13. I wish I could forget!
The driver shouted in his panic: “What do I do” From the corner of my eyes I saw the boys jump out of the back of the truck trying to seek cover and stay clear of the line of fire.
At that moment I shouted at the driver to pull back a bit to clear the wall and my whole life flashed in front of my eyes and I clearly saw myself as a 10 year old playing in the street where I was born and lived (de Kerkstraat in Amsterdam). I got ripped out of that moment when I noticed this enemy soldier sliding down the hill towards us. It was clearly his intention to shoot and kill us sitting in the cab. It was a case of him or I and fortunately I beat him to pulling the trigger. The distance would have been approximately 20 meters and I emptied the whole magazine in to him. I still see him lying there face down with his rifle next to him.
I WISH I COULD FORGET IT……
Don’t ask me how but we managed to get the truck moving again. All I can remember is that we did not say a word all the way to Turutung. We were on a bizarre “high” when we arrived there. It was there that I noticed all the bullet holes for the first time. There were a total of 6, three just besides me in the seat and three in the loading bay. The whole convoy had been hit by 31 bullets.
Because the driver had to carry on we said our farewells there and I was left on my own, with my thoughts and no one to talk too. I had just killed a young man, a boy who was fighting for the freedom of his country, no different then I when I wanted to fight against the Germans a few years earlier. What gave me the right to kill that boy?<
I was raised as Dutch Reformed and one of the 10 commandments was “You shall not kill”. I had crossed the line and there was no one I could talk to.
Still today I would love to meet that driver on that day that had such an impact on my life and I hope he will make contact if he reads this.
A few days later a couple of guys came up to me from a total different unit who I had never met before and the blond one shook my hand and said: “Let me congratulate you with the fact that you are still alive, I never expected you would have made it out alive”.
That a person I had never met showed so much sympathy I had never experienced before.
In those days I had a great need to talk to a Priest, but I never saw one. There was a military priest but he was not the type I could talk to, mainly because we did not like and trust him. The reason for this was because he had written to one of the soldiers wives that this soldier, in a drunken moment had an affair with an Indonesian girl, which led to this soldiers marriage break up. You may understand that we could not stand this Priest. I met this Priest just recently during a memorial gathering where he was one of the speakers….. CHEERS!!!
Mandoer Jaap Bloemkool and I received orders to drive to Pemantang-Siantar and collect 15 prisoners to repair the road near Prapat. We went there to collect them, drove back and put them to work. We made ourselves comfortable against a rock wall from where we could keep a close eye on the prisoners. We saw a jeep and two three ton open trucks come past and noticed Dutch soldiers and three Japanese prisoners in green uniforms, without recognizable rank or unit markings on it, in the back. We later discovered that they were Japanese Generals.
The vehicles drove past us and stopped in the paddocks to one side of us. I saw that two of the three Japanese prisoners were tied to poles in the ground and the third one just stood in front of his pole.
We heard rifle fire and I saw one of them fall to the ground and the other two hanging as bags of salt on these poles. It was later that I realized that I was that numb that it did not make any impression on me at the time. Persons never been active in war zones cannot understand what plays in your head.<
Once the road was repaired we just took the prisoners back to prison.
Leave did not happen often. One leave period I can clearly remember in December 1949.We got leave passes to spend a week in Prapat. Our Unit Commanding Officer had a villa there and we were allowed to use it.
On the way there we stopped at a Kampong and had a cup of tea in a Chinese eating place. A soldier on leave with us but from another unit asked the driver if he could drive for a while. Approaching a bridge he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with an approaching Chinese bus. In doing that he lost control of the truck and we rolled over sideways down a cliff, several meters deep, and ended up at the bottom of this ravine. We had four injured of which 2 with serious injuries and my mate Frans ended up with a fractured skull. He was flown to a hospital in Batavia. The rest of the men had bumps and bruises. It later turned out that the soldier asking to drive did not have a driver’s license. My mate Frans recovered but suffered from attacks that made him unstable on his legs. He was shipped back to The Netherlands. Frans died shortly after arriving in The Netherlands because he got one of his attacks in the bath.
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