Johannes Jacobus WINSSER has been posthumous honored with the Mobilization War Cross!
The family Francois Marie Winsser-Laarhuis consisted out of father, mother and 5 children, 3 girls and 2 boys. All the 5 children were born in the home town of their parents, the city of Semarang in the former Dutch-Indies.
Grandfather Frans Winsser has first served as a military in the Royal Dutch Indies Army and made it to Non-Commission Officer (NCO). After his military service he joined the police corps of Semarang and became superintendent of police.
Grandfather Frans Winsser Family Francois Marie Winsser-Laarhuis
standing beside his mother is Jan Winsser
His youngest son Johannes Jacobus Winsser was born on March 30, 1913 in Semarang.
Jan Winsser decided to join the KNIL as a professional and hold the position of European Brigade Titular in the Dutch Infantry.
At the age of 24 he got married to his lovely wife Suze Pauline Jeekel. Suze Pauline Jeekel herself was born in Delanggu, in the region Klaten, which is located on Mid-Java between Jogjakarta and Surakarta.
What exactly happened during the Japanese occupation, but Jan (Johannes Jacobus) Winsser became a Japanese prisoner of war on March 8, 1942.
He was one of the many chosen Dutch KNIL soldiers transported like cattle by the Japanese under terrible heat and with nearly no food and water by open trucks trains and boats to Burma where they had to build and work like slaves on the Burma Railway at the orders of the Empire of Japan. This railway, which is 258 miles long (415 km) long, is also known as the Death railway between Ban Pong, Thailand and Thanbyuzayat, Burma.
After above mentioned ordeal he was moved by the Japanese military to a Japanese concentration camp in Raha, South Celebes where he died on April 11, 1945, just a couple months before the end of the war.
Meanwhile his wife Suze Pauline Jeekel and her 3 children, the girls Gertrude and Sylvia and their son Ronny, had to survive a horrible and cruel war. They were welcome by Aunt Jeane Riekerk, who had a large house in the country just outside Cimahi.
Directly after world war two was ended and the Japanese capitulation was a fact the bersiap broke out and especially young Indonesian, part trained by Japanese, want their independence and went after the Dutch-Indo’s, most women and children. Suddenly news was spread; that a British ship did arrived in Semarang with prisoners of war from the Thailand-Burma railway and Suze Pauline decided also to go with her 3 children to Semarang. At the harbor they found out that the ship had no prisoners of war, but British and Indian military personnel and soldiers, who had to stabilize the peace in Semarang and surrounding areas.
Moments later the Indonesian permudas attacked the people in Semarang and at the harbor and for the safety of the women and their children they were all moved to board a British ship (possibly the Sussex). Suze Pauline and her children were then transported to Thailand. In Thailand she found out that her husband was no longer a laborer and much later also that he had died. She then was shipped back to Batavia, and from there to the Netherlands. Meanwhile she got remarried to Mr. Somers and together they had another 5 children. Then the opportunity came and they decided to leave the Netherlands for America and arrived in California.
Today Suze Pauline Somers-Jeekel still lives at the age of 97 among her family.
Huib Otto, the son of one of the sisters of Jan Winsser, have never met uncle Jan. But he found it important for the family to apply for the MOK.
Per The Minister of Defense a letter dated June 11, 2015, including the Mobilization War Cross and Certificate, was sent by certified mail to the daughter of J.J. Winsser, Mrs. Sylvia P. Kailola-Winsser in Cerritos, California.
Last but not least, like many families before, the Winsser families were honored because of the tirelessness work and devotion of Jacques Z. Brijl, Luitenant-kolonel bd, drg. “Bronzen Leeuw”.