A Lucky Chance Encounter

What is lucky? Winning lotto, a happy coincidence, an unexpected opportunity, a chance encounter. Whatever spin you put on it, my mother Annemarie had a very fortunate chance encounter.

Annemarie and Gretel had survived the Japanese prisoner of war camp Banjoe Biroe on Java, Dutch East Indies, but their mother had not and after Japan's official surrender on August 15, 1945, they had found their father with the aid of the International Red Cross. They were now living with their father in Bandung in the old army barracks in an officer's bungalow. Life seemed to be getting back to normal, although there was unrest and fighting around them from the rebels agitating for independance from the Netherlands. But they were starting to enjoy life again - there were even dances and entertainment on the weekends.

In Bandung, Dick (middle) and Annemarie with the basket he liked to carry on his head.
One morning Annemarie was on her way to market when she spotted a familiar figure balancing a basket of vegetables on his head,  across the road. "Hey Blom", she called out and that is how it all began. They were in secondary college - HBS -  in Surabaya before the war, but not in the same class.  Dick Blomberg was the class representative and everyone called him Blom.  So Annemarie was glad to see him again, of course  The joke in the family was that she came home and announced to her sister that she had found a nice boyfriend for her.

Dick was in the Dutch army and on weekends he'd take Annemarie with him when he had to drive the Indonesian soldiers to spend time with their wives and families in the villages for a few hours. They would then have a picnic and amazingly they were never attacked by the rebel snipers that could be hiding in the fields.

In March 1946 Annemarie and her family were repatriated to Holland and they were were welcomed by their cousins. The Dutch government needed to find room for all the returning citizens and so people preferred to take in family rather than strangers. In the meantime she and Dick corresponded and when he and his family also returned to Amsterdam, they started seeing each other again. Dick then got a job with the Netherlands Trading Society, which was the successor to the VOC - the United East Indies Companies - and he was posted to Calcutta, India in 1948. On 27 May 1950 they married in Calcutta. Annemarie was a glove bride - the term for proxy marriage that I wrote about that in a previous post.


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