My grandfather Goos by Christel Kuijsters
Copyright © All rights reserved de Indische Verhalentafel
Mother Reijs with her then 9 children, Goos on the left as a scout
Goos as a 16-year-old butler
S.S. Rembrandt, the ship was scrapped in 1928. This picture was taken in Sebang the island north of Sumatra
Tropenmuseum collection, source Wikipedia
Goos 26 years old, judging by his clothes taken in the Netherlands
as a souvenir for his parents 1930
Wedding picture Emma, Goos and Sientje
Brother Akkie, Sientje, Kareltje and Goos. Akkie was in the navy and was able to visit the Indies and his brother once in a while. If you look closely you can see that the picture is cut. The hand holding the hand of Kareltje is that of Emma. Many years later in Breda, in a state of depression, Goos cut up all the pictures Emma had appeared in.
M.S. Sibajak sailed from 1927-1959
Standing: Goos, brother Karel jr. and Jochem.
Sitting: sister Johanna with unknown and father and mother Reijs.
Chrisje is the oldest daughter of 5 girls. Floor, Mien, Cor and Jo (the latter is not in the picture) are her younger sisters.
Picture taken in pre-war Breda during a four-day walking event
1904 - 1939
My grandfather Goosen Hendrik Reijs was born in Deventer on 19 October 1904 (his father was Karel Hendrik Reijs 1877-1954 and mother Grietje Riezenbos 1876-1962) 5e child out of 10, and thus had many brothers and sisters: Karel, Gien, Jannie, Jochem, (Goos), Greetje, Jo (hanna), Annie, Stien and Akkie (Adrian)
Great-grandfather was a professional soldier and bandmaster with the mounted cavalry in Deventer, and a professional musician who introduced music to his children more often with a hard than with a soft hand. His eldest son Karel jr. also became a bandmaster and musician, and Goos learned to play the trumpet at an early age.
(G) After primary school he had to work and after a few jobs Goos, at the age of 16, was employed as the youngest 'Butler' by a baron near Deventer, but he did not really feel like doing this job. Above the coach-house a room was created which he had to share with another butler who was a few years older than him. He had to be careful not to be betrayed by him, especially when he had done something that he was not supposed to have done. This happened sometimes, as not much was allowed in those days, as they were very strict in the household. Goos had to be ready at 7 o'clock in the morning, dressed in a slip coat, to react immediately to every sound and to bow like a knife. That was not the problem, but he got the feeling that he was being belittled, a feeling that he could not easily ignore because of his pride that he had inherited from home as the son of a soldier. The nice thing about this job was the parties that were given at the castle. The 'Moët et Chandon' champagne was poured in abundance and sometimes a bottle disappeared in the back of his slip coat to his room to consume it together with his roommate. The other person would be more than happy to do this, so Goos would have something in reserve in case the other person would be difficult, but this was never necessary. It was not in Goos' nature to do this work; he was honest and straightforward. In spite of that, Goos soon got used to everyone and especially to the female staff, which led to problems. After a short time, he had enough of the castle and had to find another solution before things got out of hand. Goos applied to be a KNIL soldier in the Dutch East Indies. This big step was not appreciated at home but his father had signed his approval (he was still a minor) as Goos was determined to go.
23 October 1923: Goos has just turned 19 when he is admitted for military service and is attached to the Overseas Military Service, both in and outside Europe for 5 years. He is admitted as Kanonnier 2nd class. On arrival at the Corps, he is 1.759 metres tall and as caractéristiques he is described as having a 'mole in his right eye'.
On 30 November 1923, he was declared fit for deployment; with a bonus of Fl 400.
(G) 400 hard guilders. Who cares? Proud as a peacock in his soldier's uniform he visited his old employer, the Baron, humiliating him and wishing him a good time. The staff loved it and would have gladly exchanged places with him, but they didn't have the guts to do so. After saying goodbye many times on his way to the barracks, in order to do what was necessary for the embarkation to the East Indies, he discovered that as a colonial, you were looked down on by the average citizen as there were quite a few 'colleagues' among them, who had taken this job for lack of anything better or had something to hide and perhaps fled 'something' by signing up for this mission for five years.
12 April 1924
After his training, which lasted six months, Goos became a KNIL (Royal Dutch Infantry Army) soldier 'in heart and soul', as it turned out later. Embarked on board of the s.s. Rembrandt.
(G) So, the day arrived that Goos as a 19-year-old boy embarked to an unknown faraway country and was appointed at the mounted artillery as gunner. On board to the Dutch East Indies were also many civil servants who had been on leave to Holland and were returning to pick up the thread there. This kind of leave was with the whole family. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was dressed in civilian clothes and could not be distinguished from anyone else, so the atmosphere on board was pleasant and relaxed. On the way, there were several stops to get water, coal, provisions and so on. In this month of April, with its reasonable temperature, they sailed via the Atlantic Ocean, the Strait of Gibraltar through the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal through the Red Sea with a heat that filled the deck of the ship to the Indian Ocean. The journey continued to Ceylon for the crossing to the Dutch East Indies, with its first encounter of real tropical heat. The whole crossing lasted more than a month, and in Batavia, the harbour of 'Tandjok Priok' some of the passengers disembarked and the rest sailed on to Surabaya. Goos was part of this first group as he was posted in Tjimahi.
17 May 1924
Upon arrival in the Dutch East Indies, Goos was posted at the barracks in Tjimahi on the island of Java. This is situated some 150 km south-east of Batavia, just above Bandung.
(G) After Goos had been assigned to his post, he could start his training on the spot, in a thirsty country with its hardships of tropical diseases and ulcers (which in turn required the necessary hygiene) as Gunner: pulling, lugging, carrying and sweating, since everything had to be done on horseback or on foot, through rivers, passes and valleys. After a few weeks, the kilos were flying off, which was replenished with plenty of fluids. As water was not always at hand, as it is too dangerous to drink uncooked, beer was the easiest way to solve this problem, according to most soldiers.
Goos learned to adapt, to maintain himself in a way that did not attract attention, otherwise you would be the underdog, and this status would not be shed easily. His daily life took its course: roll call, breakfast, exercises, cleaning the cannons, cleaning, lunch, rest, roll call, afternoon shift, roll call and then off to the canteen. Before roll call, they got up at 6 a.m. to do what was necessary before the heat of the day, such as first taking care of the horses. These were of Australian breed, large in size compared to the small but strong Javanese horses which were used as packhorses for the gun parts. The artillery was dismantled to move them through the mountains and fit them for emplacement where it was needed. After a while Goos had a regular mate or several ( De Kromme, De Neus, De Pukkel, De Neut) and Goos got the nickname Rijs because of his tall stature. So that’s life, you are either a number or you have a nickname, the latter is the nicest and you are not easily forgotten by this or that person
After 4 years on September 3, 1928, Goos is promoted to Gunnery Officer 1e class and Trumpeter.
(G) So, you see, it was good to have learned music. In the army, the necessary time was given to learn to blow all signals, except time for yourself and your mates to blow a pleasant tune for entertainment and amusement.
On 30 November1928 Goos signed on for another 6 years.
(G) In addition, he also sought entertainment in the city where people sometimes indulged in bawdy and booze parties, and therefore the soldier was not much liked by the citizens and was often shunned by them. But what do you want in a thirsty country where beer is also brewed with the brand: Kuntji and Anker. The latter brand was less appreciated, by the way, but they drank it for lack of anything better. The motto was then: "You get the cancer from Anker".
On 28 May 1930, Goos has his first leave since leaving for the Dutch East Indies after 6 years to go on a family visit to the Netherlands. He is embarked on board of the s.s. "Prins der Nederlanden": Named after Prince Hendrik husband of Queen Wilhelmina. The design was by shipbuilding firm M.A.Cornelissen in Amsterdam.
One month later, on 29 June 1930, he arrived in the Netherlands, received a bronze medal, and then had four months leave. This medal of the KNIL was awarded to those who met the requirements for skill tests, for those aged below 28 or with 7 or less years of service. The tests were held once a year and soldiers below the rank of officer also received a gratuity of FL25.
On the 1st of November 1930 he leaves for the Dutch East Indies and boards the s.s. "Prins der Nederlanden" again for the return trip (Goos sails with this ship one of the last East Indies crossings back to the Dutch East Indies before it is taken out of service as a training ship for the fire brigade). On 25 June 1935 the ship is sold to Italy to be used as a hospital ship in the Italian-Ethiopian war and comes under management of Lloyd Triestino and is renamed s.s. AguiLiea. On 26 June 1944, when it was used as a hospital ship, it was sunk by German planes during a bombardment of Marseille. In 1946 it was lifted from the bottom of the the ocean and in 1947 sold for scrap.
20 December 1930
Arrival in the Dutch East Indies, this time the crossing took 3 times as long as the outward journey.
The Dutch East Indies (D-E-I):
The D-E-I has been a colonial territory of the Netherlands since 1816. From 1870, the colony was opened up for private enterprise, and many fortune hunters came to the Indies to try their luck. A local (also called an inlander) coming from any background was considered inferior by the white man. There were first the 'whites' and then the 'brown' rulers and servants and it was certainly not the custom for the white man to mingle and/or procreate with his inferior.
It did happen that white men who were waiting for a suitable European (white) marriage candidate lived together with a local woman (and sometimes children resulted) but she had no rights. It was tolerated by the civil servants, but she remained in the background. The man could send her away at any time without consequences. She could not claim her children. If the father had acknowledged them, then he was also responsible for them, they grew up in his house with a 'maid' looking after them. The intention was that the children were not too far removed from home and that they received a Dutch upbringing.
