Letter received by COFEPOW from Albert Hokkeling, Hoogland, Netherlands.With great respect and rejoice I discovered your beautiful site to commemorate all those British that suffered in the Far East during the bitterness of slavery under Dai Nippon. I myself lost both parents and a sister during the Japanese occupation of the former Dutch East Indies and had to struggle and fight in the days between 15 August 1945 and 24 December 1945, as a boy of fifteen years of age, together with our British liberators, to prevent extermination of those who survived the degrading concentration camps of the Japanese by frantic Indonesian youngsters during the so-called Bersiap, the stuggle for liberty of the Indonesians.
On the 24th of December 1945 the British troops managed to get us aboard 'HMS Colossus', that brought us safely to Colombo, where we disembarked and were lodged in army baracks in the mountains around Kandy, the capital of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
Being almost at the end of my life, full of agony due to the experienced beastliness in the Japanese camps, I found the opportunity at last to thank all those British servicemen who exerted their full strength in helping POW's to escape from death.Many of those heroes are not alive anymore, but their spirit remains.Many thanks to the British Army and the British Navy
On Christmas Eve in 1945 the crew of 'HMS Colossus' acted as real healers when they dedicated themselves to procure a day's long entertainment that let children forget temporarily their sufferings.
There is one picture, you might not possess, which I enclose. Again an example of the kindness of the crew of 'HMS Colossus' during Xmas we were onboard.
The hangar in those days had been transformed in a sleeping hall as shown on one of your pictures. This sleeping facility was reserved for women and children. The boys slept in the airmen's mess in hammocks.
Everything showed to be very well arranged and all of the seamen, from the commander up to the cleaner were kind and full of compassion with their 'cargo'. It must be said, British are absolutely special people in terms of rendering assistance and care for the suffering people.
Again -being late, but better late than never- Royal British Navy: Many thanks for that!Thanks for all.
That those who passed away already may rest in peace until angels shall awake them.
Albert Hokkeling.Ex POW Ambarawa Camps on Java.