Rietje Peters - van Amersvoort came on my path via this website and wanted some more information about her father Theodorus Petrus van Amersvoort. She already sent me a fairly comprehensive summary. Since she knew almost nothing about her father and her grandparents and their lives in the Dutch East Indies, I decided to dig into that part of the story a bit more. Here is that quest for more information.

Tilly van Coevorden, March 2023

The van Amersvoort famila a quest for information:


Peter Gerardus Cornelis van Amersvoort, was a cigar maker. He was born in Arnhem on the 6th of  May 1864. On the 22th of May 1901 he married Helena Hermans born on the 22th of September 1877 in Arnhem as well.

Helena Hermans is the daughter of Jan Hermans  who is bricklayer by profession and Maria Elisabeth Evers. Helena dies at a very young age ( 4th of Januari 1907) at 30 years of age.

Peter Gerardus Cornelis and Helena will live their entire lifes in Arnhem wonen where  Peter  consequently dies on  the 5th of May 1958.

Three childrens are born to this marriage:

  • Cornelis van Amersvoort born in  Arnhem on the 24th of July 1902. 
  • Maria Elisabeth van Amersvoort born in Arnhem on the 4th Febuary 1904. Maria marries on the 12th of November 1924 with Willem Tempel,

    chauffeur by profession, and she died in Arnhem as well on 28 February 1994. From this marriage 3 children were born 2 daughters and 1 son.

  • Peter Gerardus Cornelis van Amersvoort , born te Arnhem om 5 May 1906.

    Peter dies just under 4 months later on 1 September 1906

Arnhem newspaper of 01.08.1902

Arnhem civil registry records the birth of my grandfather Cornelis van Amersvoort

Cornelis van Amersvoort

Cornelis, my grandfather conditionally commits on 5 January 1921, as a soldier for seven years, to the Colonial forces. This commitment takes effect on 21 January 1931 and is for both inside and outside Europe. He is enrolled in the militia of the 1922 draft for the municipality of Arnhem.

On 5 July 1921, the above commitment is confirmed as a firm commitment and he receives a bounty of fl.100.-. Furthermore, he will receive fl.50.- per year of service with a maximum of fl.400.-

The logbook records that he is registered as a brigadier on 11 March 1922.

On 14 March 1922, the remaining premium of fl.300.- is paid. By this time, he must have met his wife-to-be.

When he is appointed sergeant first class infantry on 1 October 1922, the bounty paid to him is deducted from the allowance for his first set of equipment.

On 2 November 1922, Cornelis married Petronella van Emmerik, born in Nijmegen on 4 August 1903. Petronella came from a very large family and was the youngest offspring of Theodorus Wilhelmus van Emmerik and his wife Petronella Alders.

The van Emmerik family has eight children: 

  • Theodorus Wilhelmus Lambertus van Emmerik born in Nijmegen on   14 May 1888. Date of demise is unknown.
  • Allegonda van Houterman (née van Emmerik) born in Nijmegen on     14 July 1889 and died there on 4 August 1910.
  • Leonardus van Emmerik born in Nijmegen on 5 January 1892 and died there on 8 June 1916. 
  • Johannes Hendrikus van Emmerik born in Nijmegen on                        25 Febuary 1894. Date and place of demise is unknown.
  • Theodorus Wilhelmus van Emmerik born in Nijmegen on 22 July 1896 and died there on 3 November 1921.
  • Hendrikus Franciscus van Emmerik born in Nijmegen on 16 April 1900, Date of demise is unknown.
  • Johanna Everdina Boessen (geboren van Emmerik) born in Nijmegen on 23 October 1901 and died there on 1 July 1922.
  • Petronella van Emmerik geboren te Nijmegen on 4 August 1903 enand died there on  24 April 1964.

    Shortly after the marriage, which was officiated in their hometown Nijmegen, the young couple left Rotterdam on the steamship "Patria" for the tropics on 18 November

    Stamboek Cornelis van Amersvoort vermelding Patria 1922

    Militairy logbook of Cornelis van Amersvoort

    Japanese Internment card of Granpa Cornelis

    Cornelis resumed service in the Dutch East Indies and a first son was soon born. On 12 December 1923, my father Theodorus Petrus van Amersvoort is born in Djokjakarta.

    A second son followed two years later, on 9 May 1925. Cornelis "Kees "van Amersvoort was born in Tjimahi.

    Although Petronella came from a very large family, her marriage will be limited to two sons.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about Kees yet but after this story is posted the research will continue and if new information is available it will be added.

    Information shows that Kees (Cornelis) is repatriated to the Netherlands with his parents. On 9 February 1948, the ship the Oranje leaves Tandjong Priok with destination Amsterdam where the ship docks on 3 March the same year. Cornelis (grandfather returns to the East Indies on 27 August 1948 with the ship Grote Beer).

    What Kees was involved in in his youth or where he was interned is not known so far. It is known that he was military but since he was still relatively young and only ripe for military service during the war years, I suspect that he only entered military service in the Netherlands.

    Kees married Henriëtte Fransisca Marie Therèse Van Amersvoort (born Van Der Ven), born in Wijk-Maastricht on 19 July 1930, on 4 October 1960 in Bergen op zoom. From this marriage, two sons were born (Keesje and Ronnie). Kees and Henriëtte settled in North Brabant.

    Now we go back to Grandpa Cornelis' career trajectory for a moment:

    On 22 January 1928, he was re-enlisted for 6 years as Sergeant of Infantry in the Dutch East Indies.

    On 22 January 1934 re-committed for 3 years and 2 months.

    On 22 March 1937 re-committed for a "period of such necessary duration that on returning from leave he will have another year to serve as Sergeant Major of Infantry".