It was a disaster for the mother, if this happened, because often her family also disapproved of this extramarital relationship and then she could not go back to her cohabitation and was disowned. She literally fell between wall and ship.
If the father did not acknowledge his children, they were rejected and disowned. These neglected children (whether or not they grew up in a children's home) then grew up with feelings of hatred towards the whites, and later joined the nationalist groups more easily. Other local families, on the other hand, found it easier to live with this. To hook on to a white man was for them more prestige, you would climb up on the social ladder, especially if a marriage followed, and children were born. It was also easier as a half-blood child to find a job among the whites (even though you got paid less for the same job) and you also climb on the social ladder. The whiter you were, the more prestige you had. The military had less trouble with mixed marriages than the civil servants, and had easier open relationships with local women, and then started a family.
(G) With the love for beer came almost inevitable problems, which sometimes ended in a "bakkie" (prison sentence). Nevertheless, life went on and Goos got to know life, also the women, who were plentiful to hook up with a Dutch boy. In a country with different customs and habits, this was not always easy for these young soldiers, who were thrown in at the deep end and had to find their own way out. The leadership did provide some guidance, but very limited, so you have to figure it out for yourself. To escape the barracks life, they tried to date girls from the local population, which did not always end well. Many a half-breed was born who, with or without parents, were often handed over to the church and homes. The KNIL peer had its own motto, which is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Instead of 'Go and multiply', it became 'multiply and go'. With his improved position as artillery commander and instructor to train the young to become a gunner, his bachelor life suited him well and he hoped to keep it up for a long time. But the strange thing about this was that one particular local woman was rather intrusive in his immediate surroundings. She was too obtrusive for him, which bothered him, but she was extremely beautiful to look at. The obtrusiveness became less for Goos and he soon only saw beautiful things about her.
2 April 1932
Francina was born in Batavia, with the nickname Sientje (named after her grandmother). She is the daughter of Emma Maulany, born on 6 February 1915 also in Batavia. Emma was 17 years old when she gave birth. The delivery took place at her grandmother's home in Batavia. Her grandmother Cato Francina Maulany-Noordhoorn assisted her during the delivery and was then 73 years old. The declaration of birth is done by Martin Henri Maulany 32 years old (probably an uncle) and a clerk (administrator) Eduard Hubeek 24 years old of the Residence Office in Batavia. As the Dutch names suggest, Emma is an Indo (half-blood) and has French, Dutch and Indien ancestors.
9 November 1932 : Goos is transferred Malang.
Thursday 13 July 1933
At 18 years of age, Emma marries Goos Reijs in Weltevereden, a good (white) district of Batavia.l
(G) Goos was agains giving birth to a bastard child, like many of his mates had done and Emma is by now also one year older to when they met.
Through this marriage Sientje was acknowledged as Goos' daughter. Emma's parents Jules Francois Maulany, an employee at the dry dock company in Tandjong Priok and his native wife Saima gave permission for this marriage, as Emma was still a minor. The following persons act as witnesses: Antonius Maria Koolen 32 years old (nicknamed the crooked Kool, Goos will still have contact with him in the Netherlands after the war) and Antonie Hendrik Hol 35 years old both professionally European trumpeter and living in Batavia. If Goos is indeed the biological father of Sientje, Emma was only 16 and Goos 27 years old at the time of conception.
(G) Goos goes to live with Emma and his daughter outside the barracks and much later he would say that he had onder a spell of the Guna-Guna (silent force). This was dismissed by the Europeans as nonsense and nonsense because the reality of superstition cannot be grasped by a white man with his sober outlook on life. Goos had no problem with it emotionally and he was happy with Emma. She gave him a home life, a bed laid out for him, good food on the table, a life of regularity and a place to rest. Goos liked the home life with his little daughter, whom he adored.
24 September 1934
(G) Karel was born in Malang as the first son of Goos. He is named after his own grandfather Karel Hendrik Reijs, a fast and enterprising little fellow, afraid of nothing and nobody.
30 November 1934
Goos signed on for another 4 years, 3 months and 27 days, and one year later on 21 October 1935, Goos was promoted to the rank of Brigadier Titulaire.
29 April 1936
And another six months later, he is promoted to Brigadier, and receives the 'Silver Medal'. This is awarded after a third participation in the skill tests.
(G) The promotion to Brigadier meant that his work changed too, Goos often had to go away for exercise, sometimes for weeks at a time. In the meantime, Goos had met Willem, who lived close by and to whom he regularly went for a drink and a chat. Willem worked as a technician on a large tea plantation. He and his wife had no children and liked the distraction of Sientje and Karel and got on well with them. It was also good for the children (they were 5 and 2 by now) to speak Dutch with Willem and his wife, as their mother did not speak it well and the children did not yet go to school and Goos was away from home regularly. After some time, problems arose within the marriage. Had the Guna-Guna (spell) worn off? Was Goos not always the sweet husband? Who can say? .... After being away on a big exercise for 3 months Goos came home and found his house deserted, all his household goods had vanished. Good advice was expensive, what to do now. Goos went looking for his children whom he loved very much, the household goods were not important to him. After a month of searching, he found them somewhere in a kampong, 10 km away. After the necessary visits the couple came to an agreement; Sientje stays with her mother and Kareltje goes with his father and the divorce is applied for.
One might conclude from this that there was the possibility that Sientje was not Goos' biological daughter after all, but we do not know this for sure. It is also not known whether he started to pay alimony.
.13 May 1938
Goos prepared his leave for Holland. His military file states: "With breaking of current contract re-connected for a period of such duration that after returning from leave he will have to serve another year (Brigadier der Artillerie)". So, Goos breaks off his employment for an indefinite period to go to the Netherlands. Is he looking for a white suitor in the Netherlands? Before leaving for Holland Goos lives, separated from Emma, in Salatiga in central Java, 40 km south of Semarang. During his leave to Holland Willem and his wife propose to take care of little Kareltje during his absence.
On 18 May 1938, Goos left the Dutch East Indies for the second time, and boarded the m.s. "Sibajak" on leave, for the first time with a motor ship which did not really speed up the crossing, as previously the trip had been with a steamship.
During the crossing on 3 June 1938, the marriage was officially dissolved by divorce by R.V.J. verdict in Semarang. Entered in the R.B.S. (register of criminal law) on 12 September 1938 in Batavia. By the time the divorce is defined Emma lives in Solo (now Surakarta, 65km south east of Salatiga).
15 June 1938
Goos arrives in the Netherlands and will eventually stay on leave for 7 months before returning to the Dutch East Indies.
(G) It goes without saying that Goos went to visit his parents in Deventer. The summer had yet to begin in the Netherlands and good weather was almost guaranteed. Goos went to visit his brothers and sisters by bicycle.
(On 9 August he even made a trip to Germany and on 14 August he was also in Harderwijk. These appointments can be found in Goos' pocket diary from 1938. Later he also used it as a diary during his period as a prisoner of war in Burma)
After 2 ½ months, on 16 August, he also went to visit (again by bicycle) his eldest brother Karel who lived in Breda. Karel was a professional musician with the Cavalry and Kapellmeister at the Trip van Zoutland Barracks. He also gave music lessons at the music school in Breda. His wife Marie also had her activities and for this she sometimes needed new clothes, which she had made by a seamstress (which was very common in those days), The seamstress would come to the house to measure and fit the clothes. That is where Goos meets the seamstress!
Chrisje (Christina) van der Heijden, was born in Nieuwe Dieststraat in Breda on 14 February1908. Her father had a grocery and grits business in Etten and a paint shop on Tramsingel in Breda. Chrisje was a lively 30-year-old woman, who enjoyed life with its hobbies of walking, dancing and going out. She was self-employed and was a certified seamstress, earning her living with this trade.
(G) Chrisje and Goos fall in love. This meant regularly riding their bicycles from Deventer to Breda, as this was the only way to travel at the time. Public transport was too expensive and so you see what true love can do to a person. It is quite plausible that Goos stayed overnight with his brother at times. In any case, the engagement was a fact, as Chrisje soon became pregnant. And then the next problem arises. Marriage was not immediately possible as Chrisje was Catholic and Goos Protestant (Lutheran). This was 'sleeping with the devil on one pillow' and good advice was expensive. The solution was found by the Pastor of St. Anna Parish, the marriage could go ahead with Episcopal permission, and so it was done. It was not possible to marry in the church, but it was possible to marry in the presbytery of this church under the conditions that if there would be children from the marriage, they would be brought up catholic, with all the church obligations such as: baptism, going to church etc.
25 October 1938
Goos receives official permission from the Ministry of Defence to take Chrisje with him to the East Indies after the marriage. Upon arrival he will have to complete one more year of service in the East Indies.
Thursday 3 November 1938
(G) Goos remarried in silence with Christina Elisabeth van der Heijden (meanwhile three months pregnant), with only close relatives and acquaintances (more of Chrisje than of Goos, all his mates were in the Indies after all). Chrisje is informed that Kareltje is also part of the family and that she will take care of him when they arrive in the Indies.
1939 - 1946
4 January 1939
The young couple embark on the motor vessel "Dempo" for departure to the Dutch East Indies and for Goos this is his 3e crossing.
