14. Heading Home!
At the end of 1949 all volunteers could go home. There were some suggestions from the Dutch Authorities that we could go straight to Australia if we wanted as there was no work in The Netherlands for us. We were promised a civilian kit and eight hundred Dutch Guilders (365 Euros) if we were to go straight from the Dutch Indies to Australia.
I did think about it but decided that I wanted to go home first. We were transported from Batavia in the SS Atlantic, an English passenger liner. It was on board that I could sleep between clean sheets for the first time in three years and had meals cooked in a western way, as we could remember from before the war. Arriving in the harbor of Amsterdam was overpowering to say the least. All the way in from IJmuiden there were people along the way waving at us. On the dock there were people with flowers and banners welcoming us home.
For me there was no one I knew to greet me on the docks, and I ended up taking the military bus laid on to take us home.
There were others like me taking the bus and no one to greet them. On my way home I saw streets decorated with ribbons and banners welcoming their loved ones home. No such thing in my street. The only ones that were home were my parents. My mother had bought me tompouces (Dutch cake with pudding in the middle). My brother and sister had gone to work as normal. Some shopkeepers in the street gave me some Square Gin (Jenever) and our landlord gave me a cream cake.
Returning to civilian life was very difficult. I only just got home when my mother got angry with me because I tapped the ash of my cigarette on to the floor, something I was used doing in the last years. At night I put the Square Gin I was given to my mouth and I looked at scared faces warning me that I would get drunk if I was not careful. Something that really sobered me up was a few weeks later when I received a badge for keeping rest and peace over the years 1947 – 1950 and a document signed by the Queens husband Prince Bernhard.
In the years that followed I used to travel to the remembrance monument in Roermond and I never saw any person from our Royal Family there. The first high ranked official I saw was Minister Kok……………………..
The Tall Black One
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