K I M
On September 11, 1950, I traveled by train from Amsterdam to
Den Helder, the Navy harbor in the top North of the province of
Holland, to join the Royal Netherlands Naval Academy .
(acronym: “KIM” in Dutch)
as an “adelborst”. Literally, this means "noble breast" -
a minor member of nobility to be addressed as "jonker" - best translated simply as "naval cadet".
| The first six weeks consisted of basic training, but in addition,
we were ‘greened’ and referred to as “foet”.
It was a most strenuous time both physically and mentally. We had to do hundreds of pushups and situps, run miles in place, imitate - working as teams - elaborate mechanical devices, and make belly landings on the oak floor of the 'Zaaltje', the community room.
We also had to memorize not only the names and 5 digit Navy numbers (mine:33630) of some 100 senior year naval cadets, as well as our fellow first years - consisting of about 70 Dutch, 2 Belgians and 36 Indonesians - but also all kinds of Navy jargon, history and lore going back over 300 years of tradition.
We had to carry a notebook and collect signatures and comments of our "torturers", and also take ample notes about their "lessons".
I reproduce three of the comments in my book. (above left)
One by Hulshof - who made it to the top rank in the Dutch Navy a few decades later - :
"Till now only interested in the Boy Scouts.
Does not know all the birthdays of the Royal Family.
Does not know anything about political actions.
Wilhelmus (Dutch National Anthem) with pains and problems."
|...and the others (above right, top): by Ponsen who dragged me through all
the washrooms and made me stick my head in the toilet-bowls
which he would then flush.|
He promised to stop if I "admitted" - which I did not, so he ended up with some left-handed compliment:
"this green has a will!" - of which I was quite proud ...
(above right, bottom): another senior admonishes that :
"he still has to learn a lot!"