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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The attack on women and children.

The following story took place in 1946(which I think should be 1945) in then so called Dutch Indies, in a Japanese concentration camp.     ( written by Dinky ) see her blog

Vibrant and jubilant, liberation had taken her entrance.It came suddenly, almost as a surprise, in one single day. It was great, seductive, intoxicating, unbelievable. Sitting up there in the tree,
looking over the camp wall to freedom with a bright happy feeling. "We made it". Other children in the tree laughed and shouted to each other and pointed at the mountains. But then, a terrible noise coming from everywhere, a whistling sound, something that flew past your ear, danger! Like apples we fell out of the tree. Mothers came running to us, yelling "Come along,they attacking us". Bullets, running, fleeing into our small rooms, quickly on the ground, what is happening, than loud yelling on the other site of the wall:"merdeka". My mother shouted to us, run, the Indonesians are coming. Then we saw them coming over the wall like pirates with war colors on their faces and guns, other weapons, frighting looking fellows. We ran as fast we could. More Indonesians came over the wall, everyone ran in panic into the narrow pathway to the other side of the camp, to the very large open field. There also were Indonesians yelling: "merdeka, merdeka". We all ran on the field as far to the end as possible, there were already a lot of people. The Indonesians stood in a broad circle around this big field, they stood everywhere with riffles at gunpoint, waiting for the order to shoot.
In some of the barracks, all women had barricaded the doors and windows with their beds, and some luggage, they did not want to come out, which ultimately was our salvation. it lasted and lasted, everything was silent, fear full we stood there on the field listing if they would get them out of the barracks. Suddenly they began shooting at random and throwing grenades,"get down"! people screamed, "get down"! we also screamed.The men that already had come back to their wives and children in our camps, threw the grenades back as fast as possible. Everyone was dead silent and we all began to pray. Laying flat on the grass, I suddenly felt a terrible blow close by, it was so bad that I thought my chest would burst apart and I had blood all over me and pieces of all sort of things.Oh,God, I am dead, everything is broken this is it. How strange, I can still hear, I can still see, if this is death, that cannot be so bad. How strange I can still move my fingers. Oh,God, I am only wounded, but I don't feel any pain.
Carefully, I looked at the things that were lying upon me."Where, where am I wounded?" Then I heard my mother's voice: get up quickly, we have to get out of here, we have to go further to the back, quick, quick", can't do that, oh God, it is not mine, it's someone else's. I could not fully believe it. But standing up and running I found out there was nothing wrong with me. Away, far away, we ran as fast as we could to the back, where no Indonesians were. In the running crowd we lost my brother and went for the toilets were we crept on top of each other. My mother then heard my brother crying. She called:"Anton, we are here". He came to our toilet. Weeping he said:"Mummy, how should I pray?" You never forget something like that. Cramped together we all were praying aloud, waiting to be killed. After some time we heard even worse shouts from the rooftops. Everybody in our toilet looked up with terrible fear in their eyes, which I never will forget, this is the end, they said. Kiss your children goodby, we will die. More terrible shouts and  noise, then shooting, bullets were flying around, pops, running, screaming was all we heard. Absolutely terrified we waited.
Someone yelled:" They are ours, it's the Gurkha's, it really is". It became dead quiet. Was it possible, would we be rescued? Very carefully some went looking and saw dark men passing by, grinning and laughing at us:"The Gurkha's, the best warriors there are", someone said. "They come to liberate us". Everyone started to cry and thank God. And yes, one hour later they had captured some Indonesians and others fled. We came creeping out of our toilets looking around for relatives, we found my grandmother, who was overcome by panic, had ran so fast that she fell down, and kept silent as if she was dead. How you feel then is indescribable. You get your life back, you live, it's the most wonderful feeling in the world. I have never forgotten this feeling.
I didn't want to tell this story at first, but my eldest daughter made me do it and I am glad I did.


see other stories from Dinkie(

This story is similar to what I heard from my aunt, my mother and two camp friends from my mother and aunt.
It was 1961, and I was getting married. The problem was I did not have any papers or a birth certificate.All our papers were lost in Indonesia in the war. The Town's Municipality in Bandoeng on the island of Java, Indonesia, where I was born, was burned down to the ground. In future I had no proof who I was.  My mother had to find three people, who had known me when we lived in Bandoeng. This was no easy task. Everybody she knew from then, was no were to be found. My mother did not even know if they had survived. She received some letters from them,(which I found, after my mother passed away) when she arrived in the Netherlands at the end of April 1946.
They had hoped to leave Indonesia in the following year. My mother never heard from them again. Lots of Dutch were still losing their lives, it was still a horrible dangerous time in Indonesia. The extremists were fighting for Independence. Holland send lots of troops and the fighting continued for 5 year long years.

