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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Part XI, Three men against Japan

A very comfortable stay at the concern Tjibitoeng.---A Dutch Police Inspector.

The instructions Jan received from Smit,took him back into the South.His station was a concern, twenty kilometers from the last bivouac he and his friends had set up.
Jan had become not fit to be seen, his clothes were dirty and ripped, a sloppy beard, weeks old was covering his face, which was weather-beaten, his hair was long and bleached by the sun ,he looked like an escaped convict.He could not possible go on this mission,looking like this. He remembered an address from an old friend, who lived near Soekaboemi, not far from the last bivouac, who's name was Stevens.An hour later he was standing in front of a small house opposite his friend.Jan had to laugh exuberant when he saw the astonished,and fearful eyes, from Stevens, who made an avert move in the direction of this rough looking visitor.After he recognized Jan they sat in the living room and talked for hours. Stevens had send a reliable servant to town , who came back with a pair of solid shoes, and a simple but clean khaki suit.Stevens had some clean underwear for him.After Jan spend an hour in the bathroom,he was transformed in a neatly, European gentleman, who lived care-free from his interest.Stevens was sorry that Jan was not able to keep him company for a couple of days, but he understood without explanation that the other had to carry out an important mission.When the friends said goodbye Stevens handed Jan a piece of paper.With mischief in his eyes, he said:" From a Japanese Officer, received this just after they occupied us. A permit as a qualified planter to travel for the time being.Look at the paper, it has not even a name on it, it is written in genuine Japanese characters and here is a stamp that will do wonders.I myself have another document in my posession. Who knows,this paper might come in handy one day."
This travel document gave Jan a feeling of comfort, he felt more secure.Less worried than on other occasions when he passed car's with Japanese soldiers,and patrols of large convoys.
Arriving at the airport Tjikembang, the road was blocked by Japanese soldiers.

The travel pass was not able to hide his uneasiness.In his small suitcase at the bottom rested his mauser-pistol! If he turned around now,it would likely raise suspicion.One of the Japanese guards had noticed him already.Outward looking very impassive Jan walked strait to the guard-post. A native was just being strip-searched.Moments later Jan was standing opposite a slit-eyed soldier.Jan smiled friendly and wished the Japanese in his own language a good day.He opened his small suitcase and showed his clothes. The sentry, through this admired greeting, scarcely looked at it.He asked the blanda (white-man)what the purpose of his journey is and which concern he was planning to visit.At the same moment Jan took his travel-pass out, and showed it to the sentry. Soon as the sentry looked at it he bowed politely and without further discussion he waved Jan through.
Near the airport of Tjikembang the road was blocked. Japanese soldiers checked every one and were ready to shoot.Jan was lucky he had a pass.

To reach the concern Tjibitoeng,where Jan would be stationed, he had to follow a road which took him through an area from another concern,Tjiboeboer.The administrator of Tjiboeboer, Mr. Ploos, who with his wife and a few European employees still lived in the adminstrator's house,invited Jan and send word to Mr. Brinkman, his colleque from Tjibitoeng by telephone that a guest was on his way.Mr. Brinkman promised to send a mandoer(Indonesian overseer)with a Horse- carriage.Jan should meet at the border of the two concerns. Jan left his bike at Tjiboeboer. Mr. Ploos send a guide with Jan who took him to the place where they had arranged to meet.And indeed a native clerk with horse-buggy was waiting for him.

On his way to the concern it surprised Jan to see that most of the small native houses he passed, had Japanese little flags blowing in the breeze.It seemed that even in this region the Tiga-A-propagandists had brainwashed the people.A part from that, this region was not overpopulated.In the distance he saw the spurs of the mountain.

The road sometimes was steep and suddenly it would bluff down into a shallow ravine.Now and then they passed a small river, and at one point they had to cross a river.

Finally he could see the rubber trees from Tjibitoeng.

