KNIL – officers ID cards

As in any army around WW2 there were ID cards. Often different versions for officers than for other ranks. The two versions here are both for officer of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army.

They are slightly different one is the standard, official version and the other is a temporary one that was handed out during the war against the Japanese but before the occupation which makes it probably quite rare.

The official one (the front can be seen above left) was to a captain who would receive the Military order of William 4th class for his resistance actions against the Japanese.

His medal group is in the collection of Museum Bronbeek and I have donated an album to the museum regarding his receipt of the MWO4 after WW2.

The second was to Lieutenant who was involved in the defense of Palembang in February 1942 and the fights against the Japanese parachutist who landed there. He probably lost his regular ID in that period and received a new one before the surrender to the Japanese on March 9th. So this temporary version was made only days before the surrender.

Both officers would survive the war and internation in the POW camps of the Japanese and reach the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the post war period.

NDVN – Korea 1950-’51 – Munnix snapshots

In an earlier post I have described the medals and insignia of the Dutch during the Korea war. In this post I want to share original pictures of one of the participants. His familyname was Munnix and he was already a veteran (Marine) of the war in the Dutch East Indies.

He was part of the first detachment of the Dutch participation in the war in Korea (as part of the 38th Infantry Regiment which was part of the 2nd, Indian Head, Infantry Division). He was part of the support company (ost.comp) and was a machinegunner (.30 Browning).

A few photo’s have a text I will share here as well but most do not. No further context is known as the group of photo’s came into my hands with no additional information.

In memory of all veterans of the Korean war 1950-1954

KNIL – Bronze Cross for escape and resistance

The Bronze Cross is the third highest medal for Gallantry in the Netherlands (after the Military Order of William and the Bronze Lion). It was awarded a total 3497 times since its institution in 1940.

Citation: Barend Nicolaas Tuinenburg, born June 21, 1906, Reserve soldier of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Army number 65207).
In December 1944 escaped from the prisoner of war camp Aikit (Siam, current Thailand). Joined the Thai gangs, which harmed the Japs by raiding Japanese camps, stations, and trains, resulting in many casualties on the Japanese side, and also saving many Javanese families from the hands of the Japs.
After the capitulation of Japan proceeded on foot to the ex-prisoner of war camp Canbury and reported there to the Dutch commander.

The award was given by Royal Decree. No award document was given to the recipient apart from an extract (uittreksel) of the Decree. This was the custom untill recent times.

MWO4 – Marine H. Jansma Atjeh 1874

This is the original paybook of the Dutch Marine (naval infanterist) H. Jansma (1854-1931) who was awarded the Military order of William 4th class and the Honorable Mention (Mention in Despatches) for his actions during the 2nd Atjeh war.

Jansma as a civillian in the 1920s

His blue paybook is covered in leather (pigskin) with his name on both sides.

In the paybook all his decorations are noted as well the Honorable Mention two times! First the actual MiD is mentioned and later the award of the crown device or in Dutch kroon is mentioned as such. These crowns were only introduced in 1878 and the MiD was already awarded in 1876 so before the actual device. The crowns were retrospectively awarded/added!

Here the citation of his award:

“On November 7th, as part of the Marine landing division in Atjeh, participated in battles distincting himself and especially excellent in the taking of the reinforced village of Lemboe by, together with two of his comrades being the first to penetrate the main stronghold on the Northwestern side.”

This type of citation, first over the wall, first entering a dangerous place etc. were typical of 19th century awards of the Military order of William.

Somehow I have only seen very few of such early “paybooks” with important gallantry decorations. They appear neither in private collections nor musea. The actual award documents are seen more often.

German Hussar by Hoynck van Papendrecht

This is another work of the famous Dutch artist Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht who specialized in military subject. His full biography you can read here. And I have more extensive story about another watercolour by him in an earlier blog

This specific watercolour depicts a German Hussar (light cavalry) of the Brandenburger Husaren Regiment Nr. 3 – Husaren Regiment Von Zieten (Brandenburgisches) Nr. 3 and has the typical refinement of HvP.

It is dated 1901 in which period he made trip to Germany to study their uniforms and make paintings. There are several more of similar paintings from the same period that can be found here

KNIL – Major A. Picard, Atjeh items

Most etnographical items in Dutch collections do not have a historical background story, provenance. These stories are often lost over time so that is an extra reason for writing down these blogs.

