Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunny Corner.... goodbye for the first time

Bill Leslie in the meantime had run down to Sparkes and borrowed his car and the whole Leslie family, with their meager belongings, were packed into that. Ena and myself with the parrot, two canaries in cages, three dogs and two cats, some boxes of provisions and a couple of suitcases squeezed into the Hillman. Our faithful Amat followed on his bicycle. And so we said "Goodbye" to 'Sunny Corner' for the first time.

The Leslie's went to friends in the vicinity of the Lembangweg while Ena and I descended with our menagerie on Ena's mother who was living in a small annexe on Dagoweg. She had already given refuge to a planter and his wife and two children who had had to flee from their Estate owing to the activities of the native 'rampokkers' or robbers. These robber bands which had sprung into existence like mushrooms all over the island coincidental with the landing of the Japs, and probably the result of carefully prepared fifth column work. In such a small house it was consequently a pretty tight squeeze but we got settled in somehow.

There would be no point in recording the events of this week in detail but I shall endeavour to give a brief description of this first period of Japanese occupation.

In the course of our first evening at Dagoweg 31e, the Japanese C in C spoke on the radio. He spoke, of course, in Japanese and this was afterwards translated into Dutch. He started off by reminding us that the Dutch East Indian Army no longer existed and, of course, had a lot to say regarding the blessings which the coming of the Sons of Heaven would bring to Java and the usual tosh about "a sphere of co-prosperity in South East Asia." Then he started a tirade against the Dutch for their having sent all Japanese who had elected to stay on in Java after the outbreak of hostilities to Australia.

There had indeed been about a thousand of such Japs who had submitted to internment in Java but it had been immediately realised that these had remained with a definite purpose and that Nippon was depending upon them for their knowledge of the country's affairs in many spheres if and when invasion and occupation should take place. No matter how much we had kidded ourselves as to the outcome of a Japanese attack on the island, the Japs themselves had had no doubts as to the outcome and had made their Trojan horse arrangement accordingly.

The Dutch authorities had, however, acutely and very secretly, sent all these Jap male internees off to Australia in good time before hand to an internment camp there, so that the Nips when they arrived in Java found themselves in a fearful muddle owing to their key personnel not being present to advise them. The C in C was terribly peeved about it and declared that the Japanese would be fully in their right if they were to transport all the Dutch in Java to the icy waters of Siberia. But as the Japanese were upright and humane people, they could not stoop to avenging the Dutch action in such a way.

He did not, of course, add that the upright and humane Japanese had even better ideas than this in regard to making the Dutch in Java pay for upsetting his applecart but then probably murder, torture and mass slow starvation were not looked upon by him in this light.

I saw the first Jap mechanised column enter Bandoeng from the West. image Tank after rumbling tank lumbered past our office each bearing the Japanese flag and with one or more of the tank drivers grinning toothily like jacks in the box from the turrets. Apart from small groups of Indonesians, here and there at street corners, who waved and cheered, little enthusiasm was shown by the native population at the sight of their 'liberators'. But there is no doubt that the display of force which the Japs were able to present in the air and on the land must have made a great impression on the simple native mind.

**** to be continued.


kim* said...

how does one have such a great memory, was all this writen down?

On a Whimsey said...

I am very fortunate to have my father's manuscript. But saying that, he only wrote it several years after the war!