Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger

(Royal Dutch East Indies Army)

KNIL memorial 1830-1950 Bronbeek (NL)


Both of my grandfathers served in the KNIL (Dutch East Indies) before the second world war erupted. My Indonesian grandfather was even born in the Dutch East-Indies and three of his brothers would also join the KNIL before 1938. My other, Dutch born, grandfather Cor, would also join the KNIL as a professional soldier well before the war started, making his journey East as early as the year 1937.

So both my grandfathers were already professional KNIL soldiers before the second world war, POW camps or so called 'politionele acties'. They would participate in battles against the Japanese invasion force, after which they would be taken prisoner. As POW's they would endure the hardships and survive the Birma-Siam railway camps - the 'Death railway'. Along with other nationalities like the British.

When Japan capitulated the Dutch government sent them instantly (without any psychological or other needed help) back to the Dutch East Indies to participate in the 'politionele acties'; there is no good translation for this Dutch word: it would be 'Police Actions'. Or as more recently known: the Indonesian War for Independance.

This (guerrilla) war was eventually won by Indonesia, and both my grandfathers were repatriated to the Netherlands. There they would serve again in the Dutch Army (Koninklijke Landmacht). By telling their stories on this webpage I would like to keep their memories alive, and also their personal stories, views and hardships.


Medals and insignia of Theo and Cor


Memorial of the Three Pagodes Pass and Birma-Siam railway camp victims in Bronbeek, Theo has worked at the Three Pagodes Pass and also at the (well known by the movie) bridge over the river Kwai

Memorial of the Hellships victims- the ship 'Waelwijck' which transported Theo and Cor is also named on this field


Some bought and restored KNIL post ww2 badges: T-Brigade (Tijger-brigade), V-Brigade, W-Brigade, X-Brigade and Y-Brigade (Demons Brigade), under which the Gadja Merah battalion of my grandfather was assigned. The name Demons Brigade referred to the island of Bali. Y-Brigade was founded on Bali, which was also called 'The Island of the Gods and Demons'.

Collection of so called 'mouwleeuwen' (uniform sleeve lions). These are worn by all Dutch (army) soldiers since 1941. In my collection is the very first model as well as several Dutch East-Indies models, gold thread embroidered officer uniform models all the way to the current type.