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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

part VII, Following my stepfathers footsteps.

The Boschfontein docked at Tandjong Priok, Batavia, March 29,1946

In March 1946 the Boschfontein docked in Tandjong Priok Batavia Indonesia, my stepfather was on board again..The ship had troops on board. The troops had to restore order in the Dutch Indies, they embarked the ship and repatriates (mostly women and children) boarded the ship the Boschfontein to be taken to The Netherlands.My mother and I were among them. We had no home anymore, we had lost everything.

World War II had ended on August 15,1945, but in the Dutch East Indies it was a mad house.The euphoria of Peace did not last long. The terror had returned.Gangs were plundering and murdering . It was a scary time. Every men and boy who was not Javanese from the age of 16, also Indo men were picked up and slaughtered. The Dutch Indies wanted to be independent and the Dutch government was not ready for it.Civilians had to pay dearly. Thousands who had survived the occupancy of the Japanese were killed in the Bersiap period.
For the repatriates, freedom started when they boarded the Boschfontein on March 29,1946.
My step father told a newspaper when he was interviewed , that he would never forget the sight of these poor women and children  climbing up the gangplank from the Boschfontein , most of these women had lost their husbands,and the children their fathers. To see them walking up the gangplank with a few belongings in tow had been one of his voyages on the Boschfontein he could never forget.
But on this voyage, when the ship had left the harbor of Tandjong Priok, Batavia, the Dutch Indies (now called Indonesia) he found the love of his life.In the interview of this Dutch newspaper he tells the reporter that one day he met this little girl, with white hair and blue eyes on deck and she was crying.He asked her why she was crying. The little girl told him that she was so scared. He asked her, what was scaring her. She told him that she had to wear this bubble jacket and that they might have to jump in the ocean if the ship was sinking. Apparently they had done this drill where the crew teaches them what to do in case the ship would run on a mine.This little girl had been scared to death. So I told her not to be afraid and that she did not have to jump. I told her, just look for me and I will hold your hand.I also told her a lie and told her that the life jacket was full of chocolates, which we could eat if we had to leave the ship in case of an emergency.Then this little girl asked me the most heart braking question. She asked me if I would like to be her father, because she was looking for one.I told her that her mother had to agree.
And that is how my step father met my Mom, on this voyage to the Netherlands on the Boschfontein in April 1946.
This little girl with the white hair and blue eyes was me Tetske T. van der Wal.And that's how Leendert Jacobus Molenaar became my step father, my best friend.
My step father did many more trips to Tanjong Priok, Indonesia, to pick up repatriates.After 1951 he sailed to South Africa and did many trips on this line, and still on the Boschfontein. In 1958 after the Boschfontein was sold he sailed on the Randfontein until he retired in 1967.By that time he had sailed the world for 42 years, how he missed the sea.
His life had been full of adventures and he was a true sailor, he loved the ocean, although he could not swim.He passed away in 2003, two weeks short of his ninety sixth  birthday.

Lest we forget.

Now see the old seaman
Not a word has he said
In silence and tribute
He remembers the dead.

Some young people question
Most veterans don't know
What it is he remembers
From so long ago.

How quickly forgotten
How sad they don't know
How they died on the oceans
Of so long ago.

He's a Bosun, a Wiper
The others as well
They sailed in harm's way
In battle they fell.

Now the band they are playing
A tear or two shed
It's flowers of the forest
For our sea faring dead.

Now see that old seaman
Whose chums there had died
He's twenty years younger
His chest swells with pride.

Some young people question
Most veterans don't know
Of the great price they paid there
So long ago.

written by Ian. A. Miller.

This poem in honor of the Merchant ships with their crew, who sailed in harm's way, to deliver troops and supplies, where ever needed during World War II.

Tandjong Priok, the Harbor in Batavia, Indonesia, where my mother and I boarded the Boschfontein on March 29,1946.
Repatriates are being picked up by trucks from Adekkamp in Batavia to the harbor of Tandjong Priok, March 29,1946.My mother and I were one of them.

Register before boarding at the harbor of Tandjong Priok.

