The Krieger Collection – Tsuba’s, Netsuke and a war tale too!

For a long time I have been very interested in Japanese applied arts, netsuke, inro and tsuba’s mainly. Although I stopped collecting such items actively I still bought these 4 items from a friend.

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The provenance wat too interesting to let them pass by. The friends grandfather was Professor Dr. C.C. Krieger. He collected these items in the first half of the 20th century when he was the Conservator for the Department of Japan, China and mainland Asia in what today is the Ethnographical Museum (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde) in Leiden. He held this position from 1927 up to his retirement in 1949.

In 1935 he promoted to PhD in the Japanese language and the same year he became professor in the same subject at the Utrecht University. In 1947 he was promoted to special professor (bijzonder hoogleraar) in the art and history of the Far East including the Japanese language, a position which he held upon his final retirement in 1954, aged 70.

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Dunhill-Namiki fountain pen

About 20 years before I had already received his fountain pen as a gift for my collection. Being a specialist in the Japanese language and art he obviously wrote with a luxurious Japanese lacquer pen. It was a Dunhill-Namiki, a cooperation between the famous London retailer of smoking utensils Dunhill and the Japanese pen company of Namiki (the current Pilot). These Namiki pens are famous for the lacquer (maki-e) of high quality and also were made by famous artists. Dunhill retailed them in the Western world. In this case the pen was used intensively. It is a rare pen as a size 20 (the biggest they made apart from the jumbo size 50) in a period that watches and pens were still small in general. A very appreciated gift and still one of my favorites!


His extensive collection of Japanese art was divided between his 3 children, amongst which the mother of my friend. She held on to the inheritance and after her death her two daughters inherited the collection and I was happy to gain these 4 objects from his original collection.

Netsuke

Two netsuke, toggles for the inro. One a relatively crude depiction of a foreigner and the other a depiction of a famous Japanese tale.

Nanban Tsuba

The other two items are tsuba or handguards for the Japanese swords. In this case foreign imported items most probably and adapted for Japanese use. In Japan these are called nanban. If the professor had a special interest in Japanese items with a different origin or depiction of foreigners is not known. Below a short description I received regarding these tsuba.

Martial arts meet the decorative arts. The round guard looks Chinese, Ming in style, but possibly a later revival piece. Note the voal delinaeation of the washer-seat on one side, which on the opposite side is rectangular. More study is required to determine the date of manufacture.

The octagonal one may be Korean. In both cases, these guards have been adapted to Japanese use. Unfortunately, the addition of hitsu-ana has defaced the original design. The condition appears to be outstanding.

Damascened guards do no fare so well under heavy use. Neither of these guards seem to have been worn “in the field”. Both were well cared-for by previous owners. Their preservation today is thanks to the uniquely Japanese culture of appreciating sword-parts as works of art in their own right.

Dr. Krieger and the War against the Japanese

Even though the items are not military in essence there is a small link to a military history due to the person of the original owner!

In the 1930s Japanese influence in Asia was expanding and felt threatening for most Western powers in the region. The Dutch with their presence in the Dutch East Indies were part of this fear. The actual extend of the threat would finally become clear with the start of the war against the Japanese from Pearl Harbour onwards.

In these 1930s the Dutch Military Intelligence already worked on breaking the codes the Japanese used for their international communications. What I was not aware of when I started this blog is that Dr. Krieger actually was part of this effort!

A collecting friend has several items in his collection that relate to this subject and he brought this fact to my attention. It is even mentioned in the book by Robert Haslach about the subject. The dutch Naval officer Nuboer asked for the help of Krieger (also a former Naval officer!) in his effort in breaking the Japanese codes in 1934. Nuboer would eventually be successful in his efforts! You can read some more about him here.

The friend has in his private collection a Naval uniform of Nuboer and a tropical suit that belonged to Krieger. Here some pictures of the Nuboer uniform.

How Nuboer and Krieger came into contact is not yet clear and subject of further research I want to do. What is clear that the help of a former Naval officer with extensive knowledge of the Japanese and their language was valuable to the Dutch Forces.

This was formalized in 1937. Henri Koot, the head of military intelligence requested his official help. Krieger would become, next to his job as Curator of the Asian department of the Leiden Ethnographical Museum, member of the General Staff of the Army in The Hague. His work would only end after the German occupation in 1940. Due to the secrecy of the job and the subsequent war little is known about this period but it will also be subject of further research!

Sources: 

  • http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn4/nuboer
  • https://profs.library.uu.nl/index.php/profrec/getprofdata/1188/147/183/0
  • https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Koot
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity
  • Private collection including Krieger suit from the collection of the late Sjoerd Douma and Nuboer Naval uniform
  • Robert Haslach; Nishi No Kaze Hare

Atjeh & Gajo status Rentjong – Aceh and Gayo status Rencong

In my earlier blog I already described the status weapons of the Aceh and Gayo regions of Sumatra to some extend. Here I want to show some detailed photo’s of the quality of workmanship in these status weapons! Remember the golden crowns are rare, maybe only 1 in a 100 examples have these….

Aceh rencong with golden crowns

An overview of 4 rencong, probably all 19th century pieces with the original sheaths on three of them. Short description from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Handle is made of “white” buffalo horn as opposed to the more common dark horn. Enamel of the crowns is of very high quality.
  • Handle made of Akar Bahar, root of the sea, which is very brittle and probably the rarest handle material. The back part therefore also of gold with a diamond (inten) on top. A very high status item.
  • Handle of dark horn and smooth as opposed to the first and last handle. Top of the metal also has very nice gold inlays.
  • Dark buffalo handle and the biggest size rencong of these four with some old battle damage and likely the oldest of these.

Note that the bottom two crowns have a very high quality of enamel and the top two ones hardly have any enamel.

Gayo status rencong with silver and (marine) ivory

In the Gayo region the use of silver was more common on status pieces. Also the use of marine ivory (dandan) was quite common. Also the first metal part often has an overlay in copper or suassa.

The first has an unusual size, the longest of all seven rencong in this blog. Also the combination of ivory, silver crowns and suassa overlay is remarkable. Probably of ritual meaning or very high status.

