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.

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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

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:

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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.

terbeek2

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!

terbeek4

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!

Broken wings – APRA revolution participants? KNIL Speciale Troepen Wings

Westerling

Captain Westerling had been the commander of the Special Forces (Korps Speciale Troepen) between 1946 and 1948 and had a great impact on these forces for the majority of their existence. In 1949 he had become a private citizen and started a transport company on Java. Although he had left the army he was still a man with infleunce in military circles.

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1

APRA

Somehere in 1949 he had formed a secret small private army called the APRA, in Malayan: Angketan Perang Ratu Adil or translated “Legion of the Just Ruler”. By the end of 1949 the Dutch had handed over the sovereignty to Indonesia but the situation had not yet stabilized. There was unrest and there were several revolts.

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1

Revolt

Westerling with his APRA also planned and executed a failed revolt on January 23rd 1950, only a month after the independence of Indonesia. Westerling’s aim was the continuation of the independent region Pasundan on Java. In order to do this he planned to take over the cities Djokjakarta and Bandoeng. His group of around 400 men consisted mainly of former military and police forces. Among these men were around 125 active Special Forces soldiers that had deserted shortly before this planned revolt.

Most of the men that participated in this illegal action were caught. The men that were still officially serving in the Netherlands East Indies Army were sentenced as deserters by the Dutch Military Authorities were interned and not handed over to the Indonesian authorities. Most went to the Netherlands after their sentence.

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1

Those APRA men that fell in the hands of the Indonesian Authorities were senteced for the participation in a revolt against the state and would have a very different fate with long prison sentences.

Broken Wings hypothesis

From the estate of Sergeant Major Intructor Hans Kloër came a group of wings. These were taken in 1950 from indigenous men of the Special Forces and should have been destroyed the story goes in the family. A small amount of them seem indeed to have been deliberately broken/clipped, roughly in the same location so probably using the same method or tool.

Broken Wings – from the estate of Sergeant Major Intructor Hans Kloër

Why would these wings have been deliberately destroyed? The badge was still in use in 1950 and would remain so untill 1954 in the Dutch army for those that had been qualified. Normally the army does not destroy property that can be re-used!

My hypothesis is that there is a link with the APRA revolt in 1950. Were these wings from some of the 125 men Speciale Troepen that participated in this action? During the action all sorts of uniforms can be seen but none of the men wear a red beret with the wing or any other insignia linking them to the Special Forces.

The breaking of this wing is a very strong symbolic action. Had the APRA men done this themselves before deserting? Has the army done so after they were taken into custody and sentenced as deserters? Maybe we will never know but working from the APRA link hypothesis I will continue to research!

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1

Sources:

http://www.gahetna.nl/collectie/index/nt00336/achtergrond/andere-groepen/voormalige-apra-militairen

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1 – all period photo’s are from this album in the museum collection.

More info about the estate in an earlier blog: https://www.erikscollectables.com/2019/01/16/korps-speciale-troepen-para-wings-from-the-estate-of-a-decorated-instructor/

Wing for Combat Jumps – Speciale Troepen KNIL aktiewing

The Netherlands East Indies Army Special Forces made three combat jumps in 1948 and 1949. A special wing to commemorate this was designed and worn.

Batik from the NMM collection commemorating the action jumps of the Para’s

Djokjakarta

The first and most important combat jump was part of the so called 2nd Politionele Actie. A large scale military action against the Indonesian army. The military aim was to reclaim Djokjakarta that was in Indonesian hands. The action started with a combat jump by the Para Battle Group of the Speciale Troepen on the airfield Magoewo close to Djokjakarta. The action started on December 19th 1948.

The preparations for “Operation Crow” as this large scale airborne operation was called had already started in january of 1948 when the 1st Para Company was combined with the 2nd Para Company of the Korps Speciale Troepen. The unit was renamed in Para Battle Group (para gevechtsgroep) and led by Captain Eekhout. After the airfield was taken from the Indonesian army, planes with the commando’s of the Korps Speciale Troepen and 2 infantry units were flown in to take the whole city of Djokjakarta back.

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1

The Airborne troops were transported in 16 Dakota C-47 planes and a total of 250 para’s made this combat jump. A very extensive description of the further action can be found in the sources (in Dutch).

Djambi

Shortly after this action the men had to make a second combat jump. This was already on December 29th 1948, only 10 days after the first combat jump. This time the action was on the Island of Sumatra to secure the oil fields of Djambi.

Rengat

Soon again a 3rd combat jump would be made during “Operation Mud (Modder)” in Rengat, again protecting oil fields in Sumatra. This time only the 1st Para Company would make the jump.

In a period spanning less than 3 weeks 3 combat jumps were made by approximately 350 men in total (not all men in all three jumps).

Qualification Wing – with golden laurel for combat jumps

The wing that was used as a qualification wing in 1947 was redesigned in 1949 for those who had particiapted in one or more of these combat jumps.

The 1947 qualification wing in metal (ex Bob Cats collection)

A golden laurel (as in the beret wing) was added to the basic design. As with all badges in the Netherlands East Indies there were metal and cloth versions. The metal versions of the badges were only made and worn in the Netherlands East Indies Army. Of those only around 350 were ever made of which many owners remained in the new Indonesia. This wing is now very rare and highly collectable! There are several versions of this wing of different size and production.

The 1949 Action Wing in metal

The same design in cloth (with some slight alterations over time) could be worn up to 1985 when the last person that had made combat jumps in Indonesia left the army. More recently Dutch Commando’s made combat jumps in Afghanistan and a new (cloth) wing for combat jumps with the same golden laurel design has come into existence.

Reverse of the Action Wing in a very good condition

Below four period photo’s of the metal wing for combat jumps being worn, all taken from internet sources.

Bronbeek has a very similar example in their collection with the same non standard closure on the back! Unfortunately that example has lost all colour.

This Korea veteran is wearing a similarly discoloured version upon his return from Korea in 1951!

Officially the metal variation was for use in the Netherlands East Indies only but as the photo above shows, personal preferences could make an exception.

Oilfields of Djambi after the combat jump (Photo NIMH)

Sources:

https://www.dutchdefencepress.com/vechten-in-een-oorlog-die-zo-niet-mocht-worden-genoemd-%E2%80%93-deel-2/ 

https://www.dutchdefencepress.com/vechten-in-een-oorlog-die-zo-niet-mocht-worden-genoemd-%E2%80%93-deel-3/

Museum Bronbeek, inventarisnummer: 2007/06/04-3/1