Frederik (nickname Frits) André de Ruuk was born on 6 September 1909 in Loemadjang, near the Soekodono sugar factory, of which his father Anthonij Adriaan de Ruuk was the administrator.

He settled in Java, then part of the Dutch East Indies, in 1895. His mother was half Dutch, half Indonesian. She had what they then called a native mother.

He grew up with his siblings in the Dutch East Indies. The family had five children, three sons and two daughters, of whom the eldest son died at a young age.

In 1916, his eldest brother Willem (Willy) and sister Antonia (Tony) left for the Netherlands to continue their schooling. It is during this period that his eldest brother Willy dies at the age of 17 from the effects of an epileptic fit in 1920. Later that year, the whole family returned to the Netherlands. Frits is then 11 years old.

In 1921, his father becomes director of the branch of the Gelderland Credit Society in Oosterbeek. The whole family also settles here in Oosterbeek. Until his death in 1930, A A de Ruuk remains director here.

Frits de Ruuk entered the Netherlands to study at the Colonial Agricultural School (KLS) in Deventer from 23 October 1928 to 16 July 1931. After completing his studies, he is conscripted into the army in the Netherlands and has a job as an office clerk.

Around 1935, he meets his future wife, Anna Israel.
By the end of 1936, Frits' military service is over. He decides to return to the Dutch East Indies in early 1937 and travels after his older sister Tony. Tony had already returned to the Dutch East Indies in 1931 and married Hugo Stout, then employed by and later director of Handelsmaatschappij Internatio. Frits went to work as a planter at a rubber and coffee company called "Gerengredjo" in Petoeng/Djember, which was in East Java.

Frederik André de Ruuk

Anna stayed behind in the Netherlands, but during this time they wrote each other many letters. Before Frits' departure, it had been Anna's plan to come over later as well.
In July 1937, Frits and Anna got remotely engaged, after which his fiancée arrived by boat at Tandjong Priok port in Batavia in early 1938. Within two weeks of arrival, they were married.
Not much later, his younger brother Lambertus (Bart) also takes the boat to the Indies. After which the rest of the family will also follow. In 1939, sister Mimi (Mies) arrives, followed in 1940 by the mother of the family, Antoinette Gerardine Jacoba de Ruuk-van der Hout (Dien).

On 5 June 1941 in Djember, Frits and Anna's son Ronald Willy de Ruuk was born. Soon after, Frits was transferred to another company. Namely, the rubber company "Redjosari" on the nearby island of Sumatra, at Tandjong Karang, which was located to the south in the Lampong districts.

In late 1937, Frits was called up as a conscript in the KNIL.
He had KNIL logbook number 199209 and was militia sergeant 1st class.
On 23 October 1941, the situation with Japan became grimmer and he was called up by the KNIL and then sent to Lahat, Sumatra for 4 weeks, with the 4th land storm battalion. He does not stay here for more than a week after his request for a postponement is granted due to the birth of his son. However, on 9 December 1941, Japan's declaration of war with the Dutch East Indies is announced and he is again called up by the KNIL in Lahat, Sumatra. He will join this until about 13 December 1941. After this, they change location to the Garrison Battalion for Palembang and Djambi, in Sumatra. Immediately after Japan declared war, he sent his wife and child back to Java by boat, where they moved in with his mother, who lived in Malang.

In January 1942, his wife, child, mother and sister were captured in Malang de Wijk camp along with 2,000 other women and children from the area. By November 1941, 5,000 women and children had already been captured here. Whereas tensions in Europe were already in full swing and Frits' in-laws living there had already fled, gone into hiding or been captured, in the East Indies everything was just beginning.

Internment card from Frits

On 20 February 1942, Frits sends a telegram to his wife from Batavia Centre 829. They were not captured at that time. But KNIL troops from Palembang and Djambi were forced to retreat to Java because the Japanese division had captured Palembang. On 8 March 1942, he and his younger brother Bart were also captured by the Japanese. In April, he sent a last letter to my grandmother from the anti-aircraft barracks in Bandung.

According to a later campmate, Frits is interned in Bandung in the Tjimahi camp and in Batavia in the Glodok prison. After which he was transferred to the HBS camp in Surabaya, and from where, together with his brother, he was put on a boat on 1 February 1943, with the Maebashi Maru 2 (Java Party 12; the 12th POW transport departing from Java) to Singapore, where, on arrival, they were transported to the Changi barracks. On 2 April 1943, they then departed on the Hawaii Maru 1. 1,000 of these POWs go to Japan, the rest to Thailand.

After a long, terrible journey, which left his brother Bart, like many others, ill, they finally arrive in Moji, a port town in Japan, just above Fukuoka, on 24 April 1943.
Here he is separated from his brother. Frits is transferred by train at night to camp Fukuoka 14B in Nagasaki along with 300 other POWs and arrives there the following day. His brother is transferred to camp Fukuoka 13B/ Hiroshima 2B in Niihama and arrives here 2 days later. A few days later on 1 May 1943, his brother Bart dies of acute colon inflammation.

Frits' wife and child, along with his mother and sister, end up in camp Banjoe Biroe XI, followed by camp Solo. They will survive the war.

On 21 August 1944, Frits falls ill due to the hardships of the camp. Five days later on 26 August 1944, he dies at the age of 35 due to pneumonia and exhaustion in camp Fukuoka 14b Nagasaki, Japan. Holding his hand in that of a fellow prisoner named Jacobus Martinus Vink. Jacobus Vink was allowed to carry his urn afterwards to the cathedral located next to the camp. He was given Frits' personal belongings which he gave to his wife after the war.

In a letter from 1946, this campmate writes the following:

"He had to work at the Mitsubishi shipyard. He fared very badly and ended up in one of the heaviest shifts. Mainly lugging work".

At the end of 1943, I became his roommate. He was my room senior. And that's where I got to know him. He was so very different from the others. Living a simple life and always willing to help. We talked a lot about his work and also about you. Showed me his photos which he kept as his main possessions. Everything had been taken away from us, only that he had managed to save with the utmost effort. A memory of you and his child.

I am unmarried yet only a boy of 25. Stood shoulder to shoulder with all of life. Laughed at ideals of happiness. But in him I saw that there were still ideals in the midst of the deepest misery. Then came the terrible winter of 1943-1944. 'Tis been hell. Dozens we lost.

But he fought his inhumanly unequal battle. Broken shoes, torn clothes, hellish cold and hard work. This dealt him the big blow. Had a lot of stomach trouble and was visibly deteriorating. Spring brought some change. In February, I was kicked to the yard myself. In the same treadmill as him. Mostly we walked together now. And often he showed me the beauty of the misty harbour. The beauty of Japan. 'A stark contrast . In early August 1944, he began to suffer severely. Trouble with beri-beri. Walking was very difficult. He also contracted bronchitis that would not go away. Our doctors were powerless. Lack of medicine and always and forever the Japanese doctor sending patients to work far too soon.

As a male nurse, I knew the sad hard truth and prepared him gently. I talked about everything. And calmly he accepted the hard truth. But he did not give up. He would fight to the very very end."

Frederik André de Ruuk's urn was interred in the Columbarium, at the Menteng Pulo Field of Honour, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 24 July 1948.

Urn number 8, niche L.

Eleonore de Ruuk: "My grandfather was never able to tell me his story. Hence a few years ago, I went looking for him myself and tried to bring his story to life through all kinds of documents, preserved letters and photos."

Internment card from Bart

Another internment card from Frits