KNIL – H. Stuifbergen, ooggetuige van Nagasaki 1945

Mijn verzamelinteresse voor medailles draait met name om het verhaal achter de medaille of in dit geval oorkonde: de mens en zijn ervaringen in oorlogssituaties. Een enkele oorkonde van het oorlogsherinneringskruis is zelden interessant voor de gemiddelde verzamelaar. In dit geval gaat het zelfs om een versie zonder gesp, de meest basale variant van de oorkonde:

Toch blijkt het hier juist om een interessant verhaal te gaan dat in tegenstelling tot de meeste oorlogsverhalen niet verloren gegaan is in de tijd. Hendricus Stuifbergen heeft zijn verhaal zelf opgetekend, niet als officieel boek maar als een eenvoudig getypt verslag waarvan gelukkig een kopie bewaard is gebleven.

Stuifbergen in KNIL uniform. Foto van

Het verhaal draait om Mijn leve bij de Jappen” een dagboek van H. Stuifbergen zoals het document getiteld is en dat een duidelijk en schokkend beeld geeft van de verschrikkelijke tijd die de krijgsgevangen hadden bij de Japanners. Stuifbergen komt uiteindelijk in Japan zelf terecht in kamp Fukuoka 17B in de nabijheid van Nagasaki waar de krijgsgevangen ooggetuige zijn van de atoombom en de paddenstoelwolk die daarbij ontstaat en die hij ook getekend heeft in zijn manuscript.

Interneringkaart – bron Nationaal Archief

Zijn egodocument is daarmee een historische optekening van een zwarte tijd in de Nederlandse krijgsgeschiedenis die niet verloren mag gaan en ik daarom graag hier deel.

Stuifbergen overleeft de ontberingen en zal zijn werkzame leven als militair voortzetten, eerst nog bij het KNIL en vervolgens in Nederland bij de Koninklijke Landmacht.

Documenten ex collectie F. Riemersma

Navy – Aviator (MLD) logbooks (Catalina PBY 5A)

In two seperate instances I was able to buy the logbooks and some related papers of the same naval aviator, T.W.D. Quiné. The papers and first logbook shows that he started in a Signals (Telegrafist) role in 1947 with a commitment for 6 years

In 1949, after only 2 years in this role he was already reassigned to flight school in order to become a naval pilot. He had to quit his old role an sign again for 6 new years in his new role.

The first logbook makes it possible to follow his training in different types of aircraft and his first solo flight on October 15th 1949.

As it seems he made a mistake during training that was bad enough to get a full page in his training logbook. He forgot to switch in time to the full tank due to which he had to make an emergency landing that badly damaged his (Harvard) aircraft. It also contains a sort of compliment: he completed the emergency landing relatively well….

The later part of the first and all of the second logbook that continues to the end of his naval career in 1956, after completing his 6 years, show his regular flights for the navy. Mainly he flew in Catalina aircraft both in the Netherlands and in and to the Dutch colony of New Guinea.

He also flew on the P212 that is now the last Catalina in the Netherlands and is currently being restored by the Military Museum.

The flights include all sorts of activities as shown on a few pages here:

After completing his naval period he became a regular civil pilot. First continuing to fly in New Guinea for a local airline, de Kroonduif, until the colony was taken over by Indonesia in 1962 and the company ceased to exist in 1963.

He did his civil pilots exam (B3) in the Netherlands in 1963 and continued to work abroad for several airlines as this letter from 1969 in Kenya shows.

So far I have not been able to find a photo or any information on the latter part of his career so I hope to add more information in the future!

Austro-Hungaria, Navy group with bravery medal

This very nice grouping of Maschinen-Maat Hans (Johannes) Knoll of the Austro-Hungarian Navy was found in the Netherlands including his handwritten notes on the items and his service.

Maat is the name of the NCO rank he had and Maschinen (so a mechanic) was the trade in which he was active. A special arm badge was used the show the trade, woven or printed for NCO’s and in embroidered bullion for officers.

The white example from the white uniform in the photo below and the blue version for on the work uniform.