In front of the entrance from the concern a stretch of rice-fields and a few native houses, who lived together in their low build bamboo houses.Behind these rice-fields you saw the rubber-trees.



Here a gravel road started, you noticed that the concern was well kept and every thing looked well kept.Between the trees , which were planted in long rows, it was so peaceful and silent.
Driving in the shadows of these trees it was unbelievable cool, you could feel a slight breeze.
The house was sitting on a hill.On both sides were the outbuildings.All around the house a beautiful garden with flowering bushes and shrubs.In front of the house,a bright green manicured lawn.


So much beauty. Jan had to take it all in. Why?... He was asking himself; why is there so much ugliness in the world while there is so much beauty?.... It makes no sense!

At the bottom of the hill were the houses from the native servants, and still further below,at the river stood the factory.
In front of the house Jan got out. The administrator and his wife greeted him on the veranda.
They showed him his room in one of the outbuildings,a very large room with a bathroom and even electricity.Jan took a quick shower, and was surprised to see that invisible, obliging hands, while he was showering, already had cleaned up his dirty laundry and had polished his shoes.Within a few hours Jan felt at home at Tjibitoeng.
His first concern was that the mauser-pistol found a safe place, he had to hide it but in such way that he could reach it quickly when needed.When he sat on the veranda with the Brinkmans, he had not felt so relaxed and safe for a long time.Neither his host or hostess were asking him awkward questions.They talked about their concern about the future of the Dutch East Indies, and wondered what would happen when the war was over.They were worried about their concern, and the growing rampok bandits, who were making the region very unsafe.
Mr.W.A.Brinck administrator of the Rubber plantation in Tjibitoeng. On July 6, 1945 Mr. Brinck died in a Japanese prison camp in Tjimahi of malnutrition and total exhaustion.

To try to expose the leaders of these groups and to put them behind bars, a police inspector was detached at the concern, a Dutchman.His name was Lagewind.
Jan did not trusted him, and one night coming back from a walk through the gardens, he met the man,he observed him closely, without being perceived.Likewise Lagewind seemed to have a particular interest in the new guest as well. At one time , when Jan had turned away from the guests, he heard the police man whisper to Mr. Brinck:"What kind of lad is that new guest of you?" Jan could not hear what Mr. Brincks answer was, but Jan intended to keep a close eye on Lagewind, and be on his guard.Gradually Jan got to know the rubber plantation and the daily on goings.
To justify facing the Japanese and not to become suspicious with the native population, Jan was hired as an employee of the concern.The factory was in full working motion, although every market sale was practical closed. Mr. Brinck wanted to keep his concern going as long as there was still money.They had no shortage of food; medication was sufficient and van Donker had made sure that this concern and the population had enough rice reserve for a couple of months.The only worry was the dwindling down of the oil reserve. Oil was indispensable for the concern. Without it they would be faced of closing the business.
At all time Jan kept allert.At night he worked out the daily news he heard and made plans for the future.Lagewind still was a mistery to him.Jan had a very good understanding of judging people.With regards to this Police man he still had no feel about him.
Wandering the concern as an overseer of the plantation Jan got to know the surroundings of Tjibitoenng very well. He often talked with the native population, most of them Soedanese.