2 February 1939
After a month of sailing, they arrive in the Dutch East Indies, the boat stops in Batavia before continuing to Surabaya where they disembark to travel to Malang.
(G) Chrisje put her back into it and together with Goos she went to Willem and his wife to pick up little Kareltje, a dark-skinned boy, which was not common in the Netherlands at that time. After a temporary shelter, the young family was assigned a house in Malang in the Tweede Chinese school straat. The furnishing of the house could start and with Goos' adequate salary this could be done easily. They hired (as was customary in the colonial countries) a babu for the kitchen and for the household. Chrisje had to get used to this as she had done everything independently before, but it was easy to get over that and the submissiveness also took some getting used to. If one treats the 'staff' as equals then you lose your awe, which can lead to problems later on: so, adapt. A baby's room had to be fitted out, and a girl was hired for the household and for the future baby.
The adjustment was certainly not easy at first: in three months, she was in love, engaged and married. In actual fact Goos was a strange older man to her. Also, the fact to end up in a totally foreign country without ever having seen a coloured person weight heavy. But good times were coming: After work, it was good to rest and trips were made in the area during the weekend. As Malang lies high in the mountains, the climate is more temperate than elsewhere. For a 'woman from the tropics' it took some getting used to. Sleeping under a mosquito net for example, although a feeling of security, was also a necessity to prevent being eaten by mosquitoes.
The day starts early: when the sun rises, you get out of bed and go to the mandy room (bathroom) to be doused with gajong; nice cold water, taken from a well and poured into the bathroom by the staff. This water was not suitable for consumption. This water had to be boiled first and then put away as cool as possible (there were no electric refrigerators or ice boxes yet). If you wanted ice, it was brought home from the ice factory in large sticks, beaten small and put in an ice chest. This was not suitable for consumption, but was used for cooling. If you drank it, it gave you diarrhoea that sometimes lasted for days and was very painful.
Chilled water and cold tea were always available (in the ice chest) and certainly the beer. Breakfast consisted of Nasi Goreng. Exceptionally there was bread baked by the local Chinese, often this was sweet bread and a bit soggy. Lunch consisted of white rice with 2 or 3 side dishes. After the meal, they rested, then went back to the mandy room to be refreshed for the rest of the day, which ended at about seven o'clock. Another fresh bath before dinner, after which the evening ended on the ‘Platje’ (porch) with a cool drink and possibly a snack. This is the way the days went by until the time came for Chrisje to give birth to her first child.
31 May 1939
(G) After a successful delivery was the birth of a healthy daughter Christina Wilhelmina, with very blond hair, later called 'Nonna Gulalie' by the staff. Translated as a kind of white candyfloss. She is given the name Tineke and the local midwife looks after her with a lot of love.
The life of a colonial Dutch housewife cannot be compared to a regular Dutch housewife. Every woman/daughter in those days in the Netherlands received a domestic education such as washing, cooking, cleaning and managing the household money. In the Dutch East Indies only the latter remained. Especially in the case of Goos, who didn't think this was very important and used to live from one day to the next. In his previous marriage he had no interest in this either and left the management to Emma. It was therefore no problem for him to leave this to Chrisje now.
Every Saturday, Goos was paid his wages and after having 'done it', he went to the canteen. On this day he was not bound by time, he thought. He often came home drunk, threw the rest of the money on the table and said: "if you like mother, I love you so much that you get all my money". With his mates, it was different, they would get completely drunk and often had to borrow money to make ends meet, or drinking on credit was also normal for many. Sometimes it was so bad that parents contacted the commander directly to ask if their son was still alive and he was then called to account for his actions and had to write a letter home on the spot. (This also happened to Goos during his bachelor period). Goos had to limit himself as his Dutch wife did not accept this and Chrisje did not care what anyone else thought or said.
To be married to a man who had always led his own life was not always easy. But now he was as proud as a peacock with his daughter, son and wife. He was doing better than before, but payday didn't change and so time went by until Chrisje announced that she was pregnant again.
2 February 1940
Goos signed on again for 6 years (Brigadier der Artillery) to stay at the barracks in Malang.
28 juni 1940
(G) Goosen Willem Hendrik (my father) is born, a very healthy boy with also with very blond hair, agile and clearly a presence. Goosje's second name is Willem, named after the neighbour Willem. But after a few weeks the little one was not doing so well, after examination by a doctor it was determined that Chrisje was not producing enough milk to breastfeed. Good advice was not expensive this time and they found someone who could breastfeed as well. This local woman had enough milk for Goosje and her own child, so Goosje soon recovered.
And they jokingly would say; 'So young and already drinking chocolate milk', fresh cow's milk was hard to come by. Cheese, butter and other milk products usually came from the Netherlands in cans: Klim, Blueband and imported by boat. Military personnel who were married and lived outside the barracks got their weekly ration delivered to their homes, as they did not eat in the Mess. Regularly part of this was given away to the less fortunate or to homes run by the church. The eldest son of Goos, Kareltje, was the progenitor and bore his grandfather's name. In the meantime, he had found his way with his 'new' mother, who spared no effort to make him feel at home. In the beginning it was certainly not easy. Not for Karel who certainly missed his own mother from whom he was separated but also not for Chrisje. He certainly felt and experienced the love she gave to Karel. The little blonde Tineke, her father's sweetheart, stole everyone's heart. Willem and his wife regularly visited the family to support them in words and actions.
By the way, Goos was not registerd at the public registry until 2-3 days after his birth as his father had 'disappeared' during these days and was living in an alcoholic intoxication to celebrate the birth of his 2e son.
(G) Goosje was not yet aware of anything and was too busy in the playpen, which he did not like at all and looked for any possibility to escape. After a short silence, there was a loud roar. He had wriggled out of a part of the bottom of the playpen and had crawled under the bars. The playpen got stuck on his back and he was trapped. From that moment on he could no longer be kept in the playpen, at the most just to take a nap. Chrisje found a solution by putting a band around his waist and tying it to something so that he could walk around. Goosje was a healthy boy and food was very important to him. One day the table was set for lunch and as they sat down to eat, the bowl of sambal was missing. The maid was called to ask where the sambal had gone. But with complete conviction she said that she had put it on the table. Goosje had hidden himself in a corner and was found there with an empty bowl of sambal on his lap, he had eaten it without a flinch because it was very spicy. Goosje had to be watched, he was very quick in his actions, as small as he was. Father only observed and left the upbringing to his wife, who he thought was the right person for that.
The workload at the barracks was increased. Gunnery commander, trumpeter and a new function as motor courier, and this on a Harley Davidson, which was widely used by the KNIL in those days. One day father came home with the story that he had been assigned a colleague as gunner. He was from Breda and he asked if mother knew him. His name was Henk Dusseljee. After further investigation it turned out that he was from the same neighbourhood and used to live on Tramsingel in Breda. Henk had arrived in Batavia in 1934 at the age of 20 and had been at the barracks in Malang for several years. Henk was married on December 6, 1939 to Jetje Wallenburg. Jetje was an Indo with Dutch and Chinese/local blood.
As time went by, tensions arose at the barracks that could not be directly explained. Messages from the Netherlands about an upcoming war with Germany played the biggest role. But hey, this was ‘far far away’.
Messages and supplies were limited and in 1941 America declared war on Japan after the latter had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This confirmed the fear of many that the war would also come to the Dtuch East Indies.
On 19 January 1941, Adrie was born, the eldest son of Henk and Jetje Dusseljee. A year later, on 2 February 1942, they had a daughter called Corrij.
1 March 1942
The Japanese 48th Infantry Division, which had landed at Kragan east of Rembang on 1 March 1942, had the task of occupying East Java. The main objective of this force, which was mainly hampered by destroyed bridges, was Surabaya. As early as 2 March, the destruction of militarily important installations, especially in the harbour, began. The larger part of the KNIL evacuated Surabaya on March 5 and withdrew in the direction of Java's eastern corner. The remaining troops offered some resistance to the Japanese on March 6, but the next day the professional soldiers among them crossed over to the island of Madura. On March 8 the Japanese troops occupied Surabaya.
All soldiers had to be on standby at the barracks in case of an enemy attack. The artillery was set up outside the town of Malang to defend against things to come. This happened faster than expected and like a yellow wave the Japanese advanced towards Malang. Their first cannon shots were heard in the distance. The mounted cannons of the KNIL also made themselves heard and after the necessary salvos there was silence. Rijs' was sent out on his motorbike to see what was going on.
When we arrived there, it turned out that there had been a direct hit on the guns, and everyone had taken off. The guns were no longer manned. Three guns were not hit. Rijs' went out and loaded a gun and fired it and then went to the next one with the same action. This was actually unfeasible and after half an hour he got reinforcements. His commander was also present and asked what was going on. After explaining one thing and another, there was another impact. Now they wisely decided to retreat and leave everything behind. On the way back, the commander told 'Rijs' that he would be nominated for a medal when the war was over. Too bad for 'Rijs' that shortly afterwards this man was killed in the field. After returning to the barracks, they were given a few hours leave to take care of things at home and to inform wife and children of the situation. This was the last time Goos saw his family before the internment started.
8 March 1942
According to the Dutch defence, Goos is made a japanese prisonar of war on this date.
