The years after World War Two

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Farewell beautiful Indonesia

My mother received a very sad letter from our aunt Miep, she wrote from Batavia, today Jakarta. My dearest uncle Pierre died in December 1944 in the ex Kempeitai prison at Jakarta. My aunt was going from Jakarta by boat to Holland to her two children, my cousins Tonny and Piet. This was really very bad news, my uncle Pierre, was my father's only brother and now all of a sudden we learn that our ever cheerful uncle died in a Kempeitai prison.

The second bad news was that we had to leave Semarang, and even worse we had to leave Indonesia, it was slowly beginning to become very dangerous for us, the British soldiers could no longer protect us.

My mother didn't receive any news about my father from the police in Semarang, we were very worried, because now that we had to leave the country, how would we ever find each other back again?

On the 28th December 1945 we, 353 Dutch evacuees, had to leave the town Semarang and were transported to the ship the Princess Beatrix waiting for us in the harbour from Semarang. We all had to control our own luggage and so my mother found out that two of our cabin-trunks were stolen, she burst out in tears when she saw the third one falling in the sea. The trunk was quickly taken out of the water and brought aboard but of course everything inside was soaking wet. We really had a lot of bad luck.

We had to step in little boats that would bring us to the Princess Beatrix where we were welcomed by a British crew. Our cabin-trunk was brought to a hold of the ship and we, the 353 evacuees, had to go to their hammocks. We had to help Jansje because she was too small to get on the hammock all by her self, the poor girl was really dead tired.. Henny went upstairs with her new friend Wil, and my mother started unpacking a little and then she too fell asleep.

When I heard the engines starting I also went upstairs. Very slowly the Princess Beatrix left the harbour and just as slowly I began to realize that we were leaving the country where I grew up, the country I loved so much. We were going to Ceylon, today Sri Lanka, and from there to Holland.

We left my father behind in Malang, it was, so we were told far too dangerous for us to wait for him, but maybe he was on his way looking for us. I felt completely empty, nothing mattered anymore, I just stared at all the people on the quay busy working, talking and laughing. Someone called my name, I turned around, someone said that I had to go downstairs, my mother had started bleeding badly, she all of a sudden had her menstruation back. During the war, all women and young girls had stopped menstruating, this was because of the lack of enough and good food. Nature had protected us in her own ways. Thank goodness a British nurse came to help my mother so she was in good hands, but I felt so deeply sorry for my mother, she had gone already through so much misery. I hold her hand for a while and then I walked upstairs again.

Luckily I could still see the coast from the island Java, but now the ship was going much faster than in the beginning. The sea wind blow my hair in all directions and I thought how my father would have loved standing here, watching this sea he had loved so much. Yes I could understand why my father had always longed for the time when he worked as a ship engineer travelling over the Java sea, the Indian Ocean and other seas on board of the KPM ships, it must have been a wonderful time for him.

The coast of Java slowly sunk beneath the horizon; “Farewell beautiful Indonesia”.
The Princess Beatrix

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