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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Carla and Bert in Canada.Oct.4-Oct.18 2011

Carla and Bert arrived in Canada on the 4th of October to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. They stayed with us for two weeks, and we had such a great time. Lots of laughter! The weather was beautiful sunshine for two weeks. The first week we just relaxed and wandered around lake Ontario and had lunch on one of the many outdoor terraces on the Lakeshore.We just enjoyed the weather and their company.It was nice to be able to sit in the backyard and enjoy the fall. We enjoyed a couple of barbecues at night, lucky to be able to do at this time of the year.
A beautiful evening

enjoying a stroll along the blvd

Skyway bridge Burlington Ontario
clear water

View of Lake Ontario. in the distance Niagara Falls
We discovered a memorial plaque at the lake. I have to find out what it is all about.
Twin Cities
Just checked and found out that on May 6 2005 the city of Burlington signed an official twinning agreement in Apeldoorn. Burlington is a twin sister of Apeldoorn.

Two weeks ago my daughter and I were driving along on the roads in Burlington and were discussing these ridiculous bicycle paths.We agreed that this is very dangerous the way they have drawn lines on these busy roads. We said Burlington should have gone to the Netherlands to see how it is done there. Big was my surprise when I found out that a Dutch bike traffic engineer Mr. Wim Mulder -completed an update to their Cycling Master Plan but with a Dutch twist- their twin City Apeldoorn, the Netherlands - assisted in defining improvements to get more people cycling.We now have cycling paths through the whole city of Burlington. Which I personal find very dangerous. These cycling paths have taken over a part of the motorists lanes. My daughter and I agree that this is creating a very dangerous situation for motorists.We have enough space on the side of the roads where a pedestrian path is and a green space between the road and the pedestrian path. Why did they not construct the cycle path on that space. The way it is now, a cyclist is right on the road. This is not the way it is in the Netherlands. I cannot understand that this Mr. Wim Mulder designed it that way.It is ridiculous!.What I have seen lately, is that nobody is using these bicycle paths.I see bicyclist using the pedestrian paths and I do not blame them.

Anyway this is what this plaque means. Burlington has a twin sister in the Netherlands, so we can share idea's with each other.

I got side tracked again, which happens often lately. I start to do a story and then something else comes up. But I thought this was interesting so I had to put it on my blog. I will continue with the stay from my sister and brother in law here in Canada. As I said we had a great time while they were here.We went to Whitby were our son Dan lives and had Thanksgiving dinner at their house. Andrea our daughter in law made a lovely dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner
7 months??? How many are in there Andrea??
Let's start dinner!

This says it all!
After dinner we drove back to Burlington, all a few pounds heavier!

The following day we had cocktail hour at Monique and Wayne's house.Another beautiful day with lots of sunshine., and we sitting outside in the garden.We did not have to drive far, because they live right up the road from us.So we all had a couple of drinks and Monique made some lovely hors d'oeuvres.
Happy hour
Enjoying October weather

I think we all had a little too much to drink. So we went home and I have no idea what we eat after that. But we have a picture, that proves that we eat something. It was getting a little cooler and we eat in the sun room. What.....I can not remember.

What the heck is on our plate?
We decided that we would go to Niagara Falls and stay the night.So I booked a room in the Hilton Hotel overlooking the Falls. On the day we left I decided I would Google the Hilton and see exactly where we had to go. Big surprise, we were booked in a hotel 20 minutes from the falls. How was that possible. After numerous phone calls asking what the heck was going on and why in the heck were we not in the Hilton overlooking the Falls, we finally left around 2.30 pm in the afternoon. We arrived at the Hilton, of course very skeptical, because we had no confirmation. They had told us that the computers were down. So we said to the person on the phone that we were leaving and no matter what there better be a room for us at the Hilton overlooking the falls.On arrival Carla and I went to the reception and to our surprise they indeed had two rooms for us on the 6th floor overlooking the falls. So there we went up to the 6th floor and opened the door from Carla and Bert room,...a huge surprise....a whole apartment with two bedrooms, a kitchen a jacuzzi and.....overlooking the Falls. Now we were curious what our room would look like, so we went next door....another surprise.... same apartment with all the luxury what you could think off. I said to Carla we better go down to the reception and ask if this was correct. We did not like to end up with a huge bill.Off we went, downstairs. They told us because they had made a mistake this was what they liked to do to make up. Well of course we said that we really appreciated this. When we arrived upstairs we told the guys and had a drink, then I looked at the package we received and noticed that we did not get the special offer: the free drinks at the bar and the $75.00 voucher for dinner and the $10.00 discount for breakfast . So down stairs to the lobby we went again, and I said well it is nice from you that we get such nice rooms but you did not give us the vouchers. Big surprise again, they said sorry and handed us all the vouchers. We could not believe it. What a good time we had.We had a lovely dinner at the Hilton restaurant on top of the Hotel overlooking the Niagara Falls.