9 March 1942
As his Japanese internment card shows, Goos lists 'Tjelaket Gang in Malang' as his last (residential) address to the Japanese. This is the military hospital in Malang: Tjekalet called. So, he does not give the 2e Chineese Schoolstraat. Probably to protect his wife and children as long as possible. When the Japanese invaded, the Dutch soldiers were interned until further notice. On 19 March many soldiers were placed in an internment camp which was also in Malang, the Drost-Kamp II. On 1e Christmas Day 1942, people in this camp received the following from the Japanese: socks, 2 'tjawats' (belt or hip cloth) and a bar of soap. They stayed here for more than 9 months until January 1943. Visits from relatives was not allowed. Sometimes it happened that a package was secretly thrown over the fence by relatives, but when this was seen, the whole camp was punished.
On arrival at the camp, the first thing that happened was a visit to the barber and everyone’s head was shaven. The days passed by with chores, sweeping the camp, standing guard, marching, standing outside for the Japanese who were giving commands in Japanese. The prisoners got used to this very quickly, because if they did not understand and respond to it, they were beaten. The military file states that Goos was captured in Djember. This is about 200 km east of Malang.
The internment of Dutch women and children including Chrisje and her three children; Karel, Tineke and Goosje internment started in Malang and surroundings in November 1942. The women and children were interned in 'De Wijk' (in total about 5000 persons): Between the time that Goos was incarcerated as a prisoner of war and the month of November, no salaries were paid and the bank accounts were plundered. Many women and children had to fend for themselves during this period with the little they had left. They traded goods for food or for money to buy food. It was quite an ordeal for Chrisje to make ends meet. In January 1943, about 2,000 more women and children were incarcerated in 'De Wijk'. Late 1943 and early 1944 almost all women and children were transferred to Central Java (Camp Solo, Bandjoe Biroe and Ambarawa in the case of Chrisje and her children).
(G) They had to leave behind all the things they could not carry or take with them. Chrisje briskly packed everything she could take with her. The new silverware and other things were thrown into the well, thinking that they might come back here'. On arrival in De Wijk they heard that the rest of the locals had ransacked the houses and taken all that was left behind. The locals saw an opportunity to revenge 'the Dutch'. Many of them were pro-Dutch. Those who were against, had bad experiences in the past or found the Dutch influence too much, and joined Nationalist movements. Chrisje's experience was positive as she always treated everyone nicely, as you should. It was not easy for her in the beginning in '39 to adapt to the East Indien mentality and certainly to learn the customs and habits of the people, which were very different from those of the Dutch. And now after three years she was separated from her husband because of the war.
Boys over the age of ten were taken to separate boys' camps where they were put to work. Chrisje lied about Karel's age (he turned ten in '44) to avoid being separated from his family and ending up in a boys' camp.
Here are some stories of witnesses who were interned in the camps:
8 January 1943
After 9 months of internment on Java (Djember) Goos was transferred by train to camp: Kampong Makassar in Batavia, south of Meester Cornelis, east of the road to Buitenzorg. During this period, it was a prisoner of war camp (April 1942 - January 1945) and later a women's camp (January 1945 - August 1945). Camp commander; Captain Tanaka. Camp guards were Japanese and Korean soldiers. The camp was housed in bamboo and atap barracks, surrounded by gedèk and barbed wire.
15 January 1943
Goos was put on a transport to Singapore (in total 1350 prisoners of war from the camp that day) with the ship Harugiku M2. A total of 3188 Dutch prisoners of war were on board, whom were stuffed and packed into the holds like cattle, without food, drink, or sanitary facilities. During the crossing of the Java Sea no ship was to be seen, not even an escort ship. This transport is known as Java Party 9, the 9e prisoner of war transport that left Java. Many did not survive this crossing due to dysentery, exhaustion, hunger and thirst.
18 January 1943
Goos arrives in Singapore after three days at sea.
19 January 1943
The next day, the prisoners of war are transferred by trucks to the Changi Camp. The original Changi prison was used as a Japanese POW camp for Allied prisoners of war during World War II. The original gate, a section of the wall and watchtowers have been declared Singapore's 72nd national monument.
2 February 1943
Two weeks later Goos is taken by train transport No.45 (a distance of over 2500km) to Siam (Thailand): Ban Pong in total 625 Dutch men that day. This is the 1e station on the Burma Railway. The first groups of Dutch arrived in January 1943 and went to Tarsao and Kinsayok to continue the construction of the railway (the first part was built by British, who went to Thailand in June to December 1942). The later one arrived, the further up the railway one had to work.
About the Burma Line
During the Japanese occupation of South-East Asia in the Second World War, tens of thousands of allied prisoners of war built a railway line across Siam and Burma, more than 400 kilometres long. They worked exclusively with primitive equipment, under inhuman conditions and at a murderous pace. In this hell 3,000 Dutch people died, among others, deported from the former Dutch East Indies. For Japan, it was an important strategic connection, when the sea route had become too dangerous. The majority of the forced labourers did not survive the construction of the Burma Railway. In December 1941, the Japanese began their advance. After fierce fighting, they defeated the British the following year and conquered Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. In search of a safer supply route between Burma (now Myanmar) and Siam (now Thailand), they built the Burma Railway, notoriously known as the Death Railway. They also wanted to use the railway to prepare an attack on India. By rail, the troops could be brought in more easily. The decision to build the railway was made after the decisive defeat of the Japanese navy in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, which meant that it had lost its superiority at sea.
Wedding Picture from Chrisje and Goos
Taken in Port Said. Left Goos and 2nd Chrisje, together with a colleague and his wife and their 2 children.
Goos, Willem and Kareltje
Chrisje with the babu. Military clothing is hanging to dry on the clothesline.
Tineke 9 days old
Tineke 5 months old
Kareltje (standing) and Tineke at 5 months old
Chrisje with Tineke
Goosje, Chrisje, Tinneke and Kareltje, one of the last pre-war pictures
Goos on his motorbike
Internment card Goosen Reijs
Harugiku Maru 2
Changi-Camp in Singapore
In 1942/1943, the Japanese put 68,000 prisoners of war and forced labourers to work building this railway. The British had considered building it as early as 1910, but quickly abandoned the plan because of the mountainous terrain and tropical heat. Captured Britons, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Danes and Dutch were used as forced labourers, or more accurately, slaves. Day in, day out they were pushed to their limits to complete the construction of the railway line as quickly as possible, 415 kilometres long: 263 in Siam and 152 in Burma. In addition to the prisoners of war, more than 200,000 Asian labourers, Chinese, Tamils and locals who had been recruited under false pretences, were used. From June 1942, two teams from the end points - Ban Pong in Siam and Thanbuyuzayat in Burma - worked together. All POWs were divided into groups among the many camps set up along the Kwai Yai and Kwai Noi rivers. As soon as one section was completed, the prisoners were sent to another camp for the next section, initially up to one hundred kilometres on foot, and as the railway progressed by train. Several bridges were needed. At Konyu, they had to cut through a mountain range. They worked day and night, some prisoners of war for up to eighteen hours at a stretch. At night, torches soaked in diesel oil were lit. Seen from above, the cutting of the rocks resembled scenes from hell, so the Australians called it Hellfire Pass. This section of only five kilometres took the highest toll. Hundreds of forced labourers died of cholera, infections, wounds, exhaustion and other illnesses; many also died of physical abuse. Only 300 of the 1,000 labourers survived the inferno. On 17 October 1943 the railways of Thailand and Burma were linked and after just sixteen months the Burma-Siam railway was completed, although in 1910 British engineers had calculated that construction would take at least five years. The price paid for such speed was high: an estimated 15,000 Allied prisoners of war and 80,000 Asians lost their lives as a result of disease, malnutrition, exhaustion and mistreatment. This amounted to 38 deaths per kilometre. Among them were at least 3'000 Dutch soldiers. After completion, the prisoners had to take care of maintenance and repair the damage caused by the Allied bombers, which also caused deaths and injuries, since the work trenches were located next to vital points. After liberation, many remained physically and mentally scarred.
Goos ended up in Headquarters Dept II in Chungkai Thaland. This camp was 57 km from Non Pladu, at the confluence of the two great rivers, the Mae Khlaung and the Khwae Noi. This camp was the headquarters of Group II. This camp was first a labour camp (10 barracks) at the time Goos arrived here, and later a large hospital camp with many sick people, who returned from the higher situated labour camps along the railway. It was also a transit camp for men who were on their way to the higher work camps. Much later, depending on the progress of the activities, he was transferred to Head Quarters, Department IV and much later back to Department II;
Report from Goosen's diary:
(Spelling out the name Reys in Japanese)
R-aar, E-iej, Y-oewei, S-es
(Reijs is actually with ij, but the I is pronounced as, 'watshi wa' and the J with 'djè'. So, with the Greek Y it is spelled shorter this way)
7 February 1943 arrival after 3 km walk, staying in camp Tjoengkai or Tjaikoen (Chungkai).
The 14e moved on, marching for 3 days.
How many kilos do I weigh?
17 February Sick to the stomach. Marching on for 3 days. Arrival at fixed camp Railway labour, bad food.
25 February in the same camp.
1 March rest day.
10 March rest. Railway finished.
13 March back to another camp. 10 days’ rest. Preparing next camp.
17 March camp +/- 100 km away. (Section IV)
21 March to another camp 30km away. Bridge made +/- 1 month.
26 April, 2e Easter Day, departure for another camp 4-day marches away.
1 May in King Jajar, sick in the stomach again.
Today the 20e, still in the same place.
