Prisoner of war
This is the story of grief, pain, hate and remorse.
Of people who purposeful hurt other people.
To dominate and humiliate them.
To misuse and kill them.
This is a story like it has happened previously already countless times.
Like it has happened since again countless times.
This is the story of my father.
Coming from a Dutch family who grew up on the island of Java in former Netherlands-Indies, my father was at that time somewhere in his thirties and he had a wife and a life on a plantation on Java. He worked as an administrator.
He met a woman and married her. Her name was Johanna ten Brink and they got married on October 25th, 1939 in a town called Djember on the island of Java. She already had two children from a previous marriage, named Sonja and Gerarda. They lived in a nice house.
Life was easy.
It was 1942 and war broke out.
Japanese soldiers came and conquered the islands of former Netherlands-Indies.
This is his story like he told me that years ago one time.
I wrote it down like he has told me it.
There is nothing made up in this story.
Everything has happened just as it is told.
My father never talked about the period just before and during the Second World War out of himself.
Only when I asked him about it he was prepared to tell something about it.
Java: March 1942
About 100 km from Bali was the city of Djember, where my father was encamped as a mobilized conscript in the KNIL (Royal Netherlands-Indies Army).
He operated the machine-gun.
After the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour the troops were mobilized and exercises and physical trainings were held.
The invasion by the Japanese on the island of Java took place on the 1st of March 1942.
The Japanese landed near Soebang at the coast on the edge of the mountains. My father was employed to stop them. On and around the road from Lembang and Siriban the fights took place. The situation was confused and there were not enough men. My father and the others with him had to withdraw along the main road and went fighting to Djalan-Tjagak.
From there they went to the defence-line at the Tiatar-position. The Tiatr is mountain pass.
Everything took place within couple days. On 7th of March 1942 the Japanese broke through definitively. They came with tanks and aeroplanes.
The Japanese Zero was a better machine.
Example picture: KNIL soldiers move through the bush
The KNIL cannons were swept away within a few hours by the Japanese planes.
On the evening of the 7th of March 1942 no fights took place anymore. There were many dead and wounded.There came an order to stand ground till the last man.
But that night around 02:00 hours there came a counter-order. They had to withdraw in small groups of 5 or 6 men. That did happen. There was no resistance of the Japanese during the night. Towards the morning they arrived at the city of Lembang.
In the course of the morning there came again an order and this time to march against the Japanese. The entire day of 8th of March 1942 there were changing fights.
The KNIL-army came up to the city of Bandung where they positioned themselves around the city. There came again a counter-order which was that they were not allowed anymore to shoot at the Japanese.
There was an armistice.
The Japanese had the superior forces. The Japanese airplanes, the Zero’s, were much better. And the KNIL-army still fought with guns from the First World War.
Their carbines and heavy machine-guns, mortars and small 20 cm cannons were antiquated and inadequate. The cannons were really destined to be used as small mountain-artillery to protect the bridges. The Tiatr-mountain pass was cleared within 3 hours.
The Dutch Ltn-flyer Van Helsdrager was the last who flew above the Tiatr.
The native Javanese soldiers were demobilized at Bandung
In Bandung my father and his companions literally had to lay down and deliver up arms.
Within 2 or 3 days the Japanese were within the entire city.
My father was brought, together with the others of the KNIL, to a camp in the quarter Tjikoeda Pateu in Bandung. According to my father that must have been around 10 or 11 March 1942. In the camp were only KNIL military men. He has stayed there about 2 months.
Nobody was allowed outside the camp. There was nothing to do. You were allowed to walk around freely. Some men escaped to go home to their wife at night.
The Japanese made traps and established punishments.
Who was caught was blindfolded and tied to a pole and stabbed to death by Japanese soldiers with bayonets. Everybody had to look. The Japanese wanted to set an example for all camps. The camp itself was an original KNIL-camp with barracks and around it barbed wire.
Around May or June 1942 my father was brought to the city of Tjimahi.
They had to walk about 10 km with baggage. There he stayed approximately 6 to 8 months.
The place was situated on a plateau, a mountainous area near Bandung. It was an infantry camp. Sleeping they did on the ground. The food came from the eating-house and was prepared by the KNIL military men themselves. The food they got from the Japanese.
Rice with vegetables. No meat.