The next day we went on the tall Tower and made some nice pictures, overlooking the Falls and the USA. We had lunch and late afternoon we drove back to Burlington. This was a nice treat. Here some pictures we took, from the view from our window.

All lit up at night
Dinner with a view
View from our room in the morning
After our breakfast we walked to the tower and took the outside lift and went to the top. What a view!

This picture was taken from the Skylon Tower
The Rainbow bridge to America. in the background on the right the Hilton Hotel

The Maid of the Mist

We had a great time. We have been to Niagara Falls so many times, but it still impresses us, it is one of the most beautiful sites in the world.

All in all we had a fantastic two weeks with Carla and Bert.Hope they come to visit us again very soon! We miss you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seventy years ago: December 7.1941

70 years ago  Japan without provocation, attacked the US fleet from the United States of America.The Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A surprise attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.A very sneaky attack. It was December 7 1941.

On December 6th 1941 US. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan Hirohito, for Peace.....There was no reply...The next day they knew why.

The next day December 7 1941 Japan destroys the US  fleet. A very surprised and very sneaky attack.
Bombs falling in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Japan knew it could not defeat the Americans in a conventional war, lacking as it did sufficient manpower and raw materials(oil) By destroying the US fleet all at once as war began, the Japanese were gambling that they would be able to complete their Asian conquests before the Americans could recover.

Very sneaky, indeed, and that's how we (the Dutch people in the Dutch East Indies) got to know the Japanese Army .On December 8 1941 the Netherlands declared war to Japan.
We (my parents and I, I was just born in June of that same year), lived in Bandung.My father was stationed in the Dutch East Indies, with the KNIL. Now we were at War. World War 2 in Asia.It was a nasty war, with the Army from Japan trained as killers.

The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS Oklahoma.

Two attacking Japanese planes can be seen on the picture above. One over the USS Neosho and one over the Naval Yard. Two thousand four hundred and two Americans were killed and one thousand two hundred and eighty two wounded.

It was a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the Americans entry into World War II in both the Pacific and Europe. Germany and Italy declared war on the US. on December 11, 1941, which was reciprocated by the US the same day.

Today we will remember:

Seven American POWs held by the Japanese in World War II speak at Temple University, Japan Campus, in Tokyo last month.

POWs, young expats struggle to reconcile Japan of then,
by Bronwyn Duke
"It cost three cigarettes if you wanted someone to break your arm for you. So you could have a few days off." The shaky voice of an American POW from a World War II Japanese internment camp.

The audience listed with rapt attention, hoping to know, hoping to reconcile the Japan of then with the Japan of now. These young Americans were looking for the pieces of the puzzle that linked the everyday life they enjoyed in modern Tokyo- the bars, the friendships, the opportunity to work and study-with the harshness of these camps.The starvation. The forced labor. The outright cruelty.

Nobody mentioned these things, an awkward attempt to protect the POWs who had made this emotional trip back to the place of their internment, or a desire not to know. Not to rehash. Not to dampen the enthusiasm of today.

A young American student helped by running the single microphone between the POWs. She gave it to another man who cackled into it:"I tried to break my foot under a tramcar, but I was wearing those darn army-issue steal-toe boots. I still managed to get a couple of days off."Then, respectfully,"Darn well-made those British shoes were."

A chuckle of relief from the audience, a lighthearted joke to hide the real question on everybody's mind: Just how bad was the work that you would intentionally injure yourself to get a few days off? Nobody asked.

At the start of the night, the compere had opened the floor to questions from the audience, which consisted of roughly 100 young Americans studying in Japan, with a smattering of older Japanese men and women throughout. The compere had stood, in a moment of discomfort, as the audience looked down at their feet, bereft of questions.

What did you ask a panel of POWs? All those things that everybody wanted to know but there were no social norms for asking. Questions that had laid buried for years, questions that politeness taught you it was better not to ask.

"Why do you do these tours?" somebody finally asked." What do you get out of it?" The first POW muttered something about how it was interesting to come back and see this place after so long.A standard answer, as if that was what he thought people expected to hear.

The next guy stretched out his arm, feeble but determined. "It's so I can Talk." His voice rose with passion. "For 70 years we have been quiet, keeping all this inside. When we returned to America after the war, they told us,'Go and enjoy your lives,get married, have children, get a job. And never, never talk about the things you have seen.' So we did. And it's all still inside, in our chests. Now it's time to get it out, to give ourselves some relief before we die."

"What was it like to settle back home?" asked someone else in the audience, everyone waving their hands now with questions they thought might be appropriate to ask.

The panel wriggled a bit at this question. So much to say, so many years and years of difficulties. Misunderstandings. Silence when there should have been opportunities to speak.

"Everybody seemed so caught up worrying about insignificant little things. We didn't fit in. Couldn't fit in. They couldn't understand us and we couldn't understand them."

