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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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People in story: 
nurses from liberated HOLLAND
Location of story: 
Introduction . ending in BRISBANE>
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 October 2005

1945. Arriving in Brisbane on the troop ship.

my name is ODYSSEY.
I wrote several stories for WW2 . But before starting :" the Last Chapter" some clarifications are in order.
It is important for anyone reading this last chapter to find out what those dutch nurses were up against in the DUTCH EAST INDIES.

We were flown in a B-25 bomber leaving Brisbane. We flew to a military compound in NE Australia where we spent the nite ,next day we flew on to JAVA. '
It was a fantastic flight!
We landed in Batavia but as soon as we got off the plane we were shot at by Sukarno's "soldiers".
When it was safe to get up we were transported to "THE"military Hospital where we would take care of concentration camp victims who survived.

What hospital??? the place was completely empty: evrything stolen by the natives: no beds, no linen !nothing!!!
No staff! But that soon changed: women were standing in line for work:they all claimed to have experience in Nursing.
They had experience in everything BUT nursing as we found out later.
But we had to start; we got beds where we could find them;
Slowly but surely we had a something looking like a hospital . The Japanese had to protect us against SUKARNO's "Peloppors" his so called troops.
When we went to bed we had to kill bedbugs first and cockroaches and spiders and scorpions.
Our 'bedroom' was located next to a patient ward with a stretch of lawn between us; so no light when we were getting ready to go to bed.
We went to the dining hall first where we got concentrationcamp rice!
We had to fish out dead bugs, pebbles and what not; if you did not like it you went to bed hungry !!!
Hours of work???
You worked till you were done with your assignment .After work we thought to have a shower;
No shower!! there was a tiled room with a big cement basin filled with water; a bucket that you filled and poured over yourself.
We were told always to wear wooden clogs to the "Kamar mandi" so one would not end up with fungus on one's feet.
A toilet?
The toilet was a cement hole in the floor: one had to squat.
Toilet paper did not exist; there was a row of beerbottles filled with water to clean your self with.
One culture shock after another.
I was born in the old COLONIES and familiar with the different aspects of life, so it did not bother me that much.
The difference was that we had decent beds with mosquito netting around it and servants and decent food.

In the wards we had to lock up all linen: The females loved to wrap a sheet around their middle under their sarong so they could take it home' Flat in the am; 8 months pregnant in the pm.
When I went to work I learned in no time flat how to judge a patient by sheer observation : I learned nursing FAST.
We had no stethoscopes,could not take B/P's.
We had a watch :That was IT!
We judged a patient's pulsepressure , pulse rate , rate of resp. and depth of such.
We had to judge a patient's colour, could he obey commands?
If the attending M.D. was satisfied with your way of work we could order Lab. work or bloodtransfusions. I started IV's with a steel needle:
Blunt? we sharpened it on our shoe sole and re -sterilized in the ward.

Narcotics were not locked up. Any body could get what he wanted: just sign out for it.
We had one RN who regularly got MS , then she had a scotch with it. Every body knew it.
She later committed suicide: we missed her as she was an excellent nurse.

There were NO antibiotics.
We could NOT seperate clean wounds from dirty wounds. we washed our hands in lysol sol.

Finally we received our first patients from concentration camps. The worst ones came from Camp TJIDENG. Most of them did not survive long .Some of them had lost all vestiges of humanity!!
I remember 3 women in adjoining beds:one had saved an embroidered small table cloth, the other one a small silver spoon. and the third had saved something she was very attached to.
The patient in the middle bed was in bad shape, the women on either side of her started to fight:" If she dies I want this" , and the other one said: " I do too" . So they fought and the poor woman was not even dead!!!
I was shocked but when i heard what they had gone through in the notorious camp : one could understand: it was one item saved from the japanes guards , one link with their former life and they fought to hang on to this.
We got also victims from AMBARAWA camp: several little girls with deep wounds caused by klewangs: big knives. Most of them were Christians and that was the reason they got cut.
We had a liitle boy: SAÄN with beri-berei : his stomach was swollen and his heart was involved too. He lived for a long time: He never complained; he was in a chidren ward , where he tried to help the nurses as sick as he was.
He was everybody's darling!
Finally his poor little heart gave up and he died after he was baptised a christian on his request.

I was transferred to a Pediatric Ward: 80 beds: no way to separate the kids with different infectious diseases.
That ward was close to a KALI or stream. On the other side were the PELOPPORS ; they started to shoot at us and we had to put the kids under their beds and tried to protect them by putting their mattress over them.
We had little babies , liitle skeletons we tried to save. Their mothers nursed them but they did not have enough so we wanted to give them extra fluid through an IV.
But we had to do it at nite when the mothers were asleep. Usually the babies died regardless but if the mothers had seen the IV's they said : "There was a MOMMO or bad spirit in the bottle that killed my baby."
Sometimes the mother got very sick with Malignant Malaria: the T/x. was to give quinine sol. IV PUSh but very slowly or it would cause : 'Blackwater Fever " and death. We tried to tell that to the big shots of M. D.'s but did they LISTEN:???? NO! what did nurses know?
So they killed several people till they finally listened to us.

then we had the Psych. ward.Another sad,sad outfit!!
I remember one woman who sang DAY and NITE : "Sweet GEORGIA BROWN" using her night gown as an evening dress??
These are some of the terrible things the nurses had to deal with. And I stiil remember a lot more.