If you had money you could buy things from the Japanese. For example tobacco, sugar, coffee. They made art objects that were sold among themselves for money.
Officers were brought to another camp from where they were later brought to Korea till the end of the war. In the camp there were preponderant petty officers.
The military order was maintained. They had to drill the Japanese way.
They also had to learn Japanese, learn the Japanese commands, count in Japanese, etc.
The Japanese ranks were a.o.: soldier: heishi; sergeant: gunso; lieutenant: chui .
Towards the end of 1942 my father was brought with the others from Tjimahi to the city of Batavia.
The journey went by train.
There they were brought to the prison named Glodok.
There were about 2000 men. There were also a few hundred English allies, from British-Indies, India, Australia. The most were RAF-members.
They died like rats.They had no knowledge of tropical diseases, of hygiene.
My father taught them to make herb medicines against malaria. Of the bark of the “poelé-tree” you could make tea. It tasted very bitter but helped against the malaria.
The barracks were stone buildings. There were about 5 barracks with around it stone walls.
There were sentry-boxes with guards. The food was bad.
He has stayed there a short period.
After a month or 2 he and the others were medically examined.
They got the order to pack up for departure.
It was the rain season.
In the streaming rain they were brought to the station.
In the blinded train the journey went to the city of Surabaya, about a 1000 kilometres away.
In Surabaya they were placed in a school-building .An HBS-school ( Higher Civilian School) at the Cana-avenue.There they got about 2 weeks of rest.
Then they were again medically examined.
They were then brought to the harbour of Tanjung-Priok and brought aboard a freighter
They were with about 2000 men or more.
The journey went to the direction of Singapore. During the day they sat on top of the deck.
But when there was an air-raid warning they had to go below decks into the cargo-area and the hatches were closed.They were lucky and were not bombed or torpedoed.
The journey lasted about 3 days. After the arrival at Singapore-harbour they were transported in lorries to Changi-village. At that time that was positioned outside the city of Singapore. There laid a large war-camp.
With barracks made of bricks, 3-storeys high. With barbed wire around it. It was very large.
Except for the many KNIL military, there were also English and Australians soldiers.
The food was bad, only rice.Diseases like beriberi, dysentery and the like were feared.
They ate leaves of the hedges to fight certain food shortages.
The eyes became bad and walking became difficult.
They stayed there about 2 or 3 months.
About March 1943 they were again medically examined and there was a selection.
If you were given a red ribbon you went to Japan.
If you were given a green ribbon you went to the Burma railway.
My father got a red ribbon.
There were not many Japanese soldiers on board.
The freighter was escorted by a Japanese destroyer.
My father estimated the number of KNIL military men on board at about 2000 men.
The journey would take about 10 to 12 days.
The journey went through the South-Chinese Sea where there were a lot of storms.
They stayed below decks. Every morning the dead were thrown into the sea.
They died for example of dysentery. The dead were tied in bags and before they were thrown into the sea a short prayer was allowed to be held.
They stopped at Cape St.Jacques near the mouth of the Mekong Delta.
After that it went further northward to Formosa. There they stayed for 1 day.
They had to remain on board.
After that the journey went through the East-Chinese Sea to Japan.
Kyushu: Camp 6, Orio, Omine
(established as Fukuoka no.15 on April 22, 1943: renamed as
Fukuoka no.9 on December 1, 1943; renamed as Fukuoka no.6 Branch Camp in August 1945)
( facts about Camp 6: At the end of the war 1062 POW’s were imprisoned consisting of 764 Dutch, 138 Americans, 41 Australian and 2 other nationality. 72 or 74 POW’s died during imprisonment. )
They arrived in Japan at the city Moji on the island of Kyushu.
That lies in the northern part of Kyushu.
They were subdivided in groups of a few hundred men and the journey went in a blinded train to the place of Orio in the district Fukuoka.
The journey lasted a few hours.
Orio was situated about 30 kilometres west of Moji, about 40 kilometres north-east of the city of Fukuoka.
They arrived at the station of Orio.
The camp was located about 6 kilometres from Orio and was surrounded by mountains on the eastside .
The mine, where they had to work, was called the Takamatsu Coal Mining Company ( later to become Nippon Mining Company).
Orio was a small place with perhaps a couple of thousand inhabitants.
The most were farmers and miners. The province capital was Hakata.
