About 2 years ago, Max van der Werff (NCRV-TV) and Ady Setyawan visited Ravie Ananda in Kebumen. They interviewed him about a story on his website "Wahyu Pancasila", called "Commemorating the Cannonade of Candi". Here he reports about the Dutch artillery bombarding the market in Candi-Karanganyar causing 786 casualties.
Left: Drs. Mathieu Willemsen (conservator of the Nederlands Militair Museum) in front of a 25-pounder cannon (with a range of 12.25 km and a firing speed of 7 shots per min) as used by the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery. Right: Photograph from the book "Success in a lost war" by Ben Bouman (see ref. 1).
I am interested in this history, because Ravie Ananda is a current resident of Kebumen, who gives the victims of the colonial war, in the words of Martin Witteveen (nrc-article in my previous blog), "a face and a voice". In addition, the story belongs to the history of Keboemen, the first place in the Dutch colony where my parents arrived in 1933 and from where my mother started to describe her experiences in the colonial society in weekly letters to her parents in Switzerland (see "Java 1933: un blog posthume" posted by Catherine Marchand). Ravie Ananda reacted to my post "Kebumen:past and present", on September 20, 2015. Since then we regularly corresponded with each other.
Things beyond description have happened in Candi and in Keboemen, also on the grounds of the Dutch Mexolie factory. Why do I describe them? Because I want to know what is in all those documents, photographs and letters left behind by my parents and because I hope to understand better what they have experienced and endured.
Do I feel ashamed of this history? No, I don't. Am I proud of my father, who survived the bombardment of Tjilatjap on March 5, 1942 or of my mother who survived the camp-hospital Sint Vincentius in Batavia at the end of the war? No, pride is not the word. Their documents make me realize how easy, how spoiled my life has been. Rather, I feel thankful for the way they took up their lives when they united in the Netherlands in 1948.
But what about the Indonesian people who fought and survived the Dutch? How were they able to take up their lives in Kebumen? How did the grand parents of Ravie Ananda experience the Japanese and Dutch army during and after WW-II? I hope to understand something of their lives through Ravie Ananda's stories.
Timeline of events in the Dutch Indies after WW-II
- 1945. August 15th: Japanese capitulation (V.J.-day), - October battle of Soerabaya. Start of the so-called Bersiap-period (the battle-cry bersiap means "be prepared"). It was a period of Indonesian revolutionary violence that could develop during the retreat of the Japanese occupational army. It lasted until the British and later the Dutch military forces had been build up at the end of 1946.
- 1945. October 5th: establishment of the TKR (Tentara Keamanan Rakjat), later called TRI (Tentara Republik Indonesia ) and in 1947 called TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, Indonesian National Army consisting of 195.000 men).
- 1946. March: Dutch troops are allowed to enter Indonesia to take over British positions
- 1946. November 15th: Agreement of Lingadjati (Linggajati).
- 1947, 21 July. The Dutch launch "Operatie Product" ("Eerste politionele actie"; general Spoor; 95.000 men), breaking the Lingadjati Agreement by entering Republican-held territories and outraging world opinion. The Republican army, TNI (Tentara Nasinal Indonesia) could not offer much resistance. The "Police Action" lasted until August 5th, 1947. A newly organized bataljon called Andjing Nica, belonging to the Vth Brigade, moved under heavy fighting from Bandoeng to Gombong, west of Kebumen. Another section of the Vth Brigade was the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery stationed in Gombong. The section was deployed in extensive cleansing operations as the one on October 19, 1947 near Karanganjar in Republican territory. On page 51 and 137 of his book about the Andjing Nica (see ref. 2), Sjoerd Lapré describes the action against Karanganjar. He describes fierce fightings and the capture of large stocks of mines and bombs, but does not mention the involvement of artillery.
- 1947. October 19th: "Cannonade of Candi".
- 1948. January 17th: Renville-agreement about demarcation lines, also so-called "van Mook-grenzen".
- 1948. December 19th until January 5th, 1949: "Operatie Kraai", second war or "Tweede Politionele Actie".