One of the men, who gave an impression of physical strength despite his advanced age, took the microphone." I went to the doctor after I got back. I"d had some bad stomachaches and figured I had worms, which I told the doctor. Well, he was annoyed and asked me where I got my degree. I didn't want to argue, but figured that through certain life experiences I was pretty sure of my diagnosis, so to prove it I coughed one up for him." There was a twinkle in his eyes as he related this anecdote, no doubt with the disgusted expression on the suburban doctor's face still etched in his memory.

Another young American stood to ask his question. He was young, handsome, not much older than these men had been when captured, by the Japanese. With great respect he began a passionate speech:" I, we, are all extremely grateful to you and to all that you suffered for us, for subsequent generations. As a serviceman, I can't imagine the hardships you went through, even on your return home. We, today's servicemen, have benefited from the things we learned from your generation, from the health services that have been established, for both physical and mental care."
After a lengthy expressions of gratitude, he went on to ask them about any benefits they received.

"I didn't know about compensation or anything until about five years ago," says one of the old men, a relic of a generation when suffering was truly done in silence.

"I work for Veterans Affairs," said another. "I tell those young soldiers these days to get everything they can. Write down every injury. They say to me,'Oh, but someone else might need it more than me,' and I tell them they're stupid. Who deserves it more, you and your wife and kids, or some other guy? In the camps, I starved other prisoners to death by trading their food for cigarettes. They died of hunger, smoking their cigarettes. But I lived. I'm not proud of that fact, but I'm alive."The POW was adamant, young eyes in his aged face challenging the audience to argue otherwise, challenging them to question the lengths they themselves would have gone to to survive.

Someone else wanted to know how they managed to live while seeing so many people around them die."Of course we felt guilty," a POW said, then displaying again that unwavering desire to live, the strength of mind that had kept them alive into their 80s and 90s:" It's better to be alive with survivor's guilt than dead." Firm in his mind.

The POWs told a few sort tales of Japanese kindness at the audience's request, for the young people that wanted to prove that this was the same Japan. They told of food being smuggled in for them, of people who suffered beatings trying to help them. It's the officers, the officers, never the common folk, guilt heaped on those who are long gone.

One man used the word "Japs" and the eyebrows of the audience rose in silence, but who would dare to challenge this man? Who, in fact, had the right to tell him what he should call his oppressors? Having been brought up under Western propaganda where the "NIPS," the "Yellow Peril" were trying to take over the world, he may have considered his expression polite.

A girl told of her feelings of guilt when admitting her Japanese major to her friend's grandfather, a World War II veteran. It's the gap that embarrasses her- the Japanese enemy that is now her field of interest, her life, her second language. The audience all want to know the same thing:"What do you see here now, what do you think about being here now?" They want to hear tales of how nice everyone is, how different everything is, how the world is now such a better place. 

A POW wit dark sunglasses wrapped around his eyes grins at everyone. "Oh, it's wonderful. The ladies....." he murmurs, with a lechery defying his age. "The ladies are just so beautiful." The audience laughed and tried to bridge the gap that they felt via the blatant lust of a 90-year-old man- an effort that, no doubt for some, failed.

But the men have had their chance to speak. In relative freedom they have spoken to an audience, that, after nearly 70 long and silent years, was open and eager to hear what they had to say. And across the gap of years, of generations and worlds of differences, there has been a transfer of knowledge. An attempt to understand.

This event was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Temple University, Japan Campus, in Tokyo last month at which seven American WWII prisoners of war  spoke. 
My friend Elizabeth van Kampen commented on this article:
That is the right way to meet Japan. Tell the students what happened without being angry and bitter. That is how one will receive understanding.

However I can see that some of us can never forgive. One wrote in an article I read;' He has no forgiveness in his heart., how any man can so-ill-treat another human being is beyond my apprehension. They say that Time is a Healer, but over more then a century has passed and I still have no forgiveness in my heart.As I write, I can feel the hatred surging through my blood, even though I am not really a hateful man. Seeing our men coming back from the rail road tracks every night , left me with not one shred of forgiveness for those cruel and barbaric people."And may God grant that nothing like it ever plagues this Earth again.
This is my commend:
My mother was never able to forget, I do not know if she forgave. She never talked about the cruelty she and her sister had gone through, while they were in these Japanese concentration camps.My mother and her sister kept it for them selves. By accident I overheard them a couple of times. Not till later I came to understand that they were talking about themselves.As a 14 year old I always thought they were talking about a horror story, they had heard on the radio.The stories I heard are not to describe.It is hard to understand that my mother and her sister were so tortured by these Japanese men. ..........Thea        

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Understanding "Remembrance day"

To celebrate Remembrance day, one should first understand why we celebrate Remembrance day, and what  happened in the years past.

Do young people of today understand War, the meaning of being occupied, being tyrannized and do they understand the meaning of liberation of a Nation.