Finally the Court in the Netherlands allowed us to have people to testify, who she had known in Japanese prison Camp. She was able to locate two people. The court however told her she needed three. Well she could not find three, so they allowed her, after months of trying to find a third one, to have her sister to testify. It was costing us a lot of money and heart ache for my mother. She cried a lot that time. I never forget. It was very sad.

She often told me this story:" now you see that my story was true, you fell out of a coconut tree right in front of your father and me, when we were walking on this beautiful street in Bandoeng. The coconut fell  and burst open and there you were.We picked you up and took you home, no wonder you have no birth certificate".

On September 29, 1961 we were finally standing in front of the Justice of the Peace Mr. J.E.Goudsmit in Haarlem, in the presence of Mr. H. van de Poll, deputy registrar: and two people my mother and my aunt knew from the time they had been in Japanese prison camps.
Elisabeth Thiel, spouse Hendrik Cornelis van Vaas
Marijtje Postma, spouse Abraham Seijderveld
My aunt Eke Sijtsma, widow of  Tobias van Driel
My mother Sietske Sijtsma, widow of Klaas van der Wal, my father.
They had to swear with their hands on the bible, that I was the daughter from her beloved Klaas who had died a terrible death on the "Death Railway", on the River Kwai in Kuye.
It was an emotional day for all of us.

After they had testified that I was Tetske Trijntje van der Wal we all went to my mothers house for lunch. That's when I heard the above story . I remember how gruesome it was, they had seen Indonesian kids, who could barely hold a gun, shooting their friends in cold blood. Some of these young boys had machete's and killed little children, whoever was in their path.It is horrible to write down what they told next, because we have to face the past history with the utmost sincerity, and hope this will never happen again.
They were talking that there was so much blood everywhere, and they had never seen so much hatred from these young boys and Indonesian men.The Japanese had done a terrific job,they had brainwashed and taught them well, how to hate "Blanda's".(white people). It was very sad, because some of these young boys, not older then 14 years old were killed by these Gurkha soldiers. So awful sad! So much waste of life.
The Gurkha soldiers stayed with us in the camp and protected us from the extremists. Not until the end of November 1945 my mother and I were able to leave this camp, under the protection of the Gurkha's, who fought for the British. They were very friendly men.
I am forever thankful to these men.If it had not been for the Gurkha soldiers the whole camp would have been slaughtered.
Two years ago when I visited my aunt the youngest sister of my mother Anneke Sijtsma married to my favorite uncle Kees Pool she told me this same story, which my mother had once told her, so long ago.My aunt is 84 years old now, at the time that my mother and I arrived in the Netherlands in 1946 she was only 19 years old.She told me that some of the things your mother had told me are not to describe.My aunt said that at the time she was busy with her own life and did not take much notice about the things my mother was trying to tell her. She now cries and can't barely forgive herself. It is hard for her to talk about.She becomes very emotional.But I am glad she was able to tell me some of what my mother had told her.I would have never known some of the things my mother had gone through, if it had not been for my aunt.
I understand now how difficult it has been for my mother after the war and being back in Holland.I loved my mother dearly, she was on this earth only for her children and grandchildren, nothing else was important to her.Food to her was her no 1 priority, she was always afraid we were not eating enough. She drove us sometimes insane. Now I understand. Having not enough to eat, all those years in Japanese captivity , and seeing little children die from starvation and malnutrition has haunted her all her life.

The Gurkha soldiers are a culture of people whose warriors are almost unmatched in fearlessness and skill and have been so for hundreds of years.
Brave Gurkha soldiers are still sent to spill their own and other people's blood in the four corners of our deeply troubled world today.
This monument stands outside the Ministry of  Defense, city of Westminster,London.

Today it is Christmas and I will remember them.I remember forever Christmas with my mother,and my step brother and sister,we did not get presents, but lots and lots of food, the best Christmas gift was that we could celebrate it with each other.Sadly my stepfather who I loved dearly, was never home, he was at sea.Being a sailor it seems to me that he was never home. It was very rare that he was home for Christmas.
Love you all and thinking about all of you!



  1. What a terribly sad story. The world today knows nothing of these events. I'm pleased that at least I now know of this post-war tragedy.

  2. At this moment a film is in the making with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Next year it will be in the movie theaters, the title is "The Railway Man" it's about the infamous railway build by POWs during world war 2.and the women and children being imprisoned by the Japanese.Thank you for reading my story.


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