In March 1944 we were ordered to pack, loaded onto a long train the following morning and moved to the other end of Java, to a small town called Tangerang, 20 km west of Batavia (Jakarta). The train journey, which normally would have taken twelve hours, took three days in a train with all windows and doors locked and all blinds down, and with no provision for food or water.
On the second day, at our request, as all of us, but especially the children, were limp with thirst, we stopped for water from a railway siding pump (for filling up the steam trains) and promptly got the runs. Our carriage was packed with bodies; we sat on the floors and in the aisles. The seats were for the elderly. The single toilet soon overflowed, and thereafter became a disaster area, defying all description.
On the third night we arrived at a dismal looking dimly lit station, and had to walk for almost an hour to our destination. The smaller children had to be carried, as they were too exhausted to walk. We finally reached a large building behind a massive bamboo-and-wire fence with four watchtowers, one on each corner. Although there was some food ready for us to eat, all most of us were capable of doing was to find a place to stretch out and sleep. I have never slept so soundly on a hard wooden board!
We found out later that our new ‘home’ was a former corrective institution for delinquent youths. We also discovered that we had been traveling with about 1500 other women and children from the “Darmo Camp” in Surabaya plus the contingent of about 100 Iraqi women and children from whom we had been separated earlier in Werfstraat Jail.
To be continued…
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