28 June 2020

Many of my Eur-Asia family and their friends were professional soldiers with KNIL, KNIL-ML, Navy or drafted in 1941. All became prisoners of war of Japan in early 1942.

#History #WWII #veteran #KNIL #ML #KL #medan #sumatra #122sqn #remember

Background and context 'Familie Bastiaans - de Indische takken' genealogy research.

Grandfather Bastiaans was as KNIL-ML mechanic involved in 122(NEI)Sqn in Medan. Grandmother, mother and uncle lived there from late 1947 till begin 1950.


Since the early 90s I have been writing stories and articles on various platforms.

The last 15 years I focus on the genealogy of my Eur-Asian family branches and related history.

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Roel Bazuin


In the Dutch East Indies the majority of men between 18 and 50 were mobilized.

About 42,000 of them were taken as a prisoner of war: a.o. Eur-Asian, Javanese, Moluccan, Papua, Timorese, Torodja (Celebes) and Menadonese KNIL soldiers.

Grandma’s brother, 'Robert Bastiaans', was 'transported' to Thailand after his capture and 'employed' on the Burma Railway. He died in Kurikona 258 camp on August 2, 1945, just a few days shy of liberation. He was a 1941 mobilized 'Landstorm Sergeant 1st class of the Military Administration - Unit 2nd Landst. Section Bandoeng.

Most of family members in Japanese labor camps survived the 3.5 year horror as slaves in Japanese POW camps on Java and in Japan. But they became part of the many Dutch State servants who were never paid their 3.5 years salary [1].

In the Dutch East Indies 70,000 KNIL soldiers and 33,000 Indonesians were deployed [2] [3] [4]. The KNIL veterans who returned from POW captivity in Japanese camps were reclassified and seconded to different areas in the archipelago. Between 1945 and 1950 units with KNIL veterans were mixed with troops of Dutch regular army, conscripts and war volunteers [5].

The 70,000 KNIL veterans and 33.000 Indonesians ended up in different units, usually infantry. A small number was KNIL-ML, such as grandfather Bastiaans with 122(NEI)Squadron on Polonia airbase near Medan.

The connection between 'Z-Brig', '1-1-RI' and 122(NEI)Sqn.

Airbase IIVB Polonia was located on the southern edge of Medan and late 1946 on three sides enclosed by Indonesian Republican territory. The demarkation line ran straight through the city. Often the city and the airport were shot at from the edge of the forest by snipers and bombarded with mortars and machine guns.

"In the beginning there was a lot of shooting and we were not allowed to leave the airfield", my mother said. At the time in her teens and living on the airbase' compound.

These perilous living conditions have undoubtedly had a major impact on their lives. My articles about the Dutch "police actions" and the role of 122(NEI)Squadron in 1947 and 1948, were motivation to look into ground troops on Sumatra, especially those near Medan.

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TTC Noord Sumatra

Air support by 122(NEI)Squadron is regularly provided on behalf of Z-Brigade. With P-51 Mustang’s. By Piper L4J Cubs and a Lockheed L-12 for observations and supply runs. Some actions by 122(NEI)Squadron with specific references to units [a]:

  • On July 21, 1947, P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft of 122(NEI)Squadron "provided support to 1-1-RI and Z-Brig with attacks near Arnhemia".

  • On July 31st support was given to infantry by order of Z-Brig. "Field exploration of Siabtar near Brastagi by Lockheed L12, saw own troops on field and reported ready for Piper Cubs".

At the time, I had no idea what Z-Brig and 1-1-RI meant or was. And yet, one could say they indirectly impacted my life..


Z - Brigade [b] consisted of 1-1 RI, 3-3 RI, Inf VI, Inf VI, auxiliary weapons of the KNIL and the so-called "Calmeyer" units at Medan in North Sumatra. These were units of cavalry and artillery in support of the Infantry Brigades formed in Malacca. These units also mainly consisted of war volunteers. The commander of the Z - Brigade was also commander of the Territorial Troops Command North Sumatra.

After arriving in North Sumatra, the Z - Brigade took over the positions of the British 26th Indian Division and the 4th Indian Infantry Brigade and was stationed in Medan, the port of Belawan and along the connecting road between the two places.

On January 2, 1947, a large-scale action was launched resulting in occupation of the area south of Medan. Many actions were also taken along the Belawan - Medan road to secure the convoy road.

Units from Z-Brigade / TTC North Sumatra

1-1 RI Infanterie regimenten

14e Genie Veld Cie Genie

1e EskPaw Cavalerie

1e Genie Veld Cie Genie

1e R.LuA /6 Batt Luchtartillerie groep M.L.

