Post War Refugees

Indian oceanAfter the war we returned to South Africa as Post War Refugees. As is the case with all refugees we followed a haphazard route assisted by volunteers, non profit societies such as the Red Cross, and  help from the British Government via RAPWI (Repatriation of Allied Prisoners of war and Internees). The voyage from Jakarta, Indonesia to Johannesburg, South Africa took us via nine separate countries and was facilitated by air, sea and rail transport. Voyage by sea was made hazardous by the presence of diseased passengers on overcrowded ships.

Ours was an extraordinary three month long saga described in detail in Tjideng Reunion, Chapters twelve and thirteen. We had become part of a huge current of humanity, mostly , but not exclusively Caucasian, escaping the devastation of East Asia for security and a new future or, in the case of our liberators, just returning home. About half of the party that had accompanied us on our outward bound journey in 1940, made it back to South Africa where we were fortunate to have good prospects for repairing the damage we had suffered. Our good friends Emmy and Edu Kerkhoven languished for some time in Port Said awaiting availability of space on a ship heading for South Africa.

Waiting in Egypt
Emmy Waiting in Egypt
Waiting in Egypt
Edu Waiting in Egypt

 

Durban Christmas 1945
Durban Christmas 1945

In Durban we made a strange spectacle on the beach filled with Christmas holiday makers who could not imagine what the bedraggled looking threesome had endured and how lucky they were to have survived.  My father had quickly regained some weight but his face remained hollow , thanks to the loss of teeth at the hands of a furious Japanese soldier. The model of the Arab Dhow was a gift from an Imperial Airways pilot

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