The second is a more standard Gayo status rencong with brass overlay and only ivory on the handle. Both have the typical blood groove that is more or less standard on Gayo made pieces.

The third seems to be a Aceh made piece for the Gayo region. The use of a full silver handle with suassa details and the sheath hint at Gayo use but the quality of workmanship hint at Aceh. An interesting cross cultural rencong.

Input and help in determining age and details of these rencong is more than welcome, please contact me with additional info!

Still Life with Medals by P.C. Kramer, 1920

It is not so often that you find a still life with Dutch medals on it, let alone colonial medals. As it directly fits my Dutch East Indies medal collection I was quite happy when I was able to acquire this painting by the Dutch Artist P.C. Kramer.

Kramer is a relatively well known painter and his work is shown in several Dutch museums. . He lived between 1879 and 1940 in Delft. The painting discussed in the blog below also hints at a background related to the Dutch East indies, like the medals in my painting.

On the painting there are several medals. The top medalrow starts with a Medal for long and faithful service for NCO’s. The Dutch Expedition Cross is depicted twice, in the top medalrow in the middle and in the bottom medalrow to the right. The top row ends with the 1873-74 Atjeh medal.

The Citadel Medal for the siege of Antwerp in the left corner is a bit unexpected next to the Expedition Cross.

It looks like the painter was not an expert in medals as they are shown in the wrong order in the top row, the Atjeh medal is upside down and the bottom row is a very unlikely combination. Combining this with his year of birth they were possibly family heirlooms.

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Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht – the story behind one of his works

Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht (1858-1933, HvP in short) was a well known Dutch artist who is remembered mostly for his works of art in relation to military themes. So his works have the interest of both art museums and collectors and military museums and collectors of military artifacts. More about his life and work can be found here: http://hoynck-van-papendrecht.nl/

I have two works of art from his hand in my collection. At first I was not able to get the story behind one of these picture here but fortunately Jacques Bartels of the website above and author of the biography of HvP was able to help.

The drawing is actually an illustration from the book “My lady nobody” by Maarten Maartens a Dutch writer who wrote in English so was actually not very well known in the Netherlands as a result of that. More about him and his works can be found here: http://maartenmaartens.nl/

The book is now part of the Gutenberg project so has been digitalized including the illustrations made by HvP and can be found here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/49903/49903-h/49903-h.htm

The illustration is of the to main characters of the book Ursula and Gerard Baron van Helmont who is an officer in the Dutch East Indies and recently returned home after being wounded in Aceh. For his action he was knighted with the prestigious Military Order of William which can be seen on his chest.

Below the illustration as it appeared in the book.

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“‘I AM COME TO MAKE CONFESSION AND THEN TO LEAVE YOU’”

And the actual drawing as it looks today:

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Where HvP is known for his use of colour in his water colours in this case the use is minimal as it was to be printed in black and white. But his signature quality is there in abundance in this really nice work by him!

Short overview of 19th Century status weapons of the Aceh and Gayo areas.

This is a translated/short version of an article I published in Wapenfeiten in Dutch in 2011!

One of my long standing collecting interests is the “Atjeh oorlog” or in English the Aceh war which lasted from 1873 (first Aceh war) to roughly 1941 (Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies). My main interest on the Dutch side are the medals and orders and related paperwork of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, abbreviated as KNIL in Dutch.

Many books have been written about this war so I will not discuss the war and its backgrounds here. Instead I will discuss some status weapons and related etnographic items in his article both from the Aceh and Gayo region on Sumatra, Indonesia.

In three pictures I have tried to show the most important types of status weapons and some related contextual items.

Most of these status weapons were made before 1873 as during the war and following periods much more practical versions were made and after the 19th century production practically stopped altogether because wearing such weapons was prohibited by the Dutch colonial rulers.

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On the picture above you can see two daggers of the “rentjong” or rencong type and two swords of the sikin type, The rencong and sikin can be considered the “national” weapons of the Aceh region. Of these weapons many examples can be found in Dutch collections, both private and museum. The long lasting war in that region brought a continued influx of Dutch soldiers many of whom collected local weapons and brought them home after their overseas military time.

The two sikin swords are both of the straight, panjang, type with the most common type of handle, the hulu tumpang made of buffalo horn. In this case the somewhat less found light colour of horn is used. What makes them rare and status pieces are the “crowns” between handle and blade which are made of high grade gold and embellished with enamel decorations. The use of crowns and gold in general on weapons was reserved for nobility and local leadership, including religious (Islamic) leadership. On the top you can see a double crown with a rounded top (glupa type) and on the bottom version had a triple crown with a pointed top (puco type). The wooden traditional sheath of the sikin has been inscribed with a text that translates into “This sikin belongs to Teungkoe Jat…?” The title of Teungkoe is used for Aceh nobility.

Both rencong daggers have the typical hooked handle that is called hulu meucangge. The bottom version is again made of horn but the one on top has a handle made of black coral, akar bahar, which is rare and prone to breakage.

All weapons are laid down on a typical Aceh rattan shield called peurisse.

Afbeelding2

In the photo above you can see two more sikin in the bottom part but also a different type of sword: the peudeung. This specific variation of that sword could only be used by noble men that were close to the Sultan of Aceh and is quite rare. It can be distinguished from more common versions by two features. Firstly the full metal handle is covered by woven silver, called “kabat”. Secondly the top is covered by high grade gold (another crown variation) with enamel and even rough, uncut diamonds (inten). This type of peudeung was mainly used as a symbol of status and is quite unpractical as a weapon. Also the size is very large where the Aceh men were quite small in that time.

This example comes from the (late) Jenssen collection (well known for his Krisdisk).

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On the 3rd picture some material from the Gayo region that was related to Aceh but had some distinctive differences. Most material of that region was collected during the bloody 1904 expedition led by Lieutenant-Colonel Van Daalen.

What distinguishes the Gayo status pieces from that of the Aceh region is the use of silver for the crowns and suassa (gold with copper) for decorations which in Aceh was not used on sikin and rencong. The rencong on the right top has a handle made of marine ivory (dandan) and is exceptionally large, probably for ceremonial use. The bottom right rencong is totally covered by silver (similar types exist in Aceh but than in gold), embellished with enamel and some added decorations in suassa. Such pieces are very rare.

