74 years ago the Japanese forces launched a cowardly attack at Pearl Harbor and a couple weeks later also swept into the Dutch-Indies and attacked unprepared Darwin the northern Australian city.

73 years ago refuges and soldiers fleeing from the Japanese invasion were arriving in large numbers on the coast of west Australia. The city of Broome with its airfield and convenient located harbor was very suitable for flying boats. And Broome was an ideal passed through town on their way south for the couple of thousands mostly Dutch refugees, including many women and children.

Broome, west Australia

73 years ago nine Japanese fighter planes left Koepang, arrived over Roebuck Bay couple hours later and started destroying flying boats (Dorniers and Catalinas) of the Dutch, British, US and a pair Empire class of Australian flying boats. They were all burned and/or sunk. At the Broome airfield strip all the planes, like US B-17 and B-24 bombers and Dutch Douglas DC-3 transporters were destroyed. Not one plane survived the Japanese attack.

73 years ago dozens of people lost their lives during this cowardly attack on the city of Broome.
Many Dutch women and their children were trapped in the flying boats at anchor in the harbor. Many others were burned into the flames. Others jumped into the water to swim to the shore, but instead drowned or attacked by sharks. Many Dutch bodies were first buried in the Broome War Cemetery and later reburied in a special area called Karrakatta Cemetery in the city of Perth. Many could not be identified and lie in unmarked graves.

73 years ago the Japanese army invaded Java. Timothy van der Kuil, who was a cost estimator in the printing and publishing industry, got enlisted as soldier in the “StadsWacht” (A special military group to protect the City). Later this group must have been taken over by the Dutch KNIL army. And as a KNIL soldier Tim became a prisoner of war and ended up in the Struiswijk jail in Batavia.

71 years ago Timothy van der Kuil was boarded and packed on the ship the Junyo Maru together with 1377 Dutch, 64 British and Australian, and 8 American prisoners of war along with 4200 Javanese slave laborers (romushas). They headed to Sumatra to work on the Pakan Baru railway on the island of Sumatra.
As was common on these hell ships, between the decks, the Japanese had inserted a layer of bamboo scaffolding to make extra decks. The holds were crammed with bunks three or four deep. Every level was jammed with prisoners. Many were very weak and sick and suffered from malaria and/or dysentery. There was not enough water and no latrine facilities. Some died and others went mad. The Japs ignored to indicate the red cross on this 5000 tons ship while transporting Pow’s and prisoners and the British submarine Tradewind torpedoed and sank the Junyo Maru. An estimated 5620 prisoners died including Timothy van der Kuil.

73 years ago the Japanese set up concentration camps like Tjideng, a suburb of Batavia with many small houses. The kempeitai Kenichi Sonei was notorious for his cruelty and barbaric acts.
The camp started with 2000 women and children prisoners and grew in population to an overcrowding of 10500. Despite all the cruelties, lack of medication and hunger mother van der Kuil, her daughter and son Peter, who was only about 3 years old survived this Tjideng camp.

Some 15 years ago Peter started to research his past in Tjideng camp and that of his father and created two websites for that purpose and and both are also located on Peter’s page file:///C:/Users/Owner/Desktop/Peter’s%20research%20project.html

Peter van der Kuil and Bill Zitman in Perth
Peter van der Kuil and Bill Zitman in Perth

But when Peter died, Bill Zitman, an Indo who lives and runs his business in Perth, decided to finish the work Peter started and contacted Jacq. Z Brijl, retired L.C. of the Dutch Army.
Mr. Jacq Z. Brijl, who lives in The Hague, Netherlands his mission, is to get all KNIL men, who were forced to work at the Birma and the Pakan Baru railroad, a Mobilisatie Oorlogskruis.


Georgina and Serena

Last Saturday, May 2, 2015 a gets together was held at the Dutch Annex Australian War Memorial remembering the liberation of the Netherlands 70 years ago. It was a sunny morning when the ceremony was held in the open air on the walled grass field of Karrakatta Cemetery in the city of Perth. Among the many were also the Foreign Minister of Australia, Julie Bishop and the Ambassador of The Netherlands for Australia, Annemieke Ruigrok. Both came from Canberra on the east coast of Australia.

At the end of the Memorial Ceremony the Dutch Ambassador handed Georgina van der Kuil the “Mobilisatie-Oorlogskruis”. Especially for Georgina but also for the family van der Kuil and all the other attendees an emotional and happy occurrence to receive the acknowledgment for her grandfather. Peter started the research of what happened to his father and now the sisters Georgina and Victoria, and their mother Serena can close the book.

Bill Zitman writing to me says it all: I shall not go into the translation of this report, but it mentions the venue with a historical link – the atmosphere – those present (of importance) – our combined emotional feelings to the ceremony – Peter’s search for answers – the closure obtained (with regards to Tim) and a ‘thank you’ to Jacq Brijl.

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