2 - MP III MP/ Marechausee

2 MWBE Mowaba (Mobiele Wasscherij en Badeenheid)

25e Cie AAT Aan- en Afvoertroepen

3 E.M. Peleton Overgie Troepen

3-15 RI Infanterie regimenten

3-3 RI Infanterie regimenten

31 B-Hospitaal Geneeskundige Troepen

33e Cie AAT Aan- en Afvoertroepen

35 HupVa Geneeskundige Troepen

35e Cie AAT Aan- en Afvoertroepen

3e Genie Arb. Cie Genie

4-2 RI Infanterie regimenten

4-RS Regiment Stoottroepen

5-10 RI Infanterie regimenten

5e Esk.Vew Cavalerie

7e Afd. VA Artillerie

8e Genie Veld Cie Genie

9e Afd. VA Artillerie

Inf. III KNIL Infanterie

Inf. IV KNIL Infanterie

Inf. VI KNIL Infanterie

VbdA Verbindingsafdeling

Veld Art. IV Artillerie



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Action area 1-1 RI 'Battalion Drenthe'

1-1 RI 'Battalion Drenthe'

1-1 RI is the OVW battalion 1 -1 Regiment Infanterie, known as` Bataljon Drenthe`, which was established on 4 June 1945 in Zuid-Laren. That place is in the region of my Dutch ancestors. My Eur-Asian grandfather worked for 122(NEI)Sqn and my grandmother + mother and uncle lived in Medan from ~ '48. I found it quite striking.

Indirectly the family has been influenced by the presence and actions of this battalion, as they lived in a secured area on the airports base.

"The OVW battalion` 1-1 RI` originated from the 'Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten van gewest 3, Drenthe'. After training, the battalion was temporarily assigned to the mine clearance service at Bergen op Zoom in the netherlands. The battalion was provided with the necessary equipment in England and left on January 25, 1946 with the "New Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies." [6]

On November 2, 1946, the battalion was transferred to Medan on North Sumatra. Immediately upon arrival on November 13, 1946, it took over the positions of British Indian troops on Serdangweg in eastern Medan, with daily infiltrations and shelling.

"On January 2, 1947, the battalion took part in an action that moved the posts of the Z-Brigade further south. Multiple actions followed, such as on January 14, 1947, along with Inf.IV.KNIL and 3-3 RI to Sempali Estate which was permanently occupied on March 16, 1947. On February 15, 1947, the TNI attacked the posts at Kota Masoen (brickworks factory) and Kampong Baroe in a large-scale attack. In March, patrol activity was increased due to reports that negotiations with the Republic of Indonesia (Linggadjati) would fail." [6]

Appendix A: KNIL units

The KNIL veterans who returned from captivity were reclassified and seconded to different areas in the archipelago. Among them units with (in)famous nicknames.

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Matjangs - Inf.I
  • 'Matjangs' (Tigers) - Inf. I
    Started June 1, 1944 at the 'Victory Camp' in Australia. Inf. I had KNIL veterans in her ranks who were able to flee to Australia in time, supplemented with ex-prisoners of war and war volunteers [7].

  • Inf. II - 'Breemouwer battalion'
    16-10-1945 at Batavia. . 08-07-'48: re-establishment in Cheribon [8]
    After 1945 they served U-brigade Padang / TTC Midden Sumatra

  • Inf. III
    Start 1946. Before the War Landstorm Battalion. The battalion originated from Guard Battalion IX [9].
    After 1945 they served Z-Brigade / TTC North Sumatra

  • Inf. IV - 'Prince Bernhard Battalion'
    Start –09-1945 in Singapore. The battalion was formed from KNIL and navy men who had returned from Japanese captivity [10].
    After 1945 they served Z-Brigade / TTC North Sumatra. In november 1946 they where stationed at the south-east sector of Medan. In December the battalion became tactical reserve of the Z - Brigade and stationed in the Polonia barracks (airfield 11VB).

20200524213219 3d07c60a me
Anjing Nica - Inf.V
  • 'Anjing Nica' - Inf. V
    Before the war Landstorm Battalion. Restarted 02-11-1945 Tjihapit-camp [11]. The KNIL Infantry V battalion received the nickname Anjing NICA from the opponents shortly after its establishment at the end of 1945 in Bandung. Anjing is Bahasa for dog. NICA was the name of the recurring Netherlands East Indies Government (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration). Infantry V chose the swearing name as honorary name which was expressed in the sleeve emblem.
    The companies of Inf. V wore colored ties, namely: 1st Cie: green (Europeans), 2nd Cie: red (distinguished as first Cie with this tie / Ambonese), 3rd Cion: blue (mixed Cie), 4th Cie: black (Timorese) [12].