30 May was Tineke's birthday, and I commemorated it with an extra cup of coffee.
3 June Down, Tjoenkai Hospital (Chungkai)
July not yet healed
1 August from hospital
September in hospital
October " "
Already 3 months in 'amoubie', barrack F
(Amoebic Dysentery: a mainly tropical disease, in areas with poor sanitation. Infection can occur through contaminated water, food or faecal-oral contamination. The parasite causes gastrointestinal and hepatic complaints: abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea, sometimes fever).
2 November Spend the days catching fish, this will give you something else to eat. How much longer?
5 December St Nicolas, received 2 postcards as a present.
14 February commemorated birthday (of Chrisje)
29 March 1944 very hot, 162gr in the sun, 112 in the shade (why in Fahrenheit? Is resp. 72°C in the sun and 44°C in the shade)
28 April a letter from all women on Java who have not received any mail
1 May Still in the amoebic (Amoebic Dysentery) yesterday 100 fish caught
19 May departed from Chungkai
20 May arrival Bampang, 'non-combatant' miserable journey. (Ban Pong and as non-combatant)
Ban Pong was the destination of the train journey from Singapore. This camp was a rehabilitation camp for men who returned from the work huts along the railway line. The camp was about a half hour walk from the railway station (approx. 1.5km)
23 May Red Cross barang (goods) received 20 cigarettes and some cans.
27 May get tropical sores for a change. Menage money per man 6 cents
1 to 10 China: 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十
In Japanese. Itsi, ni san, si, ko, rokoe, nana, hatsi, kioew, djoe.
It looks ugly.
10-20-30 etc to 100 in Japanese: Djoe, nidjoe, sandjoe, jongdjoe, kaatjoe, roku djoe, nana djoe, hadji djoe, kioe djoe, tjakoe.
30 May Tineke remembered. How much more often in captivity. Now they have a nice camp, made extra for the sick, toilet, good barracks, good basket space, also going well. At least now some attention is paid to us. About time.
This is probably the Nakhon-Pathom camp. The camp had been a hospital camp since February 1944, the largest in the area of the entire Burma Railway. It eventually consisted of 50 huts for 200 men each. For a certain period, this camp was a model camp for an inspection of the International Red Cross: during this period, no shouting, no beating by the guards, no bowing to the Japanese and the guards. Those who were in this camp had no railway duties, only chores in the camp.
1 September still in the same camp, drinking 'grass and dudue' the end approaches.
19 October, how long it takes, this is now 3e year anniversary in captivity, hope to spend the 4e cosy at home.
Estonia - Revel (this was the capital until 1918)
France - Paris
Germany - Berlin
Italy - Rome
Spain - Madrid
Belgium - Brussels
Holland - Amsterdam
Denmark - Copenhagen
Switzerland - Bern
Greece - Athens
Austria - Viena
Hungary - Budapest
Turkey - Istanbul
Albania - Tirana
Yugoslavia - Belgrade
Bulgaria - Sofia
Romania - Bucharest
Czechoslovakia - Prague
Russia - Warsaw
Lithuania - Kovno (capital city until June 1940, now Vilnius)
Latvia - Riga
Now earn a little extra with 'bajen' (?) cooking, +/- 30 cents per day
14 November transferred to 'convelicion', now work half days to 12½ cents p.d.
(Convalescence; Transition period between the end of an illness and its treatment and the patient's return to good physical and mental health. Resumption of activity still vulnerable after recession)
29 November 14 days with malaria located.9-19-5
November-December to 15e on 28 December again, to 29-12-44, my weight is 78½
1-3-4 January: Malaria
8-9-10-11-12 January: Malaria
19 January, 75 kg
20-28 January, then many more attacks. (January:1-8-20-29 Malaria).
I get an English 'Kondjo', a very unpleasant feeling. (Anyone want to have sex with him, or have had sex with him?)
I am interned in...
My health is...
2 February sent a card
2 February 1945 the military record states that Goos was promoted to Corporal.
February 7-21 No quinine
14 February Chrisje remembered
2 March cure ended, menage fee 12 cents per day.
17 March: 'sukna' with pustules and 'schibius
27 March last kinin cure
23 April end of malaria treatment
13 May received card
13 April nurse
26 May bacon eaten
23 June Departure from Nakompanton (Nakhon Pathom)
30 June in the bush, got stung by a bee. Air alert all the time.
23 August back from the bush. The change is very great, good food and drink, plenty of everything.
From this date onwards, there will be no more writing. Goos commemorates the birthdays of his wife and daughter but not of his two sons...
Wim Kan, a comedian who was also in the camps on the Burma line, had more writing talent and his memoirs of this period have been published in a book. Here are a few of Wim Kan's experiences to give a better picture of my grandfather's brief diary.
It is difficult to find out when and where Goos was in the camp together with Wim Kan, but that they were together is certain. Goos attended performances by Wim Kan, probably in Nakhon Pathom.
6 August 1945
The Americans dropped a huge bomb on Japan. This was, as one heard later, the atomic bomb called Little Boy, dropped by the bomber Enola Gay on Hiroshima. This was followed on 9 August 1945 by a second atomic bomb, called Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki. These bombs forced the Japanese to capitulate on 15 August 1945.
15 August 1945
Many prisoners of war are "liberated" (on paper) from captivity, and assigned to the Tpn.Co in Kanburry (Siam).
16 Aug '45: Today is a strange day. Yesterday we had the whole day off so we could rehearse during the day. 9 o'clock: roll call. Waited a long time. Then after 20 min. finally Jap. Who turned 1e section, walked away and said "thank you", later it appeared that this Jap was picked up by the captain. 9h30: the canteen-money was converted into food. Completely lost his mind. Heard we got a feast that night. Why? Everybody excited. Would you always go crazy after 3½ years of captivity? During the day I heard some rumours that it was over. 19h: Jap. Colonel says through interpreter that there is an armistice. "The war has ended on all fronts. We are no longer prisoners of war; we will be able to leave the camp and have to guard it ourselves now. Outside, a few Japs. Soldiers remain outside. The supplies of the camp are at your disposal, but you will have to stay here for some time. "Take good care of your health and of the papaya plants. And the papayas! And so ends a world war. Isn't it wonderful? If I wasn't so happy, I think I would cry all the time. It's over. August 16, 1945. I was 3 years, 5 months and 3 days P.O.W (prisoner of war), that's 1250 days! Strange round number... It is over. It is finished. Hurray!
8 November 1945 Wim Kan reunites with his wife again for the first time in the Thailand Hotel. His wife had already arrived in Singapore at the end of October. Dutch prisoners of war would remain in the camps for months. With the British, the food drops that had been taking place since 'the liberation' also disappear, so there is hardly any real change after the liberation. Wim Kan goes on a tour of these camps on an open truck with his colleagues and his wife. Many were still living in the huts they had built under Japanese rule. Some of the men had still not heard from their wives; if they had, it was sometimes a death announcement. Wim Kan continued to perform until his 49e malaria attack. 1 March 1946 he arrives at Schiphol airport (lucky, he was allowed to fly).
Emma the first wife of Goos died on 24 January 1943 at the age of 27 in a camp in Batavia. There were two large women's camps, Tjideng and Kramat, with a total of 5700 people, but perhaps Emma was in an outside camp, this is unknown. Her death was not reported until very late after the liberation on 5 July 1946 by a court official. Her last residence before internment was Tjimahi where she lived with her 2e husband Johann Diederich Bruijntjes (born 15/11/1914), Willemstraat H65 in Tjimahi. Johann was also a KNIL soldier at the barracks in Tjimahi and also a gunner. Probably Goos knew Johann, but I am just guessing.
Wim van de Veer is married to Annie, a younger sister of Goos, and is a planter in the Dutch East Indies. He did not survive the war and died in a camp. His wife Annie was in a women's camp and was abused by the Japanese. She died in 1994 at the age of 78 in a home for the mentally ill. She never recovered from her war experiences and abuse.
Jetje Dusseljee spent the war with her children at her parents' place in Salatiga. They were in hiding there the whole war. After the liberation they were taken for their own safety to camp Ambarawa, which was guarded by the Gurkhas. The members of the Wallenburg family then were: Ad's grandmother Twi Nio, Pop, the sister of Ad's mother, Bennie and Theo, the brothers of Ad's mother. Grandma D's other brothers had already left home. When given the choise,Twi Nio chose the Indonesian nationality for her and her 2 younger children Bennie and could leave the camp, Theo and Bennie ended up in an orphanage at a later date. Henk was interned in Indochina according to the military file, but this was probably Burma and Siam. He returned to Batavia on 15 May 1946, where he immediately received a placement. He reunited with his wife and children and one year later, on 22 June 1947, he went on leave to the Netherlands for four months. They stayed with Pa Dusseljee's brother Janus and his wife Toos. First for a short while in the Vondelstraat and then in hotel café Suisse opposite the big church in Breda. Pa Dusseljee then also followed courses at the KMA to return to the Dutch East Indies after his leave.
After the bombs fell, communication from and to the outside world also started up again.
On 22 September 1945, the Red Cross received a request from the Netherlands that father van der Heijden was looking for his daughter and on 9 October 1945, a request from father Reijs that he was looking for his son Goos.
The liberation of the camps.
In a period of three years ('42-'45), the Japanese had succeeded in profoundly changing the structure of the East Indies society by mobilising the population and setting up numerous organisations in which both young and old were trained and taught Japanese discipline. At the end of the war, the nationalists had a combative, anti-Western-oriented cadre at their disposal, who would not wait for the Dutch to appear on the scene to take over the administration of their colony again, but demanded freedom for the East Indies. Since the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August 1945, the Indonesians, unhindered by the Japanese, had been busy setting up Republican organisations and security forces. (On Sumatra the Indonesian Nationalists were less militant than on Java).