He was active on different ships during the 5 years (1913-’18) he served. In the picture below he is wearing the tally for Patrouillenboot Barsch of the Danube flottila but he also was active on regular navy ships that are listed on his note further in the blog.

The trade badge can be seen here on his left sleeve, also note the capbadge and the tally for Patrouillenboot Barsch.

And his cap badges from the Kaiser Franz-Joseph and Kaiser Karl period, each with a different cipher.

The group included his personal watch, a Doxa, a compass and a souvenir watch for the Jubileum of Kaiser Franz Joseph:

But for me as a medal collector the most important part is his medal group:

The silver bravery medal 2nd class was awarded in februari 1917, unfortunately I do not know yet for which action and on which ship:

And his notes on the items and his service!

A list of his medals and at the end his name.
A list of ships and locations in which he was active.

In this form it is a very nice and rare bravery group for the Austro-Hungarian Navy!

Marine – Dutch East Indies, 1947-49

Sometimes “Pieces of History” can come from your nextdoor neighbour. In this case it turns out her (step)father was a marine in the Dutch East Indies during the war for indepence of Indonesia or during the “Politionele Acties” as it is called in the Netherlands.

A total of 200.000 soldiers participated in this “war” of which 100.000 were conscripts, 25.000 were volunteers and the rest were professional soldiers. Of those 200.000 around 5000 were marines or in Dutch “mariniers” the specially trained infantry of the navy, a classic elite unit.

Re established after the world war the first groups were trained in the US but following groups were trained by the new staff that had been trained in the US and most material the marines used was American.

Aart Aartsen was a conscript who served between 1947 and 1949 and rose to the rank of temporary sergeant. As he worked in an administrative job during his period overseas he would get the relevant medal “Orde en Vrede” but without the bars for the years he served as those were only awarded for field/action service.

He would be the administrator for the Signals Materials platoon (VINMATPEL) for the Marines during a period of almost two years.

A few pages of period pictures give a good insight in the daily live in a Marine encampment in Soerabaja:

But there was also live outside of the “wire”:

And a group of officers:

A parade of (US) material of the marines with a M3A3 Stuart tank, a Bushmaster Landing Vehicle (LVT3) and even an US Navy Fire Defense trailer:

And of course the boat trip, twice:

And a navy friend?

Thanks to his son and (step)daughter I could make this short blog to remember a marine’s life and his period in Indonesia. As it often goes there was not much knowledge of his service left within the family but with some documents and photo’s you can get an impression nevertheless.

In remembrance of Aart Aartsen

KST – Cattaraugus 225Q the Para and Commando fighting knife

The Dutch Special Forces in the East Indies, both the Para and the Commando unit had a very interesting mixture of clothing and equipment. Mainly bought from the US in the pacific but also quite a lot of surplus English material.

This mixture can be seen in many of the photo’s of the unit. Like the Rawlings tanker helmet that was used as a practice helmet for the para’s. Below Lt Castelein his helmet and next to a photo from his album where he is wearing it.

For combat used there were not enough English para helmets so the motorhelmet was used. For clothing the US Army HBT camouflage (frogskin) overalls were widely used, not only by the special forces but all units. Use by para’s seen in the photo on the left. Even some very rare US camouflage experimental jackets and trousers were used, the photo on the right shows an example of the top being used.

Man on the left wearing the trousers and severall men with the overall. Photo’s Kloër estate.

But which knife was used? In photo’s you can find a wide variety again of different knives including the US M3 knife but most often the Cattaraugus 225Q is seen and it is found in several museum and private collections with a direct link to the KST and Para company.

With some reading on US fora the background of the knife can be easily established. It was a 6″ hunting knife that was ordered by the Quartermaster Corps for both the Army and Navy and it was used in all sorts of units as a general purpose/ fighting knife like there were several others in both the army and navy. In war period advertising it was described as the commando knife with a drawing of a para with the knife:

Ad found on the internet
A well used and a near mint version of the same knife!

This knife was used extensively by the commando’s and the para’s of the Speciale Troepen and the Para Company in the Dutch East Indies. Below the KST commando’s with the knife

Photo from the Kloër estate
Another KST commando with the knife. Photo Kloër estate.