- 1949. January 28, Resolution of the United Nations condemning the Netherlands for its strategy in the colony and proposing the formation of a federal government in which the Republic would participate. August, Cease-fire.
- 1949. December 27th: transfer of sovereignty in Amsterdam.
Maps of central Java. The middle insert is from the book of Lapré (ref. 2, page 49).Karanganyar and Kebumen locate to the east of the demarcation line at Kemit.Lower panel: the distance between the alun-alun of Karanganyar and the Monumentof the Candi-cannonade is about 1 km.
Commemorating the Cannonade of Candi on Sunday October 19th, 1947
The story written by Ravie Ananda on his website "Pancasila" was freely translated from Javanese with the help of Julia Tampubolon and using Google translate:
"Candi (signifies temple) is the name of a village located east of the alun-alun (central square) of Karanganyar in the District of Kebumen in Central Java.
After the First Dutch Military aggression (in dutch: Eerste Politionele Actie), in which they carried out an attack on the markets of Gombong and then Karanganyar (located on the highway Gombong - Kebumen), the markets were closed and moved to Candi as a general security measure, to avoid Dutch acts of violence. The Dutch knew about the existence of COP (“Corp Pertahanan” = Defense Corp) located in the Perlawanan street east of the alun-alun. At the market of Candi there was a COP-office and a warehouse, which at the time was led by Lt. Moeryoeni; there was also a “General Galley Kitchen” (kombuis), which was established voluntarily by citizens and opened to fighters.
The COP logistic’s office was hit by a Dutch cannon 3 times. The Dutch often fired their cannons to areas that are considered to be highly suspected. The intent of the cannonade was to screw up the concentration of TNI (Republican Army) defense forces. The Dutch previously conducted aerial reconnaissance with a dragonfly plane (a Piper Cub?) on October 19th 1947, Sunday at 06.00 a.m. in cloudy weather. The Dutch first shot towards the south Sugihwaras village. The dragonfly plane was later seen above Candi giving ray code as well as dropping a few bombs as a guide towards the target for cannonades at two locations: Kenteng and Ragadana.
The Candi market was on two locations: east and west of the small river. The market is very simple but crowded by people carrying out sales and purchases. At 08.00 a.m. the market crowd was surprised by the arrival of the dragonfly plane, followed by the first canon shot that hit near the market. The plane was also guided by a Ducht spy who was in Legok (sub-village of Candi) by reflecting a mirror to the top as the location code. The spy was eventually killed as he was also exposed to the cannonade. His body was washed away in the river that was flooded by residents. The shellfire from Gombong was intensive like a hail of bullets.
Arround 10.00 a.m. the shooting stopped. Residents in the surrounding of Candi rushed to be evacuated. But it was not long before the cannonade started again, convulsing in the Candi village which includes the sub-villages: Pasar Candi, Cengkoreh, Sigedong, Serang, Kandangan, Legok, Gemiwang, Kepel, Plarangan and Pucung. The cannonade stopped arround 01.00 p.m. The number of grenades fired about 600. That can be calculated from the number of holes in the ground. After stop, citizens sheltering in Sigedong cave or in their homes fled to safe areas in Somawangsa, Karanggayam, Pandansari, Sruweng etc. Injured walked towards Kebumen for help in hospital.
Severe casualties at the Kebumen hospital were taken to hospital in Yogyakarta by train. The cannonade killed many local residents (covering 10 sub-villages of Candi) and other villagers that were on the market as well as refugees who were scattered around Candi. There are also members of the TNI, TP (Tentara Pelajar/ Students’ Army) and fighters.
Dead bodies were everywhere, especially in Candi market to the east of the railroad track. Many bodies occurred with head, hands and feet separated. There is also a body part caught in trees. The number of victims could be recorded as many as 786 people (13 members of TP). It’s very likely that bodies were washed away when the river was flooding.