    On 20 April 1937, Cornelis was appointed a Sub-Lieutenant of Infantry.

    On 14 March 1942, Cornelis was interned in a Jap camp. It is not clear from the internment card in which Japanese camp this was.

    He was liberated on 15 August 1945 and then found himself in Bandung.

    On 18 March 1948, he is transferred to Batavia and on 18 April 1950 permanently leaves for the Netherlands on the ship the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt to reunite with his wife.

    On 5 July 1950, the head of the HPZ department (unable to find out what this is) asks to be honorably discharged from the H.M Military Service for reorganisation with effect from 25 July 1950. This, of course, with the right to retain pension.

    On 12 April 1957, the gold-plated silver medal was awarded for 24 years of long, honest and faithful service. It is likely that Cornelis and Petronella settled in Nijmegen the birthplace of Petronella because Petronella died there in 1964 and Cornelis on 7 July 1967.

    Return trip to the Netherlands with the Orange of Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Kees. Grandpa will return to the

    East Indies after this

    Granpa Cornelis, Grandma Petronella and Uncle Kees van Amersvoort

    My father Theodorus Petrus van Amersvoort

    As mentioned above, my father Theo was born in Djokjakarta just over a year after grandpa and grandma van Amersvoort married on 12 December 1923.

    At the time of posting this story, little is known about his childhood.

    During the Japanese occupation, Theo was interned in various Japanese camps. The dates that are known to me were retraced by Tilly via the website japanseburgerkampen.nl.

    It must have been with a July 1942 transport that my father, as an 18-year-old, ended up in the Kesilir jap camp, or the Agricultural Colonisation Camp East Java. The camp leader there was Mr J.G. Wackwitz and the camp commander Takahashi. This camp was established for "Europeans" on 6 July 1942.

    The Kesilir agricultural colony was located on the southern coast, almost on the easternmost tip of Java. The entire colony was spread over a very large area (about 40 km2), completely surrounded by barbed wire. The camp was housed in homemade shelters and barracks.

    The intention of the Japanese occupier (General Imamura) was to create a very large agricultural colony here for 70,000 people (man,women&children), which would be self-sufficient. About 3,000 men worked here for 15 months. The project failed due to lack of experience in agriculture and lack of agricultural tools. The men comprised about 70 percent Europeans and 30 percent Indo-Europeans. The following crops were grown: maize, soybeans, green peas, vegetables. (Source www.japanseburgerkampen.nl)

    There were 3 transports with a total of 1670 Totoks (European boys and men) transferred to Banjoe Biroe in August 1943. My father was one of these men and was interned in Ambarawa prison. These transports were on 15, 20 and 25 August and I suspect from what I have been told that Theo was assigned to the 25 August transport.

    Here Theo was for about six months and that is correct because through the same website as above there were 3 transports respectively on 26 January, 30 January and 1 February of 1944 to the 15th Battalion Bandung or also called the Tjikoedapateuh or Bunsho II Camp I. The camp leader in the latter camp was Hr H.A. van Karnebeek.

    When exactly Theo was liberated is not known. Based on an embroidered binder belonging to dad, I was able to deduce that he was in Tjihapit during the Bersiap period. The embroidered folder has the date 12.12.1945 being my father's birthday.

    On 22 July 1946, he received a certificate for the senior civilian school in Bandung. this is also called the flower city "Kota Kembang" and is a little south of Jakarta.

    The last place of residence before repatriation was Malang (East Java).

    On 4 August 1946 so two years before his parents and brother, Theo leaves Tandjong Priok, Jakarta's port, on the ship Tegelberg with destination Amsterdam the ship docks there on 29 August 1946.

    Theo will, I presume, have been taken care of by relatives in the Netherlands, and on 8 July 1947 he passes his Commercial Arithmetic exam at the Katholieke Economische Hoogeschool in Tilburg, after which he starts studying economics at Tilburg University.

    This is the writing case and the only tangible evidence from the camps

    Obituary of Grandpa Cornelis van Amersvoort

    From 15 December 1951 to 14 September 1958, Theo is employed by the NV Borneo Sumatra handel maatschappij also known as Nederlandsche handel Maatschappij N.V.

    From 1951 - 1953, Theo and his first wife Corrie Lieshout live in The Hague.

    From May 1953 to September 1958, the family moved to Hong Kong where they live at No 11 MacDonnel road, Glat B-3.

    Theo and Corrie have two daughters, Loesje and Jolique, this marriage is dissolved by divorce in 1962.

    In 1964, the then 41-year-old Theo met Cornelia (Corrie) Godefrieda Liesker, born in Utrecht on 16 May 1936.

    Theo and Corrie married on 9 April 1965 in Utrecht and from this marriage I (Rietje) was born on 29 May 1967

    In March 1959 to November 1971, Theo enters the employment of Indola Electric N.V. and Emi - Verkoop N.V.

    Theo is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 1973. He dies at home, after just a few months, on 17 March 1974. I was only 6 years old at the time. Father never spoke to my mother about his life in the East Indies, so unfortunately I will never get all the answers to my questions. The term "Indisch zwijgen" also applies here and I hereby make an immediate appeal: If you knew my father and know anything more about his time in the Dutch East Indies, please contact me via this website.

    Rietje Peters-van Amersvoort, February 2023

    Three pictures of my father. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of my father at an even younger age.

    Below is my mother

    Corrie (Cornelia) Godefrieda van Amersvoort-Liesker

    This is one of the last pictures of my father before he ended up in hospital

    Standing next to him on the right is Jolique

    Crouching is Loes and standing in front of Jolique and next to Loes is me as a 5-year-old girl.