This story covers my early childhood years whilst living in the Netherlands East Indies. It recounts the happy and care-free years prior to the second world war and the love and care bestowed on us by my parents.
The Fall of Singapore followed by the Bombing of Padang, Sumatra, resulted in my family having to part from my father and flee through the jungle of Sumatra to its most southern point. From here we caught the last boat to Java whilst my father, a Dutch Captain of a KPM ship, joined the other Allied ships. Where did these ships go? What was their fate? What did they do? Just as well we did not know that my father's ship was sunk in the Bay of Bengal! Then his period in Townsville, Australia, followed by joining other Dutch merchant seamen sailing in the dangerous waters around New Guinea as part of the Allied fleet. The bravery of these sailors, as recorded in Captain Maan's memoirs, was not recognised by many Australians. Yet for those who struggled across the Kokoda track from Port Moresby, these ships were essential in transporting tanks and supplies to the other side of Papua New Guinea... to Milne Bay, Oro Bay and Buna.
The Japanese caught up with my mother and her four children in Java, and from there we were interned in concentration camps. Life in Camp Kareës was hard; and it was here that boys of 10 and over were taken from their mothers ... for many it was the last they saw of their families. Life was even worse in Tjideng under Captain Sonei's rule where many died from starvation, including my mother, and others were brutally punished for committing the slightest offences. At the end of the war on 15 August 1945, many POW's and civilian internees were still confined to the camps until liberated by Allied troops which for us, was not until after the British arrived about the middle of September 1945.
While many people around the world celebrated the end of
the war, we ... who had survived all the above, were now at risk of
being killed as we were thrust into another war - The Indonesian
Revolution. At that time, Dutch ships in Australian ports were
black-banned by the Australian wharf labourers, thereby diminishing
assistance to provide us with much needed supplies of food, medicines
and a means of leaving the country!
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