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voor de



[Ben Oostdam's
Years 1950-1952]

On April 22, we left Sorong for Biak, where we dropped off Klaas Zandhuizen who had to fly home because his girlfriend was seriously ill; he carried ashore a small bird ("kwikstaarje") which had fainted on the deck. On the 24th, we arrived in Hollandia, the capital, with much ceremony - I had to blow the bugle again. The town itself was inland about 14 kms from the port along the spectacular "$14million" highway constructed by the Americans who landed here in 1944 with about 300,000 men.


then Netherlands New Guinea, now Irian Jaya

Houses along Lake Sentani
(photo-credit : CONTIGO)
The scenery was fantastic, with steep slopes, high mountains, beautiful views, narrow bridges, dense sagopalm plantations and inpenetrable jungle nearby. I delivered a parcel from a common friend in Holland to the Head Doctor, Dr. van Hoeven, who was to retire two weeks later. He headed a team of 45 doctors and a 5 year training program for Papua nurses (mainly male, I think). He dropped us off at the Yacht Club where we saw a ballet that evening attended by the Governor and Mrs van Waardenburg. He also let us use his jeep that Sunday for a trip to Lake Sentani, which is a cut-off seabay featuring large freshwater swordfish!

Sentani bark-art

Queen's Birthday parade
Hollandia, N.G., April 30, 1952

Sentani Tapa collected in 1931
by Fleishmann-Schlesinger
There were some interesting legends around, one of a beautiful American nurse named Jacqueline who disappeared without a trace in 1944 till she got picked up hitchhiking in 1946 on which occasion she displayed the devil's hoof which drove the driver crazy. One sergeant major claimed to have seen an entire U.S. battalion silently marching into a mountain in 1948. Also more gruesome stories about the fate of the Japanese in the caves of Biak. KLM flight ticket Biak-Amsterdam,
US$ 630

On May 9, we departed Biak aboard KLM's "Utrecht" for the long flight home with several stops: Manila, Bangkok, Karachi, Beirut, Frankfurt and finally Schiphol.
At Schiphol, I was welcomed by my family and fiancee, who were rather astonished about my crewcut and my load of bows, arrows and spears. Strangely, our entire group had to take a slow bus to Den Helder, where we were rapidly dismissed so I could take a train back again to Amsterdam and a more welcome WELCOME!...
This was the end of an unforgettable experience which made me fall in love with tropical islands. On the other hand, several of us decided that Navy life was not our "cup of tea".

BLO fecit 19990813 corr.20011223
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