Squadron Leader Leslie "Smokey" Dawson was the commander of the Australian element of No. 18 (NEI) Squadron, and was awarded the Dutch Order of Orange Nassau for his “highly valued assistance, both in training and under active service condition”. He later becoming Australian air liaison officer to the Dutch forces. Returning from New Guinea to Cairns in September 1944, the Dakota aircraft in which he was flying disappeared without trace. It was not until 1989 that the remains of the aircraft and its 19 passengers and crew (including 14 Dutch airmen) were discovered in mountainous rainforest near Mossman, Queensland, about 150 kilometres short of their destination. The dead were buried with full military honours in Cairns War Cemetery.
The award of Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau, presented to Squadron Leader Dawson in 1943. As contact with the Dutch homeland was not possible during the German occupation, these awards were manufactured in neutral Portugal. REL/17818
Squadron Leader Dawson (left) in conversation with the commanding officer of No. 18 (NEI) Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel B.S. Fiedeldij, in May 1943 at McDonald strip, the squadron’s operational base in the Northern Territory. NWA0299
- Japanese conquest
- Prisoners of the Japanese
- A seafaring nation
- The Dutch in Australia