The Japanese Prisoner of War Camp card of my father.
They still wore their tropics uniforms.
They were housed in a camp of miners-houses.
It were long buildings, barracks like a sort of long narrow buildings.Made of wood and smeared with loam.There were about 16 to 20 barracks. The barracks had 2 floors.
Per long barrack there were 8 apartments like a one-family-house. Downstairs was the living-room and upstairs were the bedrooms. They slept with 5-6 men per bedroom.
In an entire barrack were at least about 80 men housed.
They got 7 blankets per bedroom and laid on mattresses of straw.
It was very cold at night.
After the grouping they went to bed in the evening around 22:00 hours.
There were many sick the next morning.
Those were moved to a separated sick-bay.
After 1 week of the 100 men only 54 were left.
The rest died of exhaustion and dysentery.
According to Japanese custom the dead were cremated.
The sick got porridge to eat and now and then they had to carry stones.
At first there were a 100 men what later became about 2000 men.
For the large part there came Dutch KNIL military men like my father.
But later also Australians, Americans and a few English.
There were relatively more Australians than Americans and English
The work in the coalmines
About 1 week later they got miners clothing.
Made of coarse cotton in khaki colour. A coat and trousers and toe-shoes, so-called ketabi’s. They were subdivided in groups of 10-12 men, a so-called buntai or shift, section.
They got an equipment consisting of a lamp with battery, a pickaxe and bamboo shovel or kakita and a carrier basket or ebu and a rake. With the equipment they went to carts that ran on rails into the mine. They were brought to 100 meter and to 200 meter depth.
The deepest spot of the mine was approximately 700 meter below sea-level.
They also made use of pneumatic drills on air-pressure of about one-and-a-half meter long. Those were operated by 2 men. One for the steering and one for the drilling.
The intention was to drill holes, sometimes through slate, a 12 to 15 holes in which sticks of dynamite were placed.
With a long line those were brought to explosion from a distance.
Sometimes they had to drill through layers of slate for weeks to get to the next coal lode.
The shafts were propped up by wooden beams in which, with an axe, indentations were made for the placing of steel T-irons that had to take care of the connections.
The height of the shafts varied up to 2,5 meter and the breadth up to 3 or 4 meter.
In the middle of the shaft sleepers were laid on top of which rails were placed.
The rails served for the carts.
The pit-coal layers mostly ran slanting upwards or downwards.
It was a rotten job especially downwards because then you had to brace yourself.
Upwards went better.
My father had the rank of sergeant in the KNIL and after a few months in the mines he was bombarded by the Japanese into buntai-tjo or head of the section (buntai).
The Japanese attached a lot of value to ranks and standings.
The miners were prisoners of war and per buntai there were 2 Japanese foremen.
These were mostly Japanese civilians from the village. The foremen wore a green ring.
Regularly there came Japanese mining-engineers. They were recognizable by the red rings in their lamps. A single red ring and a double red ring.
The more rings the higher the rank. Except for the Japanese foremen there were also the Korean miners. Those were contract-workers.
They were real bastards.
The daily grouping went in 3 shifts of 8 hours per shift.
Continuously 3 times 8 hours.
The 1st shift went from 07:00 hours till 15:00 hours.
The 2nd shift went from 15:00 hours till 23:00 hours.
The 3rd shift went from 23:00 hours till 07:00 hours.
Once every 10 days you got a day off.
The sabotage by the prisoners of war mostly consisted of making the drills blunt and putting slate underneath in the carts.
The food was bad. Rice with sogumuno, which are salted vegetables.
Some radish with it and in the evening a bun, a sort of French roll plus tea.
You ate from a food-bowl, a binto.
Camp 6: the life
The amusement in the summer existed mostly of forming small clubs of people with all sorts of interests.
Everybody learned something from each other and taught something to each other.
In the winter you mostly went to sleep immediately because of the cold.
A large part of the prisoners of war had no interests anymore and declined in vitality very much.
My father mostly kept company with an Australian, called “pop” which is an Australian corruption of the English word “dad”.
He was about 45 years old and had 2 older daughters and in Australia he was a sheep-farmer.
My father had been, during his captivity, 2 times outside the camp into the woods.
One time to the sports-grounds.
And one time to go fishing.
That they did with their bamboo shovels from the coalmine naked in a puddle in a swamp.