In some future blogs I want to discuss and photograph some of these pieces in more detail.

Sources:

  • Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago, Albert G. van Zonneveld, Leiden 2001
  • Rentjongs, G. Bisseling en P. Vermeieren, Antwerpen 1988
  • Catalogus van ’s Rijks Ethnographisch Museum, Deel VI – Atjeh, Gajo- en Alaslanden, H.W. Fischer, Leiden 1912
  • Atjeh, J. Kreemer, Leiden 1922
  • De Inlandsche kunstnijverheid in Nederlandsch Indië, Deel V – de bewerking van niet edele-metalen, J.E. Jasper en Mas Pirngadie, ’s Gravenhage 1930

The original article in Dutch can be found in the Wapenfeiten magazine: wapenfeiten_2011_nr1

Jan Harkema, Vliegerkruis (DFC) – Naval Air Force (MLD), Netherlands East Indies 1942

A few years ago I found this Dutch Flying Cross award paper which became the start of an interesting quest into the historical background and the person behind the award.

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The result of this quest was published in Decorare, the magazine of the Dutch Order & Medal Society but here is a somewhat shorter version in English for the international audience.

The award was made to Jan Harkema, born in Velp, June 5th, 1916. In the ‘40s he was working as “coxswain” on a ship for the Koninklijke Pakketvaart Maatschappij (KPM), the company responsible for most of the sea transport to and within the Netharlands East Indies. He also was a reserve officer in the Royal Navy Reserve. In that capacity he was navigator and commander of a “flying boat”. About the man himself nothing more could be found, no picture, no family, not one trace but based on the document of the award I have been able to reconstruct some details of the activities for which he was awarded the Flying Cross.

Naval Air Force (MLD) in the Dutch East-Indies

In 1942 on the onset of the war with the Japanese in the Dutch East-Indies the MLD was active with almost 60 Flying Boats of the types Dornier Do 24K and the Consolidated PBY Catalina. These flying boats had a crew of 6 of which one was the commander, either a pilot or navigator (depending on rank of the pilot whom often also was the navigator).

The flying boats were divided in groups of 3 of the same type (in short GVT, for Groep VliegTuigen) followed by a number, in the case of Harkema GVT8. Crews could change flying boats based on maintenance or issues but would fly the same one on most occasions. Also the flying boats were individually numbered, where the Catalina’s would have a Y as prefix and the Dorniers an X for Lt. Harkema the X-16, a Dornier.

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The X-18 of GVT8 on patrol in 1941/1942

The Dutch Flying Cross, Vliegerkruis, equivalent to the DFC/DFM

The Flying Cross was established in 1941 and could be awarded to all ranks unlike its English counterpart. Up to date it has been awarded only 767 times and with some corrections for mistakes and multiple awards it was awarded to a total of 702 people in total. One person received the Flying Cross 3 times, 31 people received it twice. Up to 1946 it could not be awarded posthumously which is interesting in this case. In 1946 the criteria changed and a total of 68 crosses would be awarded posthumously.

By Royal Decree

The Dutch bravery medals of which this is one are always awarded by Royal Decree, in this case Decree number 2 of March 21st 1944 with the following text:

“as a very young navigator – flying boat commander of our Naval Air Force in the Dutch East Indies he has shown courage and perseverance in the performance of many reconnaissance and convoy flights during the extend of the war for and in the Dutch Indies and more specifically for the saving of survivors of the sunk steamship ‘Sloet van de Beele’ and our destroyer ‘Van Nes’, further the participation in the possible destruction of an enemy transport ship near Muntok on February 24th 1942, on which flight the plane was shot down by enemy fighters, but he was able to save his crew and himself on the island ‘Noordwachter’.

In war with the Japanese

The above actions took place during the Japanese attack on the Dutch East Indies. Lt. Harkema and his crew were involved from the start in the mentioned reconnaissance flights and flights in defense of ship convoys but they also flew many evacuations of civilians from Borneo to the relative safety of Java. This information and more was taken from a report of the commander of GVT8 in that period, W. Aernout that I found in the archives of the NIMH (Dutch Institute for Military History)

Rescue operation

The destroyer HMS Van Nes was sent to the island of Billiton on February 16th 1942 to meet the transport ship SS Sloet van Beele there which had been tasked with the evacuation of Dutch military personnel and civilians to Java.

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HMS Van Nes

Both ships arrived roughly the same time in the harbor of Tandjong Pandan on feb 17th. After the loading of 400 people on the SS Sloet van Beele they started their journey to Java but only half an hour later a Japanese plane was spotted. The Dutch opened fire but were not able to destroy the plane. In the early afternoon two groups of 10 Japanese bombers each were spotted. They started bombing the slow transport ship first which sunk in less than 5 minutes leaving only 5 rescue boats and a total of 203 people alive, 249 people are believed to have died in the attack but no exact list survived. After this the Japanese bombers concentrated on the Dutch destroyer that was able to withstand the attacks for some time but ultimately also sank and 68 of the crew of 143 people lost their lives.

The location of the survivors was found by a patrol of flying boats and the rescue operation lasted several days to locate and transport all of the survivors. The crew of Lt. Harkema transported 55 people to safety during this operation!

Bombing raid

Several days later in the night of 24/25th  of February 1942 the two aircraft of GVT8 that were still able to fly, the X-17 and X-18 went on a night bombing mission near Muntok. The X-16 of which Lt. Harkema was commander was not able to fly so he went with the X-18 as an additional navigator for the bombing raid. After successfully bombing a Japanese transport ship they wanted to return to their base but where both shot down by Japanese Zero fighters.

The X-18 crew was fortunate as they were able to land on the water before the plane caught fire. So with their life jackets but without the rescue boat, which had been riddled by Japanese bullets they could swim to the nearby, uninhabited, island Noordwachter. From there they were rescued by the minesweeper HMS Djombang shortly after.

A passing Catalina made a picture of the wreck of the X-17 but the crew was never found.

