisions of war. For the Indonesian people, such arbitrary actions are seen as political pressure with the intention of destroying and understating the meaning of the Republic of Indonesia. As for the Air Force which was only just growing, the destruction of some of its airbases was a painful slap which was intended to break the fighting spirit of the Indonesian Air Force soldiers and narrow the space and limit the growth rate of the Indonesian Air Force. The flurry and indiscriminate Dutch attack provoked anger at the heart of the current Indonesian Air Force leadership. In their limitations and not recognizing surrender, they continued to try to draw up their strengths and strategies to hold a counter-air strikes on the territory occupied by the Dutch. On July 28, 1947 around 7:00 p.m., four pilot cadets namely Suharnoko Harbani, Sutardjo Sigit, Mulyono and Bambang Saptoadji were ordered to attend Air Force Chief, Commodore Suryadi Suryadarma and Young Air Commodore Halim Perdanakusuma. This very secret call concerns the air operations plan assigned to the four flight cadets to attack the Dutch position. The operation was not merely in the form of an order, but rather voluntary. However, none of the four cadets who were on average 19 years old retired from the task. All feel called and honored to carry it out.
Early on July 29, 1947, Maguwo Air Base was still dark. However, it was suddenly thrilled by the roar of a plane carrying a mission that the Indonesian nation had never done. Aviation cadets Sutardjo Sigit and Suharnoko Harbani were ordered to attack Salatiga and Ambarawa, the Chureng aircraft flown were converted into bombers. The airplane cockpit was opened, the body and wings were given military green paint. The assault operation began at around 5:00 in the morning using one Guntei plane and two Cureng planes which took off sequentially from Maguwo Airfield. The Guntei aircraft was piloted by Air Cadet I Mulyono with water gunner Dulrahman who flew first to Semarang, carrying 400 kg of bombs. Followed by Cureng aircraft piloted by Air Cadet I Sutardjo Sigit with gunner Sutardjo water and Air Cadet I Suharnoko Harbani with Kaput air gunner. Two Cureng planes each carried a 50-kg bomb which was hung on each of its wings and water gunner held crates containing firebombs. When the bombs were released by throwing them directly at the target, in the form of buildings that became the headquarters of the Dutch army, at that time the sky was still dark and the city lights were still on. Meanwhile, Aviator Cadet Bambang Saptoadji, who used the plane to rush Hayabusha and was in charge of escorting aircraft manned by Aviation Cadet Mulyono, was forced to cancel because the aircraft had been prepared.
After carrying out the bombing, they immediately returned to Maguwo Air Base by flying low. At approximately 6:00 a.m., one by one the aircraft began landing back to the base and the plane was immediately hidden under a tree. That morning, the atmosphere at Maguwo Air Base was overwhelmed with pride, pleasure and emotion because the air fighters had successfully carried out the task and returned safely. Why not, because the operation that had just been carried out was the air force's first air operation since its founding in 1946, an extraordinary air operation, because it was carried out using a new Japanese heritage aircraft that had been repaired by Air Force technicians themselves.
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE STRIKES
The attack on the Dutch position in Semarang, Salatiga and Ambarawa carried out by cadets of this pilot school was indeed not a major attack. The attack was carried out by three wreckage planes from Japanese soldiers. But what was done by the three planes was very meaningful for the struggle of the Indonesian people, especially for the Indonesian Air Force which at that time was only one year old. The attack carried out in the morning was a major decision carried out at a strategic level where the Air Force's own leadership, Air Commodore Suryadarma ordered an attack on Dutch occupation in the three cities. The success of the attack is an effort accompanied by prayer and supported by the universe. How not, in the limitation of the Indonesian Air Force which is only a year old, aircraft that are still under construction and pilot schools whose conditions are so limited they are able to carry out an attack mission that is carried out carefully and produce a tremendous shock effect for the Dutch.
The success of this attack is certainly brought some advantages for the struggle of Indonesian Armed Forces, especially Indonesian Air Force. The advantages include:
- Enhancing the Indonesian Armed Force’s Patriotism. The soul of nationalism and patriotism that exist within the cadet of flight schools and aircraft engineers is very large. they realized that the Dutch would do anything to re-colonize the Republic of Indonesia. this became one of the drivers of their determination to feel called to carry out a noble task, attacking the Dutch position in all three places even though with equipment and equipment far from adequate, they managed to repair and fly a junk plane as one of the spoils from the Japanese army powerful attacking machine. This strikes of course fueled the fighting spirit of the other soldiers. Not only for the Air Force, it also greatly helped improve the army's fighting mentality to continue to fight against the Dutch position in various regions.