  • 'Gagak Hitam' (Black Crows) - Inf. VI
    On April 15, 1946, the KNIL Medan Battalion was reestablished by recalling conscripts into military service.

    20200524212907 ab4a02ee
    Gagak Hitam - Inf.VI

    City guards, Landstormers, and former Indonesian KNIL soldiers, volunteers from various lands, such as Arabs, Klingelezen and Chinese.
    On July 18, 1946, the name 'Medan Battalion' was changed to VI Infantry Battalion (INF.VI). Many men, former Marechaussees, who had served under Westerling, became the coremembers. They were known among the people as Maresosee.
    These men had helped destroy the infamous gang 'Gagag Hitam' (heavily armed ex-sukarelas (Indonesian volunteers) from the Japanese military service) led by Hayrullah. [13].
    After 1945 they served Z-Brigade Medan / TTC North Sumatra and Y-brigade Palembang / TTC South Sumatra.

  • 'Gadjah Merah' (Red Elephant) - Inf. X, Inf.XI, Inf.XII
    KNIL battalions X and XI consisted of soldiers who had worked on the infamous Burma railway in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in Thailand under severe conditions.

    20200524212518 05659d17 me
    Gadjah Merah - INF X

    Despite their often poor physical and mental condition, the ex-prisoners of war were inspected, armed and trained and sent to the Dutch East Indies. Their symbol was the red elephant (Gadja Merah), derived from the white elephant, a national symbol in Thailand. [14]
    After 1945 they served Y-brigade Palembang / TTC South Sumatra



Territoriaal Troepen Commando Noord Sumatra


Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Army)


Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger


Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger


Koninklijke Landmacht


Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia


Netherlands East Indies


Personnel & Equipment Pool


Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War


Royal Australian Air Force


  • [a] Ward, O.G., De militaire luchtvaart van het KNIL in de na-oorlogse jaren 1945-1950. Houten, 1988.
    (The military aviation of the KNIL in the post-war years 1945-1950)

  • [b] Troepenoverzicht 1945-1950: http://www.indie-1945-1950.nl

  • [c] Westerling, R.P.P., 'De Eenling'. Amsterdam, 1982, Uitgeverij Spoor.

  • [d]Nederlandse strijd krachten in Nederlands-Indië 1945-1950 http://www.hetdepot.com/

  • [e] De Trilogie - Nederlands Indië 1946 - 1949: https://www.dekolonisatie.com/

  • [f] Indiëgangers: https://indiegangers.nl

  • [g]Het Nederlandse militaire optreden in Nederlands-Indië/Indonesië - source

  • S.M. Jalhay. Allen zwijgen. Merdeka en Andjing Nica tot Apra, 1988. Eigen beheer.

1. After the capitulation of Japan on August 15, 1945, they - unaware of the future in which they are cheated by the Dutch state - return to active service of the same netherlands kingdom. Just like ~ 100,000 colleagues.
2. Passie voor onze veteranen? Een onderzoek naar berichtgeving over veteranen in de Nederlandse gedrukte media (Passion for our veterans? An investigation into reporting on veterans in the Dutch print media) - Manouk Goettsch - 2008 - https://thesis.eur.nl/pub/4758/Goettsch%20MASTERTHESIS%20VETERANEN.pdf
3. Belanda Hitam; In 1936, the number of East Indies KNIL soldiers reached 33 thousand people or about 77%. Source: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=id&tl=nl&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eramuslim.com%2Fsuara-kita%2Fsuara-pembaca%2Fbelanda-hitam.htm
4. KNIL 1936-1942 in figures and images: in 1929 only 20.76% had European status (mainly totoks and Indos); in 1941, when out of necessity, conscription for Indonesians was finally instituted, it must have been even fewer as a percentage. From the outset, the higher framework was predominantly "European", the Indonesians were deployed outside their region of origin; these measures betray the realization that it was not self-evident to fight against your own countrymen, nor to defend the colonizer’s interests at all times, and that simple truth avenged itself when the war was over: many "deserted." http://indisch-anders.nl/het-knil-1936-1942-in-cijfers-en-beeld/
5. ~ 120.000 Veteraneninstituut - Nederlands-Indië https://www.veteraneninstituut.nl/missie/nederlands-indie/
8. http: //www.indie-1945-1950.nl/web/infII.htm / http://www.hetdepot.com/InfBat2KNIL.html
10. http: //www.indie-1945-1950.nl/web/InfIV.htm / http://www.hetdepot.com/InfBatIVknil.html