Staff and Command Cars
The Dutch East Indies forces mainly used civilian vehicles (sedans, convertibles, light trucks/vans) as staff and command cars before
WW2. These were mainly of the General Motors family (Chevrolet, Opel), imported through GM Java. These were all 4x2 vehicles and
were only able to drive on the main roads. By the end of the 1930's however, the need was felt to obtain purpose built vehicles that were
able to follow the troops and guns in all terrains. Several vehicles were tested in 1939 after which several orders were placed with
European companies. When war broke out in Europe these orders could not be fullfilled and attention shifted to US manufacturers. The
Marmon-Herrington Company was approached for a new 4x4 vehicle. Later during WW2, some US Army type command cars were
delivered to the Dutch West Indies.
K.N.I.L. Staffcar of the old type, a Chevrolet van from the late 1920s.
Many were still in service by 1945 (some even after 1945). This one is
pictured in Col. Heshusius' book on K.N.I.L. Cavalry, while crossing a
pontoon bridge and probably belongs to one of the Cavalry
Squadrons on Java. This type of vehicle came in many different
versions and uses: Staff/command, signal corps/radio truck, etc.
Chevrolet Artillery Battery Staffcar of the First
Howitzer Battalion (AIHw) on show in Batavia, mid
1930's. A later model than the previous picture  
(picture from  Stabelan Magazine)
Light artillery Staff car on Opel P4 passenger car chassis. The
Opels' front wheel suspension was sufficient to allow driving on
certain rougher terrain types, but this was by no means an all
terrain vehicle (Wheels and Tracks).
Austin cars used as staff cars leading a Engineer and
Signals Battalion during a parade in 1939 (Indisch
Militair Tijdschirft).
Ford V8 convertible staff car leading a  Cavalry Squadron
during a K.N.I.L. parade. Probably a civilian vehicle, but
US Army used similar cars as staff cars and
Marmon-Herrington offered an all-wheel drive version
(picture from Stabelan Magazine).
Chevrolet Cars for very senior officers, operated by  K.N.I.L.'s Motordienst. Late
1930's civilian model as imported by GM. (Picture from Tanda Mata K.N.I.L.). Bart
Vanderveen in Wheels and Tracks Magazine has suggested these cars were
Australian sourced and assembled by GM Holden. Other cars used as staff cars
were Chryslers, 1941 and 42 Chevrolet models and others.
Another likely Australian-sourced GM Holden
product was this Chevolet staffcar pictured at
KNIL-ML (Military Aviation) Andir Airbase near
A Ford/Marmon-Herrington 4x4 Commandowagen of the K.N.I.L. on Java. Each
motorised artillery battery received one (total number of Commandowagens delivered
to the Dutch East Indies was 50). Note the front bumper roller. The vehicle was
equipped with a winch (at the rear) in order to tow guns and other vehicles in
emergencies. (Picture Stabelan Magazine)
Better side view of the Commando-
wagen. A simple and straightforward design, it was built on a 1-ton
Ford chassis. (Picture Indisch Militair Tijd-
schrift). To the right one in service with the First Howitzer Battalion,
A Dodge WC7 in service on  Curacao, Netherlands
Antilles (Dutch West Indies), between 1942-45. It is not
clear when this vehicle was delivered.(Picture Dutch
Beeldbank/National Archives)
Dodge Command Reconnaisance Car 3/4 ton 4x4  
WC56, serving with tank unit of the Dutch forces in
Surinam (Dutch West Indies) during WW2 (Picture
through Hans Heesakkers).
Background to this vehicle
By the end of the 1930's K.N.I.L. developed the need for purpose built
artillery staff cars that were able to follow the guns in all terrains. Several
vehicles were tested, such as the German Tempo Gelaendewagen (on trial
in Bandung on picture top right), the Czecho-Slovak CKD AV 6-wheeler,
Belgian FN Tricars (3-wheelers), Italian Fiat 508c (unspecified version), a
Bedford ASCX  and an Opel 1300. The tests were well documented in
several editions of the
Indisch Militair Tijdschrift (also source of picture).
The Tempo's came out on top and K.N.I.L. decided to obtain a number of
these as well as the Fiats for use as terrain cars and light vehicles (called
"autoletten" in the NEI). It is not known if indeed concrete orders for both
types were placed, but due to the "changing situation in Europe" we know
that a different order was placed with DAF for a batch of right hand drive
Chevrolet 4x4 commandowagens (picture right bottom). These types, also
available on Ford chassis, had already been tried out as light artillery
tractors (Pantserafweergeschut or Pag-trekkers) by the Dutch Army in
Europe. Probably none was delivered before the German invasion of
Holland. The picture shows a batch of these DAF-converted Chevies as
captured by the Germans (Picture: Wheels and Tracks Magazine). K.N.I.L.
now turned to the US and, as contacts were developing with
Marmon-Herrington, an order was placed with that company for a
Ford-based 4x4 "commandowagen". Marmon-Herrington had produced
several 4x4 Command cars already, starting with this 1937 LD1-4 that was
based on the 1/2 ton Ford Model 77 (picture bottom right). The senior
officers it was meant to transport had to climb over the sides to enter as
there were no doors (info Fred Crismon). Similar vehicles were built for the
Belgian Army prior to WW2