And a famous picture of a group of para’s getting ready for one of the action jumps were several are wearing this type of knife!

Photo from the NIMH

Navy – Nanking 1927, Dutch involvement

Although the 1927 Nanking incident mainly involved the great nations of that time there also was a minor involvement of the Dutch Navy and a group of their landing forces. Two albums from an officer of the light cruiser Hr. Ms. Sumatra show photo’s of the Dutch involvement in the incident that were previously unknown!

As it happened the Sumatra was taken into use in 1926 and started a trip around the world to the Dutch East Indies in September of that year. It had a crew of just over 500 men.

During that trip the Sumatra stopped in many place like Hawai.

The officers in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura in Japan.

The officer in action with the sextant on the ship.

The ship arrived in Shanghai on the 19th of Februari, so in time for the Nanking incident about which you can read more here

In the photo album also some clippings about the incident:

A Dutch naval landing detachment of around 140 men would be stationed in the business district just like English and American forces in order to protect western properties, including some Dutch trade and banking companies.

English forces:

American forces

And finally the Dutch naval landing forces!

I will further research the incident and the Dutch involvement so expect some updates and maybe some more photo’s from the albums in the coming period.

Marguerite Delorme – Orientalist painting

Recently I picked up a small painting because of the combination of quality and theme, an oriental rifle. It turned out to be an easy piece of art for furher research.

The painting on a piece of wood was not signed but had an artists workshop stamp. This stamp is the type that is used when the estate of an artist that has passed away is cleared and all studies and unsigned pieces get a stamp as proof that these works indeed came from that artists estate.

As Marguerite Delorme is a quite well known orientalist and the theme of this piece fits well with the attribution to her.

After some research online I found a finished masterpiece by her. This small work must have been a forestudy for that piece.

The study shows a more loose, impressionist style with broad brushstroke than the final work which is why like it even more than the full size masterpiece.

Austro-Hungaria, Military cemetery in Berezhany – then and now.

In todays world doing research on the internet often delivers great info. This happened when I was looking into some photo’s of Captain Swoboda who was an engineering officer in the Austro-Hungarian army in WW1.

While his main task was building bridges and such there were also some photo’s of monument for a military cemetery in the group. He built these in the city of Berezhany (today in Ukraina) after the city was captured by Austro-Hungarian forces in 1916 from the Russians that had invaded the city before.

Searching for the cemetery on the internet I found some recent photo’s on Wikipedia with the current situation of these monument so here is a quick comparison – then and now:

Photo from Wikipedia
And the caption on the back of the original photo

Also the central cross still being built in 1916 and how it looks today:

And as the last one a grave for an officer (Oberleutnant Franz Volbrecht of KuK IR Nr 75) that still exists today:

Source: colour photo’s from Wikipedia

Marinier – Nieuw Guinea 1962

Het verhaal achter een medaille maakt het een stuk geschiedenis in plaats van een voorwerp. Hier is het verhaal achter een Nieuw Guinea Herinneringskruis met gesp 1962. Dit kruis werd verleend aan allen die tenminste 3 maanden dienst deden in Nieuw Guinea tussen eind 1949 en 1962. Er is echter maar één type gesp, die met het jaartal 1962. Die gesp werd aan het kruis toegevoegd voor degenen die opgetreden hadden tegen “kwaadwilligen” in 1962. Het gaat dan om Indonesische infiltranten.

Medaille, oorkonde en mouwembleem van dienstplichtig marinier G.T. Rutten

Vanaf 1961 voerde Indonesië actief actie om Nieuw Guinea, toen nog een Nederlandse kolonie die onderdeel was geweest van Nederlands Indië, aan de Indonesische Republiek toe te voegen. Nederland probeerde dit met behulp van meer militaire inzet te voorkomen. In 1962 waren er op het hoogtepunt ongeveer 1685 Nederlandse mariniers in Nieuw Guinea.

Omdat de Nederlandse militaire inzet internationaal politiek gevoelig lag moesten de militairen die in 1962 met burgervliegtuigen als versterking naar Nieuw Guinea vlogen ook als burger vliegen zonder zichtbare militaire zaken. Die moesten in de ruimbagage opgeborgen worden. Met name vanwege de tussenstop in Japan.