Coffins were prepared by the DKT (Djawatan Kesehatan Tentara/ Health Army troops Departement) and RST (Rumah Sakit Tentara/ Hospital Army Troops) in Kebumen. The bodies of huge numbers of victims were buried in the yard – the holes were not deep enough to reduce odors, so the next day many graves were found that had been reopened by animals such as dogs and so on. Many parts of the bodies could not be buried separately because they had been devoured by animals. If bodies could be clearly identified as member of TP, they were collected and treated by his unit and transported to Kebumen. Subsequently transported to Purworejo or Yogyakarta by train according unity.
In addition there are also casualties in damaged or destroyed homes and a number of pets died like cows, buffaloes and goats. After the events of the cannonade Dutch troops often entered the Candi area and confiscated a variety of foodstuffs and livestock of residents, because the existence of a common kitchen in Candi as a fighter logistics persists.
After the state returned safely in 1949 survivors maimed for life were given compensation by the District of Rp15 (At that time the price worth of a little goat). The houses that were destroyed by the cannonade were rebuilt by the people without any help from the government. Until 2013 only some of the victims are still to be found; among others: Ahmad Sofyan (98 years old), Ahmad Suwito (88 years old) and Baniyah (80 years old).
Most of the victims with disabilities and child victims of the cannonade had died due to aging. To commemorate the event of the cannonade of Candi a simple memorial was made of rocks in the middle of the market by citizens, then restored by TP. The first monument was moved in front of the Village Hall Candi.
· Interviews with the fighters cannonade Candi
· Interviews with survivors: Ahmad Sofyan (98 years old), Ahmad Suwito (88 years old) and Baniyah (80 years old)."
Ravie Ananda standing with his son at the first monument commemorating the cannonade
of Candi. Right, the restored monument at the market place of Candi.
Below: On three sides the inscription says (i) Warning Dutch cannonade during war
of independence. (ii) To the victims of the cannonade. 786 deaths; 600 shots.
(iii) Not fallen in vain. People have given ...?
Information about the cannonade as retrieved from the Dutch National Archive
Dr. Bart Luttikhuis of the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) kindly helped me to find the Dutch sources that contain information about what happened on October 19th, 1947 in Karanganjar (Candi). In the National Archive in the Hague they gave me the original documents of the inventory numbers as noted by Bart Luttikhuis.
Below follows a summary of what I found in some of these documents (Archive #2.13.132, inventory numbers 1298, 2276, 2277, 3064, 3071, 3078 and 3225):
(1) From September 13th onwards many Republican infiltrations, directed from Karanganjar, occurred in the region of Tjandjoer, where bombs and mines were placed by "civilians".
(2) As a result, the Dutch decided to clean the region between Gombong and Karanganjar, that lies beyond the Van-Mook-line. According to a Memo of 29 October 1947 by Lt.Kol. Six (see figure below; in Dutch), this line runs between Gombong and Karanganjar (at Kemit).
(3) The military action of the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery about the action of October 19th (document 2277), is very scanty. It only mentions that the action started at 5:00 o'clock. A total of 1304 brisant grenades were fired, mainly on 2 kampongs that were not named. Many bomb loads (141) were unusable because of humidity and 50 grenades refused. It is further mentioned that the first shells hit own troops because of defects in the aiming devices.
(4) Military action of the Vth Bataljon KNIL Infantry by Lieutenant Colonel A. van Santen (Commanders Lapré and Trieling). From their chronological account:
6:00 Troops march from kampong Kaleng to kampong Kebongan.
6:30 Appearance of Pipercub.
6:35 Artillery firing on Kaligowog and kampong Madja.
6:50 Artillery firing on kampong Pagoetan.
7:12 Artiller firing stopped because grenades hit own troops.
9:45 Artillery fires on Karanganjar.
10:12 Firing stops.
11:45 Infantry advances to Karanganjar.
11:57 Houses in Karanganjar are searched. Many weapons and hundreds of grenades are found. Twenty three people taken prisoner.
13:00 Artillery is pulled back.
14:25 Heavy fighting near kampong Doewoer.
15:00 Infantry is retreating.
In total were 56 people taken prisoner. The enemy left 94 people dead on the battle field; not included deaths caused by artillery fire. No losses on Dutch side.