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Message 1 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
....and some of the people in Britain didn't have bananas for about five years ! They had a tough war !
best regards


Message 2 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by anak-bandung

Dear Jospehine
Our Trooper Tom puts it very succinctly but we must be fair to those in Britain: each person living through the war experienced it in his or her own way. Some were extremely lucky and would be amongst those who complained about not having any bananas or similar for the duration and perhaps some years after as well; others, especially in London during the blitz had more to endure. People in de UK died like everywhere in a war. What they most likely did not die of was of hunger, total lack of medication,filth and slave labour.

Now to my reaction to your last chapter. It described the post war situation in the Dutch Indies extremely well. The struggle of the nurses to get normal nursing going and succeeding at times despite all the odds and the danger from Soekarno's perloppers; the degredation of the camp survivors and the hope still existing with some.
Your last chapter seemed to end suddenly and I had the feeling there was more to be said. Is there? Please do.
love, Rob @->--


Message 3 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Dear ROB.
yes, i planned to write some about when we we became a real MIL. Huspital and problems with it.
I'll letyou know: have to chew on it for a while.
josept hine.


Message 4 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Dear ROB, yes I plan to write something about when we became real MILItary Hospital and other problems. I have tp chew on it for a while,I'll let you know.


Message 5 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Hi TOM! Thanks for the "banana's". When I read it I scratched my head and wondered why you dragged in the banana's. Here it shows the different kinds of interpretations.
I did not like what I read so I owe you an apology after it was explained to me.
It is like when we had to translate Tacitus: he wrote with a few words as possible: that resulted in many discussions and diff. interpratations in class.
One had to practically crawl in his skull to try to find out what he wanted to tell us.
Your writing is not as complicated as his' but you see what can happen when one comes from aother direction.
So, app. I think you meant to say that we had a rotten time.
Thanks .


Message 6 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


Another very interesting story. You show how the suffering and hardship went on after August 1945, especially in the Far East.

Your reception on your arrival in Java must have been quite unnerving. You expect a welcoming party and flowers, instead you are met with a hail of bullets.

You, and young women like you, did a splendid job in adverse and frightening conditions.

Well done!



Message 7 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
my apologies - I did not mean to confuse, while I agree with Ray that many people in Britain suffered greatly from many causes, many more did not and yet they keep on and on about what they had to do without, whereas you and your many colleagues really suffered deprivations and life threatening situations on a daily basis, no doubt for little reward !
I can only add another "Well Done" to that of Peter !
Trust your scars from the dog attack has healed and all in the past !
best regards


Message 8 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Dear Josephine,
Yes this is all part of the war and its aftermath. People thought here the war is over life will become normal. How does life become normal for people such as you describe, people who had seen the lowest degregations and managed to get through to the end, did they ever recover properly I wonder.
There is obviously more but the telling seems to distress you as you write. It needs to be part of this archive so please write as and when you can but you only have three months left to get it all down.
Bullets and basic medication, fighting the people who knew it all out of books when you had the hands on experience, tell it as you saw it Josephine but tell it.


Message 9 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
I can only agree with Frank and say HEAR HEAR ! write it all !


Message 10 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Peter, thanks for your comments!
Your life during the war was filled with nasty surprises,but you adjusted and survived!

We did not expect flowers but neither bullets.
It was unnerving , but we survived as well.

A good thing we do not know what lies ahead.

It proves that one CAN adjust to adverse conditions.


Message 11 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Tom, no apologies necessary.
I remember you!!
When I was in the REHAB Home you suggested
that I eat my soup through an A&W straw in stead of trying to eat with my Left hand and slobbering the soup all over me!!

I left the town of the MAULING DOG and moved to BEND( Oregon.)
Maybe you read about the fantastic ski-ing conditions here!
Not anymore for me,but life is so much better here: all dogs are on a leash and the climate is só much better compared to the dampness of Wa.- State!!


Message 12 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 07 October 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
I do know that the Oregon coast almost equals the beauty to be found here in B.C. but the ski-ing can't possibly compare with our Whistler - Blackcomb - Silver Star - Big White - Kamloops and so many more powder snow venues and this is why Whistler/Blackcomb was chosen for the
2012 Olympics !
I do agree with your weather being better than Seattle - anywhere is !
best regards


Message 13 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 07 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Tom! I know your ski - areas are known by anyone who KNOWS ski-ing. My son went to Whistler to ski and so did my 15 year old granddaughter!
Can't wait for the Olympic wintergames: I love to watch ICE HOCKY!!! ( I only played field hockey in the school teams.)
When I was in Batavia the British- a Medical UNIT- had a hockey team I , the memsahib , was always invited to watch!!And afterwards to a good INDIAN Curry dinner in the Mess: mmmmm! good memories!


Message 14 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 07 October 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
My son - until recently was in the habit of going up to Whistler/Blackcomb on Saturdays to teach ski-ing - this then financed his overnight hotel and all day ski-ing on the sunday away from the crowds ! Of course - it helps to live in Vancouver !!!

You will be happy to see the Ice Hockey is all over TV again - I did watch it but it became too much of a fighting match and so I don't bother with it.


Message 15 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 09 October 2005 by ODYSSEY

Yes TOM, but i sure enjoyed it when they WON!!!
Smart son! like his dad????
Are we allowed to have a running conversation?
Frank has my e-mail address if they protest and you want to write more titbits!


Message 16 - Last Chapter

Posted on: 17 January 2006 by anak-bandung

Dear Josephine
I have just seen your gorgeous picture. You look lovely there and so happy. Looking forward to seeing the one of the surgical ward which they are still deliberating about.
love, Rob

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