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The First Step

First they had to put the theory from Malacca where they used blank bullet against a fictitious enemy into practice in the hilly terrain around Semarang.

The Brigade not even got an opportunity to breath to look around. The English was busy getting relieved. As told earlier the 2-13 R.I. arrived on 9th March. On 10th March they took over the guarding of the Camp Djatingaleh and the southern entrances to the town. The Japanese troops who had done this job before were sent to a place in the harbour to wait before being send away to a prisoner of war camp. On 12th March the Battalion beside this got the whole east front on its account where the posts Veda, the Slaughterhouse and B.A.T. lay. Also here were the Japanese redrawn. In the meantime the rest of the Battalions had arrived and on 14th March they handed over the posts in the east to the 1st R.S. The 6th was intended for the western part of the town. Here lay the airfield a very important place, which again and again was attacked and more or less made an enclave in enemy territory. Beside this they also had the guarding of the harbour complex. Here they were busier with collies that stole than attacking pemoeda’s . Plus a line along the western bandjircanal where they were trusted the electricity central. It was only an emergency installation, since the real central for Mid-Java (the central in Djelok) lay deep in the republican territory in the neighbourhood of Salatiga and should first return to our hands on 22nd July 1947. The installation in Semarang delivered electrical power for a few hours to the most important buildings. Now I speak about the most important services, I had better tell that the waterline was in the hands of the republic too. The pump station a model installation, which Semarang could give its thanks for that the healthiness, which used to be bad had become better even in Oengaran. The water was still flowing in the Kampongs just in front of the Dutch posts at Gombel but in the town it was necessary to use the few wells. Heavy water trucks drove day and night from there and to the encampments to deliver their important loads. The same happened for parts of the civilians. Especially around the end of the tough time the water was a problem. Also they had to come chlorine in the water, which was supposed for consumption, which did not make the taste better. Once a patrol was smart and seized Srondal a kampong on the way to Oengaran. This resulted in that part of Nieuwe-Tjandiwijk had flowing water for a while. Until the opponent found out and changed it.

So let us return to the first steps of the Brigade. For those who do not know Semarang it can be told it has 250000 inhabitants. And is placed by the Java Sea at a point where the big plain from Demak runs out in a small coast strip. To the west of the town there are hills, which are coming from Oengaran and the mountains, which lay behind and run down to the sea. This ring of hills runs through the town too and parts it in an downtown and uptown, which include Oud- and Nieuwe-Tjandi and Djatingaleh. The tallest of these hills is de Gombel, which also form the southern most point of Semarang. From this hill you have a good view over the town. It is one of the most beautiful panoramas in India. You can see the sea and it is clear that the town on the east and the west side is bordered by two canals. It is the Ooster- and Wester-bandjirkanaal which original is two kali’s, which have been transformed into canals. In the dry season there is no water. During the monsoon they are filled. To the east there is a huge. plain: a rice paddy, with a few big kampongs in it. During the time we are speaking about these fields lay deserted and neglected up to 10 to 15 kilometres from the town. The kampongs were only inhabited by ill and weak people. In a distance of around 5 kilometres the plain changes to hills with deep valleys These hills also form the southern border of the town and on the western side they reach nearly to the sea. On the narrow strip plain land west for the town is the airfield constructed. Kalibanteng around 3 kilometres outside the westernbandjircanal between the big mail road toKendal, Tegal, Cherribon and the sea.

Next after the Bondjircanals the de Gombel was a point of strategic importance. One might say that it is very significant that the one who possess this hill possess Semarang. The English had a Company laying there and it was the last strongpoint they kept their hands on. Not before in April was it handed over to the Dutch and were occupied by the 3-2-13 R.I.

From the above mentioned it could be seen that the Brigade like the Territorial and the Commander for Mid-Java, Djokjakarta and Soerakarta did not include more than the town. An area which not reached farther south from the sea than 12 kilometres. And the extending from east to west was even less. Post were spread out on the border of the area and did not form a ring but – as it was said during the world war – hedgehog positions. It was possible to infiltrate between this positions since it was not stopped by intensive patrols. Not only in front of the positions but even more important between them. First weeks they cooperated with the English then the Dutch went on patrol alone to make the life difficult for the enemy around town. If this strip was not occupied the enemy had to be made so uneasy because of nightly shelling and recognise our superiority and redraw his positions a little farther from town. In the beginning he was sitting as you might say on our doorstep. He had fixed positions just 500 – 600 metres in front of ours, which gave him the chance to continually to make our men uneasy be nightly shelling. Plus the town too was a comfortable target for the fortunate, scarce and badly served guns.

The outline for the area was so small that the English had put up their artillery in the middle of town on the Siranda. And from there could give fire support to all positions.

On Their Own

We worked together with the English for a month. The English Brigadier did everything he could to make the relieving as fast as possible and the Commander of the T-Brigade helped as good as he could. On the Makamdowo road they were organised and made plans and on the entrance from the street it was written “Djalan mati ”. The Brigade was at least at a dead end. In this first month the intelligence and surveillance were formed under the leadership of Captain M. L. P. W. H. Dakkus.

And the communication platoon, which not only had the name but also got the job done. Beside this a Territorial Staff was created under the leadership of then Major later Colonel M. Spiering. On 1st April 1946 the Brigade stood up as a fighting unit for the first time during the action “Primeur”, which was pointed against the famous and feared height 13, which lay on the way from the Slaughterhouse to Mranggen. Here the enemy had made stout resistance and gave our posts on the east front a difficult time. The action was led by the Commander of 1 R.S. and companies from 2-12 and 2-6 participated. The action was a success. The English observers and not least the Brigadier were full of praise, even self exuberant praise over the Dutch soldiers performance, who with great courage and energy jumped in on the life of their opponents and delivered him a great blow. With this they at least knew what they could expect from the Dutch. The same day south of de Gombel a platoon from 2-13 delivered a battle at the so-called roadblock. Also this little unit, which was attacked from 3 sides and had a serious wounded did it well and forced a far superior enemy to redraw with heavy losses.

This first test of ability went to the satisfaction of everyone. Also without the “red-caps” would Semarang be safe.

On 4th April landed the first unit of artillery from KNIL who should take over the guns and task from their English colleagues. As prisoners of war they had been sent to Japan and later Manila. This gunner's originated from a unit, which was supposed to be sent to Java to secure the peace. The trip went at the last moment not that way. They ended up hanging at Balikpapan and there they were made to gunner’s and put into companies. That’s why in January 1946 an Artillery Depot was formed and on 24 March the 1st Regiment was created. On 27th March the newly named gunner’s left for Semarang. It is difficult to tell about which action and patrols around Semarang the artillery participated in since they were with more often than others. Since there was always nice music played and our artillery played it from their central positions where “They had a finger with in everything”. Their real name was A 1 Veld and they were the rescuers for ours in need and the horror for the opponents. Later it was told from the other side that the results from our shells made legendary rumours like the Dutch shells always hit their target.

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4 Djalan mati mean death street

Part 5

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