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The upside down wreck of the X-17, the crew was never found

Evacuation

On March 2nd the remaining flying boats evacuated to Broome Australia. But Lt. Harkema no longer had a Flying Boat and only pilots were added to the crews of the remaining flying boats. His commander Aernout, pilot and author of the report did. Lt. Harkema would be evacuated on the MS Poelau Bras. That ship was planned to evacuate more than 100 high ranking Navy officers and many civilians of importance to Australia on March 6th. That ship had only had place for 56 passengers so it was heavily overcrowded. On March 7th a Japanese reconnaissance plane found the ship, several hours later a group of 12 bombers followed and attacked the ship that after an intense resistance fight sunk nevertheless. The total amount of casualties remains unclear but is estimated at 200 and 116 survivors. Lt. Harkema was amongst the casualties. The survivors ended up in Japanese POW camps where even more would perish during the course of the war.

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As the casualties only had a seaman’s grave the only place where the name of Lt. Harkema can be found today is on a Naval Air Force remembrance plaque in the Dutch military cemetery Kembang Kuning in Surabaya Indonesia.

In 1944 he was awarded the Flying Cross, which could not be awarded posthumously yet. The text is also in such a way that it is clear the awarding committee was not aware he had already died in the period after the actions for which he received the award. In 1946 his family received the Royal Decree which they had framed.

I have not been able to find a picture of him nor living relatives but he has not been forgotten!

With this article I want to honor and remember Jan Harkema, a brave young officer of the Royal Dutch Naval Airforce, Rest in Peace.

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W. F. Anceaux, Vliegerkruis (DFC)- May 1940

This is the story behind a gallantry medal that was not awarded and the one that was awarded for the actions of W. F. Anceaux during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.

Earlier life of Lieutenant (Reserve) Anceaux

Willem Frederik Anceaux was born in Rotterdam on the 27th of November, 1912. In 1933 he was commisioned as an infantry 2nd Lieutenant in the reserve. Shortly after which he transferred to Military Aviation (Militaire Luchtvaart Afdeling). He received his military pilots license in 1935 after which he continued his flying career as a civilian for the KLM (Royal Dutch Airline). He made several flights as a co-pilot to the Netherlands East Indies and he flew as pilot on European flights.

Koos Abspoel was one of the pilots with whom he flew with the KLM to Indonesia. He was also the commander of the Bomber unit in which Anceaux flew. He got married in 1939 to Antje Pieters. During the mobilisation they lived as neighbours to Abspoel so there must have been a close relation between them.

Photo of W.F. Aceaux from the collection of the NIMH

The actions in May 1940

During the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 he flew as a co-pilot on Fokker T-5 bombers. By May 13th his bomber was the only one left operational. Most had been shot down in the earlier days of the invasion or were otherwise unfunctional.

That day, the order was received to place unusually large 300kg bombs on the plane and in order to do so lose all unnecessary equipment. They received the assignment to bomb the Moerdijkbridge that was being held by German paratroopers in order to slow down the further German invasion.

The T-5 number 856 was originally flown by first pilot Ruygrok and co-pilot Anceaux. Last minute Ruygrok was replaced by Swagerman on the request of Swagerman and with permission of their commanding officer. Swagerman was unmarried where Ruygrok was married. Knowing the faith of all other bombers and the importance of the mission this is a very gallant and remarkable offer of Swagerman which was only taken by Ruygrok after a heated discussion and with the gentle persuasion of the CO.

The raid was not succesful, the first drop missed the target by 50 meters, on the second run the bomb hits the target but does not explode, probably the timer of the fuse had a problem. By this time the bomber has been found by German fighters, ME109s that split into three groups. The third group of the German fighters attacks the bomber from behind and hits them with several grenades. The bomber can no longer be controlled and crashes in a field near Ridderkerk killing all members of the crew.

A short animated movie about this flight has been made and can be seen on youtube.

General Carstens and the Mention in Despatches

During the invasion General Carstens was the commander of the first Army Corps. After the surrender to the Germans he became head of a temporary department overseeing all activities having to do with the surrendered army.

In that capacity he wrote a number of letters to families of men who died during the invasion commending them for the gallantry of their specific actions in May 1940. In this specific letter he states that he will forward their names for a Mention in Despatches as soon as the circumstances (so not during the occupation) allow for this.

The letter below can be seen as an somewhat unofficial recommendation / award for gallantry to Anceaux and aimed at the families that just had lost a familiy member and the shortlived war.

Carstens himself could notforward the recommendation after the liberation. In 1942 his status is changed and he becomes a POW and he will die in a camp in april 1945.


Vliegerkruis – (Distinguished Flying Cross) 1946

Anceaux will recieve a Vliegerkruis posthumously in 1946 shortly after the regulations have been changed to make such awards possible. A total of 68 of the 767 awards are posthumously.

If the letter of Carstens has anything to do with this award is not known.

The commanding officer of the bomber Swagerman is awarded the Military Order of William 4th class, one of the few awarded for the 2nd Worldwar and fitting for him volunteering for a mission of which it was clear there were only few chances of survival taking the place of another officer with children.

None of the other members of the crew received gallantry awards for their actions!

Award citation for the Vliegerkruis of Anceaux: “Has distinguished himself by deeds of initiative, courage and perseverance during flights between the 10th and 13th of May as pilot of the last surviving bomber, only defended by two fighters, under attack of enemy fighters to complete a bombing raid on the Moerdijkbridge with much courage, was killed in action during this raid.”

Monument

A small monument has been errected near the Moerdijk bridge to commemorate the actions of this flight crew:

Coloured photo. The photo shown above has been craftfully digitally enhanced with colour. It is almost unbelievable how a person comes to life after a black and white picture has been coloured. It looks like a present day young man in the bloom of his life wearing an old style uniform.

Sources:

www.zeemering.nl

www.anceaux.nl

http://www.13mei1940.nl/ On this website you can find also the link to the youtube animated movie about the fatal flight!

Document en coloured photo framed together

Historical riddle – Dutch (neutral) officers on the Eastern front in WW1?

This is adapted and translated version of an article I published in Decorare in 2011

What is this photo?

After finding the photo that is the theme of this blog I saw myself confronted with something impossible. Dutch military officers among a group of Austro-Hungarian soldiers, so probably on the eastern front in the first World War?

