Transfer of Sovereignty

16  KLM and Repatriation

In mid 1946, after peace and quiet had been somewhat restored in all of Jakarta, I started working as a warehouse manager for KLM’s interinsular regular services in Kemayoran in Jakarta, where the fleet had to be built up from scratch. For their intercontinental flights, KLM used their new Skymasters and Constellations with their own maintenance and repair departments, but I had little to do with those.

Dakotas

Grandaughter Yennah and I
Granddaughter Yennah and I in front of a Dakota at the Aviodrome in Lelystad
At the time, KLM employed a mishmash of citizens and soldiers and the military Dakotas were being flown over from Archerfield in Australia, where two of our military flight squadrons had been based during all of the Second World War. These military Dakotas – of the 18th and 120th squadron – were given a makeover and the long benches were being replaced by seats, thus making them suitable for use in civil aviation. Halfway through getting the Dakotas from Archerfield, Australia actually put a boycott on us, which meant we could still get the aircraft but were no longer supplied with fuel. Upon which the seats were removed again in order to make space for tanks filled with fuel to fly the remaining Dakotas of the Dutch squadrons to Kemayoran Airport in Jakarta. We were short staffed, the aircraft had to be repaired day and night and needed to be prepared for regular service, so being the warehouse manager I didn’t get much time off. Despite the fact that I had two assistants, not only did we regularly work seven days a week, we also occasionally worked shifts of up to 20 hours when aircraft had come in with lots of issues. We would take short naps on our chair in the warehouse when there was a quiet moment when technicians weren’t requiring any parts. We had no shortage of food and drinks as we could get plenty from the catering.

1st and 2nd Police Action

A Dakota of the Royal Dutch Indian Airlines
A Dakota of the Royal Dutch Indian Airlines
The events around the 1st and 2nd Police Action to break the freedom fighters’ resistance against the Dutch authorities in certain regions, are stories in themselves. That time, the Dakotas were used for to transport our paratroopers and to drop them onto the respective hot spots. Security checks at Kemayoran Airport were very strict and only we, professional staff, could pass through the gates unchecked. People at the intercontinental department would work until 4pm because there was only one flight a day to Europe. After 4pm, if after hours repair work was needed after all, they could come to me as I had the keys to their spare parts warehouse. During my years with KLM, I earned so to say more from paid overwork than from wages. One can’t keep doing such work for years in a row without any negative consequences, so I eventually resigned late 1949/early 1950.

Preparing for Departure to the Netherlands

After four years with KLM on Kemayoran in Jakarta I started employment with the Koninklijke Boek- en Offsetdrukkerij (Royal Book and Offset Printer) G. Kolff & Co., which was located at the Jalan Pecenongan, also in Jakarta. First in the warehouse to learn about the types of paper and ink, later as editor of anything that was printed, and later again at the payroll administration. I worked there till our joint repatriation to the Netherlands early March 1956: my family and I, my younger brother and his family and our mother.

Wedding photo with family and Inge Molenmaker and Andrew Abels
Our marriage on August 4, 1954, with Inge Molenmaker as our flower-girl and Andrew Abels as our page
In the mean time, my younger brother and I had married not long after each other in 1954. My younger brother got married first in Jakarta and I shortly after in Semarang and so in 1955 we each had a family with the births of our first sons in 1955.
Our oldest son Glenn and his cousin Roy Abels, early 1956
Our eldest son Glenn and his cousin Roy Abels, early 1956
Until our repatriation in 1956, all four of us had jobs and my mother, who always prepared our meals, now also had to look after the two babies during the day, who were lying together in the one play pen and were having a ball together. That was even before they could walk.

“Scum of the earth”

Some of the East Indian Dutch people of that mansion on Gunung Sahari had by now been repatriated to the Netherlands. The annexes furthest to the rear were now occupied by Islamic Padang people, with whom we got along reasonably well. The main building was now mostly inhabited by Christian Batak people and their families, who were, if I put it politely, the scum of the earth. We were anticipating major problems with these Batak people moving into our rooms on the day of our departure to the Netherlands, so we took the necessary precautionary measures well in advance.

Sale of coconuts in Yogyakarta.
Sale of coconuts in Yogyakarta
Our rooms in the annexes – and everything that came with them – were to go to the ‘befriended’ Islamic Padang people and our rooms in the main building had been promised to an Ambonese of the Patimura Division, previously a KNIL soldier and therefore now with the Indonesian army under General Harris Nasution. On the day of our departure, the Ambonese happened to mention to the Batak people that if they had any problems with the fact that he was moving into our rooms in the main building, they’d have plenty of time to get all their friends together to sort out the issue with him and his soldier mates. As a result, none of the Batak people were seen on the day of our departure.

Many years later I met the worst scum of these Batak people who used to live in the main building on Gunung Sahari at the time, in Amsterdam. He happened to be there to collect preaches and such for his Christian community. I told him that, should we have met at night, I would have killed him without feeling the slightest remorse, because of his rude attitude towards us, the other inhabitants of the mansion! The rotten bastard had no better reply than saying: “Aye Sir, you know for yourself what things were like at the time.” What a reply for not only a Christian, but especially for someone who was pastor of his community!

 

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