Carla Gerardu-Low

Passing on a little family history to the next generation

My Opa’s Experience as a POW – Part 2 — August 12, 2019

My Opa’s Experience as a POW – Part 2

Continuing the story from Part 1

Chuka Maru

On Sunday, May 14, 1944, after five months of captivity at his second POW camp – the 10th Battalion in Batavia, Java (now Jakarta) – my Opa, Johannes Hubertus Theodorus Gerardu (Hubert) was selected to board the Japanese transport ship, Chuka Maru (aka Chukwa Maru). He was 43 years old. In relation to the World War II timeline, this was a few weeks before D-Day in France and a little over two years into the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

Chuka Maru Pre-War Photo

Google Translate is available at the bottom of the page.

The Japanese moved prisoners from camp to camp, depending on the need for labor. New POWs to a camp would bring news of the places they came from – some good, but mostly bad news. As you can imagine, word of an upcoming transport was surely an especially stressful time for prisoners. Hubert’s group of POWs, known as Java Party 21, consisted of 310 English and 1,615 Dutch prisoners.

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My Opa’s Experience as a POW – Part 1 — May 3, 2019

My Opa’s Experience as a POW – Part 1

It was after I read the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillebrand, that I started to wonder about my grandfather’s experience in a “concentration camp” during World War II. I knew that he was in a camp, but it was something he never talked about with anyone.

Note: Google Translate is available at the bottom of the page.

Then shortly after I published my last post, A Pivotal Moment for a Young Soldier, Comité ereschuld Onderscheidingen contacted me to inquire if my grandfather, Johannes H.T. Gerardu (aka Hubert), was a POW. This simple inquiry pushed my genealogical research forward twenty years and made me curious as to what had really happened to him during his time away from his family.

This is the story of my grandfather’s time as a POW based on information I was able to glean from his Stamboek (military record), internment card (see below), some extensive research done by Henk Beekhuis about the POW camps in Indonesia, and other sources. It is most definitely a watered-down version of the reality of his experience.

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