The captivity in Japan was in fact the existence of a living dead. There was little to eat, much beating and it was monotonous. Those people who couldn’t stand it literally died.
Those people who were and stayed strong of mind survived.
That’s why it was important to keep yourself mentally busy. They visited each other often.
Learned from each other. Corporally everybody was in bad condition.
The diseases like beriberi and dysentery laid awaiting constantly. You had to watch out for pneumonia. They were walking skeletons.
The difference became clear when by the end of 1944 people from Burma arrived.
The Burma-railway was finished by then. Those people were better fed and looked better.
Sexuality was not thought of. Homosexuality he did not see. Women had no attraction.
They were underfed people. Maybe because of the underfeeding there was no need for sex. Sometimes there were life-shows with transvestites.
The only obsession of the prisoners of war was food.
The Japanese military
The Japanese soldiers were stationed outside the miners-camp.
The Japanese military guard existed of some 30 to 40 men who were on duty within the camp.
They patrolled around the barracks and sat above in the watchtowers around the camp.
There were about 6 to 8 watchtowers manned by Japanese soldiers with machine-guns.
Escaping was reasonably easy. Some Australians did try it.
But they were clubbed to death by the local Japanese population and brought back into the camp horizontally. The camp commander Suematsu lived in a house within the camp.
Everyday they saw him. It was a somewhat elder officer of about 50 years old.
A small blunt man, fairly corpulent and without moustache.
The communication with the camp-commander always went via the officers.
After the war, Suematsu, his commander Sugasawa and one guard were executed by hanging.
Among the prisoners of war there were some officers.
There were 2 or 3 medical doctors, one Dutch and one South-African.
There were 2 captains, a few lieutenants and a reserve officer cadet.
The officers did not work and were exempted from labour.
For two-and-a-half year they did nothing.
They were responsible for the state of affairs within the camp. The ordinary soldiers approved of that. The military order remained maintained despite of the grown comradery.
The area was a sloping hilly area.
There were many pine-trees. The seasonal difference was very noticeable.
In the autumn and the spring there were very hard strong winds.
In October came the hailstorms and with Christmas everything was white of the snow.
The temperatures dropped to minus 10 degrees Celsius, but the chill factor was not very cold because there was not so much wind.
The sight of the bamboo in the winter was also very strange to see. This went on till March.
Then came the spring-storms with violent showers of rain.
In April it became better and May was the best month.
Then everything was in blossom and especially the sight of the cherry blossoms against the mountain slopes was a nice sight. The months June, July and August were the warmest months with temperatures up to plus 30 to plus 40 degrees Celsius.
The rice-growing took place in the summer.
The Japanese population
The Japanese were people with mediaeval concepts but with
Among the prisoners of war were 2 men who spoke Japanese but had not told that.
They followed the course of the war from the Japanese newspapers they got hold of.
The most Japanese themselves said to be against the war too.
The war was not good. In former years they had everything they said.
To die for the emperor and the like was unusual for the common Japanese civilian.
More Japanese said this. But you had to be careful to whom you said what.
After the war the Japanese were submissive and polite.
The right of the strongest mattered to them.
My father has gone through 2 winters there.
The winter of 1943 to 1944.
And the winter of 1944 to 1945.
He has worked in the coalmines from March 1943 till August 1945.
About 30 months, thus two-and-a-half years.
Within the camp nobody knew about the atom-bombs. The island of Okinawa fell a couple of months before the atom-bomb. Around the camp machine-guns and cannons were visibly aimed at the camp. Long pits were dug alongside the mountainside. Clearly meant as graves. They had laid down a route to escape through the sewers. They wanted to try that. The last weeks there were very many air raids. They lied close to an airfield. Sometimes more than 50 or 60 airplanes flew over. American B29, B24 bombers, P51 fighter-planes.
In the month of August 1945 there were bombardments everyday.
In the beginning they looked at it but later not anymore.
In the evening of 14th of August 1945 my father came out of the afternoon-shift out of the mine.
In the sky flew a B29 bomber caught in the Japanese searchlights.
But not a shot was fired.
The next day, the 15th of August 1945, my father was dressed to go to the mine.
At 13:00 hours in the afternoon they had to line up.
They stood there surely for about 15 minutes.
Then came the camp-commander Suematsu and said: “Go”.