Because of the unexpectedly swift Japanese capitulation and the lack of power, the Netherlands had to rely on assistance from its allies in order to help the war victims and to be able to set out on the road to restoration of authority. Unlike during the war, the Netherlands would have to rely primarily on Great Britain under the leadership of Lord Mountbatten. (Governor-General of the British East Indies). Just before the arrival of the British troops on 29 September 1945, they tried to take over as much power and weapons as possible from the Japanese. The arrival of the British led to a violent period (Bersiap) on Java and Sumatra.
The majority of the internees, civilians and prisoners of war were not officially informed by the Japanese of the Japanese capitulation until late August 1945. The first operation was the dropping of pamphlets over the camps, called operation 'birdcage', in which the Japanese were summoned to provide assistance and the POWs and internees were asked to wait in the camps for allied assistance. Repatriation of Dutch prisoners from the archipelago to the Netherlands was only planned for the time being, for those who for medical reasons could no longer work in the tropics. The Indonesian government was keen that as many Dutch ex-prisoners as possible should stay, partly because they had their homes there. But the relief organisations were confronted with unexpectedly large numbers of prisoners of war and interned civilians, men, women and children, as well as the outbreak of the Indonesian independence struggle (Bersiap). More than 60,000 on Java alone were in deplorable conditions, severely malnourished and ill. The living conditions in the camps were very poor, partly due to a lack of privacy and hygiene. Despite the terrible conditions in the camps, Lord Mountbatten decided that the people had to stay in the camps until adequate help could be provided. It was highly dangerous to go outside the camps, also because the internees had absolutely no money to live on. The houses were all occupied; Japanese or Indonesians (still) lived in them.
The large women's camps in Ambarawa and Banjubiru, however, were very difficult to reach due to the poor condition of the roads and the lack of means of transport, and hampered the quick relief and evacuation of the ex-internees. The local Japanese commanders were asked for their cooperation in guarding and supplying food to the camps. There was hardly any resistance on the part of the Japanese, but Indonesian resistance to the return of the Dutch increased rapidly. The violence on Java against the Dutch and Indo-Europeans that erupted in mid-October was unstoppable. A food boycott against all Europeans was declared. Water supplies and electricity were cut off, food convoys were attacked, and the situation in the camps threatened to become untenable.
On Java, it was waiting for British occupation forces. As soon as they arrived, peace and order could be sufficiently guaranteed. It was not until 1 December that the British really had the situation under control and the evacuation could begin. It was decided to evacuate as many internees as possible to reception camps outside Java, or if possible, directly to the Netherlands. In December 1945 the evacuation of some 25,000 former internees from Ambarawa and Bandjubiru to various destinations began: Batavia, Australia, Singapore, Ceylon, Bangkok and the Netherlands. As many people as possible were evacuated to Bangkok and Ceylon for family reunification, and from there they were transferred to the Netherlands. (On Java, on the eve of the capitulation, the Dutch side thought they would have to deal with 8,000 Dutch prisoners of war and 40,000 civilian internees, but by mid-December 1945 the number of people to be cared for on Java alone had risen to 204,050, including 68,200 who were still in the camps! (Sumatra: almost 32'000 pers.) Some could only be 'liberated' from the camp 6 months after liberation.
The liberation of the KNIL soldiers
The reception and repatriation of the Dutch prisoners of war from the Pacific War was a dragging affair. In February 1946, for example, thousands of Dutch prisoners of war were still waiting in tattered camps along the Burma-Siam railway line. They called themselves Prisoners of Peace. When Japan caved in on 15 August 1945, 30,824 KNIL soldiers and 3,199 Royal Marines were still alive of the total of 42,233, mostly Dutch, soldiers who had been taken captive by the Japanese in 1942. Before then, 8,200 of them had succumbed between the wheels of the Japanese war machine. On 28 August 1945 operation Birdcage started in Thailand, Malaya and southern Indo-China. The prisoners of war thus received the allied confirmation of the Japanese capitulation, the request to remain together in the camps, and the announcement of food drops and the arrival of aid. The message of the Japanese capitulation usually reached them between 15 and 21 August. It usually led to a changing of the guard, sometimes accompanied by minor incidents, and an improved Japanese food supply. There was growing uneasiness about their continued stay in the Japanese camps and about their families in the East Indies.
In Thailand, the prisoners of war eventually concentrated -by rail- in the best accessible camps and had directly set up headquarters in Bangkok. The greatest dissatisfaction was having to wait while relatives in the East Indies were under fire. All in all, therefore, in January 1946 there were still over 9'000 prisoners of war waiting in the camps in Thailand and about 6'300 in Singapore. Their situation changed in the course of November/December 1945 to the extent that they were joined by over 17,000 women and children from Java. They arrived by English boats. Many of them arrived there after years of internment and impoverishment and because of their hasty departure, literally 'on a shoe and a slipper'. Almost all were accommodated as an emergency measure in old Japanese or newly built camps with barracks. The arrival of the evacuees also meant that they were finally reunited with their families, albeit in a completely different way - and sometimes for a shorter time - than had been expected. At best, a number of families were squeezed into a house in Bangkok or Singapore. But most had to make do with an 'abolished room' in a barracks, and for many even that was not possible. They had to live separated from their spouses. How many former prisoners of war from the archipelago were repatriated to the Netherlands could not be ascertained from the archives.
In Thailand and Singapore an estimated 2,000 and at least 2,300 POWs respectively were rejected for any service in the archipelago and put on the repatriation list for the Netherlands. The way in which the criteria for repatriation to the Netherlands - Citizenship, medical condition and social function - were tested in practice did give rise to criticism. In Thailand, for instance, the medical examinations were viewed with disapproval. The head of the examination committee was said to approve many men unjustly!
From December '45 to the beginning of March '46, approximately 21,500 people were brought to the Netherlands, less than half the intended number. Those who were most at risk and those who were weakest had the highest priority. This meant that Java was given priority, followed by Sumatra. Then came Singapore. Thailand (after Ceylon) was the last. Absolute priority was given to the transport of Dutch troops to the archipelago, using the same ships that were used to transport the returnees to the Netherlands. This problem of shipping space and the military-political priority of the transports meant that many ex-prisoners of war (and their families), especially in Thailand, who were the last on the roll, had to continue their exercise in passivity. In the month of May there were still 3'500 men in Thailand waiting to be shipped to the Netherlands (or the Dutch East Indies). Until July 1946, the camps in the plains around Bangkok continued to offer shelter to the Dutch ex-prisoners of war. In August '46, a year after the Japanese capitulation, the last ones left Bangkok for the Netherlands.
1943 / 1944 / 1945
Chrisje ended up with her children in various camps on middle Java: from November '42 till December '43 she stayed one year in De Wijk. From December '43 till May '45, 1½ year in Solo (the old hospital) and from May '45 till December about 7 months in Bandjoebiroe 10. On the 1st of December they (in total some 1'500 persons) leave for Ambarawa until the 5th of December '45 where Goosje stayed in the sick bay. On the 5th they leave for Semarang (Camp Halmaheira) until 16 December for about 10 days before they leave on 25 December for Siam/Bangkok to the Wilhelmina Camp of Nakhon Pathom. I find proof from Chrisje on the list of BandjoeBiroe 10: Reys-van der Heyden, C.E., under number 3745 located in 'Cell' B4 with 3 children.
Goos junior recalls that they were 'liberated' by the Gurkhas. This is a people from Nepal and the north of the Indian state of West Bengal, who were soldiers in the service of the British army. He can still remember the beautiful turban they wore. I find proof of Chrisje with her children in the Dutch East Indies Red Cross archives drawn up on 17-11-1945. She is on the liberation list of Bandjoebiroe 10, together with 2'694 other prisoners. In the camps she also met Mrs. Leen Deeken who was interned there with her daughters Lenie, Astrid and Marian. Marian was about the same age as Goosje and they played together regularly. Her husband was in a men's camp (I think he was a teacher) and the eldest son was in a boys' camp. She never saw Aunt Leen again.
After the liberation aunt Leen returned immediately by boat to the Netherlands and Chrisje remained friends with her for the rest of their lives. Chrisje and her family participate in the 'crossing' between Bandjoebiroe and Ambarawa. There Goos junior goes straight to the hospital, he is in a bad way and suffers from Beri-Beri. People went on foot or by open truck; under normal circumstances the distance between these camps was not so big. But because of the bombing the roads were bad; there were craters in the roads. There were also frequent stops. The accompanying British soldiers or Ghurkas checked to see if everything was safe and there were no ambushes. Everyone was afraid in these Bersiap times.
There was a large courtyard in this camp. On arrival there was rubbish, dirt, corpses in a decomposing state everywhere! A terrible experience; especially the stench. You cannot imagine this if you have not seen and smelt it yourself. With cloths in front of their mouths, they started cleaning to avoid the danger of infection and other diseases. Outside the camp there were also corpses that could not be cleaned because of the threat of the Peloppers (Nationalists), who were lurking outside the camp. Goos jr. was in a bad way, because of vitamin deficiency (Beri-Beri), lack of food in general, and that was of course the case for everyone. Goos jr. did not consciously experience the crossing between the two camps. He ended up in a sickbay. He can still remember the smell of dead people, but apart from that Goosje does not have many memories of Ambarawa because of this.