Do young people of today, have any idea which sacrifices were made?

For young people it's probably still very difficult to understand, but I hope when they get older, they too will understand the suffering, and the conflicts, which were battled, the lives which were offered, so we can live in Freedom!

Many people suffered in Europe under the occupancy of the Germans in World War 11. Not many people in the Netherlands know that their fellow countrymen in the Dutch East Indies were occupied in World War II by the Japanese.This too was World War 11, which started on December 7 1941, when Japan, without provocation bombed Pearl Harbor.The American fleet was destroyed and many died. The USA then declared War to Japan and the next day The Netherlands declared war to Japan. Thousands of Dutch people who lived in the Dutch East Indies suffered under the occupancy of the Japanese and were taken prison and put in Prison camps.They were tortured and worked to death.
This is the group of people which Holland has forgotten. In Dutch history books very little is written about this part Holland played in the former Dutch Indies. It was put aside, and nobody talked about it.
These former Dutch Indies were not Prisoners of War of the Germans, but they were Prisoners of War of  Japan.It is often forgotten that the Netherlands battled World War 11 in Asia too.

It is very important that history will be remembered, so that young people will understand that the sacrifices were not in vain.The peoples right to guaranty, which every democratic administration would like to insure.This was the aim and the effort of the conflict in World War11.

Please let  people always be aware of this, and particular the young generation.

A poem I dedicate to the women and children, who where taken to Moentilan and Banjoe-Biroe(Banyu-Biru)

Line up and hand-in all valuables!
Journey to Moentilan and Banjoebiroe (Banyu-Biru)

If you ever traveled by train to Banjoebiroe , you will always see
Something which you never ever can forget,
Before it is too late, maybe--
The whole world should know about.

Heavy armed guards and a long line of people,
Very skinny and in rags
Some are barefoot
Some with shoes, full of holes.

A machine gun, the barrel pointed down
Drives in front of the first row
From the guards sounds constantly
A scream!!!, a language we don't know.

Whoever trudged out of line
Just only one foot to the side,
Received a blow, left and right,
A kick, which made you not look back.

These were the women and children in camp Moentilan
Tortured, beat to jelly
Some murdered and some their spirit killed
They tried so hard  to stay alive.

As sheep, powerless, and mute
They try to bear this and to endure.
And nobody, nobody dares!!
To take a stand, to set them free.

Oh, see the choice of fatherland
In the hands of ruffians.
Whose heart only thinks of robbery,rape and destroy
And senseless torture,and bloodshed.

A journey to a camp in Banjoebiroe
These are your fellow-countrymen
As bandits walking to the train,
To be put behind barb-wire,
They call concentration camps.

The hour of redemption is not there,
But when it will come
Please remember what happened there!
And what they endured, day in, day out.!

Who will be the first one to strike out?
Who will have the right?
Hear me!!- However it is going to be done,
As long as a day of repay comes!
For the bloodshed from these martyrs.

I was very young then, only four years old, when we were taken by train to Banjoebiroe, but I will never forget the train rides, which are a dark shadow in my mind.For the longest time I was very scared of trains and didn't like to go on them.My mother often told me that I would kick and scream when we had to go on a tram or on a train, when we were living in Holland.I must have had very bad memories from these train rides.

The train

A train will always be a bad memory.A memory in my head full of people. Hot and sweaty, smell and darkness. Children crying, mothers screaming.For me it was something like being locked up in a dark hole. When I dream I still dream of trying to out run the train.These are the only dreams I have, I run on the railroad track and the train seems to get closer and closer  to try to swallow me.It is very scary.People always die in these trains in my dream. I must have seen a lot, but I was so young.I still do not like the sound of the train on the tracks.These sounds on the railroad tracks, seems to always take me to a bad place.The destiny; this camp in Moentilan and Banjoebiroe 10.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh so True!!! The Green thing.

This I received today from Elizabeth van Kampen from the Netherlands.

                                                                            OH SO TRUE!


At the checkout at the supermarket, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

our environment

it kills!
It destroys the planet!
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded,"That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right-- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop and beer bottles to the shop.They sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled and re-used. So it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we walked up stairs, because we didn't have lifts and escalators in every shop and office building. We walked to the local shops and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go to a supermarket.We bought fruit and vegetables loose, and washed them at home. We didn't have to throw away bins full of plastic, foam and paper packaging that need huge recycling plants fed by monster trucks all day, everyday.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind.We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts-- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.
we used solar power.
 But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Kids got hand-me-down (mostly hand made or hand knitted) clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing shipped from the other side of the planet.

But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then shops repaired funny things called spare parts- we didn't need to throw whole items away because a small part failed.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house--not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of  Lake Ontario.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power and hand clippers of the hedges.
push mover

We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a brightly lit, air conditioned health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity and then drink millions of bottles of that special water from those plastic bottles.

