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.

Afbeelding1

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).

Afbeelding3

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.

harkema

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.

x18-on-patrol
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.

van-nes
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.

X17 wreck.png
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.

gedenkplaat

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.

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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.

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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

The Dutch Honorable Mention (Eervolle Vermelding), Mention in Despatches, KNIL

The Dutch Gallantry medals had, for a very long time in history, only one order for all different levels of Gallantry, the Military Order of William which was instituted in 1815.  For lesser deeds of Gallantry there was the “Eervolle Vermelding” which translates to “Honorable Mention” or for the Anglo-Saxon world a Mention in Despatches also instituted in 1815. For this there was no visible display of the honor. By many in the forces this was felt as an omission in the military decoration system. An unofficial wreath was worn with several different medals to make the Honorable Mention visible. Only in 1879 this was changed by the use of a crown device to be worn on the “Expedition Cross” that had been instituted in 1869. For multiple awards the number (2 or 3) would be displayed below the crown.

During WW2 the crown was finally replaced by several new medals for Gallantry and only one more clasp was added to the Expedition Cross (Timor 1942).

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Multiple example of the crown device and to the left an example of the unofficial wreath. (not my collection!)

Bali 1849 – Honorable Mention for J.P ter Beek, MD for the Royal Dutch Navy

As mentioned before the Expedition Cross dates from 1869 and at that same moment 6 clasp were instituted going back to as early as 1846, the first Bali Expedition. All living participants of these 6 expeditions would get the medal with clasp and an award certificate. These first 6 clasps belong to the rarer ones but the award document even more so (as there were more clasps produced than actually handed out to living participants). The navy only had a small part in the total number of crosses awarded so is even rarer.

Medical Doctor Ter Beek of the Royal Dutch Navy participated in the 3rd Bali campaign in 1849 on board of the “Z. M. fregat Prins van Oranje”  (the flagship of the campaign).

Ter Beek retired from the Navy in 1859 and became a General Practitioner in the city of Kampen in the Netherlands. Ten years later, 20 years after the campaign, he received the Expedition cross with the Clasp Bali 1849 and the award certificate shown below.

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In 1879 the aforementioned Crown device for wear on the Expedition Cross was instituted and also handed out retrospectively to those who had earned the Crown in the period before its existence. As Ter Beek was also Honorably Mentioned in the same Bali campaign he would get the Crown device and the diploma in that year, 30 years after the campaign for which it was bestowed!

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Above the diploma for the Honorable Mention and below the accompanying letter and the Expedition Cross with clasp and crown device.

This combination of a rare clasp with Honorable Mention for the same campaign and all documents confirming this may very well be unique in its kind! Especially so a Navy version!

His son A.W.K. ter Beek also chose a life of service and joined the Dutch East Indies Army where he would be awarded a Military Order of William 4th class, Honor Sword and Honorable Mention. The related documents to that are in the hands of another collector!

Dutch United Nations Detachment in Korea (NDVN) – medals and insignia

Much has been written about the Dutch United Nations Detachment in the Korean War both the Infantry (with the US 2nd, Indianhead, Division) and the Naval participation.

A good overview of this history can be read here: the-korean-war. This article is only aimed to give a short overview of the main medals and insignia the Dutch received and used during the conflict.

Cross for Justice and Freedom

This cross was delivered in an orange box already mounted for wear in the Dutch style with silver ‘KOREA 1950’ sword bar. The Cross was instituted on 23 July 1951 to be awarded to members of the N.D.V.N (Nederlands Detachement Verenigde Naties = Netherlands Detachment United Nations). The N.D.V.N. was established on 15 October 1950 and an advance party of Dutch soldiers arrived in Korea from Malaya on 24 October 1950, the first of 26 contingents from the Netherlands arriving in early December. This first contingent saw the hardest fighting of all and even lost its commander and several other officers and men when the staff was overrun by the Koreans. This first contigent amounted to a total of 650 men.

A total of 3,972 Dutch soldiers served in Korea, the last unit returning to the Netherlands at the end of 1954. In addition, 1,360 members of the Royal Netherlands Navy served in Korean waters aboard the destroyers Evertsen, Van Galen and Piet Hein and the frigates Johan Maurits van Nassau, Dubois and Van Zijll.

Those that went more than once would have the number of awards on the sword bar, like the 2 in the example below. The 3 and 4 also exist but are very rare.

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Award certificate for the medal:

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United Nations Service Medal with clasp Korea (Dutch Version)

The same basic medal was given to all participants of all countries with their own language. The Dutch can be recognized by the D on the box for the correct language version but some incorrect versions seem to have been made as well and handed out (combination of two languages on one medal, bar and reverse in different language).

Award certificate for the medal:

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Republic of Korea War Service Medal

All army personnel would also receive the Korean war medal with certificate. The Navy would not receive these at that moment in time.

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Medal groups

So all army personnel in the conflict would get at least these three medals. Most groups will have at least one more medal. The medal for Order and Peace given to participants in the conflict in the Dutch East Indies between 1945 and 1950. The army wanted only to send battle hardened veterans to the conflict so most would have this medal in the group (though not all, also WW2 veterans joined the group and later also non veterans would join). For many the Korean conflict was an opportunity to stay in the army so most later groups also have medals for long and faithful service. Here some examples.

1950s period mounted group in the correct order (first the Order and Peace medal and number 3 the long and faithful service medal for nco’s before the two foreign medals):

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Unmounted group with the medals on ribbons as they were handed out (papers shown before belong to this group, this private was part of the first contingent of app 650 men):

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Incorrectly mounted group, but as worn by the NCO in the 1960s. Consists of 3 partially mounted groups put together in the incorrect order.