(5) Note on Memo of Lt.Kl. Six (see image) written in pencil: "Is it true that during the cleansing operation of Karanganjar 500 people have been killed as reported by Djocja (radio)?" Answer on November 3rd: 124 dead people have been counted.
One of the documents (a Memo by Lt.Kl Six) reporting about the Karanganjar battle on October 19th, 1947. For handwritten pencil remark about the number of deaths, see text.
Remarks on the cannonade
The Dutch battle reports give a very factual and stand-offisch narrative of what happened in Karanganjar on the 19th of October 1947. By and large they agree with the story of Ravie Ananda reflecting the Indonesian experience (see above) and also with the account of Lapré in his book about the Vth Andjing Nica Bataljon of the KNIL operating in Central Java (see ref. 2).
In his book "The burning villages of General Spoor", Rémy Limpach (ref. 3) makes the following remark on page 395 (see also photograph #48 after page 466):
"Compared with tanks, planes and naval ships, it was the artillery, with its prolonged fire, that caused the greatest number of casualties, injuries and property damage. This was primarily because there was a lot of artillery capacity and the number of tanks and fighter planes remained very limited throughout the conflict. Moreover, Major General Simon de Waal (KNIL) estimated that based on his experiences, the shelling of the civilian population was generally more fatal and demanded more fatalities than air shelling. When in November 1947 he faced the question whether he would "punish" the enemy for laying a deadly roadside bomb with artillery or air shelling, he opted for an air strike that was more precize in his eyes and would make fewer civilian casualties."
From the Dutch reports it remains unclear how many civilians were killed; they only counted fighters from Republican army groups. The infantry entering Karanganjar must have seen the result of the shelling on the civilian population as reported in the above story of Ravie Ananda taken from his website "Wahyu Pancasila". Considering the large number of brisant grenades fired (1304), a death toll of 786 seems realistic.
Remarks on the books of L. de Jong and Rémy Limpach
In the study of dr. L. de Jong, entitled "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", written down in 14 volumes, the chapters about the colonial war 1945-1950 appeared in the second part of volume 12. A first concept of the description of possible dutch war crimes or "derailing violence", was retracted by de Jong, because of protests from army veterans. He left the description to Lt-Gen. F. van der Veen in an annex to volume 12-2 (edition 1988). In an interview with the dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad (30 October 1984), de Jong confessed that if in that period (1945-1950) an organization like Amnesty International would have existed, the Netherlands would have been heavily critisized in every report.
For the first time Rémy Limpach's book gives us a scientific and extensive overview of the "faits accomplis" of dutch misbehaviors and war crimes. What would have happened if this study had appeared in 1969, the year that J. Hueting told his story? Would it have been able to break the protests of veteran groups, of the dutch public opninion? Or would it have been put aside as communist propaganda, a popular cliché at that time.
After previous studies by Van Doorn and Hendrix (1970), by civil servants (Excessennota, 1970) and by Oostindie (2015), Rémy Limpach's book effectuated a final push for our government to start an independent follow-up study of the decolonization in the Dutch-Indies; the decision was taken on 3 December 2016.
I want to thank Julia Tampubolon (Jakarta) for helping me with translations of Ravie Ananda's web site, Dr. Bart Luttikhuis (KITLV) for giving me the document numbers of the National Archive, Prof. Petra Groen (NIMH) for helping me with abbreviations of faded ammunition of the KNIL-Infantry, Roelof Wartena for showing me around in the Netherlands Military Museum, Drs. M. Willemsen (NMM) for information about the cannons used by the KNIL and Rémy Limpach (NIMH) for discussions, advise and corrections of my story.
(1) Ben Bouman, "Succes in een verloren oorlog - het 6e Regiment Veldartillerie en zijn Speciale Troepen in de onafhankelijkheidsstrijd van de Republiek Indonesië, 1946-1949."
(2) Lapré,S.A. "Het Andjing Nica Bataljon (KNIL) in Nederlands-Indië (1945-1950)" (Ermelo, 1988).
(3) Limpach, Rémy P., "De brandende kampongs van Generaal Spoor". (Boom, Amsterdam, 2016) (www.boomgeschiedenis.nl).