5/8 December 1945: The evacuation to Semarang, camp Halmaheira:
It started early in the morning to beat the heat of the day. The night before, trucks were already entering the camp. Mattresses were placed on the bottom of the trucks, and also upright against the side walls as protection against attack. The soldiers gave a feeling of protection even though everyone was afraid and lived in fear. The column was accompanied by armoured cars and machine guns. Here too, the danger of snipers lurked. There had been an attack with hand grenades and dead bodies had been found in a loading bay. There were also dead bodies lying on the side of the road, and the accompanying air was unbearable. In Semarang it was relatively safe. The British had already arrived here on 20 October 1945. This camp consisted of about 100 houses on Halmaheira street in the east of Semarang. This street is mentioned on the city map of Semarang in the City Atlas of the Dutch East Indies.
From Semarang the small family left on 25 December on the English boat ss Lake Charles of Victory to Bangkok for 'family reunion', as Goos sr. was in Siam as a liberated prisoner of war. During the three years of internment in the camps, many personal belongings were lost, including the photo albums. All pre-war photos were later gathered from relatives in the Netherlands and copies were made.
Goos and Chrisje find each other again in Siam (Thailand). Chrisje and her children are placed in the old Japanese camp of Nakhon Pathon, (the first 3 months in the 'Julianadorp') where Goos was imprisoned some time before. There were long barracks with partitions, so that each family had some privacy. On one side of the barrack was a gallery and it was there that Goosje saw a man in military uniform approaching. It smelled of treachery. He had not seen many men in his young life, and if he saw a man, it was a Jap you had to watch out for. The soldier went into his cubicle! What does that guy want with my mother? He ran inside, because mother had meanwhile started to cry.
Goos junior sees his mother hugging this strange man. Mother tells him that everything is alright and she introduces his father to him. Goosje had never heard of the word father and did not know what a father was...From that moment on Goos and his family stayed together for a long period of time in this barrack. After three months they went to another part of Nakhon Pathom, the Beatrix Village, which was more luxurious. (After this, the family was transferred to Bangkok in the Hoahin Hotel where they stayed for a while until they could start the journey home. Goos was able to buy or borrow a camera and took some pictures in Siam.
Goos was medically approved and it was decided that he would be reinstated in Indonesia because of the turbulent times there. Chrisje really doesn't see any point in this since her husband is not yet ready for it physically and perhaps mentally aswell. She goes to Goos' 'superior' and says: "Surely you don't want to send a 'corpse' back to Indonesia? And so Goos and his family were able to the Netherlands on 'sick leave'.
Early July 1946
They first departed on the ms Tabinta from Bangkok to Batavia. After this the family embarked in Tandjong Priok on 6 July on board of the ms "Ruys" to Holland for 6 months sick leave. (Which would eventually be 1 year)
In the Suez Canal they were allowed to disembark in Attaca/Atoka/atika to pick up clothing packages. Before going ashore, it was expressly stated that they could go ashore and eat what they wanted but they were not allowed to take food back on board. Of course, this was asking too much for people who had been deprived of everything for so long. Children, fearing to be hungry again, had adopted the habit of keeping food and hid it under their clothes.
16 Aug 1946
Arrival in Amsterdam, from the Dutch East Indies. Goos is registered in the administration at camp Austerlitz and eventually has one year leave. In the woods between Zeist and Austerlitz, Camp Austerlitz was built in 1938 as a mobilisation camp and in 1946 as a repatriation centre for KNIL soldiers. The barracks camp was given the function of Military Neurological Hospital. Initially, this was intended to treat war veterans with traumas and psychological problems.
During this period the Reijs family stayed with Auntie Mien (Chrisje's sister) on Terheijdenseweg in Breda. Goos junior soon got the nickname Flip(je), because when Goos was called, immediately two people would look up: Senior and Junior. I will now continue to call Goos Junior Flip, to make writing easier. The children temporarily attend the Jozefschool in Breda. The children had to get used to the cold and to walking on shoes, and especially to living in freedom, Flipje didn't really speak Dutch very well yet. Of course, he spoke Dutch with his mother and sister but in the camps, he regularly spoke Javanese. Perhaps also with Karel, because he grew up with his mother up to the age of 4e and perhaps also spoke his mother tongue. Flip made a mishmash of it all. Just to show that going to school was not easy. Following rules again, sitting still, listening and learning to write, etc. Flip had difficulty with this. Flip was actually left-handed but the right-handedness was hammered into him by hitting him with a ruler, even in this free world. He regularly came home with things he had found, which later turned out to be 'stolen'.
28 February 1947 Goos' sick leave was extended by three months, only to return to the Dutch East Indies in August.
28 August 1947 After a year, Goos leaves for the Dutch East Indies without his family on the m.s. "Kota Inten" to prepare the arrival of his family in the Dutch East Indies.
September 1947 Goos arrives in Batavia and is temporarily assigned to the I.K.B. (Intelligence Office Batavia) while waiting for a placement.
19 November 1947 Goos leaves for Medan by plane. There he is placed with the Subs.Kader Medan on Sumatra.
Early 1948 A few months after Goos' departure (by now he knew about his new placement and had arranged living quarters), Chrisje too leaves for the East Indies with her children on (according to my father) the "Johan van Oldebarnevelt", to eventually arrive in Medan.
After some research I came to the conclusion that it is quite possible that it was 'The Waterman' in January 1948. The Johan van Oldenbarneveldt did not sail between the end of 1947 and the beginning of 1948 and since I found pictures of Chrisje and her children around Christmas 1947 with warm clothes on I can conclude that they were still in the Netherlands at that time. My father (Goos) also remembers a ship with the name of Waterman.
On 23 January 1948, the Waterman leaves for the Dutch East Indies and the small family disembarks in Medan. The boat then sails on to Tandjong Priok. Upon arrival their first accommodation was in the annexes of the Consulate of Belgium in Medan. There they had 3 bedrooms, 1 living room and a 'flat'. The Leenders family also lived here. Karel Leenders was a colleague of Goos and lived in another part of the Consulate together with his wife Alie. When after 1 year the Belgian Consul presented himself (in 1982 it was still the residence of the Belgian Consul) they had to leave this house and the family went to live further on the Padang Boelang road until 1950. This last building is now used as a hotel.
23 September 1948 Goosen transfers from the Artillery to the Infantry and is temporarily promoted to Sergeant, "with a salary of Fl 245,- per month".
November 1948 The temporary rank of Sergeant is bestowed upon him, counting back from the 23 September1948.
September 1949 "Back from detachment. Transferred to Infantry III." The return to the Dutch East Indies was a 'liberation' for Goos, Karel and Flipje. The climate, the people, culture, and much more they had missed whilst in the cold Netherlands. Karel had trouble with himself and his identity. Was he an Indo or a Dutchman? He often did not want to acknowledge his brother as a brother because of his dark skin colour and in relation to his Indo friends aswell. Who could be trusted in this turbulent period? Who was a Nationalist and who was Dutch-minded? Karel felt he was torn between land and ship.
On 17 August 1945 in Jakarta, Sukarno announced to the world that the colonial Dutch East Indies were definitively in the past. The Netherlands did not recognise the Republic of Indonesia at first. From 1945 onwards, the Netherlands seeks to restore its authority through negotiation, warfare and violence, or at least to maintain control over the decolonisation process. More than 200,000 soldiers take part in this war, over half of whom are conscripts. The largest military operations by the Netherlands are Operation Product in 1947 and Operation Crow in 1948-1949. During the latter, Soekarno was imprisoned. Both operations are referred to as 'politional actions'.
The United Nations gave the order to stop the military actions and to release the prisoners. The Netherlands did not bow to international pressure until May 1949. During the period 1945-1949 over one hundred thousand people died on the Indonesian side, and about five thousand on the Dutch side. On 27 December 1949 the transfer of sovereignty was signed in Amsterdam, and Soekarno became the first president of the Republic of Indonesia. The money in the bank (guilders) was converted into rupiahs and was reduced in value by more than half. Many people were duped by this. The first time this happened was during the Japanese occupation and now it was a second time this happened.
It is in this period that Chrisje had 'the' painting made (please read my prologue here), she also bought jewellery, silver cutlery and other valuable things, so that the money spend kept its value. The departure back to the Netherlands is announced. The family left Medan by ship (it is possible this was the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt) for Batavia, by then renamed Jakarta where they were placed (again) in a camp while waiting for the ship to leave for the Netherlands. In camp Tjililitan (which had also been a former internment camp) Flip met Adrie Dusseljee, Henk Dusseljee's eldest son, for the first time. After the war Henk had two more children. Adrie left for the Netherlands only two months later on 3 November 1950 on the 'Oranje' and Flip lost sight of him. In Tjililitan it was also a pleasant reunion with Uncle Akkie who was in the harbour with his naval ship.
27 September 1950
The whole family embarked on board of ms "Fair Sea", returning definitely to the Netherlands. Also on board was Mr. Bruijntjes the second husband of Emma, Goos his first wife. Would Goos have met or known this man? Mr. Bruintjes had remarried in the meantime and I have contacted his daughter who was born from this marriage, but she does not want to say anything about this period. My question was whether she might know where Sientje has gone (as mentioned earlier in my story, Sientje is the sister of Kareltje).