They went away, to the shadow.
They were already apathetic, they were exhausted, obeyed.
They didn’t make any unnecessary movements and were at the end of their strengths.
They must have sat there surely for one-and-a-half hour.
Then my father walked to the barracks to find Richard Sleeuw, air-force lieutenant.
He found him and asked him what was going on.
Sleeuw said to my father: “Congratulations, you are the first to hear it, it is peace”.
My father went back to the men and said: “It is peace”.
Nobody believed him except for one boy.
He went completely mad.
Another case was an Australian who had simulated for an entire year long that he couldn’t walk anymore.
After the message of my father he just stood up and walked around.
They just remained in the camp and had to wait till the Americans came.
They started negotiations with the Japanese camp-commander.
The guard was taken over.
They took over the Japanese rifles.
After approximately one week there came messages about food-droppings.
They had to paint P.W. on top of the roofs.
Then the food-droppings came and the drums fell straight through the roofs of the barracks.
Then they made, as good as possible, an arrow outside the camp with parachutes .
The drums of the food-droppings contained a lot of food.
Rations, cigarettes, chocolate, but also clothing, blankets and medicines.
After about 3 weeks the food-droppings stopped.
The local Japanese population was molested by vindictive prisoners of war.
A camp-police was instituted.
They got to wear a red ribbon.
They had to inform at the local population and got the assignment to patrol.
The population was taken in protection.
After the Americans came there was determined who had been bad.
There were a lot of Japanese soldiers among those and also people from the local population like the ones who worked in the mines as foremen and supervisors.
It was decided that one day was taken out for revenge. It was a sort of tribunal.
Defendants were openly accused but were allowed to defend themselves.
Punishments were thought of but in such a way that nobody’s life was taken.
They let them dig holes, deep holes and made them carry the sand far away.
It was about exhausting them, totally exhausting them. They made them carry yoke and barrels. They made them empty latrines.
They had to empty them in pits on higher terrain and when they spilled it they fell into it.
It was a mess, a stench, a real mess. Around it there stood the troops of prisoners of war, yelling and screaming. Then they gave them soap and clean clothes and chased them into the bath.
On a trip through Japan
A week or 2 after the Japanese camp-commander had told them : “Go”, the autumn came.
It was surely the beginning of September 1945.
My father decided to go out for some investigation together with some friends.
They went out from the camp on a trip through Japan. By trains, trams, motor-busses.
They went to Moji, to Hakata, to Tokyo. They felt they owned Japan.
They sometimes paid with cigarettes, that was good merchandise then.
Even in the hotels they paid with cigarettes. During his captivity my father had already been in Hakata before. He had to come along as a bearer during forage.
He had then seen Hakata as a city with big modern buildings.
Buildings with storeys in European styles of buildings. Made of wood and plastered white.
There were no cars then but only military vehicles. He had seen trains and electric trams.
Electricity was everywhere, even in the mountain villages and in the mines.
After the liberation he came again in Hakata and the entire city was gone, completely bombarded flat.
Till the sea the city was entirely gone. Only at the edge of the city there were houses.
And the steel-factories at Moji were only still pieces of distorted twisted steel.
Also Tokyo was very much bombarded.
More than a month after the liberation, nobody was allowed to go out of the camp anymore.
There was said that the men had to leave soon and that they would be evacuated to the south. They would be brought to Nagasaki by train, what still was almost a day travelling.
The local railroad ran close next to the camp “Camp 6”
In the morning around 10 or 11 o’clock they left by train.
About between 1000 to 1500 men together in the whole train.
It was September 1945 and the autumn storms started to arrive.
There was rain and a stormy wind when they left.
Two-and-a-half year of his life working and toiling in the coalmines for the Japanese enemy, my father left behind him on that day.
At the moment that everyone sat in the train the eating-hall of the camp collapsed.
The train winded itself along villages and cities and factories where everything was literally bombarded flat.It were the visible traces of the war which my father then also saw.
Towards the end of the afternoon they rode into Nagasaki.
It was nice weather there. The city was situated in a valley.
Everybody was surprised.
It was as if a giant hand had pushed up on the city and had flattened it.
There were no traces of fire and no bomb craters visible.
The Americans said, it was the effect of the atom-bomb. Actually it was a plutonium bomb.
