This involved constant patrolling and low-level skirmishing, with occasional bigger battles. The British adopted a tough policy at local level, executing anyone caught with a weapon and burning villages in reprisal for attacks. Neither British nor Indian troops were enthusiastic about risking their lives, and there were occasions when Japanese troops were re-armed to help the British fight. Major Gil Hickey, a Gurkha company commander, recalled being allocated a Japanese company to assist in the rescue of hostages held in Bandung in March 1946. He explained his plan of attack with gestures and sketches. The Japanese were to attack first, and the Gurkhas to finish the job. "I watched the Japs closely as they went in. Couldn't fault 'em — absolutely first-class!"
The Attlee government was under pressure from unfavourable press comment as well as left-wingers in its own ranks to bring about a settlement. In early 1946, Archibald Clark-Kerr, who had been ambassador to Moscow during the war, was sent to Batavia to broker an agreement. Clark-Kerr was a most unconventional but brilliant diplomat, and on his way to be ambassador to Washington. He took the task seriously enough, though like many British in Java he was both beguiled by the ease of Batavia life and puzzled by the unreality of the situation.
His ADC, Frank Giles (later the editor of the Sunday Times who bought the forged Hitler Diaries) recalled that the Indonesians were impossible to pin down, while the Dutch were primarily interested in drinking cold beer. The two men whom Giles thought got closest to an agreement were the two mystics, van der Post and Prime Minister Sjahrir. "They both had large liquid eyes, into which they gazed at length," he told me, "but nothing ever came of all their communing."
Clark Kerr also sent Giles to Force 136 headquarters to stop them assassinating Sukarno, an act which the special forces had proposed would break the logjam.
RAPWI was largely accomplished by summer of 1946, and the British made it clear to the Dutch that they would quit Indonesia before the end of the year. Lord Killearn then brokered the Linggadjati Agreement, under which both sides agreed in principle to form a United States of Indonesia under the Dutch crown. The last British troops departed in November 1946, leaving behind 1,022 dead and missing. The Dutch, after fighting a bitter war against Sukarno's forces, acknowledged the independence of the Indonesian Republic in 1949.
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