As you may know the Netherlands were a neutral country during the first worldwar (and they tried, unsuccesfully, to do the same in the second world war – but that is a different story). Surrounded by warring countries the war had a great impact on the Netherlands but there was no military participation of any kind so the big question that arised is: what is the story of this photo?

The photo had a Hungarian text on the back that helped to shed some light on this. It can be translated as follows: Dutch officers visiting Lieutenant Colonel Safrán. So the Dutch are not participating but visiting the front and we know whom they were visiting, a good starting points for further research.

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Timeframe established!

Like most countries the Austro-Hungarian army also published rank lists with information on officers, these are a great source of information. During peacetime the lists (thick books) are almost perfect but during war time with rapid promotions, casulaties and all kinds of unregular changes they become less and less trustwothy. Nevertheless I could find (with the help of some research friends) that he was promoted to full Colonel in November 1917. So the photo must be from before that date. Another clue is the uniform the Dutch officers are wearing – it was only introduced in 1916 so the period is between 1916 and the end of 1917.

Study tours to the frontlines

Why would Dutch neutral officers visit the front of a war they are not part of? Well the First Worldwar changed the face of warfare in a shocking way. A neutral country could not learn from their own experience what this impact was. The only way to learn is by studying the experiences of others. So in that direction goes the second part of the research. There is only one publication on this subject written by Sven Maaskant. He states that between 1914 and 1920 approximately 60 tours were made by Dutch officers to study the effects of the war and the impact for the Dutch armed forces. After some research I succeed in contacting Maaskant and mail him a copy of the photo. He instantly recognized one of the Dutch officers. It is Lieutenant-Colonel T.F.J. Muller Massis who was the Dutch military aide to the Dutch embassies in Germany and Vienna between 1916 and 1920.

With that information he also can determine the specific trip out of the 60. Only one trip fits the participants, timeframe and location. It is a study tour to the Austro-Hungarian front that was made between June 25th and July 31st 1917. The four participants were: Colonel D.G. van der Voort Maarschalk, Lieutenant-Colonels T.F.J. Muller Massis and E.M. Carpentier Alting and Captain W.J. van Breen.

Carpentier Alting, an officer of the Dutch East Indies army is not in this picture, did he make it or was there another reason for his absence? The tour would have been organized by Muller Massis in his capacity of military aide in Berlin and Vienna. An officer that would raise to the rank of General and commander of the Dutch field army from 1922 until his pension in 1928 after which he would become a member of parliament untill 1948.

In 1933  Muller Massis donated a collection of helmets and gasmasks of different countries that participated in the war to the Dutch National Military Museum. He wrote about this: “The object were picked up by me during the visits I made to the battlefields. Further I still have the German gasmaks that was supplied to me in my function as military aide in Germany and that I wore on several fronts.”  The donation also held his collection of Austro-Hungarian distinctives. These are the so called “Kappenabzeichen”, unofficial badges worn on the military caps by Austro-Hungarian troops which he collected during these trips. On the picture in question can be seen that the 3 Dutch officers al wear such insignia on the left breast of their uniform.

What is the unit in the photo?

Some research on the Hungarian officer in the pictures gives the specific unit, the 10th Honved (Hungarian territorial army) Infantry Regiment (HIR) which was part of the 39th Honved Infantry Division which is confirmed by a “Kappenabzeichen” on the breast of one of the Dutch officers which is of this division.

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Wy this unit?

In March 1917 the 39th HID waged a very signifact battle against Russian troops on the realively new Rumanian front in which the 10th HIR of which Safrán was the commander played an important role. The entire unit was used as Stormtroops. The use of Stormtroops was a new military development of the Germans that was quickly adopted by their Austro-Hungarian allies. These troops were used mainly to force breaktroughs in the stallmate of trenchwarfare and new tactics and weapons were deployed by them. They were the first to get handgrenades and machine guns but also helmets and gasmasks which were not widely spread yet with the Austro-Hungarian army. They can be seen as an early variation of Special Forces within the army, receiving addtional training and equipment in comparison with the regular infantry.

The entire action of the 39th division would literally become a textbook example for the Hungarian (Ludovika) officers academy of a Stormtroop attack. In the fight for Hill 1504 (Magyaros near the Uz river) there were hardly any Austro-Hungarian casulaties but the Russians sufferend hundreds of casulaties and a multitude of were taken as Prisoners of War. A good reason for a visit of Dutch officers to learn from this example attack only a few months later especially a good promotion for the Austro-Hungarian army that struggled with its performance in other places.

From hypothesis to proof

The Dutch Institute for Military History has the archive of Muller Massis that also contains his (formerly SECRET) report from September 1917 on the “Commission sent to visit the Austro-Hungarian fronts”. It is a sort of diary of the trip with several appendices on specific military themes. In his reports he also describes how they received “Kappenabzeichen” as gifts. Here some translations relevant to this article:

“July 3rd.
With this regiment we learned 
for the first time about regimental and other insignia 
which were attached to the headwear.  
As momento of our visit to the  
von Hindenburg regiment we each received
a similar badge with a in white metal
portrait of the “Inhaber” or owner
surrounded by a wreath of laurels and a ribbon 
in enemal with the years 1914, 1915 and 1916
and the words v.hindenburg K.u.K. Inf. Reg. Nr. 69.”

That same badge is depicted below and is still part of the collection of the Dutch National Military Museum today.

073149_jpg_1920x0_q85

The report also confirms date and location of the photo.

“July 7th. 
    Guided by several officers
we visited the first line of defense of the 10th
Honved regiment, wich line was a very short
distance away from the enemy line. Here 
also the hostilites had not commenced again
which even made it possible to get in front of the trenches.
After visiting some trenches of neighbouring 9th Honved regiment,
we walked down to the customs office
The starting point of a forresttrain (waldbahn) to Rumania. 
from here we went back to the headquarters of the 39th division.

Without the mentioning of Safrán in the text we can date the picture to July 7th 1917. Most information was already completed when the confirmation in the form of the original report was found. This shows that with thorough research it is possible to determine much valuable information.

In order to do this I had help from several other researchers, many thanks to my friends in making this article possible!

