On 21 December 1941, I was born in the then Dutch East Indies,now Indonesia. To be precise, in the small town of Tandjung Enim on the island of Sumatra.

My birth and the period that followed were characterised by great chaos. After all, a few weeks earlier, on 8 December 1941, the Netherlands declared war on Japan.

As a result, my father was mobilised and served in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) and therefore could not be present at my birth and I was not registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages after my birth. This caused some problems in my later life, but more about that later.

Because the Japanese Imperial Army had invaded Sumatra, many had fled. My mother received word that my father was stationed at a certain place in Sumatra. She went to this location with me on her arm in search of her husband to show his first born to him.

Unfortunately, when we got there, my mother heard that my father had been transferred to then Batavia (Jakarta).

As the Japanese army was getting closer, she decided to go to Batavia in search of her husband. This required crossing over, as Batavia was located on the island of Java. My mother took the train to the coastal town of Tandjung Karang to cross to Java by boat. As it turned out, we were on the last train to Tandjung Karang. My mother saw after passing every bridge was destroyed to stall the passage of the Japanese Army. Even the ferry we were on, which was making the crossing to Java, was disabled on arrival. Arriving in Batavia, it turned out that my father had once again been transferred, this time to Bandung. So we left for Bandung.

Mother Annie with her newborn son Arie

For my mother, these wanderings must have been a hell of a journey, because during this 'flight' she developed problems with her breasts and was therefore unable to feed me. How she still managed to keep me alive is always a question mark for me. Now I regret not having asked her this while she was alive. I would have liked to know, but now it is too late.

We did not meet my father in Bandung either. Because the capitulation of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) was signed in Kalidjati near Bandug on March the 9th, my father was transported as a prisoner of war to Burma to work on the infamous railway line. At the time, my mother did not know. She did say later that Bandung was heavily bombed by the Japanese at the time we were there. They did this to put pressure and thus bring about a capitulation quickly.

Survivors from the same prison knew much later that my grandfather had died. He was tortured to death because he kept denying the sabotage charge. Obviously, all the hardships we endured in the camp, I did not consciously experience. Fortunately, we survived the Japanese occupation.

In August 1945, Japan capitulated and the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies came to an end.No hurrah, however, as in the same month Indonesia declared independence. A violent period broke out and a bizarre situation followed: the previous aggressor (Japan) now had to protect us from actions by mostly young violent and fanatical freedom fighters (Pemudas). They wanted to end Dutch colonial rule.A violent 'Bersiap' period broke out.

My mother still wanted to leave the camp with me to go to the city of Garut. My father's parents lived in Garut. My paternal grandmother Mosies was full-blooded Indonesian and my grandfather Mosies was full-blooded Dutch. My grandfather had a piece of land in Garut where he grew citrus fruits, and also traded them. He also had a residence on his land where he and his family stayed.

Arie with younger brother Rudy in Tandjung Enim on the island of


Grandma and grandpa Mosies with their 8 children

My grandfather had died before the start of the Second World War. My grandmother continued to live in Garut with two more of her children. By now, I was almost four years old and my mother wanted to surprise her mother-in-law with our arrival. I was after all, her first grandchild. At the point of departure, my mother was struck by a terrible illness: desentery and the trip had to be cancelled. If we had made the trip anyway, I would not have been able to write this book. How so? Well, my grandmother was killed along with two more of her children by the rebellious Indonesians because she had married a Dutchman. So the illness my mother had to endure had been a salvation for her and for me.

The war had finished and so my mother wondered if my father had come out of captivity unscathed and where he was. So, she began a search which, as it later turned out, took about two years.

For this search, she had to be in Batavia and we left for this capital city. As we had no home, we found shelter  in a camp. Arriving in Batavia, my mother went to the Red Cross every day. Here they kept a list of those who had survived the war and possibly also listed where in Indonesia they were.

Meanwhile, in Jogjakarta, my grandmother had also started looking for her husband, my grandfather Heinemann. Almost every day she stood at the station  to see if a train arrived with my grandfather on board. When she was told he had died, her search was at an end. So my mother's search lasted about two years. One day, she saw his name and his whereabouts. It turned out that he was still with the KNIL          ( Royal Dutch East Indies Army) and was living in Palembang on Sumatra in a so-called encampment, a kind of compound.

After Japan's surrender, my father and other POW's were taken back to Indonesia. Most of them were traumatised. Back in Indonesia, they were armed and had to go on purges.

A violent period broke out, during which, the army unit my father was part of, went on a major rampage against the native population. Harsh action was taken. After returning to Indonesia, my father had to carry out police actions on Bali and Lombok. He then settled on Palembang, Sumatra, where things also had to be purged.

Meanwhile, my mother had managed to find her husband and they locked arms. For me, however, a strange period dawned. By now I was six years old, my father and I saw each other for the first time and I was introduced to the phenomenon of a father. I found that strange, because what was a father? As a baby, I entered a women's camp and until the moment I saw my father, I did not know the phenomenon of father.

