De Tijger Brigade op Midden Java 1946 - 1949
426th Infantry Battalion
The 426th Infantry Battalion consisted mainly of conscripts from the second half of 1948, born in 1928 or earlier. Most were from the northern provinces, supplemented by a few lost Dutchmen, people from Brabant, and even a single Zeeland. The turnout was in September 1948, the infantry in Steenwijk, the men of the Support and Staff Company in Assen. Originally the unit bore the name of the 4th Infantry Regiment and of this it was the 6th post-war battalion, so 6-4th Infantry Regiment. Due to a change in the military organization, it became the 6th Battalion of the 42nd Infantry Brigade the 426th Battalion Infantry, abbreviated 426 I.B.
In the late autumn, it was supplemented with men who mainly had joined the 1st Infantry Regiment in Assen on 3rd March 1948. They had received basic training in Harderwijk and Weert. A selection from these schools was forwarded to the officer training at the in Ermelo. These students were added to the battalion in the making as platoon commanders after their promotion to ensign at the turn of the year. The Battalion Commander and Company Commanders were the last to be classified. These were recruited from older reserve officers, some of whom had already acquired the necessary tropical experience.
At the beginning of 1949 the battalion was complete and was transferred to the Adolf van Nassaukazerne in Zuidlaren to prepare for deployment to the Dutch East Indies for the redemption of an O.V.W. battalion.
The last weeks before departure in Zuidlaren were spent on Indian combat training led by KNIL staff. In addition, various courses had to be followed by leaders and specialists. All of this was dominated by the a.s. departure to the Dutch East Indies, which has since been called unofficial Indonesia. The departure was scheduled on 23rd March 1949 by m.s. "Zuiderkruis" with destination Sumatra.
That day started with a train journey from Assen to Rotterdam, where the "Zuiderkruis" lay on the quay in the Merwehaven. Saying goodbye was an emotional event. Many family members were on the quay to say goodbye to their husbands, son or brother. The musical farewell was provided by the staff music from Assen and the big journey could begin.
We remember a beautiful sea voyage, with stops in Vigo, Port Said, Aden, Sabang and the port of Batavia. Lots of entertainment on board, but also theory lessons, Malay lessons, religious exercises, boxing, a Neptune party, brain gymnastics competitions, endless clover jackets and bridging, and changing the battledresses for tropical clothing. The biggest news along the way was the change of the final destination. We did not go to Sumatra, but to Central Java, where we would be de-parked in Semarang and assigned to the T-Brigade, also known as the Tiger Brigade.
On the morning of Easter Monday, 17th April 1949, the "Zuidercross" moored in the bay of Semarang. We had to switch to a landingcraft that took us to the port of Semarang and where we were welcomed by the commander of the B Division, Major General Meyer. We were transported by truck to Djatingaleh, in the Tjandi district, high above sea level. There we found shelter for everyone in a series of villas where we were introduced to tampatjes, mosquito nets, mandi lofts and baboes who did the laundry. On Easter Monday, in Semarang, passengers were strolled through the Bodjong, peanuts were bought from Toko Piet and cigarettes were exchanged with sobats who had been living in the East for some time.
On Tuesday 19th April 3 companies left for Djokjakarta by convoy. It was a long, impressive, dusty and uncomfortable journey through Central Java. Miraculously the journey went without incident. The other companies followed 2 days later. On arrival we were accommodated, among other things, in the Benteng opposite the Kraton. Already on 2Oth April the first 3 companies were placed under the command of 1-15th Infantry Regiment, 5th Regiment Stoottroepen and 5-5th Infantry Regiment, and divided over various outposts. The intention was to acclimatize there and to gain practice in patrolling, to perform standby duty and to increase the shooting skills. Platoons ended up in Sentolo, Pedes, Gamping, Tjebongan, Pakem, Kalioerang, Padokan, Bantoel, Tandjoengtirto, Gading, Boender and Wonosari; 1 action platoon remained in Djokja. Later on the Prambanan station was added. It was a very hard but educational time. Every outpost and every platoon had its own experiences.
At the end of May the men of 426 IB were reunited as a self-employed unit. It relieved 1-15th Infantry Regiment, the last O.V.W. battalion, and took over their positions. That meant a regrouping, among other things, in Bantoel, Sentolo, Padokan, at the Power Plant in Djokja, and in Gamping and Pedes. Due to understaffing, the 4th Company (the D. Company) was dissolved and distributed among the other companies.
The months of April and May were marked by great international pressure in the political field, which eventually led to the Republic's return to Djokja and the withdrawal of Dutch troops from this area around 1st July 1949. Until then, our battalion had the task to maintain law and order. At the order of the commander Tijger Brigade, patrols were only kept for max. 5 KM outside their own outpost and 3 KM on either side of the convoy roads.