These items were collected during the career of Major A. Picard of the Dutch East Indies Army. He was born in 1850, between the early 1870s and 1898, his pension date, he rose throught the ranks to the status of Major. After his pension he returned to the Netherlands and passed away in 1905. For one of his actions he received an Honorable Mention (Mention is Despatches) which was the 2nd highest acknowledgement for gallantry after the Military Order of William. He spent his entire career in Norhtern Sumatra (Atjeh region during the long lasting wars there).

The collecting of etnographical items was popular amongst officers and even promoted by higher ranking officers. Looting was not accepted (which does not mean it did not happen) but collecting/buying was seen as an investment in a better understanding of the local population as was the learning of the local language.

His complete collection was handed down in the family several times until the last family member deceased in the early 2000s. An antiques dealer bought the entire contents of the house and sold them off.

Photo of how the items were found by the antiques dealer.

A friend was able to buy the medals and paperwork and I bought several etnographical items. You can match them with the photo above!

Despite the handkerchiefs these are all items for Atjehnese men, for tobacco, sirih and chalk or toiletries (tool sets with items like ear wax spoons, nose hair clippers and tooth picks) for the men of that region.

KNIL – Gajo 1904 military expedition

The Dutch Campaign or Expedition medal (ereteken voor Belangrijke Krijgsverrigtingen) in context. A clasp was added to the ribbon for specific campaigns (all colonial). Next to this a Honorable Mention (MID) could be added in the form of a crown.

In this case the claps for the Expedition to the Gajo- en Alaslanden of 1904. A rare clasp ( with only around 350 awarded) for one of the most notorious expeditions in the Dutch colonial history. This was mainly caused by the book in the background which in detail describes the horrors of the expedition but on top is the first description with photo’s made by one of the participating officers. These photo’s also include the images of many native casualties.

The Gajo region was brought under Dutch Government control during this expedition. It is a remote region in the North of the Island Sumtra. It is connected to Atjeh but without the strategic (military, civil or trade) importance hence the very late moment of this action.

Most etnographical items from this region only came into Dutch collections during and after this expedition but are relatively rare like this keris with a typical Gajo ivory handle. A similar kris handle was used by the freedom fighter from Atjeh (Aceh), teukoe Oemar (teuku Umar) which is part of a Dutch museum collection (Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden).

Left a kris in Minang style with Gajo ivory handle and a loose ivory handle in the same style both from my collection next to the kris of teukoe Oemar from the collection of Museum Volkenkunde.

The significance of the stars are described in the Kris Disk by Jensen and he links them to the importance/status and role of the owner.

The campaign medals are generic and not named so cannot be traced to the original owner. This one is of the typical local style of mounting on pigskin and with a privately purchased crown for the MID (the official version had a very poor system for attachment on the ribbon). Both are typical of the period.

See for some more etnographical arms from this region my earlier blog!

Sources:

Krisdisk (2007) by Karsten Sejr Jensen

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden (photo of kris of Teukoe Oemar)

Atjeh noble saber (Peudeuëng)

Next to the very distinctive Sikin and Rencong from Aceh there is another weapon that is directly linked to Aceh but only for those of noble status and in the status variation (so with gold and diamonds) only for those closely connected to the Sultan of Aceh.

Longer weapons of all kinds were named pedang in Indonesia. On Sumatra in the Aceh region the local name was Peudeuëng which was used only for an extra long type of sabre in the Indian Tulwar style.

The noble (status) variation has a few very distinctive differences, The steel handle has a woven (teurhat) silver cover (kabat). The style of weaving can help determine the age but they are basically all 19th century or earlier. The top of the handle has a gold cover (crown) which in this case has also rough diamonds (inten) and enamel work as often seen on status rencong and sikins.

One of the most famous versions of this weapon is the version of Teukeu Umar that is currently in the Bronbeek collection. That version also has a golden cover of the entire handle which signifies an even higher status!

Photo of Teukeu Umar and his followers with behind him a status Peudeung and many other notable status weapons (photo from the collection of the Tropenmuseum, taken from Wikipedia).

The blades are often longer than 80cms (total length around 100 cms) and always flexible in a high quality damascus steel. Probably most often if not always the blades are imported.

High quality, flexible blade with multiple grooves making it lighter and stronger!

This example came from the collection of Karsten Sjer Jensen (writer of the famous Krisdisk). If the number 8 which can be seen both on the handle and the sheath was put there by him is unknown.

Number 8 on handle and sheath

The entire quality of blade, handle and goldwork make these weapons very rare and collectable today!