Pollution on the beaches

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

 We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a plastic cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new plastic pen, and we replaced blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole plastic razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electric point in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest fish & chip shop.


Funny how sometimes we forget things?

Yes, well, sometimes we are a little forgetful! I'm not sure how many of you noticed?.....but my pages and photos looked a little wonky for the last few days. I was so busy remembering all the stories to write about in my posts that I forgot to update my Java script! I know I am getting a little older but I thought my memory was still pretty good?!? However, I don't feel too bad as it seems I'm not the only one forgetting stuff. A friend of mine, the other day was making coffee and forgot to add the water to the machine. My daughter came to our house one time with only one eye done with makeup.....she had forgotten to do the other one! Or, you know when you go to another room to get something and you get there and can't remember what you came for? I get a lot of exercise at home going up and down the stairs not remembering  what the heck I was looking for! Anyway, I have pasted a sticky note on my computer reminding me to keep my Java script updated from now on. more thought on forgetfulness

 "I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness. The only ones who can forgive are dead; the living have no right to forget. "
Chaim Herzog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tribute to my cousins father Tobias A. van Driel,serving on the submarine the 016

On November 28th 1941 my aunt Eke van Driel-Sijtsma said goodbye to her husband.Never knowing that this was the last time she ever would see him again.She was four month  pregnant with her second child.They already had a son and were looking forward to this new baby and hoping for a daughter.
The 016 and the K XVII were stationed in Soerabaja the Dutch East Indies.
My uncle Tobias and aunt Eke van Driel

On November 28th they were ordered to Sambas (north-west Borneo). The boats are expected to arrive in the area on the 6th of December. On Nov. 29th 1941 the 016 and the K XVII are ordered to Malacca for a possible unexpected action.They are expected to remain unseen and proceed with speed of 12 knots.Then they are ordered to go to maximum speed.
On Dec.1 1941 they are placed under British (C-in-C China) and ordered to Singapore.Early December 1941 they arrive in Singapore. From December 6, till December 15 1941: The 016 and the K XVII are ordered to patrol the South Sea. Several attacks are made. During this patrol the 016 and all of her hands, except for one crew member, will be lost.

It is December 6 1941 and the 016 and the K XVII depart from Singapore.On December 7 1941: The USA declares war on Japan after Japanese forces attack Pearl Harbor. Approximately 7 hours after the attack the Netherlands also declare war on Japan.On the radios they heard that "War with Japan has broken out".
On December 8 1941 (All Marine Radio stations) messages, report details on enemy forces in the Gulf of Siam and off Kota Bharu.
On December 8.1941 the 016 attacks the Japanese invasion forces that are invading north east Malaya.
On December 9 1941 C-in-C Eastern fleet orders the submarines 016, K VXII, K XI, K XII, and the K XIII to form a line and the distance between each of the submarines should be 20 miles.The O16 should be 40 miles South of the Poeloe Obi Light. On December 10 , the boats have to sail a general course between Kota Bharu, Malacca and Singapore.,Thailand. This because a large numbers of Japanese transports has been spotted off the coast.
On December 10 1941 the 016 damages the Japanese troopship Ayatosan Maru and the Sakura Maru.
At midnight of the 12th of December 1941 the 016 attacks several Japanese ships in the Bay of Soengei Patani ( east coast of Malaya, and only 9 meters deep). The ships are torpedoed while the submarine surfaced.

The 016 sinks the Japanese troopship Tosan Maru.
The Tosan Maru
The Japanese Tosan Maru ( Photo collection Hasashi Noma)

The 016 also sinks the Japanese troopships Asosan Maru,the Kinka Maru, the Sakura Maru and also damages the Japanese troopships Ayatosan Maru.
On December 13th 1941 the 016, with only one torpedo remaining, returns to Singapore.Large Japanese convoys are spotted sailing SSW.The 016 is struck by a mine while she is exiting the  Gulf of Siam during her home bound voyage to Singapore. The submarine is nearly broken in half and 41 men are lost. Only one crew member, boatswain Cornelis de Wolf, survives. The 016 had sailed right into a Japanese line of mines, this line of mines also sunk the submarine the K XVII.

