The Demarcation Line Becomes Forced

Now began a time with difficult actions. The Commander of the T-Brigade decided to force the, from Batavia, approved line into function. First of all to the east and west this meant repeated clashes. In the south it looked like the opponent seemed to agree. The action “Nica” at 12th December made an end on the enemy’s claim on hill 13 for real. He did not dare to stay there anymore. A real success came two days later during the action “Bestand”, which was led by the Commander of 2-7 together with a company from 1 R.S. they surrounded a house in which a whole company was housed. Besides the dead they took 71 prisoners of war. They day after there was still no sign of the opponent so we buried them. In the west different actions were undertaken in the direction of Mangkang Wetan. The unrest here continued although the enemy wasn’t as aggressive as in the east. He had a strong force concentrated there mainly consisting of T.N.I. While in the east it was mainly personnel from different groups mainly Hizbollah who operated.

The only offensive actions by the opponents consisted of patrols into our area, snipers and bombardments of the town. In December some guns were positioned in Serdang. From where the projectiles came disturbing near to the Headquarter. When it was spotted for good the A 1 Veld gave a decisive answer. The smoke and explosions showed that the fire was “laying good”. The Slaughterhouse and de Gombel was the target. And following intelligence an attack was on the program in the night between 31st December and 1st January, which was not passed thorough. The last time grenades landed in Semarang was 23rd January 1947. When the shelling was officially stopped. With the threats of different measures.

The Forced Truce

Finally on 15th February the republican troops got orders to stop firing too. Unfortunately this last days cost some more victims because of a mine accident. One might say that concerning the shooting the enemy kept the truce on the 15th but that was all.

This new faze started with more discussions. Following instructions the other side made contact through a letter, which was laid at a point on the border of our area. Although the contents did not follow the agreed on formula. Our side reacted immediately and on 21st February the first discussions could be held. This meeting was held at the same point as in December. The Commander of the Brigade was represented by his chief of staff Major J. G. Smit and on the other site the Commander of the Republican front was represented by a Major who led their delegation. Anyway both Colonels were present at the second meeting. The meeting went on in a good atmosphere and it looked like the republicans wanted to do anything possible to make the truce come true. It was decided that the demarcation line should follow the plan made by the Commander of the T-Brigade in December. This line was already reached by the Dutch troops except in southwest where the kampong complex Sadang, Banaran, Sekaran and Patemon still were on republican hands. The evacuation of this area on 23rd February at 24.00 was our first demand. At the meeting 22nd February it was postponed to 27th February 24.00.

The third meeting was held on the 26th in a shelled building near hill 221 in the kampong Srondol Koelon. Here was agreed on definitions concerning the demilitarised zone. It was decided a 2-kilometre width area on each side of the demarcation line should be demilitarised. There most not be any fixed positions and it most on be patrolled by special patrols, which where recognised by an armband. By day they must not come closer to the demarcation line than 100 metres and during the night 500 metres. Likewise was the line marked. On each side should in a distance of 100 metres in front of the line be signs with on the Dutch side “Demarcatielijn” and a number and on the Republican side with “garis demarkasi”. These signs were raised during the following weeks although bad organisation on the other side delivered a lot of problems. It took a heavy tool on them that they did not have a modern engineer company with modern equipment to place the pools in the ground.

A New Era

On 28th February came the first test when the Stoottroepen made an expedition to the impregnable Sadeng, which following the truce was supposed to be evacuated. This was indeed the case. The huts and buildings were intact and not disturbed by the enemy. The inhabitants were nowhere to see. The next day a combined force arrived in the big complex Banaran, Sekaran, Pateman. No opposition was met. The big rice field north of Pateman made big admiration. It was the first time the soldiers saw a cultivated rice field! Until then it had only been neglected wilderness they had seen. They looked at the fresh green and newly plant “bibit ” and on the engineering of this irrigation works. But…… also in these kampongs except for a few ill who were in a helpless situation. The T.N.I. had forced the citizens to evacuate. We got huts without inhabitants and rice fields without tanis . The departure had been made in a hurry: The “bibit” was ready to be put out and the agricultural equipment still lay where it had been taken away from scared citizens. A well functioning kampong was uninhabited and given over to the rats.

In the following weeks the citizens returned. Some came from Semarang where they had looked for work and some from the other side of the demarcation line. Because although they had been evacuated by the republic, it did not care any further about them. They did not get enough food and goods and had to live on charity. Now and then some got permission to take furniture and all kinds of fruit from the deserted houses. When returning they were always given guarantee for them and members of their families against being taken into custody. And through cut downs in the monitoring we saw the amount of inhabitants growing. A permanent guard was out of the question in this region. But through our continuous patrolling people got complete confidence in the security of person and property.

In this way Semarang had a width area to the west of town where the kampongs were inhabited and the earth cultivated. But also the northwestern part, which was occupied in September as mentioned before had thanks to the Sixth came a long way. When the area was seized it was no man’s land in the sorry way of the word. It belonged to the site, which was the strongest at the moment. There were no people everything was neglected and filthy. Already the day after the seizing the inhabitants started to return. And started to make their houses possible to live in.

In this way and with the support of the Dutch more inhabitants returned. And after a few months the area had undergone an unrecognisable challenge. No matter where the patrols went in the neglected vegetation they saw people working and women with their loads. Cattle was imported and “bibit” put to disposition. A polio clinic was started with what looked like a helpless task to make the health conditions better. And thorough continual work they tried to get rid of it and bring it to its knees. All this work was inspired by the leadership of the 2-6 R.I. colonel van Welzenes who cared for the men he lead. Here was done a real work of pacification, which showed that the Tigers not only could fight but also heal. The devotion from the population become bigger and later during the Police Actions. The troops would be seen as liberators during their advance to the west by those who had heard about the good life on the other side of the line under the Dutch leadership. And now after their liberation they demanded it themselves.

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1 Bibit mean seeds
2 Tani’s mean farmers
1 Eskadron Pantserwagens mean Squadron armed vehicles
2 Storm Afdeling mean storm unit

Part 8


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