Only later they saw victims.
Nagasaki was built in a large valley, a sort of bowl and till up in the mountains there was built.
Approximately in the centre of the valley the bomb fell.
They went from the north of the city towards the harbour valley and to the harbour complex. They were allowed there to look around in the neighbourhood but were not allowed very far off because of the effects of radiation and burning in.
They were told, that there was danger of radiation effects but nobody knew what kind of effects. They then have seen the burns of people who had survived.
They saw for the first time white women, American nurses. They gaped at them.
They were divided in small groups and had to strip. Their clothes had to go and they were allowed only to take souvenirs. They had to take a shower and were des-infected with among others DDT. From the showers they were given other clothes.
They got food, among others white-bread and had to wait.
The aircraft carrier Biloxi
In small groups they were brought to the warships that laid awaiting in the harbour.
My father really wanted to go to a battleship but together with his group he was brought to the American aircraft carrier the Biloxi, of the US Navy.
There they were received by an American officer.
It was a sympathetic man.
There were allotted their sleeping-place and had to remember the number and got the key of their locker.They had to sleep in turn and go on watch.
My father has given that American all his Japanese souvenirs.
He told him that to him it were only bad memories.
The journey back.
Towards the evening it was and they were on the US Biloxi.
It was a big aircraft carrier with at least 4 or 5 decks.
Towards the morning the Biloxi departed from Nagasaki in the direction of Okinawa.
The journey lasted about 3 days
At Okinawa they were disembarked.
The island first had 3 towns but of those no stone was left anymore.
The Americans had circled around and shot at the island for a month.
They were sheltered in a camp of tents, a sort of temporary stay camp.They slept in big green tents with about 20 men per tent.There stood hundreds of those tents in that camp.
No Americans slept there, they slept somewhere else.They had to remain inside the camp and were not allowed to go out into the mountains because there were still Japanese there.
Now and then airplanes flew over to bombard the Japanese in the mountains.
They got 3 meals a day to eat. Midday’s there was a hot meal and in the evening they ate bread. There were open-air movie-theatres and a theatre and my father saw Danny Kaye and other artists. After about 2 days they were told that they would be flown to Manila on the Philippines with a B24. They would then be woken up at 4 o’clock in the morning and brought to one of the airfields. My father has stayed there for about a week.
Everyday a team of them would leave. Like that thousands of men were brought over from Nagasaki to Okinawa and from there again further to Manila by shuttle service.
They called it “hitchhiking”.
The Americans had constructed roads and airfields on Okinawa very fast.
6 lane roads that were not asphalted but impregnated with crude oil and hardened with help of bulldozers. The Americans had brought there a lot of heavy equipment. There were several airfields with maybe a thousand B29, B24 bombers and a thousand fighter-planes.
In the evening you saw nothing else but the lights of the ships and it looked just like a world-city. There was a fleet of maybe more than a thousand ships among which aircraft carriers. My father did not see Japanese in Okinawa.
One morning he left together with others.
They were awoken at 4 o’clock in the morning and except for their clothes and some personal possessions they were not allowed to take anything with them.
They were brought in trucks to a large airfield at the edge of the sea.
They went in small groups of about 20 men into the airplanes.
They were not allowed to come close to the bomb-hatch and not at the front or the rear of the plane.
They got a parachute and it was explained to them how the parachute worked.
This in case they were to be shot at and they had to jump out of the airplane.
The sun rose at 6 o’clock in the morning at Okinawa and the weather was nice.
It was the latter part of the summer.
The departure was at 8 o’clock in the morning.
My father remembered the 2 dome-shaped windows and the stairs to the rear gunner.
The journey went by airplane to Leyte, the island from where general MacArthur had left before the war with the message: “I shall return”.
The flight took about 6 hours.
In the afternoon they arrived at Leyte.
They landed on a military airfield.
It was very warm there.
From Leyte they would be flown to Manila in yet smaller groups with smaller aircrafts.
The names were noted there and my father was left behind there with 4 others.
They went to sleep underneath a tree .
About 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon they got up.
They went to the Americans to ask if they still were going to Manila.
Then they were told: “No planes, wait till tomorrow”.
In trucks they were driven to a flyers camp some kilometres further on.
It was diner time when they arrived.
That night they slept in tents in the flyers camp.
