Theo's service before World War 2 started in 1935. On the 18th of December he was drafted into the infantry and was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion in Bandung. Bandung was the KNIL main hub; the 'Depot' battalion was meant as a grand reserve. Theo liked the soldiers life and was promoted Militie Brigadier (Lance Corporal) on the 30th of May 1936. A couple of months later he applied as professional soldier.
As a professional soldier he was transferred to an active battalion: the 19th Infantry Battalion which was based in Tjimahi. Immediately at the start in November 1936 he attended the Brigadier (Corporal) course at the Magelang petty officer school (kaderschool).
Having served for over a year as a Brigadier with the 19th Infantry Battalion (Tjimahi) Theo was transferred again, this time to the 3rd Infantry Battalion based at Surabaya (22nd of June 1938). In 1939 he was transferred to the 9th Infantry Battalion (Tjilatjap).
In 1940 he started the Sergeant course at the petty officer school Djokjakarta (kaderschool) after which he was transferred back to the 3rd Infantry Battalion Surabaya. This occured in December 1940, Theo would fight the Japanese with this unit in the Surabaya region, commanding a heavy weapons section.
So before the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies Theo already served 6,5 years as a soldier; attended courses which got him eventually to the rank of Sergeant. And he had accumulated experience with three major Infantry Battalions: the 19th, 9th and 3rd.
Very likely the very first photo of Theo, as drafted KNIL soldier
A second, very early photo of Theo. This time with some of his military friends and in a more official setting - acknowledging the seriousness of his career. Interesting fact these are Indo-European faces with one Indonesian among them. The three on the left are wearing darker colored uniforms with the Infantry Horn symbol on top of their shoulder straps. The second and fourth soldiers are wearing (red) Soldier 1st class rank insignia's on their collars.
12 KNIL soldiers posing with a Schwarzlose M08 6,5mm MG. All are wearing the distinctive KNIL Bamboo hat, gear and rifles. They all have their bamboo hats without the side folded up for better protection against te sun. One of the soldiers on top right is wearing its hat rather peculiar. Theo stands in the background second on the left. No ranking insignia's can be seen.
Another group of KNIL soldiers posing. All with distinctive gear; Theo sits second from the right. No ranking insignia's visible.
A photograph of Theo in parade uniform. On his collar can be seen the insiginia used by heavy weapons troops.