Sources:

Captain Zijlmans RMW04 – A forgotten hero, Atjeh 1942, KNIL Marechaussee

As a collector you sometimes get to be the custodian of a special and rare piece of history. Years ago I was able to acquire a post 1940 Knights Diploma for a Military Order of William 4th class. As the decoration itself is not named the paperwork is the most historically important  part of the award to me as a researcher.

The Military Order of William is the highest Dutch award for bravery and has been awarded only 196 times since 1940 of which 55 awards were posthumous and 9 to units. Currently there are 4 living awardees, one from world war 2 and three recent awardees for actions in Afghanistan with our Special Forces (one of them a Helicopter Pilot for these forces). Most of these awards are for bravery in direct actions against the enemy but this is a very different story and therefore even more special, it is the story of saving 3000 civilians, mainly women and children from harm’s way….

This is the citation of Adriaan Zijlman’s Miltary Order of William 4th class as seen on his Knights Diploma:

zijlmans-mutatie

Translated:

Has distinguished himself in action by the perpetration of excellent deeds of bravery, good conduct and loyalty with his activities, under very difficult circumstances, as commander of a detachment of the 2nd Marechaussee division in February and March 1942 om the West Coast of Atjeh.

For the realisation of his assignment to evacuate ± 3000 women and children, mainly of local military forces on the west coast of Atjeh, he has taken the necessary actions in a discreet and dauntless way, also successfully facing several attacks by gangs of Acehnese and on March 19th 1942 breaking up a large gang of Acehnese in the surrounding of Tapa Toean. Until the surrender to the Japanese he has protected these women and children in an effective way against harm from Acehnese gangs.

It is a forgotten history that I hope to revive here with some context. Adriaan Zijlmans was born in the Dutch East Indies in 1914 in a place called Sigli which is in the North of the island of Sumatra. This region was called Atjeh then and currently it is known as Aceh. During the Dutch colonization of the East Indies this region never stopped the fight against the Dutch rule which was viewed by them as a religious duty as much as patriotic.

The war in Aceh started in 1873 for the Dutch and it never really ended until they left the region in 1950. The period between 1910 and 1942 was relatively peaceful considering the earlier wars. This changed in the early 1940s. The Japanese expansionism was seen as a sign of the dwindling might of the western colonizers and the rise of Asian strength. This revived the will to fight again in the Aceh region. The waiting in Atjeh was for an action of Japan against the colonies to start the uprising (again).

The fighting in the Atjeh region was so intense that an elite unit was developed: the Marechaussee (on foot). This unit was started in 1890 as an active counter guerilla unit against the local guerilla units. They moved on foot, were self-supporting and could go on patrols lasting several weeks and even up to months. From the beginning they were a mixed unit with both Asian and Western and even African soldiers with officers mainly being Dutch or of mixed Asian / Dutch descend (which were also considered Dutch in the army). Only the best infantry officers and men were selected for the unit. Especially in the 1920s and 1930s a placement there was seen as a good career move for officers and as a sign of being an extraordinary good field officer.

Adriaan Zijlmans was a Marechaussee officer in 1942 during the Japanese invasion. His father had already been an instructor in this unit so it was an honor to be in that unit as well, especially as an officer of mixed descend. In 1935 he had become an officer and was promoted to lieutenant 1st class in 1938. In 1942 he was the commander of the Marechaussee detachment in Koeala Bhee on the west coast of Atjeh. On December 8th war was declared against the Japanese. Many units already had been moved from Sumatra to Java for the defense of this main island of the colony. The amount of soldiers that was left on Sumatra was minimal, not even enough to withstand the now expected local uprising. And on February 23rd of 1942 that uprising started with the killing of a government official. This was shortly after the fall of Malaya. Java the colonies main island and primary target fell on March 8th 1942 opening the way for the Japanese to come to Sumatra which had not been attacked yet.

Safety for the 3000 women and children and other civilians part of the local war plan. These civilians were mainly the women and children of the military forces and they were seen as an easy target by the local guerilla with a lot of emotional impact on the forces. Therefore, after the start of the uprising, all the civilians had already been gathered on the west coast of Atjeh to protect them with military force. With the start of the invasion of the Japanese on Sumatra is was necessary to assess the situation again as the forces were now needed against the Japanese as well. The assessment was done during an officers war council on March 15th 1942. The following goals were defined for the remaining armed forces in the Atjeh region:

  1. To engage the Japanese forces directly and actively as long as possible.
  2. To transport all civilians south, outside of the Atjeh region as their safety could no longer be guaranteed by the available forces.
  3. To cover for this retreat by continuous defensive fighting against the Japanese forces.
  4. After the civilians are outside of the Atjeh region to transport them further to relative safety from war actions to a corporation in Groot Singkel in mid Sumatra.
  5. Start a Guerrilla against the Japanese to harm their actions with the limited forces still available after the previous goals have been reached.

The start of a long and dangerous transport to safety for the civilians. Zijlmans received the responsibility for goals 2 and 4. A total of 15 lorries and multiple cars were available to transport the total of 3000 civilians 600 km to the south. One trip took up to 48 hours and the vehicles took app 400 people in one trip. It turned out to be very long, difficult and also dangerous trips. Several times a trip was hindered and stopped by attacks of local guerilla’s as described in the citation. All these were countered without any casualties to the civilians. During the time it took to complete all trips the Acehnese became more and more hostile towards the outsiders and they became more dangerous for the passengers and their military hosts. Several of the attackers were killed in the process. At the end all civilians were delivered safely to their destination and saw the end of the hostilities against the Japanese there.

Zijlmans became a prisoner of war of the Japanese. On March 23rd all Dutch troops formally surrendered. A small group of men continued with a guerilla but most of them were captured or killed in the year following. As part of his assignment to protect the civilians he also had to surrender himself to the Japanese.

After his liberation in 1945 the continued to serve in the army receiving the Military Order of William on May 18th 1948. The Marechaussee were not reinstalled after the war so this was their last official action with Zijlmans becoming the last Marechaussee to receive this decoration and also the last citation with Atjeh as location which had been one of the most common locations in the last half of the 19th century.