Early the next morning they were flown with a small airplane, a DC-3, from the military airfield at Leyte to Manila.
About 20 km outside of Manila there were at that time 2 military airfields.
My father was brought to Clarksfield.
The camp-commander there made speeches.
It boiled down to this that the men had to be good towards the Filipino population.
They stayed there till the end of November. Acclimatizing was no problem.
They were no longer underfed. Still now the diseases appeared.
My father met his cousin in Manila who turned out to sleep in the same camp.
One day my father went to the Red Cross post because he did not feel well.
He turned out to have 40 degrees Celsius fever and was completely examined by the doctor. He was packed in ice-compresses and brought to the hospital at Manila by ambulance. It was evening in Manila when he arrived there.
He got an injection from a nurse and had to go and sleep.
Back to the Netherlands-Indies
At Manila my father was re-assigned to the KNIL.
By the end of November 1945 my father was again shipped to the Netherlands-Indies.
He was brought on board of an English aircraft carrier with the others.
It was the HMS Implacable.
The only thing he remembered of that, was that it was called the biggest aircraft carrier in the world and it was called the “Invincible” by the English.
Within 3 days they sailed from Manila to the city of Balikpapan on the island of Borneo in the Netherlands-Indies..
The aircraft carrier was so big that it couldn’t land in the bay.
The men were brought ashore in small boats .
That took the whole day.
My father remembered that on one side there were barren hills and at the shore where the city had been there was an emptiness.
The city was completely gone. The men had to wait for the KNIL commander colonel Drost.
Later that day they were driven in trucks further to the interior.
There was no promised camp of tents. The whole group spread out to find a sleeping-place somewhere. My father found , somewhere on a hill, a plank-bridge with a roof above it and went to sleep there with some other men.
There were about a few thousand men in total who fell under the guidance of colonel Drost .The Engineers were already present and within a couple of days tents were erected.
There was an American army camp on the other side of the city.
From those allies the Engineers got the materials.
The KNIL had to take care of the food themselves. The local population lived in kampong-houses. The people did flee away.
Till so far the story of my father.
More than this he has never told me.
I have written this down when I was a young man.
Because my father never talked about his time during the war I had asked him to do so.
But further than this it has come.
What happened after the war I only know from others.
In short it boils down to this.
After the war my father never again found his wife back.
She had disappeared from the face of the earth.
After the war in the Netherlands-Indies Sukarno and Hatta started a fight for independence from the Netherlands.
My father had lost everything he had before the war. He stayed in military service in the KNIL after the war until 1950.
In 1950 the KNILL was dissolved as the Dutch were to give the Netherlands-Indies back to the Indonesians.
Sukarno was to become head of the new state.
In 1950 he was transferred to Dutch colony of Netherlands New-Guinea and was encamped in a marines camp just outside the city of Hollandia.
Hollandia was at that time the capital of the former Netherlands New-Guinea.
After a year he left the army and worked in service of the governor of New-Guinea mister Waardenburg for a while.
After that he went into civil service at the PTT (Post,Telegraph & Telephone services) at Hollandia.
He met a new wife and married her.
She was a full-blooded Asian woman.
She also had already been married a previous time.
She also had been in an internment camp during the war and had seen her father been decapitated in front of her eyes by the Japanese.
She also knew the sufferings and the pain of the war years.
She also went from the Netherlands-Indies to the Netherlands New-Guinea to try to build up something new in a new place.
At the beginning of the nineteen-sixties in the previous century, infiltrations by Indonesian commandoes into New-Guinea began, because Indonesia wanted to annex New-Guinea.
Because of the fights my father took his family to Holland on a long leave of absence.
In Holland he received a letter that he had to stay in Holland, because New-Guinea was handed over to Indonesia.
Again he lost his home and goods.
In Holland he started all over again.
Like for a couple of times before in his life, he had to start all over again from the bottom and with nothing anymore.
He stayed and lived in Holland with his family untill his death in the early nineties of the Twentieth Century.
What is the drift of this whole story?
It is a story like it has already happened countless times and has been told countless times.
So many people have, just like my father went trough all that, experienced comparable experiences of life.
And after the Second World war it has not become much better.
In almost every part of the world war has started and people are killed or ill-treated and tortured or forced to slavery.
In Korea, in Vietnam, in the Middle-East, in many African countries, in South-American countries, in Yugoslavia.