This gave the T.N.I. (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), the army of the Republic, the opportunity to concentrate further outside these areas and to increase the pressure on these convoy roads and our camps. Repeated shelling was the result and actions could not fail. As a result, losses were again incurred. All outposts were cleared at the end of June, Djokjakarta itself was cleared on 29th June and the entire battalion arrived in Ambarawa on 3rd June 3, ending a very exciting period.
The 426 I.B. now had the task of maintaining law and order in a large area around Ambarawa and Salatiga. Staff, Support and 1st Company remained in Ambarawa, the 2nd Company occupied outposts in Djelok, Tungang and Tempuran, the 3rd Company occupied Kopeng on the slope of Merbaboe with a few posts in the area such as Kedajan. The patrols generally had a fairly calm course. Sometimes there were incidents with TNI units operating outside their designated area, but they also had to deal with gangs. Guard services were performed for various objects.
In August unrest started around Solo and to a lesser extent in Semarang. The problems around Solo were solved by a ten-day action by the Tiger Brigade, in which the 3rd Company was also deployed. At the 2nd Company an incident occurred when Sergeant Major Vrolijks was captured with his patrol. Fortunately, all were released after negotiations.
Compared to the Djokjakarta period, the battalion was given more leisure time. A lot of time was therefore spent on sport. Every post had a volleyball court, football competitions were organized between the companies, but football was also played against other battalions. NIWIN visited the companies and performed in the canteen in Ambarawa, but also at the outposts. The film crew from Semarang was also regular visitor.
In the meantime, changes and expansions took place at the outposts. The 1st Company moved to Kopeng and the 3rd Company temporarily moved to Rembang. Posts were occupied in Bandoengan, Dadapajan, Reksosari, Salam and Oengaran.
On 11th December 1949, a few weeks before the official transfer of sovereignty, Ambarawa was abandoned and the battalion left for Salatiga. Staff, Support and 1st Company housed in the Normaalschool, the Bataljons office, the carrier platoon and a few other services were located elsewhere in Salatiga. The task at the outposts initially remained virtually unchanged. The 2nd Company was withdrawn in April 195O to the port of Semarang. Were the waiting for repatriation started.
As a result of the repatriation of older battalions, experienced personnel transferred to the staff of the B-Division in Semarang, to the Military Police and to other staffs and agencies. These vacancies were filled with staff from battalions such as 425 and 426 I.B. This concerned both officers and non-commissioned officers and soldiers. Those who stayed behind in Salatiga spent their time on duty, as well as on sports and education. Among other things, they studied for the Middle Class diploma for which the teachers came from their own circle.
In July 1950, the time had come to leave Central Java. The battalions 425th and 426th were practically the only Dutch units that still camped around Semarang. It became less pleasant and the men wanted home, with the exception of a few who emigrated directly to Australia. On 5 July the entire battalion moved to Djatingaleh in Semarang, to board the train two days later to Batavia, which had since been renamed Jakarta. It was a long hot journey through a beautiful landscape, unfortunately with open windows and a steam locomotive that broke black smoke and soot all day.
They arrived in Jakarta on the Berenlaan barracks complex in the former Mr. Cornelis, then called Djatinegara. The transition was not easy: from the green and fertile Central Java, to the dry and arid surroundings of Jakarta and its hot downtown. However, there were also advantages such as passengers in a big city, swimming in Mangarai or in the Java Sea at Palm Beach, doing souvenir shopping and grabbing a movie theater. However, guard also had to be given. Commanders, drivers, cooks, fouriers, nurses, administrators, welfare and other staff services continued to operate their normal services until the very end.
However, waiting for our troop ship took so long that another move was in the barrel. Difficulties with Ambonnees in the Tandjung Timur camp on the road between Jakarta and Buitenzorg made the army leadership decide to take them away and to station our battalion there for a few more weeks. It was no improvement. A plain between kampongs and the banks of the Tji Liwoeng with a collection of barracks, erected from bamboo and bilik. There were few facilities, only a large central canteen where fortunately a film was shot almost every evening.
But finally the redeeming message came: on 14th September to board an American troop ship, the "General C. C. Ballou", which had first transported US units to South Korea.
On Saturday morning, 7th October 7, 195O, the "General C. C. Ballou" entered the Nieuwe Waterweg. Already at the heads of Vlaardingen and Schiedam they were welcomed by groups of family members and friends who had taken the trouble to wait for them. There was even a welcome committee from Scheveningen with a small ship. When they arrived at the port, they had to wait for the welcome speech. After that they were allowed to leave the ship, complete some formalities in the harbor shed, receive an orange and 5O guilders' clothing, and then board the buses for the journey home.
For many, this bus trip meant a true triumph, due to the spiritual mood with which cities and towns, streets and neighborhoods welcomed their lost sons. In many households tears of emotion have fallen and afterwards a welcome party has been celebrated.