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voor de



[Ben Oostdam's
Years 1950-1952]

In Sorong we received the bad news that our mail had burned up in an accident. We marched along a muddy jungle trail to a new campsite of the Dutch Marines, who had recently arrested some Indonesian infiltrants on the island of Gag, a colonel and two lieutenants posing as "gardeners". We also enjoyed the beaches with fantastic shells and the clear oceanwater with its fabulous variety of multi-colored fish - quite a change from Dutch waters! One day we saw a devil ray jump up about 18 feet and splash back causing a sound like a canon shot.

1952 Training Cruise on the
"van Kinsbergen", to New Guinea,

part 9

The "Geelvink Baai" is named after the spectacular Bird of Paradise, which though beautiful produces some rather awkward sounds
In April, we sailed to the island of BIAK, where the Japanese regrouped in 1944; some 20,000 Japanese were forced into cannibalism and were burned alive in caves where they had hidden from the invading Allied troops. We also visited Manokwari and met several ex-Dutch East Indies planters trying their luck here. We traded Douwe Egberts heavy "shag" for bows, arrows and spears which I later donated to the Wilhelmina School in Amstelveen, Holland. Biak is known for the "Mata Biak", the operculum of a crab which can be used for bracelets; hermit-crabs were very abundant and served as "toys" decades before they became the rage in the USA.
Everywhere we went we found abandoned Japanese and Allied WW2 airstrips and large dumpsites. Allegedly, thousands of jeeps were bulldozed down cliffs and inland the famous "cargo-cult" developed as a new religion of the native Papuas awaiting the return of the prolific Allied airplanes.
Later in April, we sailed past islands with names like: "Pai, Paikriki, Papandori, Mios Workbundi, and Auki"; we learned about the numerous languages and dialects of New Guinea from the Pacific Pilot and tried to memorize some of the basic numerals listed in this navigators' bible.
Another pleasant memory is that of my first "kelapa mudah", or young coconut; after you drink the juice, the nut is cut open with a "parang" or machete, so you can dig out the soft meat with a piece of the coconut bark cut in the shape of a spoon. In one village, four coconuts cost us 10 guilders, the same as a small treetrunk-canoe which took weeks to hollow out!

BLO fecit 19990809
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