On December 22 1941 a bedraggled Dutch sailor was found by an Australian patrol, trudging toward Singapore in the hapless procession of native refugees fleeing the advancing Japanese.Brought to naval head quarters, Cornelis de Wolf had an incredible story to tell. A boatswain on the 016, he had been on watch on the rainy night of 14-15 December when at about 0230 a huge explosion rent the deck forward and sent a wave of water and diesel oil over the men on the bridge. In less than a minute the boat was gone and he was gasping for breath in the lukewarm water of the South China Sea. ( He later told my Aunt Eke that her husband had just been released from his watch on the bridge).
Nearby a few other survivors called to each other and in the distance the voice of their commander was heard in reply. The swimmers clustered together, but Bussemaker failed to appear and was heard no more.( Bussemaker was the Lieutenant Commander of the 016).De Wolf asked the only officer present, Ltz.11 C.A.Jeekel, what had happened and was told that they must have hit a mine. Knowing that Tioman Island was a few miles west of them, the men, Jeekel, de Wolf, seaman first class F.X. van Tol, seaman second class F.Kruijdenhof, and machinist A.F.Bos,decided to strike out for its shore, but van Tol and Jeekel soon succumbed to exhaustion and drowned. In the morning a Dutch aircraft passed overhead but failed to spot the swimmers, and Kruijdenhof disappeared soon after wards. Towards evening, after 17 hours of struggling against the current that kept sweeping the men southward away from the island, Bos could go on no longer. Asking Wolf, if he survived, to remember him to his wife and two children, he gave up and sank from sight.

Alone in the tepid sea, the sturdy pressed on until at about noon on the 17th he was washed up on the rocky shore of uninhabited Dayang Island.
Exhausted and bleeding, he fell asleep. Waking after a few hours, he was found by a lone native in a small prau (a sort canoe with sail) and taken to a larger island (presumably Aur) where impoverished but hospitable natives nursed him as best they could.After three days, De Wolf, clad only in shorts, rigged up a sailing prau and crossed over to the mainland, then walked for nine hours on raw feet before encountering the Australian patrol.
This the route de Wolf swam.

Cornelis de Wolf, after serving his country's submarine force for the rest of the war, retired from the navy and died in 1983. Unaware that the scenario based on his remarkable escape from death at sea was flawed. Given the duration of his swim, his sightings of distant peaks, the strength of the ocean current, and the known place where he landed, 0 16 could not possible have been far enough south to have run into the  British  minefield.

Later new information surfaced from the shambles of Japanese naval records and suggested a somewhat different conclusion. By 1956 the British had found and published the information that on the night of 6-7 December the Japanese had planted a previously unknown mine line east of Tioman Island.
There were so many speculations that the son of the lost boat's commander Hans C. Besancon,Jr. and himself a retired officer of the Royal Netherlands navy,decided to  undertake a crusade to find his father's resting place.

Although the naval authorities declined to provide financial backing for Besancon, they were able to offer some useful information. In 1981 a treasure diver from Singapore, Michael Hatcher, reported having located a sunken Dutch submarine in the South China sea. Wrecks in the area had  become well known to local fisherman who were attracted by abundant marine life around the sunken ships, only to have their nets snagged on underwater obstructions.
Pursuing this lead, Besancon contacted Hatcher and in May 1982 they moored over the wreck and sent divers down. The divers reported that the submarine had sunk deeply into the mud bottom, but they were able to recover the steering wheel from the exposed bridge. When its serial number was checked against naval records, the boat was positively identified as K XVII.

Yet there was still a mystery: the wreck lay well north of the reported location of the Japanese mine line. The missing pieces of the puzzle were provided nine years later by researchers in the Netherlands and Japan. Records disclosed that a Dutch flying boat had sighted TATSUMIYA MARU on December 6th, and caused her to turn back prematurely. Before reversing course however, she had laid her mines about 18 mile north of the assigned position. The remains of the K XVII lay exactly within the relocated minefield north of Tioman.

Besancon quest and its findings had attracted considerable public attention, so when a Swedish diver, Sten Sjostrand, reported finding another sunken submarine in 1995 that he suspected to be Dutch, the naval authorities were interested. Initiating a search for family members of the men lost on 0 16, they organized an expedition to examine the wreck.
This time Besancon was joined by his fellow retired naval officers, H.O. and A.P. Bussemaker, sons of the boats lost commander. The Dutch group also included an official naval observer, Ltz 1 J.M. van Zee, and two journalists. The Navy also contributed funds, photographic and video equipment, charts of the area, and blueprints and identification photos of the submarine. The hulk was quickly located at a depth of 53 meters(about 160 feet) some nine miles east of K XVII in the same Japanese mine line, draped in fish nets and with a gaping hole forward of the bridge. Details of the boat's layout confirmed it to be the 0 16, and the divers removed the steering wheel and some other fittings for retention as official evidence and historical mementos.
The  hatch of the 0 16
The steering wheel of the 0 16
The bow of  0 16, June 2005

                   Photos from Richard de Wolf and S. Sjostrand collection A.P. Bussemaker.
 the deck gun 016, June 2005

The conning tower of the 016, June 2005

Commemorative plaque Richard and his team attached to the tower. Also note all fishing nets wrapped around the conning tower. (If only my aunt Eke would have known. She passed away, before all this was discovered).