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Typical naval Korea group without the Repulic of Korea war service medal. The navy chose not to wear/accept this medal. The middle medal for Long Faithfull Service for ranks below officer is also the Naval version which is correct for this type of mounting.

And below the two standard medal papers that are part of a larger group of paperwork to a soldier who went with the first replacement group to Korea. They went on March 31st 1951, arriving on the 25th of May. They saw some hard fighting and they arrived shortly after the first commander was killed and many officers and men as well so they were a much needed addition to the fighting forces. This group arrived back in the Netherlands on April 30th 1952 after a year of hard fighting and the loss of 50 more men.

Based on the dates on the United Nations medal papers these were only handed out to both the first and second group by the end of 1952 were they received the medals before. The same goes for the ROK war service medal for which the paperwork was much later and is often not seen in the paperwork that comes with a group of medals.

Presidential Unit Citations

From the US and the Korean Government they would also receive two Presidential Unit Citations. Many different versions of these exist. The US one was the first and later received an oak leaf cluster. The Korean came somewhat later. All veterans were entitled to both but many of the first contingent only received the US one without the oak leaf cluster during their period in Korea. If the left the army afterward they often used/had the one.

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Combat Infantryman Badge

And most infantrymen would also receive the Combat Infantryman Badge. Here also many different versions exist but is seems an unnamed variant marked only STERLING is the one standardly given by the US Army at that moment. That is the bottom version of the three variants seen here (all from Dutch veterans):

Ribbon groups

Some ribbon groups with the 3 standard medals in some variation. It seems the ribbon bar on top was handed out to all personnel going to Japan for R&R for wear on their uniform. Many had ribbon bars made in Japan with their complete entitlement.

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Ribbon group with Unit Citations and CIB (part of the first medal group shown above):

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Ons Leger – Our Army, tokens of recognition for returning veterans

Upon their return in the Netherlands the Infantry veterans of the first contingent would receive a table medal from “Ons Leger”. That is a relatively rare as it was only given to the around 500 men that returned end of 1951.

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All later contingents would receive the Indianhead on wood as seen below, so about 3000 of these will have been made (mint example in original box) between 1952 and 1954.

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Letter of thanks from Prince Bernhard

And all men would receive a letter from Prince Bernhard as an additional recognition:

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Badges and Insignia

On the uniform the Dutch would be recognized by the UN badge with Netherlands tab as still in use today. Below three period versions and the small version for the collar tab:

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And serving as part of the 2nd Indianhead Infantry division that badge was also worn on the other arm. Two period examples and a small metal version for the collar tab:

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Below a photo of the two badges being worn. Not standard in this combination as they should be on opposite sides not beneath each other!

When going to Japan for R&R US uniforms were worn with all standard insignia and a standard 3 ribbon bar for the Korea entitlement. Next to that  Korea shoulder board were worn both by the Americans and the Dutch.

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Upon return to the Netherlands the Dutch Van Heutsz tab and other related typical Dutch insignia would be worn on the English style Dutch uniforms including a baret with badge.

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Another item should be mentioned here. Many of the men were veterans from the colonial war in Indonesia. Many of those had served with the Special Forces there including the first commander who brought many of his men to Korea. They often wore a red baret with the para wing on it as seen below. The wing was even worn on the cold weather cap as seen below (in the Ridgeway style who wore his US parawing also on the cold weather cap)

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See for more info my other blog regarding these wings.

Below a period photo with some of the badges and ribbons discussed above (this photo taken from internet, not my collection).

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And finally some pictures of daily life in the field (from a former Dutch Marine veteran of the first contingent who went twice to Korea with the NDVN!)

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

Hungarian Air Force WW2: pilot wings and cap badges

The Hungarian Air Force was built up in secret during the 1930s. Officially this was not allowed based on the Trianon treaty that was a result of World War 1. Also when the war started and they could openly built the Air Force further it remained rather small compared to other forces in the war making all insignia quite rare.

In most countries a pair of wings has become the standard symbol for an aviators qualification. In the Hungarian Air Force this was no different. What makes it a a bit more interesting is that almost the same design was used for cap badges. This leads to many mistakes by collectors, pilots wings are seen as cap badges and vice versa.

The distinction is actually quite easy. For the qualification badge the wings are straight and for the cap badges the wings are curved. Otherwise they are the same.

Pilot wings

There are basically two types of wings that were used in World War 2 by the Hungarian Air Force. One for the pilot and another for the observer (navigator). The only difference between these is that the pilot has a crown above the eagle and the observer not.

The wings are made of cloth with gold bullion stitching. There is no difference in rank visible in the badge – which makes it different from most Hungarian badges like on the cap badges we will discuss next.

The wings were worn (sewn on) on the right breast above the top pocket of the 1930M Air Force officers uniform (that I will discuss in another blog).

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 Worn version of the pilot wings, front and back below

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Metal versions of these wings were also officially made but these seem to have only been given to non-Hungarian pilots as “exchange” badges.Metal version awarded to a german pilot (photo from the internet, not my collection)

The observer wings were introduced later in the war and were worn by the officer with this task in the crew of a bomber. These are very rare and also exist in metal for foreign observers but I have not found a photo of one being worn or a confirmed original.

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        Lieutenant with the observer wings (photo from internet)

Cap badges

For the cap badges the story is interesting too as some more variations exist. The basis is again cloth with bullion stitching. Silver for ranks below officer and gold for officers. But more variations exist. A more ornate version on a red cloth background for general officers exists which is very rare. Also a version for officers in training. For use on the side cap for common soldiers a metal version was in use that later became standard for all ranks. All variations of course with the curved wings!

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NCO cap badge in silver bullion, top is worn, bottom one new old stock

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The NOS one even has the makers label still attached!

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Officers ID of an officer in training (zaszlos) with cap badge

Period overview of Air Force badges and ranks:

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