General Sudirman is regarded by the Indonesian people as a national hero.

He was a Javanese man who first became a battalion commander under the Japanese when they occupied Indonesia during World War Two and later aspired to become the first commander in chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces following declaration of independence in 1945.

General Sudirman was a man possessed of a strong sense of patriotism, nationalism and religious integrity.

He was at heart a soldier who united fragmented militants into a fighting force to resist re-colonisation by the Dutch in a four year period following the end of World War two and Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence.

He did not fit the usual robust profile of a military general but his charisma and strong sense of humility was a huge plus in the cause.

There was certainly a kind of ‘Robin Hood and his Merry Men’ plus blatant fugativism about his guerrilla warfare strategy.

In a seven month period during 1947-48, he travelled over 1000km across geography and terrain which was unsuitable to the Dutch in battle despite their superior weaponry.

A sick man with tuberculosis for most of this time, General Sudirman finally settled a base in the East Java village of Sobo to lead his fighters in the final resistance against the Dutch.

His distrust of political diplomacy proved justified when the Dutch attacked Yogyakarta for a third and final time in December 1948 but the end was near for the war and for Sudirman. A ceasefire came into effect in August 1949.

The Netherlands surrendered control of Indonesia in December 1949. A month later in January 1950, General Sudirman died from his longstanding illness, several months before Indonesia confirmed its unchallenged independence as a nation on 15th August 1950.

Sudirman, a husband and a father of seven children, was only 31 years old at his death.

Today, main roads in most Indonesian towns and cities are named after him and prominent statues are placed to remember his key achievements in the military struggle for Indonesian independence.


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