Repatriates awaiting to go on board.
Another truck has arrived with repatriates.
Repatriates waiting to be registered for boarding.
The wounded are getting on board..
Dutch women and children are getting ready to board.
Repatriates ready for boarding.
Ready to go on board.
Repatriates looking up at the Boschfontein.
 On the top of the gangplank is my mother and I, it was very scary.
 A sailor from the Boschfontein is carrying a little boy on board.
Boarding the last repatriates
The sailors helping the older repatriates on board the ship.
We finally were all on board the ship of the Boschfontein. It was March 29.1946 and ready to leave for a new life in The Netherlands.Many tears were flowing, and many stayed on deck until the Dutch Indies was a speck on the horizon.
Little did we know that we would not get a very warm welcome in The Netherlands.
These were our sleeping quarters on the Boschfontein.
In Ataka Egypt we had to get off the ship and were loaded onto trains. We were getting dressed. We needed to get shoes and warm clothes, it was going to get cold once we arrived in The Netherlands.On arrival of the Boschfontein in Egypt we were loaded on trains.
  The train that took the repatriates to the clothes depot.

The younger children were at first very skeptical to board these trains, we had very bad memories from train rides.But at least there were no screaming pushing Japanese, all these men were so nice, so we quickly overcame our fear.After all it had been so nice on the ship.
The sign at the entrance of the clothing depot in Ataka.

Arrival at the clothing depot in Ataka. Egypt.
Arriving at the clothing depot in Ataka. with a welcome sign.
The repatriates are getting a big bag for their clothes.
The repatriates are trying on coats.
This little girl is getting a coat for the very first time.Look at her smile!
How exciting we are getting fitted with clothing. All smiling faces.
The shoe department. How exciting, I never had shoes.
The repatriates in line to receive more clothes.We needed everything.We received underwear, socks, shoes, coats, hats, caps for the boys, etc.
Trying on clothes at the Depot in Ataka. How much fun that was.
Tired children at the depot. Trying on all these clothes makes you tired.
This repatriate is getting overwhelmed.
The repatriates are getting a meal at Ataka.
A nice meal in Ataka. What a treat.
We have arrived at the ship again and have to board. Ataka Egypt.1946
At the Harbor of Ataka, waiting to go back on board the Boschfontein.
My Mom's I.D.card, with the list of clothes she received in Ataka. Egypt.
This is my I.D. card, it tells what I received on Clothes in Ataka.Egypt, in 1946.
We had a wonderful trip on the Boschfontein. It made it extra special, because we spend almost every meal with the man who became my step father.
The Boschfontein arrived on April 25, 1946 in the Harbor of Amsterdam. My step father had to go on many more trips to Indonesia to pick up more repatriates.

And this is where my story about following my step father's footsteps end.
I love you Dad and I hope your last journey was as good as all your journeys at sea. May you rest in Peace.

All my years;

I live in a world; I've made for myself
Years have taught me, no need for wealth,
The basic needs of life is Love
On that you build, far and above,
Necessities yes, but you work for these
The comfort of a home makes you proud and pleased.
As years pass, contentment you find
A family entwined, understanding and kind,
Nothing in the world is free
But Love and understanding, it can be!
For money is a cold and calculating thing
If you allow it to control,
No piece of mind, is a dreadful thing
Take heart and mind contentment and peace
You will find, will be your release.

A beautiful poem by Win Rainer.


  1. Dear mrs. Thea. Your blog uses a series of photos from our collection. We have doubts pertaining the date of some of them. According to our information the embarkation pictures in Tandjung Priok are from december 1945. The ship is de M.S. Oranje and not the Boschfontein. Could you mail me your information. My email is:

  2. In addition. I mean the picture with the ambulances

    1. We boarded the Boschfontein on March 30,1946. Those are the pictures where you see women and children climbing the gangplank of the Boschfontein. My mother and I were amongst them, we arrived in The Netherlands on April 25, 1946 on the Boschfontein. My step father sailed back and forth to Tandjong Priok numerous times, well into 1950. My mothers sister and my cousins came back on the Bloemfontein and friends of my mother and sister boarded the Oranjefontein. Some of them arrived at the end of 1945, like my mothers sister and her cousins. The pictures from the Boschfontein are taken by Willem van der Pol.

  3. francien lamers-winkelmanFebruary 27, 2018 at 2:52 AM

    Dear Thea,

    Thank you for this wonderful (hi)story. My father in law also was a (chief) engineer in the 2th worldwar. He was on the Klipfontein. After the death of both my mother and father in law, we found 5000 letters, written by them during the "sailor" years of my father in law. We have typed out all these 5000 letters. Regretfully, we hardly have information about the war years. We know that my father in law was stationed in San Francisco, that he was on the Klipfontein, but the "war" letters do not give much information about what happened. Also, it is clear that many letters never ever reach my mother in law, or my father in law.

    Can you give us directions where, and how, to get more information about the movements of the Klipfontein during the war?


    Francien Lamers-Winkelman
    Heemstede, The Netherlands


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