Rutten die als marinier is opgeleid tijdens zijn dienstplicht vliegt op 2 januari 1962 met een groepje versterkingen naar Nieuw Guinea. In zijn brieven is te lezen dat de aanvullingen en de oudgedienden niet direct goed met elkaar overweg kunnen maar die stonden vlak voor hun terugkeer naar Nederland.

Tijdens zijn verblijf op Nieuw Guinea (vooral Biak) schrijft hij veelvuldig brieven aan zijn moeder die bij de groep bewaard gebleven zijn. Daaruit blijkt ook dat hij in de loop van zijn tijd daar een fototoestel overneemt van een andere militair die naar Nederland terugkeert. Zo zijn er zowel foto’s als beschrijvingen van zijn activiteiten aldaar. Een paar foto’s en fragmenten op het kampement en “onderweg”:

Wat fragmenten uit zijn brieven die een indruk geven van de situatie:

17-1-’62 Dat geval met die torpedoboot moet je ook maar niet zo ernstig nemen want hier is niks loos mam, wel hebben we gisteren 8 infiltranten gevangen genomen…

22-2-’62 Op het ogenblik heb ik de wacht op de “Oregon-trail” mam, dat is ‘n post zo’n 20km de boes in, er komt hier bijna geen sterveling. Hier moeten we ‘n paar kust batterijen bewaken die hier het vliegveld beschermen tegen aanvallen vanuit zee, ook staat er een luchtdoelgeschut.

16-3-’62 Ik ga direct weg naar Kaimana waarschijnlijk. Het is wel plotseling en zo is het op het ogenblik een paniekzooitje…

20-3-’62 Mam we zijn hier in bivak gelegd om eventuele infiltranten op te vangen en stellingen te bouwen.

2-4-’62 We zijn vorige week met spoed vertrokken naar kampong pronLo (?), dat ligt tussen Kaimana en Merauke omdat hier een infiltratie heeft plaatsgehad. Toen zijn we hier geland en hebben het strand over een lengte van 70km afgezocht. Nou mama dat valt tegen want ieder ogenblik kun je beschoten worden…bij de kampong aangekomen hebben we twee complete rubberboten gevonden en 3 automatische machinepistolen met munitie. We hebben toen een patrouilletocht gemaakt de kali op maar alleen sporen gevonden. Het aantal wordt geschat op dertig.

17-4-’62 Verders mam hebben wij in Tronga 10 infiltranten gepakt, ze waren helemaal uitgehongerd en de meeste wapens die ze hadden waren zo verroest dat ze het niet meer deden.

De laatste brieven in de groep zijn van mei dus mogelijk is hij in juni weer naar Nederland gekomen? In ieder geval gaat zijn groot verlof pas in november van dat jaar in.

Groot verlof na anderhalf jaar onafgebroken dienstplicht

Navy – Dutch Naval Aviation (MLD) Wings by Toye

During worldwar two the Dutch naval airwing was still using mainly embroidered (bullion) wings for its men in Europe. This was different for the tropics where due to the amount of washing needed metal wings were used that could be easily detached from the uniform.

According to a source on internet (could not confirm this myself yet) the commander of the colonial naval forces ordered a batch of metal wings from the Toye firm in England for use in the tropics (order BDO.12.GHJ/345944) probably in 1943. A total of five wings were authorized for the navy at that moment: aviator / navigator / aviator+navigator / gunner / signaller. The first three, shown in the picture below, are full wings the other two and the later additions are half wings.

When they were actually produced and delivered is unclear. So far I have seen only pictures of these wings being worn in the Dutch East Indies post 1945 and of course into the 1950s and 60s in the Netherlands.

The wings are all marked TOYE SILVER but the silver content is unknown and they do not have an actual silver hallmark. The combined wing for Aviator and Navigator is the rarest and was constructed of a regular Aviator wing plus the specific addition of the wreathed W for Waarnemer (=navigator). The amount made was not large enough to make a specific die for this wing as a whole it seems, only for the wreathed W that was manually added!

Some original but unused surplus examples have come to the market in recent years.