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Rear Admiral Helfrich

June 1 2010 at 12:26 AM
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Arie Biemond  (Login ArieBiemond)

Response to Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich


Conrad Emile Lambrecht Helfrich was born in Semarang (Java) in 1886 as sun of a indo-european KNIL medical officer.

From his time in the the naval academy in Den Helder on he is described as energetic and intelligent. Rather soon he was sent to the Higher Naval Academy, first as pupil but later as a teacher during three years.

In 1931 he became chief-staff of the naval forces in the DEI and from 1935 to 1937
he was in command of the squadron there.
Almost two years he commanded the Higher Naval Academy as rear admiral before he finally was promoted to "Commandant Zeemacht" in the DEI as vice admiral in 1939.

In december 1941 he instructed all naval forces to fight to the end even when confronted with stronger enemy forces. This had to be continued until Japanese forces landed successfully on the island Java, than the remaining ships were ordered to depart to safe allied ports to continue the war with Japan.

Several naval officers stated that Helfrich failed to realise that the absolute Japanese air superiority would be a decisive factor in the coming battle in the Java sea.
His instructions to rear admiral Doorman on febr. 26th "to attack the enemy forces until they were destroyed" was almost romantically unrealistic.

He defended this instruction in a post war parlementary inquiry, but in private he confessed
his doubt about the correctness of it until he died in 1962.

From: Dr.L. de Jong: "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog" ,
Part 11a (1984).

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  • Re: Dutch perception of Admiral Helfrich - Kit on Jun 1, 2010, 4:02 AM
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