Everywhere people have been cruelly murdered and ill-treated and exploited and humiliated and trampled upon.
In many countries people have died as an effect of a war.
In many countries people have been made slaves by cruel oppressors and rulers.
Wars have always existed.
It are sometimes the people who did things which became motive to start a war.
It were sometimes people who were in power and found they should conquer other nations by means of force.
For what benefit?
For what reason?
Who will tell?
Till this day children are born who come into a world in which in many parts of the world there is war and misery.
And now it is a world, in which also again terrorism has become a part of life.
It is easy to read books, watch video’s, gather information about all those wars and cruelties.
You can look at the pictures in a book, you can take in the images of the video’s or movies.
You can follow the news on the television.
But it is not the same like when you go through it yourself personally.
Nobody can feel what my father felt when he fought against the Japanese.
The stench of the dead.
The heat in the bush through which he toiled.
The hunger he felt in the camps.
The dusty shafts and the heavy labour in the coalmines in Kyushu.
Day in day out having to undergo the humiliations by other people, who found that they had the right to rule and oppress him.
To decide whether he was allowed to live or die.
Whether he was allowed to eat and drink.
Whether he was allowed to live.
The words that he told me, were taken all together, quite a story.
But that story was only a story, to me and to the ones who will read this, it are just the sad experiences of a prisoner of war in the Second World War, long ago and far away.
But it is what you wish to learn from what you experience, what then turns you into somebody with something much more, than only the bad memories from a period out of your life, about which you really never want to talk about anymore.
Which you’d rather banish from your mind.
But that does not really work.
That is why you just do not talk about it.
Because talking about it means, that you are confronted with it again.
My father has never expressed a hatred towards the Japanese.
If he had it, he has never shown it.
My mother refused till the day she died in the year 2008, everything that came from Japan or what has been made by Japanese.
She would never wear a Japanese watch or sit in a Japanese car.
The children of POW’s
Meeting in Deventer, The Netherlands.
On the 25th of October 2008, four sons of POW’s met at the Praamstra Bookstore in Deventer in The Netherlands in honour of the publication of the book “Eyewitness” , edited by the brothers Jan and Peter Verstraaten. The book is written about their father Ton Verstraaten, who was a prisoner of war in the Netherlands-Indies and Japan from 1942 till 1945 during World War . Ton Verstraaten spent 3 years as a POW doing forced labour in the coalmines at Kyushu in Japan. Our fathers were imprisoned in the same POW camp. That was Fukuoka Camp No. 6 at Orio on the island of Kyushu in Japan. We still meet on a regular basis.
He never talked about and I had to drag some stories out of him many years ago.
Still many years later I met other sons whose fathers also worked the coalmines at Kyushu in the same period.
We meet on a regular basis at the military complex called Bronbeek at Arnhem, The Netherlands.
That is also a military museum.
This song is also dedicated to those sons and their fathers and to all other POW’s from all over the world in past and recent and future times and to their wives, sons, daughters and relatives.
Written by Ron Lindeman October 2010
Copyright Ron Lindeman.
Japanese translation by Ryoko Nakazawa
GUEST TEACHER FOR GUEST TEACHER’S FOUNDATION WW II WORKGROUP SOUTH EAST ASIA
MARCH 6, 2020
Today March 3rd, 2020 I started my first lessons as a guest teacher before the highest classes of the elementary school The Lettertuin in Almere.
It was very nice to experience and do.
Fortunately the kids were very interested in the subject matter.
I give these lessons as a guest teacher working for the Guest Teacher’s Foundation WW II Workgroup South East Asia.
It is about the pre-war period until the early sixties of the previous century in the South East Asian region.
It’s not just a boring lecture but it’s brought in a lively sense to catch and keep the attention of the children.
Wednesday June 10, 2020. After a 3 month lockdown period, when schools were closed, today was the first lecture I gave as a guest teacher of the Guest Teachers Foundations World War II Workgroup South East Asia for a group of pupils, who are in the 8th class of a public primary school called the OBS De Driemaster in the city of Lelystad. It was nice to do and the kids were paying attention. That’s also important! LOL
Some other pictures of lectures I gave as a guest teacher of the Guest Teachers Foundations World War II Workgroup South East Asia for a group of pupils at different elementary schools.