Sources: Catalogus Museum Bronbeek, Het verhaal van Indie, deel 1

KNIL – Bronze Lion (posthumously) resistance against the Japanese in 1942

The Bronze Lion – Bronzen Leeuw (BL) – is the 2nd highest Gallantry decoration of the Netherlands. It was instituted in 1944 and was the final part of the renewal of the Dutch system of gallantry decorations to extend beyond the Miltary Order of William, which remained the highest gallantry decoration.

Between 1944 and 1962 the Bronze Lion was awarded 1206 times. Most of these were for actions in WW2 (also retroactive for actions starting in 1940) and the colonial war in Indonesia in the period from 1945 to 1950. More recently it has been awarded several times for actions in Afghanistan.

In total 336 awards were to allied WW2 men and 869 to Dutch of which 177 were postumously awarded. A total of 176 were awarded to members of the Dutch East Indies Army.

The documents here are for a posthumously awarded Bronze Lion to a sergeant of the infantry of the Dutch East Indies Army. The Bronze Lion and papers were sent to the father of the sergeant without any ceremony.

I am still researching the circumstances and hope to find more info on this resistance/guerilla group but here the info I have accumulated so far.

First the accompanying letter to the father which makes this a rare paper group!

And below the two pages of the award document including the full citation:

Citation. See for the full text in Dutch farther below. It states that the awardee sergeant A.P.J. van der Veen was awarded the BL for his guerilla actions on the island of Celebes after the Japanese invasion (and following Dutch surrender) together with 7 other NCO’s and 2 officers. They participated in actions as a group but also split into several smaller groups led by the two officers. After some time they had no ammunition and food supplies left and fell into the hands of the Japanese. The Japanese showed no mercy for the continuation of guerilla actions after the main force had already surrendered. All 10 men were executed in August 1942 by the Japanese but on different dates and locations.

The following newspaper article from 1985 sheds some more light on the guerilla group on the island of Celebes:

Here is a translated summary of the text above:

The total group initially consisted of some 120 men. Lt Van Daalen already was in the process of surrendering his weapons after the main force on Java had surrendered in the beginning of March. Lt De Jong took action and stopped him, retook the guns that already had been handed in and freed the Dutch Prisoners of War from the Japanese force of some 50 men. The 120 men were split into several smaller groups all trying to survive and fight the Japanese. Without modern means of communication they kept in contact through couriers only. They did have some radiocommucation with the Dutch forces in Australia where they requested additional supplies and guns. These were delivered some five weeks later by the Australian Air Force, unfortunately the communication was also noticed by the Japanese. Based on that they sent 500 men of additional forces to the region. The Japanese were able to capture the dropped supplies.

In the beginning of August, after 5 months of fighting guerilla actions all supplies and ammunition were gone. The Japanese pressure on local people to hand over the guerilla’s was also intensified in that period. Based on these circumstances maintaining the group as a whole was no longer possible. Lt De Jong decided to give all remaining men the freedom to act as they saw fit. Surrender to the Japanese, try to hide or continue to fight as he and Lt Van Daalen and some 14 men did. After a few more days Lt De Jong and Lt Van Daalen and their men all were captured. All captured men were beheaded for their actions.

One sergeant that had chosen to go into hiding was able to stay out of the hands of the Japanese during the entire war and was the only known survivor of the group. He received no gallantry award! The faith of many of the others remains unknown/unresearched.

The commanding officer Lt De Jong was awarded the Military Order of William 4th class – the highest decoration for Gallantry. The other officer Van Daalen and 7 NCO’s were all awarded a Bronze Lion.

Lt Van Daalen was awarded the Bronze Lion before the awards to the NCO group. His text is different from that of the NCO’s but also different to that of the MWO. His award was made on January 27th 1947.

The NCO’s of the group received the Bronze Lion more than half a year later, on September 13th 1947. What the reason is for the difference remains unclear, but the size of the group probably influenced this and maybe the research into all men of this group.

Lt De Jong was awarded the MWO on October 7th 1947. That award process is the most difficult one to complete so that it was awarded later makes sense.

573        The late Willem Hendrik Johannes Everhardus van Daalen, born Batavia September 6th 1914, first lieutenant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, passed away, Sario-Menado August 25th 1942.

So far I have not been able to determine why the 8th NCO that is mentioned in the citation was not awarded a Bronze Lion. My hypothesis is that he was an indigenous soldier of whom the authorities have not been able to determine enough details or even a name. Probably similar to BL 653 to Sergeant Malawan of whom no other details are given. Not even his Army number has been traced.

