1926 Klewang attack

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1926 Klewang attack

Postby Reinier » 17 Aug 2014 08:55

I came across the following piece, recounting some bladed weapon work in the Dutch East Indies in 1926, in the "Indische Letteren 19 (2004)" journal here:

Note that a klewang can also mean the native Indonesian weapon that was partly the inspiration for the Dutch klewang. A Rentjong is an Indonesian type of dagger.

Arthur Edwin Batten (1900-1969) was also a fighter. In 1969, Mahieu aka Tjalie Robinson in Tong Tong brought one final salute to Batten, the man that was a model for Arthur Hille, main character in “Double portrait of Arthur Hille” (Dubbelportret van Arthur Hille).
On 26 November 1930 Batten and Du Perron together undertook a train trip from Brussels to The Hague. It was during this time together that Batten told his “Stories of Atjeh” (Verhalen van Atjeh). Over four years after this meeting, Du Perron wrote the “Double portrait” with, as he noted in the explanation in the Greshoff copy “the voice of Batten clearly in my ears, especially in the second half”.
Batten's “Stories of Atjeh” (verhalen van Atjeh), as they have been written down in the “Double portrait of Arthur Hille” (Dubbelportret van Arthur Hille) by Du Perron, can partly be found in historical sources. In August 1924, lieutenant Edy Batten was assigned to the Korps Marechaussee on Atjeh. Despite the successes that the marechaussee had achieved in the previous decennia because of 'restless' persecution of Atjeh resistance groups, the resistance on North-Sumatra was never completely broken. From time to time, the fight against the government would reignite. In the years 1925 to 1927 the KNIL found itself opposed against uprisings particularly along the west coast of Atjeh. Continuous patrolling by mobile marechaussee brigades was necessary to seek out the enemy. The Atjeh enemy still chanced a daring attack with the bladed weapon.
Batten experienced this first hand in 1926, when he was injured during hostile attacks. Two entries in the “Officers pedigree” attests chillingly of the fights and the sustained injuries. Thus it reads in telegraph style: “19 June 1936 in contact with malignants in Upper Troemon skin[unreadable]wound across placed in R. buttock”. Two months earlier, Batten had to endure a klewang cut to the head, or as it is entered into the Pedigree: “During klewang attack at Oedjang Poelo landscape Kloeit on the middle of the head hew injury down to the bony skull, across to right front”.
The nature of this last mentioned fight is revealed in the “Double portrait”. Hille tells: “I had hardly put down the first man, or the second grabbed my body. Because I did not have my arms free anymore, I let myself fall on top of him. In the fall, I got one hand free, but my klewang was down. Thus, I had to thrust upwards, and I knew I had to hold it such, and not so, in view of the ribs. I gave him the whole thing, and I saw his eyes roll... and damned! In the same moment, while he croaked, he jams me his bar through my hat from above. You know, one of those braided soldiers hats, more for the sun than anything else, I wore it with a strap under the chin. I did not not even feel the blow, but my whole mug was immediately washed with the blood.” That was the result of the “head hew to the bony skull”.
“I ensure you, Du Perron wrote on 22 May 1935 in a letter to Fred Batten, that my reading is exactly how Edy told the matter to me.” In the same letter, Du Perron does question the “klewang-history” as this was communicated to him: “Because if he took the man out with his own klewang, then the knock that he still receives with it himself becomes very unlikely. That is too much back and forth even for a klewang.”
The feat of arms is also described in the Appendix to the Regulation for the exercise of the politcal-politional task of the army, which offers an extensive series of examples from the Indian [i.e. Indonesian] war practice, as described by officers. The first lieutenant Batten also contributed. In military businesslike style he reports the klewang attack near Oedjong Poelo. The man to man fight that Batten waged is also addressed. The nature of the fight is no different from the “klewang-history” in “The country of origin” (Het land van herkomst): “I saw an Atjeh native in bent over position hewing at a marechaussee that had fallen backwards, whereupon I took the assailant out of the fight with 2, 3 cuts. The next moment I was in front of another Atjeh native, that tipping backwards, pulled me along by the arm. Fearing a rentjong at this short distance, I then thrust him my klewang straight through the body, whereupon I received a klewang cut to the head from him”
…en A alſoo liggende kan aen B, ſonder eenigh beletſel, met de zijde van ſijn hooft, op het aengeſicht van B, ſoo veel ſtoten als hy begeert. – Nicolaes Petter, 1674.

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