- Increasing Bargaining Power of Indonesia’s Position in International Forums. Indonesian Armed Forces has been formatted on October 5, 1945, less than two months after the independence of the Republic of Indonesia. The organization has not established yet and some of the personnel who were supposed to occupy a position has not yet appeared. Even within a periode of one year, the Indonesia Armed Forces’s organization that was still modest continued to make improvements while continuing to carry out wars in order to maintain independence. But this condition did not dampen the morale of the soldiers. Those with all available equipments always struggle to maintain the independence they have achieved. In addition, some aviation cadet and technician who were able to prepared the mission also had received military training specifically for natives. This experience has more or less provided enough provisions for soldiers to fight against Netherland Army. And also the air strikes that they did has made the other countries, especially in the United Nation International Forum saw how struggle the Indonesian Armed Forces is in fighting the Dutch. This condition made them forced the Dutch to stop the invasion and made another agreement on the USS Renville which was docked at Jakarta Port.
- The Realizing Of Developing Indonesian Air Force. The attack on the three cities in addition to increasing the mental fighting of Indonesian Armed Force’s soldiers and increasing the bargaining power of Indonesian politics in the International Forums, also made Indonesian leaders at that time to realize how important the meaning of air power is. This makes Ir. Soekarno, the president of the Republic of Indonesia at that time, then gradually built up air power until finally in the 1960s Indonesian air power became one of the largest and strongest in Southeast Asia and the South with many soviet-made planes.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF THE STRIKES
The success of the first air strikes into the Dutch position over three cities was made the international forum realize that Indonesian people has struggles in preventing their independence. The success of these air strikes in addition to providing advantages to the Air Forces also gives disadvantages. The bombing of the Dutch position in the three cities certainly caused tremendous anger from the Dutch army. They immediately launched air patrols around Solo, Yogyakarta and Semarang and brutally attacked areas suspected of being Indonesia Armed Force’s hideouts. The peak occurred in the afternoon where a Dakota plane with the registration number, VT-CLA carrying medicines donated by the Malaya Red Cross to the Indonesian Red Cross, and clearly has not been armed was shot down by two P-40 Kitty Hawk hunter aircraft of the Dutch.
At that time, the Dakota VT-CLA aircraft was piloted by Alexander Noel Contanstine in preparation for landing at Maguwo Air Base. Suddenly two Dutch hunters appeared. Without giving a warning, the Kitty Hawk aircraft attacked Dakota aircraft with machine guns and hit the engine on the left side of the plane. As a result the Dakota VT-CLA crashed on the embankment of the Ngoto Village rice field, Bantul, south of Yogyakarta.
The independence of the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed on August 17, 1945 as a result of the struggle of Japanese occupation did not necessarily go smoothly. Dutch who previously colonized Indonesia still wanted to master their natural wealth. This is what prompted the Dutch royal army to piggyback on allies under the guise of NICA to regain control of Indonesia. At its peak, they carried out the first military aggression on July 21, 1947 and seized control of territory previously occupied by the Indonesian Armed Forces, including several air bases except Maguwo Air Base which had previously been covered in thick fog.
This certainly raises the anger of the fighters and the Indonesian people who are already fed up with colonialism. One of the fighters who did not accept this military aggression was the Air Commodore Suryadarma who then ordered the flight cadet in Maguwo to carry out a counter-attack using aircraft left over from Japan whose condition was under repair due to a lot of damage. The attack was carried out at 5:00 in the morning in three cities, including Salatiga, Semarang and Ambarawa. This attack succeeded in destroying the Dutch position and indirectly gave advantages on the part of the Indonesian Air Force, including:
- Increasing the moral of the struggle of warriors
- Increasing Indonesia's position in international forums, and
- Realizing to build the Air Force
In addition to generating advantages for the Indonesian Air Force, this incident also caused disadvantage to the Indonesian Ai r Force, where this attack caused anger on the Dutch side. At its peak, in the afternoon after the attack, a Dakota airplane with registration number VT-CLA, carrying medical support from Malaya Red Cross was brutally attacked and shot down and finally killed the founders of the Indonesian Air Force. The Indonesian nation was overcome with a deep atmosphere of grief because the incident caused the death of three Air Force pioneers, namely Air Commodore Agustinus Adisutjipto, Young Air Commodore Prof. Dr. Abdulrachman Saleh, and Young Air Officer Adi Sumarmo Wirjokusumo.
This first air strike was a very appropriate decision making at a strategic and tactical level and brought pride and heroism to the Indonesian Air Force. However, the struggle carried out also requires a great sacrifice with the death of three pioneers of the founding of the Indonesian Air Force. Later on, to commemorate and perpetuate this historic event, since July 29, 1955 is celebrated as "A Day of Mourning" Air Force. Then, starting July 29, 1962 was changed to "Indonesian Air Force Service Day" and was celebrated centrally at the Adisutjipto Air Base (Maguwo). Where the Dakota plane crashed, a monument was named the Ngoto Monument, since July 17, 2000, the Ngoto Monument has become the Monument to the Struggle of the Air Force.
- Lecture of Military Strategy and Air Force Strategy, AFCC, Sept 2018
- Notosusanto, Nugroho, dkk. Sejarah Nasional Indonesia Jilid VI. 1984. Balai Pustaka