The MWO diploma, framed by Zijlmans

After his return to the Netherlands in 1950 he continued to serve and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1958 and got his honorable discharge in 1963. Until he passed away in 1992 he lived in Wassenaar. After his wife also passed away the Diploma came in my custody.

In 1948 he wrote an article about the impact of sleep deprevation on troops. That was before he received the award but is based on the same action. That period and the road trips were so intense and with so much stress and actual fighting that soldiers hardly slept and even started hallucinating in the process of saving the civilians.

Photos of the award ceremony by General Spoor in 1948

Decorations:

  • Militaire Willemsorde 4e klasse
  • Oorlog Herinneringskruis met 2 gespen
  • Kruis voor Trouwe Dienst officieren met cijfer 25

Sources:

  • De Militaire Willems-Orde sedert 1940, door P.G.H. Maalderink, 1982
  • Tijdschrift de “Militaire Spectator” van Augustus 1948
  • “Atjeh en de oorlog met Japan, door Dr Piekaar, 1948

Bronzen Leeuw voor oorlogsvluchten in 1942, ML KNIL – C.J.H. Samson

Dit is een aangepaste versie van het artikel dat eerder in Decorare verscheen.

C.J.H. Samson

Carel Jan Herman Samson werd in 1916 in Soerabaja geboren als zoon van Carell Johan Remy Samson en Maria Pappolo. Zijn vader had een venduhuis in Lawang dat na het overlijden van zijn vader in 1934 voortgezet wordt door zijn moeder en de oudste broer. Anderhalf jaar overlijdt ook zijn moeder op maar 47 jarige leeftijd. Op 20 jarige leeftijd is hij dus wees. Met in totaal 5 kinderen in het gezin waarvan hij dus niet de oudste is zal er weinig geld geweest zijn voor een studie van Carel. In juni 1937 begint hij zijn dienstplicht die hij vrijwillig vervolgde bij de Militaire Luchtvaart van het KNIL in januari 1938 om daar naar de Vieger en Waarnemers school te Andir te gaan. Daar haalt hij in april 1938 zijn Klein Militair Brevet,  juni 1939 zijn Groot Militair Brevet en in januari 1940 zijn Waarnemers Brevet. In juni van dat jaar is zijn opleiding dan volledig afgerond en starten de 7 jaren van zijn “kort dienstverband”  met als rang vaandrig, aspirant officier, Vlieger-Waarnemer. De regeling is zo dat de eerste 5 jaren in werkelijk dienst worden doorgebracht en de volgende jaren als reservist. Hij wordt geplaatst bij de 2e vliegtuig groep te Malang, op Java waar hij in februari 1941 tot 2e luitenant benoemd wordt.

ML-KNIL en de Glenn Martins

De Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indische Leger (ML-KNIL) ontstond als zelfstandig wapen in 1939 maar was in het begin van de oorlog tegen Japan eind 1941 nog niet op volle sterkte. Het bestond uit 5 operationele vliegtuiggroepen (VLG) waarvan de eerste 3 uit bommenwerpers bestonden en de laatste 2 uit jagers. De bommenwerpers vlogen vooral met de Glenn Martin model 139/166. Een toestel dat bij haar ontwikkeling in 1932 nog hypermodern was maar in 1941 al sterk verouderd en geen partij meer voor moderne jagers zoals de Japanse Mitsubishi Zero.

Samson was eind 1941, begin 1942 Patrouillecommandant bij de 1e afdeling van de tweede vliegtuiggroep (1-VLG-II) die te Malang op Java gestationeerd waren. Een patrouille bestond over het algemeen uit 3 vliegtuigen waarvan 1 vlieger de taak had van Patrouillecommandant.

De eerste vliegtuiggroep had 2 afdelingen, de tweede groep had maar 1 afdeling en de derde vliegtuiggroep had 3 afdelingen. Iedere afdeling vloog met 9 vliegtuigen, bij de drie bommenwerper groepen werd met verschillende versies van hetzelfde basismodel Glenn Martin gevlogen. In totaal waren er dus maar zo’n 45 bommenwerpers beschikbaar voor oorlogsvluchten waarvan natuurlijk ook continu een deeI in onderhoud was. Bij de vliegtuiggroep van Samson werd met het laatste type Glenn Martin gevlogen – Samson beschrijft deze zelf als type III.

Martin_166_bombers_ML-KNIL_over_Malaya_1942
Foto van Glenn Martins 139/166 tijdens een oorlogsvlucht (bron: wikipedia)

Oorlogsvluchten en strijd om Nederlandsch Indië

Het boek “”Het verlies van Java” van Dr. P.C. Boer geeft een uitstekende analyse van de geallieerde strijd tegen Japan eind 1941 en begin 1942. Het genoemde boek beschrijft ook in redelijk detail de vluchten die per dag uitgevoerd werden. De naam van Samson en zijn patrouille worden daar veelvuldig genoemd, hij werd door de schrijver ook uitgebreid geïnterviewd. Het gaat te ver om die detailinformatie hier integraal over te nemen maar voor geïnteresseerden beveel ik dit boek van harte aan. Daar valt bijvoorbeeld ook te lezen dat de patrouille Samson veel acties samen vloog met de patrouille Cooke uit de eerste Vliegtuiggroep. De naam Cooke is vooral bekend omdat hij de enige vlieger is die drie keer het Vliegerkruis verleend kreeg.

Samson zelf vulde na zijn krijgsgevangenschap een formulier in over de periode voorafgaand aan zijn gevangenschap. Dit document is bewaard gebleven en de volgende informatie is daarop gebaseerd:

Vanaf 5 december 1941 dus al voor de oorlogsverklaring tot 14 januari 1942 het uitvoeren van verkenningsvluchten vanuit Ambon, Kendari, Malang, Buitenzorg en, daarna enkele dagen niet operationeel (onderhoud). Vervolgens tot begin februari vanaf verschillende locaties lange afstandsverkenningen boven en ten zuiden van de Kleine Soenda eilanden.

In de periode die P.C. Boer in zijn boek beschrijft als de strijd om de luchtsuperioriteit, de eerste fase van de strijd om Java, voert hij vanaf vliegveld Kalindjati bombardementsvluchten uit op Palembang I, Pladjoe, schepen in de Moesie en in straat Bangka waarbij 1 Glenn Martin van zijn patrouille verloren is gegaan maar de bemanning heelhuids teruggekeerd is.