Finally, a brief ceremony was held on the forward deck: Ltz. I John van Zee, dressed in tropical white, held a speech and said a prayer and Henk and Ton Bussemaker tossed a wreath of flowers into the sea on behalf of the families of the deceased.
Rest in Peace.

memorial plaque in Den Helder

Never to be forgotten. This is for my cousins Fop and Toby van Driel, who lost their father and spend their first years on earth, in those miserable Japanese camps, together with their mother, my mother and me,and thousands of other women and children.
Tobias van Driel

By A.P. Bussemaker, son of  0 16's CO Ltz. 1  A.J.Bussemaker.

Boatswain Cornelis de Wolf.

We left the port of Singapore on our way to the gulf of Siam on Saturday. December 6th with a crew of 41 souls. We were scouting out 2 Japanese destroyers, but did not undertake any action, as we were not jet at war.On the 8th of December we learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which meant that we were now at war! A Japanese troop ship was scouted out during the early hours of December 11. Three torpedoes were launched,but the rain and poor visibility prevented us from seeing whether they had hit.
On December 10th we observed a Japanese merchant vessel with its stern light burning.This blunder allowed us to easily follow the vessel until it entered the Bay of Patani.Commander A.J.Bussemaker decided to enter the bay. He was a fine man and a competent commander with much insight into human nature! That's why he then turned to reserve officer van Einsbergen, navigator an officer of the KPM ( a Dutch Merchant Shipping Company), and said,"You take care of the navigation, since you know this area better than anyone."

He piloted the 0 16 into the bay with the utmost skill, after which the commander resumed command once again.

There were four Japanese ships in the by in a semicircular formation. We first shot at the bow and then the stern. Six torpedoes were launched, all of which struck home. A direct hit! The ships did not sink entirely, however, because the bay was too shallow, being only  8 to 10 meters deep. The trick was now to get away from the bay unseen. The commander did not set course for open sea, but rather cunningly stayed close to the coast in shallow water because of the present of Japanese destroyers offshore. We managed to get away unseen and set course for Singapore.

Around midnight on Sunday, the 14th of December, I took over the bridge watch as helmsman. There were six of us on the bridge. Everyones eyes were on beams of light and flashes in the distance. Evidently there was an exchange of fire taking place. At  two o'clock in the morning, a searchlight could be seen just above the horizon. The commander changed course from 165 to 210 and headed straight towards the searchlight, which had to have some where near the islands by the coast of Malaya.

It happened at around 2:30 a.m. A thunderous blow flung me against the pit. Our faithful 0 16 disappeared into the waves in less than a minute. During those few seconds, I saw the commander and senior officer trying to kick shut the turret hatch, while I desperately did my best to get my coat loose from the mine gear in which it had gotten stuck. My coat tore lose and I found myself in the water, all alone. No, this can't be, the other five have to be somewhere around here. I couldn't see anything because of the darkness and high waves and started calling out. I heard vague shouting. I swam towards the cries and saw four others. Commander Bussemaker was not one of them. We kept calling out and heard only a vague response. Unfortunately, he was too far away and we were unable to find him.
the wrecksite 016 and the route of Cornelis de Wolf.
There were five of us: Senior officer Jeekel, Corporal Bos, seamen van Tol and Kruijdenhof and myself. We oriented ourselves by the moon and stars in order to swim towards the islands. Senior officer Jeekel swam in front. He asked us often if we were able to keep up. We had all removed our clothes except for van Tol, who was unable to remove his coat. He was barely hanging on. I couldn't stand to watch his desperate struggling any longer, so I swam back to help him. I was able to be of some help, but not for long. He sank a few seconds later.

The sun was coming up in the meantime. We could make out the islands on the horizon. By eight o'clock it had become too much for Lieutenant Jeekel. He had never complained once and frequently asked whether everyone was able to keep going and encouraged us all to hang on. We spoke briefly about the cause of the explosion. He thought it was a mine.

After he had given up the struggle, I asked Bos and Kruijdenhof whether they were able to keep going. Their brief response said it all, "Thirsty". We could already make out the mountaintops on the islands.Rescue seemed imminent. A British plane circled overhead,but failed to notice our desperate waving. Kruijdenhof sank into the depths at nine o'clock.

Bram Bos and I continued swimming in the salty water with the burning sun above.We were tormented by an immense thirst. The most difficult part of the entire journey lay ahead of us in the churning sea. We estimated that we were only 2 to 3 miles from the islands, but the current was against us and we barely made any progress. A plane circled above once more. This time with Dutch registration letters. They did not see us.

Bram Bos fought desperately against death. He was scared. We sang a psalm together, which calmed him. He made a few more strokes and said. "Cor, if you survive, say hello to my wife and kids." He was a brave soul.It must've been around 5 o'clock; my watch had stopped.

From that moment on I was totally alone and with the night ahead of me. I was never scared, not even to die. Faith gave me the strength to keep going.