Mr. Bruijntjes is 10 years younger than Goos and arrived in 1933 in the Dutch East Indies as a soldier. Bruijntjes was also interned in camps from '42 to '46 in Burma and Siam, and also worked on the railway. After the 'liberation' in 1946 he returned from Siam to Java to look for Emma, because through family reunification she did not come to him. He soon found out that Emma had died early in 1943. In July 1947 Bruijntjes went on leave to the Netherlands for six months and remarried. His wife gave birth to a daughter in Amsterdam in November '47. In January 1948 he returned to Java, to return to the Netherlands later in September 1950 on the same boat as Goos. His wife and daughter returned to the Netherlands in March 1950.
Flip had smuggled Pete the squirrel on board, who slept with him in the cabin, until suddenly another squirrel showed up. It turned out that someone else had also taken a squirrel on board.
When they arrive in the Netherlands, the family is temporarily placed in Hotel Zomerzorg in Bloemendaal, until a house is allocated to them. The children attend school in Bloemendaal. To Flip's great surprise Adrie and his sister Corrij walk past him on their way to school. Adrie lived in another hotel; Duin en Daal. The two boys end up at the same school and rekindle their friendschip. Unfortunately, Pietje, the squirrel, did not survive his first winter in the Netherlands because of the cold temperatures. Flipje found him in an everlasting sleep under the blankets at the foot of his bed.
Karel, who was16 years old already, was immediately housed by aunt Mien when he arrived in the Netherlands. Together with his three cousins (from his mother's side) of the same age, he went to the MULO in the Halstraat in Breda, where he later obtained his diploma. Karel was a good student and now that he was back in the Netherlands, the unrest regarding his identity had calmed down. Now it was the other way round, and he had to prove himself with his brown skin in this white society.
People were allowed to choose where they wanted to live in the Netherlands. Many people were placed in The Hague (without making that choice). Chrisje was adamant about not wanting to live in The Hague, she was from Breda and wanted to live there. Ultimately they only 'lived' in Bloemendaal for a year.
The Reijs family was assigned a house in the Heuvelkwartier, at 49 Olivier van Noordstraat. Then there was another coincidence; three weeks later the Dusseljee family came to live in the same street, after having lived in a boarding house in Oudenbosch. Pa Dusseljee was stationed in Breda, at which barracks is unknown but I suspect at the barracks at the Fellenoordstraat. On 18 February 1954 Pa Dusseljee crashed with a jeep after an exercise. He died the next day, 19 February, and was buried with military honours in Breda. He was 39 years old at the time of his death.
Flip and Adrie went to the same school again and they remained friends for the rest of their lives until Adrie died of a brain tumour in February 2020. Adrie was one year younger than Flip, but they were still in the same class. When the family lived in Breda with Auntie Mien in 1946, Flip went to school for a year and ended up in the 1e grade, as he was 6/7 years old after all. He didn't learn much during that school year. Flip first had to learn to speak Dutch properly and was very behind with the curriculum. So, in September '47 Flip had to repeat the 1e grade. Upon his return at the beginning of 1948, he went to the 2e grade in Medan, because it was thought that the Dutch learning system was much better and that he could easily go to the 2e grade. This proved not to be the case and in September 1948 he repeated the 2e grade. In 1949 Flip went to the 3e grade, which he repeated in Breda in 1950. Flip learned arithmetic from Aunt Alie, who lived with them temporarily in the house of the Belgian Consul.
Goos gets "Honourably discharged from military service by order of the Head of the Military Personnel Department, by Royal Decree of 20 July 1950 STBL Nr K 310, effective 25 July 1950, due to the dissolution of the KNIL". The statement of recommendation granted.
18 October 1951
In Bloemendaal Goos receives a medal (the gilded silver medal) by post. He receives this, as a token of gratitude for his years in the Dutch East Indies for loyal military service, without any kind of ceremony, nothing. A poignant gesture!
Around 1951/1952 a sign of life from Sientje came from Jakarta. She asked her father's permission to get married. This was necessary as she was still a minor. Goos gave his permission and after that there was never any further contact with her. It is unknown if Goos knew, at that time, that his first wife had died. The death of Emma in 1943 was only known to Goos junior in the early 2020's after we had rummaged through the archives.
The television programme 'Spoorloos' (traceless a television program that look for lost familie)and the radio programme 'Adres Onbekend'(address unknown) cannot help me find Sientje. For 'Spoorloos' there are too many requests relating to Indonesia and 'Adres Onbekend' is not able to search in Indonesia.
After 'living' in Bloemendaal for a year, the family moved to Breda and were offered a new house in the Olivier van Noord street. After a year being unemployed, Goos had enough and went looking for a job.
From 1952, he worked as a lifeguard in the EI, the outdoor swimming pool in Breda for two summers.
In 1955 Jaap was born on the 18th of April at the address Olivier van Noordstraat. He is a healthy baby but it soon becomes clear that there is something wrong with him. Jaap has a congenital defect and has one chromosome too much, or otherwise known as Down's Syndrome. In Jaap's case, this is accompanied by a mental handicap.
In 1956 they moved again to a newly-built flat on Beverweg. This was another change for Goos, who thought he was still too young to sit at home (he was 52 by then), and found a job as an administrator at the Gilze-Rijen airbase. In the beginning of the 60's he was discharged from this job because of his Malaria-Tropica which kept on playing up, and a camp/war syndrome.
Karel is soon drafted for military services and leaves for the war zone between North and South Korea until the armistice in mid-1953. Karel is 19 years old by then. Back in Breda Karel goes to the nautical college as an inland skipper, but he does not finish this education. Afterwards he goes to the Navy where he also doesn't stay long, then to the Air Force. There he learned to fly and got his pilot's licence, but also here he doesn't stay long. Then he became a crane operator in the Flushing harbour. This is also where he lived until he died in 1976 when he had a motorbike accident.
Karel is by then married, has two children and is divorced again. He remarried Gré and got a daughter Wanda. Karel's life has not been easy, he was separated from his mother, grew up in a white family from the age of 4e, survived the camps, moved to the Netherlands, lived through Korea etc. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Karel was very much into motor-road racing, and rode national races. He dies on a Sunday motorbike ride and at the age of 42.
In 1965, Grandpa, Grandma and Jaap moved to yet another newly completed house in Breda North. The other children had left home by then.
Down's syndrome is often accompanied by physical problems, but this is not the case with Jaap. Jaap goes to a regular school and will live at home until he reaches the age of 18. Grandma was 48 when she gave birth to Jaap and so she was 66 when Jaap was allowed to choose and move to a house of his own. Various forms of housing were visited and Jaap finally chose Huize Vijvervreugd in Middelburg in 1973. There he was taught to be independent.
In 1974 Grandpa went back to Indonesia for the first time, which turned out to be a big disappointment. The East Indies he had left behind some 25 years ago were no longer there. Disillusioned, he came back to the Netherlands, never to return again.
After primary school, Flip went to the GTS (Gem.Tech. School) on the Van Coothplein. After this, at the age of 16, he started working in various car garages as a mechanic and also worked for a year for the company of his brother-in-law Tom Molenschot in Antwerp as a representative. This was Molenschot Weegwerktuigen and was located on the Teteringsedijk in Breda.
In 1959 Goos jr. (who by now no longer wanted to be called Flip) enlisted in the army and in 1960 he was sent to New Guinea. This was an overseas territory of the Netherlands and Indonesia wanted to annex this area, which they did in 1962. During his stay in New Guinea, his sister married.
Christel Kuijsters, juni 2022
Life after the Birma-railway.
Sourceof the mapt: Tony van der Meulen, Dansen op de Kwai
Nakhon-Pathom hospital camp
Goos' diary was a small diary for the year 1938, in which he wrote down his experiences in pencil. Writing or being in possession of writing material was forbidden; this small format could easily be hidden.
Bomber Enola Gay who dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb of Hiroshima
SS Lake Charles of Victory
The reunion in the Nakhon Pathon camp
Chrisje with the children
Goos with children
The Reijs Family in Medan
Picture was taken in 1950 in Camp Tjilitan
1st photo after captivity
Goos with children severely emaciated in Siam
The "Kota lnten" is one of the seven so-called Kota's, which were sister ships built as cargo ships. When it was built, it did have accommodation for 28 passengers, but it was clearly intended for cargo transport. In 1942, it sailed for the US War Shipping Administration, which had the ship converted especially for troop transport. In 1946, it was handed over to the Dutch government, which used it to transport its military to the Netherlands East Indies. The "Kota lnten" had the capacity to transport over 1750 soldiers, it was now a fairly old ship and quite slow compared to some other troop transport ships and there was no luxury whatsoever.
M.S De Waterman source: Wikipedia
M.S Johan van Oldenbernevelt.
Chrisje, Goos with Alie and Karel Leenders
Waiting in Tandjong Priok to board in 1950
Flip at the Jozefschool
Ineke at the Jozefschool
It must have been a culture shock for Karel as well, dressing in western clothes and shoes.
Adrie, Jetje, Corrijn, Toos, Henk jr and behind Henk sr
Chrisje and Goos at the wedding of Tineke and Tom
Karel at the wedding of Tineke and Tom
Frandma and Karel sr Reijs
One of the last pictures of Karel with mother Chrisje before his fatal accident
Deze website is het geestelijk eigendom van
de Stichting Nederlands-Indië.
De inhoud van deze website mag niet gereproduceerd of gekopieerd worden, zonder de schriftelijke toestemming van de Stichting Nederlands-Indië.
Copyright © All rights reserved de Indische Verhalentafel