Daarna in de periode die P.C. Boer beschrijft als de strijd om Kalindjati, de eerste vier dagen van Maart voert Samson vanaf vliegveld Andir bombardementsvluchten uit op het vliegveld Kalindjati dat dus inmiddels in handen van de Japanners is. Daarbij gaat een Glenn Martin uit zijn patrouille verloren waarvan alleen de telegrafist het overleefd.

Van 4 tot 8 maart wordt de eindstrijd om de Tjiater pas gevoerd zoals P.C. Boer dit omschrijft en wederom voert Samson meerdere bombardementen uit. Op 8 maart in Tasikmalaja, de dag van de capitulatie worden de laatste – niet operationele – Glenn Martins vernietigd om te voorkomen dat ze in handen vallen van de Japanners. Het wordt ook de eerste dag van de krijgsgevangenschap van Samson en zijn collega’s, slechts één van alle Glenn Martins van de ML KNIL is nog operationeel en weet naar Australië te ontkomen.

Na 1942

Over de periode van Samsons krijgsgevangenschap is weinig terug te vinden behalve dat hij in Japan zelf gezeten heeft en daar op 28 augustus 1945 bevrijd werd en vervolgens op 26 september te Manilla geregistreerd werd. In oktober van dat jaar komt hij terug in Indië en gaat over naar No 18 Squadron. In juni 1946 wordt hij tot tijdelijk 1e luitenant bevorderd. Daarna volgen er in de periode van de politionele acties verschillende overplaatsingen, onder andere naar No 16 Squadron en vervolgens wordt hij hoofd van de Elementaire Opleidingsschool afgekort als EOS (onderdeel van de Centrale Vliegschool, afgekort als CVS). Zijn Bronzen Leeuw wordt op 1 september 1948 uitgereikt. In 1949 wordt hij nog benoemd tot Kapitein in de reserve en in 1950 wordt hij gedemobiliseerd.

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Brevetboekje van Samson uit 1948 met Vlieger Waarnemer wing KNIL

Bronzen Leeuw

De Bronzen Leeuw (BL) werd in 1944 ingesteld als dapperheidsonderscheiding, na de Militaire Willemsorde de hoogste dapperheidsonderscheiding in het toenmalige en huidige Nederlandse decoratiestelsel. Het is in praktische zin de opvolger van de Eervolle Vermelding op het Ereteken voor Belangrijke Krijgsverrichtingen dat dan al niet meer in gebruik is en de vervanger van de wel in gebruik zijn de  Eervolle Vermeldingen op het Bronzen Kruis (1940), Kruis van Verdienste (1941) en Vliegerkruis (1941), dit gebeurde in totaal 135 keer. Het standaardwerk Bronzen Leeuw / Bronzen Kruis van Henny Meijer is een belangrijke bron van informatie over deze onderscheiding. Tussen 1944 en 1962 werd de onderscheiding 1206 keer uitgereikt, waarvan 1 keer aan een vaandel en 8 mensen ontvingen de BL voor een tweede maal. Van de 1206 werden er 336 verleend aan geallieerden, 62 aan de Koopvaardij en 119 aan burgers (voornamelijk verzet). De Militaire Luchtvaart van het KNIL ontving 23 Bronzen Leeuwen waarvan 16 voor de strijd tegen Japan in 1941/42.

Medailleset op Dagelijks Tenu jaren 60 met ingewoven Vlieger-Waarnemer wing.

In en direct na de oorlog werd een Engels aanmaak van de onderscheiding uitgereikt zoals in het geval van Samson. De ophanging is ongebruikelijk. Deze versie werd door Garrard gemaakt. Later komen er ook versies van de Rijks Munt.

Hier de tekst uit de benoeming: “Heeft zich in de strijd tegenover de vijand door het bedrijven van bijzonder moedige en beleidvolle daden onderscheiden door als commandant van een patrouille bommenwerpers, onder moeilijke omstandigheden vele malen, in de maanden Februari en Maart 1942, op onverschrokken wijze succesvolle bomaanvallen uit te voeren op belangrijke doelen, t.w. op Muntok, op schepen in de straat Bangka, op vliegveld en olievelden Palembang en op vliegveld Kalidjati, waarvan bekend was, dat zij door een overmacht van vijandelijke jachtvliegtuigen en door zwaar afweervuur werden verdedigd.”

Na 1950

Na zijn aankomst in Nederland wordt hij aangenomen bij de Koninklijke luchtmacht. Waar hij in 1952 instructeur op de Harvard wordt. In 1954 wordt hij benoemd tot Majoor en twee jaar later volgt hij de opleiding tot Helikopter vlieger. In 1957 volgt hij de cursus tot leger vluchtwaarnemer en in 1968 een advanced weapons cursus bij SHAPE. Tot zijn pensioen in 1969 volgt nog de benoeming tot Luitenant-Kolonel. Vanaf 1950 zijn er veel plaatsingen bij de verschillende vliegbasissen in Nederland maar ook bij de Luchtmachtstaf. Toch lijkt het zwaartepunt van zijn militaire carrière bij de eerste jaren te liggen, in de naoorlogse jaren is hij vooral betrokken bij de opleiding van nieuwe piloten. Na zijn pensionering haalt hij nog de benodigde burger brevetten zowel voor particulier als commercieel piloot. Over de periode tot zijn overlijden in 1993 heb ik geen informatie gevonden.

Samson in dagelijks tenu (jaren 60?) met wing en lintjes. Daarnaast zijn DT uit de periode voor zijn pensioen met lintjes en metalen wing. Leren gedrukte nametag met wing – in dit geval de gewone vink en niet de Vlieger-Waarnemer, misschien is die niet gemaakt in deze vorm?

Bronnen:

  1. Meijer, H.G. (1990), Bronzen Leeuw, Bronzen Kruis. Amsterdam, Nederland: De Bataafsche Leeuw
  2. Boer, P.C. (2006), Het verlies van Java. Amsterdam, Nederland: De Bataafsche Leeuw