Here is a list of the group of Bronze Lions, all with the same citation text:

650        The late Johannes Antonius Gerissen, born Nijmegen April th 1909, sergeant-major-instructor of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 87021), passed away Kolonodale, August 15th 1942.
651        The late Nicolaas Christianus Antonius de Jager, born Leeuwarden August 8th 1905, sergeant-major-administrator of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 85463), passed away, Kolonodale 14 aug. 1942.
652        The late Cornelis Wouter Kors, born Djokjakarta July 11th 1908, quartermaster of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 84598), passed away Kolonodale August 15th 1942.
653        The late Malawan, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, passed away Kolonodale August 28th 1942.
654        The late Teunis Gijsbertus Onwezen, born Amersfoort November 5th 1908, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 86235), passed away Kolonodale August 15th 1942. 657        The late Arnoldus Petrus Johannes van der Veen, born Batavia March 20th 1919, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 92899), passed away Kolonodale August 12th 1942. 659        The late Hendrik Wonnink, born Soerabaja 23 juli 1914, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 92361), passed away Kolonodale August 12th 1942.

Through the website of the Dutch War Grave society it is also possible to search on location. The location Kolonodale shows two more victims in the same period. Soldier Cornelis Reijnhout born in Middelburg March 29th 1914 and sergeant Johannes Hendrik de Bruin born in Djokjakarta October 8th 1903. Both passed away on the same date as sergeants Wonnink, Van der Veen but did not receive gallantry awards. If they belonged to the same group (my current hypothesis) still has to be researched.

And the last award for this action is to the commanding officer of the group who was awarded the Military Order of William on Ocotber 7th 1947

5591    The late Johannes Adrianus de Jong, born 17-7-1914 Rotterdam, son of Frederik Willem and Aleida Suijkerbuik, passed away 25-8-1942 Sario.

They shall not be forgotten!

Full text of the citation in Dutch:

Wijlen Arnoldus Petrus Johannes van der Veen, geb. Batavia 20 maart 1919, sergeant der infanterie van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (stamboeknummer 92899), overl. Kolonodale 12 aug. 1942.

Heeft zich – tezamen met 7 andere onderofficieren – in de oorlogsmaanden 1941/1942 tijdens de acties in Celebes, onderscheiden door daden van bijzondere moed en beleid tegenover de vijand.
Behorende tot het Troepencommando van Menado, waren zij ingedeeld bij de afdelingen van de Luitenants de Jong en van Daalen, die – na de capitulatie van het Java Leger – weigerden gehoor te geven aan de oproep om de wapens neer te leggen en besloten de strijd voort te zetten, welke in hoofdzaak plaats vond in het gebied tussen Poso en Kolonodale in Midden-Celebes.
Door guerilla-actie, nu eens gezamenlijk, dan weer gesplitst optredende, werden de vijand belangrijke verliezen berokkend, waarbij echter aan eigen zijde ook offers moesten worden gebracht.
De steeds opgejaagde troep kreeg uiteindelijk gebrek aan munitie, voedsel en medicamenten, terwijl de bevolking, onder druk van de Japanners, geen hulp meer durfde verlenen.
Tenslotte vielen de resterende militairen in handen van de vijand, in wiens ogen hun voortgezette weerstand geen genade kon vinden.
De beide officieren, commandanten, werden naar Menado overgebracht en aldaar onthoofd, terwijl deze 8 onderofficieren te Kolonodale moesten achterblijven, alwar zijn in de maand Augustus 1942 werden terechtgesteld.
Het zou de Luitenants niet mogelijk zijn geweest het verzet zovele maanden vol te houden, indien zij niet de krachtige steun van deze onderofficieren hadden gehad. Naast grote moed en trouw hebben zij bij het herhaald gesplitst optreden ook het benodigde beleid getoond.
Evenals thans reeds in Minehassa geschiedt met de namen van de Luitenants de Jong en van Daalen zullen daar in de toekomst ook de namen van deze onderofficieren als sieraden van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger met eerbied en waardering worden genoemd.

KNIL – Hans Christoffel – handtekening

Kapitein Christoffel was toen hij het KNIL verliet de meest gedecoreerde officier met een unieke combinatie aan onderscheidingen voor dapperheid, zeker voor zijn relatief lage rang. Al tijdens zijn actieve periode was er veel discussie over zijn handelen.

Een goed overzicht van zijn leven is op wikipedia te vinden.

In alle jaren heb ik buiten musea geen items gezien die aan hem toebehoord hebben, zelfs geen handtekening. Dat is totdat ik deze handtekening kreeg, een tweede handtekening ben ik ook nog niet tegengekomen.