You start to despair. I couldn't see anything in the dark. I was worn out and thought to myself,"I've had enough." You start hallucinating. I saw a sloop close by and wanted to rest in it a while.I thought I was sitting up, but then began sinking and was jerked back into reality. I swallowed some saltwater, making the sensation of thirst even more agonizing.

Day broke once more and the sun burned overhead. I was totally exhausted and wanted to simply let myself fill up with water. It's all over, I thought. But I didn't drown. Just when I thought it was over, the current changed.

Finally, on Tuesday afternoon at around 5 o'clock, after nearly 38 hours of swimming, I reached the breakers of an island and was tossed onto the coral reef. My flesh was completely waterlogged. My hands, feet, legs and back bleeding, I lay there dazed.

The glaring sun, the unbearable pain and the agonizing thirst brought me to my senses, water, water, I must have water. Stumbling and falling down, I dragged myself uphill. No water! I stumbled back downwards and suddenly noticed water trickling down a crevice. I managed to reach the water with my tongue and quenched my thirst. I spent that night on the rocks. Something gnawed at my toes. I didn't resist. To this day I still don't know what it could have been.

I pulled myself together as best as possible the following morning and went exploring. I learned that it was an uninhabited island, strewn with boulders and fringed with coral reefs. I suddenly saw a prau with a Malaysian boy of around 12 sail by. After hearing my cries, he came towards me and gave me a young coconut, which I greedily drank. I then ate its soft fruit pulp. I asked him to return to his island and get help.

Rapuli, a man who worked in Singapore at the customs house and spoke English, arrived a day later. He had even brought along a pair of pants, which I put on, but which were much too small. He brought me to his island. All I wanted was to get to the mainland of Malaya and return to the naval base in Singapore. I stayed there for three days. An old Chinese man brought me a bowl of chicken soup every morning without ever saying a word.

The decision turned out to be the right one. Four islanders took me with a prau to Tangarro. A day later we linked up on the beach with a group of 12 Chinese on their way to Mersing under the command of a guide and armed with long axes.We entered the jungle after the guide, using signs and gestures, explained to us which path we should follow.He was retracing his own steps. It was up to us to find the way from that point on,however. I did my best and organized the group in line formation but within earshot of one another.

There was no path, only impenetrable jungle and every so often a swampy area where we sank up to our bellies. After 9 hours of plugging away, barefoot and dressed only in pants,I had no strength left. Just when it seems that things couldn't possibly get any worse rescue appears. A couple of Malaysians who were walking in our direction and clearing the way came across what later turned out to be an Australian soldier. The Australian troops in Mersing had established guard posts in order to signal landings. We entered the encampment via the outpost and I was brought to Singapore from there in a "luxury Ford".

This above is a shortened version of the interview Cor de Wolf gave to a local paper in honor of his retirement. The following is what happened next.
the 7th from the left is my uncle Tobias van Driel,
I often wonder of all the men from the 016 are in this photograph.

After arriving in Singapore, he was first examined in the sickbay and diagnosed as being healthy. All he needed was plenty of rest and food. He was questioned the following morning by a commission of 2 Dutch officers hastily put together and was received that afternoon by English Admiral Layton. That same afternoon, he embarked on board the chartered KMP ship Janssens en route to Batavia (Jakarta, Dutch East Indies). After arriving, he reported to Admiral Helfrich. He was promoted directly to boatswain and left for Soerabaja by ship (he thought it would be too dangerous to travel by plane). After a few days of rest, he was placed on board the K IX and sailed to Australia. De Wolf was decorated with the "Bronze Lion" and" Distinguished Service Medal". He retired on the 1st of August 1962 as an Opper schipper of the Koninklijke Marine. Cor de Wolf passed away in November 1983.

The report (1941) by the 2 Dutch officers gave reason to assume that the 016 had struck a British mine a few miles north east of Pemanggil and that De Wolf had seen the islands of Pemanggil and Aur. It was generally doubted whether he had really spent so much time in the water. After locating the wreck of the 016 (in 1995), however, it became clear that, drifting along a southern monsoon current, he had seen the two tops or Tioman island on the first day and Pemanggil and Aur on the second, where he drifted ashore thanks to the tidal stream. He had covered a total distance of 44 nautical miles (18 km). Therefore it was clear that the 0 16 did not end up in the British mine line ( due to a navigational error) northeast of Pemanggil. After all, the 016 was never near the British mine line. Later (+/- 1990) it was proven the 0 16 entered a Japanese mine line.

By: A.P Bussemaker, son of 016 CO Ltz. Bussemaker.

I have to ad that Cor de Wolf came to visit my aunt in Soerabaja after his ordeal, and told her that her husband  had not suffered, they must have died immediately by the blast , when they hit the mine.

Some of the men from the 016 are in this picture. My uncle Tobias with their dog. and my aunt Eke on the left.
I wonder who they are.All young men, in their prime of their life. This picture was taken before the war at my aunts house in Soerabaja. Indonesia.

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