He got the impression that these people had nothing against the white people, but were afraid for the instigators and the elements from the rebels and Japanese.One house Jan avoided, it was the house from Abdoel Kamari. This man was known as a fiery supporter of the Tiga A-movement and possible a leader of the rebels in this region.However one of these days Jan planned to give this man a visit, but the circumstances were not right jet.
That's how his days were passing by. Every morning very early he had a quick cup of coffee and would saddle his horse for his inspections on the grounds of the rubber plantation.Talking with the employees, which he and the natives enjoyed. Jan showed a real interest about what they were doing and about their lives.They too loved talking to Jan, he was well liked.After about three weeks working as an employee, coming home one night he found a note, which was delivered by a native."Come to S....as soon as possible." he read. That was all.
Jan immediately went to Mr. Brinck and told him about the message he received, which forced him to leave immediately.He could not tell how long he would be gone. All he hoped that he was able to return that same night.Mr. Brinck gave Jan a encouraging tap on the shoulder. Lagewind who had heard the conversation, pressured Jan where he was going and who he would meet. Jan looked at the man, and without a word he jumped on his horse and took off.In Tjiboeboer he would pick up his bicycle and travel the rest of the way on his bike.
That same night Jan was sitting opposite Smit in a small barely lighted room. The captain looked at Jan and with a serious look in his eyes:" It is beginning to look serious," he said, "but we have to stay optimistic and don't lose our spirit."
Jan looked cheerless in front of him.He just heard that his two friends , who were so dear to him, were in Japanese prison.They had become like brothers during the months on those long dangerous journeys through the mountains and their failed escape over sea to Australia.They were imprisoned in Buitenzorg.Kelter, who had been in Sindanglaja had returned to Buitenzorg, but had narrowly escaped the Kempetai. He had fled to Bandoeng. Through all of this the resistance in Buitenzorg was disrupted and Smit had not received any messages. Jan was now in charge to try to renew the contact.'It is getting serious.'Is all Jan could think about when he was standing at the train station in front of the ticket-office from Soekaboemi and asked for a ticket to an Indonesian employee for Buitenzorg. The man asked him to show his proof of registration, which Jan did not have. But Jan had nerves of steel and showed his Japanese pass, and told the clerk that he worked for the Japanese and did not needed an I.D.He received his train ticket, but was in doubt about the difficulties he would face arriving in Buitenzorg.Not a single European person was allowed in or out Buitenzorg, whitout passing Japanese control.He had heard that hundreds of white people were put in camps.What he intended to do, was really utterly crazy.But thinking about Mr. Brincks words, who he spoken to over the phone to tell him that he was not going to be back that night, the simple words of "Be careful and all you can do is try!" Those words gave Jan so much strenght, he had to do this for his countrymen.
Again showing the pass to a Japanese control in Buitenzorg, they let him pass without any further questions, this was amazing.Unnoticed he walked through town, choosing quiet streets, towards the house from one of the employees of Kelter, but the man was already picked up by the Kempetai.After a troublesome search Jan finally found someone who had taken over the leadership of the Buitenzorg resistance group from Kelter. Jan had a long meeting with this man. He told him the instructions from Smit and what he had heard would really interest the Captain.Jan also heard that his friends the Pimpel and the Tall guy were internment at the Ursulinen-convent of Buitenzorg.
The Convent of sisterhood Ursulinen.The Japanese had build a high fence of bamboo around the convent.
Braided Bamboo fencing.

Jan decided he would go there and have a look.Around the convent they had build a very high fences of bamboo.Jan very slowly walked by.Suddenly he heard people talking Dutch behind this bamboo fence.He pretended he stumbled over his shoe laces and bend down.He called out softly, with his face close to the fence.It became very quiet on the other side, when he asked if they knew Heimers.'Heimers' was the assumed name of the Tall guy.'Yes' was the answer."In about ten minutes time I will be back here at the same spot"' said Jan:"make sure that Heimers will be here."
Ten minutes later the same scene was played; a man bending down to tie his shoe laces, softly speaking to the invisibale men behind the bamboo fence.Both the Pimpel and the Tall guy were there.The conversation was short.If one of the two could try to escape and come to the house of K.......
A Japanese guard approached,and told the white-man to get away from the fence.Until far in the night Jan was sitting on the veranda from his new Host and waited. The night air was cool, he had put a blanket around him. Suddenly he woke up from a light sleep, because of a tap on his shoulder.He jumped up with his pistol ready to shoot.Then he recognized the tall figure of the Tall guy.

Will continue:Jan is going to make weapons with Lagewind.

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