For me, a strange man came into our house and sometimes told me what to do. During the first few months, I did not exchange a word with my father.

I liked living in this encampment anyway. I had my own room and a space to play. I remember standing at the gate almost every morning as the men, who were going back into action, waved goodbye.

All the vehicles  the men needed to clear another part of the country passed through the gate. I thought that was wonderful.

Less wonderful was it for the women. For them the ever reoccuring question, "will my husband come back alive from the battle today"!
 Three brothers of my father lived within this encampment aswell.On a good day, one last action was to take place and it was in this very last action that my uncle Frits, brother of my father, was killed.

My mother Anne and me

A few days after arriving in the Netherlands

from left to right: Richard, Annemarie, Susan, Rudy and Arie

at the back our mother Annie

In December 1949, the transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia took place.For 350 years, the Netherlands had held this colony. The KNIL was disbanded and, together with my parents, we left for my hometown of Tandjung Enim, a town that ran on mining coal.

December 1954, we left by boat from the port of Batavia, ending in Rotterdam. Both my parents had been to the Netherlands before. My father to study in Wageningen and my mother had previously been to the Netherlands for holidays. Because my grandfather Heinemann worked for the State Railway, he was allowed to go to the Netherlands on holiday every few years.

In Indonesia, I had thought it was always white in the Netherlands because of the snow. By boat, we sailed past the islands of Zeeland and what did I see? It was white with snow. So I thought, "you see,I always knew". After disembarking in Rotterdam, we were given some warm clothes. There we heard that my grandmother Heinemann, who lived in Rotterdam, was seriously ill and she wanted to see me.

Together with my youngest sister Susan, we drove to Overschie near Rotterdam in the car of my aunt Nel, a sister of my father and already settled in the Netherlands earlier because her husband, Uncle Wil, worked in defence. The rest of the family went by bus to a boarding house on Baronielaan in Breda.

On arrival at my grandmother's sickbed, a bicycle was already waiting for me. I remained the apple of her eye, as she had experienced me in the camp for about four years during the Japanese occupation. The next day, we received the news that she had died. It was clear to me then: she waited for me before closing her eyes for good.

Start in the Netherlands

Fortunately, my father had immediate employment in Breda. He was a bookkeeper in a karoserie company. All our family was allowed by the government to pick out clothes in a certain shop in Breda. The cost of this and the cost of staying in the boarding house were advanced by the government. It was actually an interest-free loan. So, it had to be repaid. We stayed in a boarding house for two years and of the money my father earned during that period, he had to remit 60% to the government as an advance on the loan.

I was enrolled in primary school in January. On leaving Indonesia, I was in the sixth grade and this was continued in Breda. However, I had to go through this class again as it did not match the Dutch sixth grade and I had not been to school for almost two months.

After spending about two years in the boarding house, my parents were offered housing. This was rejected by my father, as he thought it was too small for eight people, as our family was meanwhile allowed to greet a fourth male Mosies. Then they came up with another house, an apartment. This one got my parents' approval.

This apartment had three bedrooms and the dining room was turned into the bedroom for my parents. The other three bedrooms were divided into one for my two sisters Annemarie and Susan, one bedroom for my brothers, Ruud, Richard and Martin and the third bedroom was for me.

Op 24.12.1954 vertrokken wij met  de Sibajak uit Tandjok Priok de haven van Batavia en arriveerde op 18.01.1955 in Rotterdam

All the children

Front row from left to right: Rudy, Martin, Roy, Ronald en Arie

Behind from left to right: Susan en Annermarie

at the back: Richard

The down payment that was still outstanding became larger as our new home still needed to be furnished. It also meant that the decoration of the house was minimal. My parents were not well off at the time. My father was a sole earner with a large family and the advance that was still outstanding had to be paid back monthly. Pocket money for their children my parents could not afford. I did not experience it as something negative. The other children in our family were too small to realise this.

 I was thirteen when we came to the Netherlands. Not long after we arrived in Breda, I met a boy who sparked my interest in female beauty. This boy went almost every day to the Heilig Hart church, a Catholic church on the Baronielaan. Why, "for the girls" he told me.

Curiously I adopted his frequency regarding church attendance and also found that there were nice girls there. My church attendance caught my mother's eye. She made me go to church every Sunday in Indonesia. I didn't like that very much then, so I would cycle for about an hour through the streets of Bandung and by the time mass was over, I would return home.

There was one time, though, when she spoke to me about it. What had happened? Due to the birth of my sister Susan, she was in hospital and from her hospital bed she could see over the church square through the window. When I came to visit her in the afternoon when she was sick, I got the brunt of it because she did not see me going into the church.

In terms of religious beliefs, my parents were different from within most other households. My father was Protestant and my mother Catholic. To get approval for their marriage, they had to promise to my grandmother Heinemann in particular that the children from this marriage would be of the Catholic faith.

Arie Mosies, October 2021

Heilig Hart Church on the

Baronielaan in Breda