Battleship "De Zeven Provinsien" at the beginning of his military career
The global economic crisis 1929 – 1933 of the year hit the economies of western countries like a heavy ram at the old fortress gates. The gates shook, creaked, slivers and dust crumbled from them, and even they could tear them off their hinges. Deep paralysis of industrial and financial institutions affected almost all aspects of life, looked into the most remote corners and seemingly reliable shelters. The armed forces, an integral part of any state structure, also could not avoid the shocks that accompany the crisis.
East India National Economic Boiler
The Kingdom of the Netherlands initially experienced a crisis on a par with other European countries, painfully. The small state, which in the recent World War managed to sit behind the low fence of neutrality, was the owner of the modest size of the colonial empire, the heritage of the turbulent past. The golden age of William of Orange, Van Rijn and Spinoza has long passed. The United East India Company sunk into oblivion when the Dutch contested with their island rivals the right to dominate maritime trade. Together with gunpowder smoke battles in the English Channel, ambitions vanished, appetites died down, and the former player of the highest ship league took a place in the auditorium of big European politics. The favorable geographical position and the colonies captured "by youth", allowed to live comfortably near the geopolitical predators. In the host of small properties and other islands, the Dutch East Indies, or Indonesia, shone brightly. This enormous size of the archipelago gave the metropolis an extensive list of various valuable raw materials, which easily turned into lucid coin on the world markets: first and foremost, oil, various ores, rubber, and agricultural products. The East Indies brought more than 50 million guilders to the Netherlands in the pre-crisis year 1928.
The First World War did not solve the old problems, but gave rise to new ones. Japan, which, according to the results of the Versailles Accords complex, didn’t get at all the pieces of the strategic pie she was counting on, felt offended. Whites were no longer teachers and sources of various technological wisdom, but became an obstacle and an annoying obstacle to their own growing ambitions. The realization of the geopolitical tasks facing Tokyo could not pass by the rich Dutch East Indies. And in the metropolis, this was well understood, although a small European state had very limited resources to protect its overseas colonies. The Dutch, just in case, concentrated a considerable part of their small fleet. At the beginning of 1933 there were coastal defense battleship (or inland navigation battleship, according to Dutch classification) “De Zeven Provinsien”, two light cruisers “Java” and “Sumatra”, eight destroyers, 15 submarines and about 60 small and auxiliary ships and ships.
The battleship with a displacement of 6500 tons, built in 1910, had on the paper impressive armament of two 283-mm guns and four 150-mm, not counting the artillery of a smaller caliber. Under the conditions of rapidly evolving equipment and weapons, this ship, created largely on the realities of the beginning of the 20th century, was also rapidly becoming obsolete. His 16-nodal speed was not enough to confront modern ships, but poor Holland didn’t have anything better to protect its interests. Both light cruisers were protracted - built into the 1916, they entered service in the 1925 – 1926.
The Dutch saved on many things and last but not least on the human factor. Most of the army units and crews of their colonial fleet, they recruited from the native population. In the first place, this was caused by a lesser expenditure on salaries for Indonesians. The fleet personnel, more isolated from local realities, was considered by the colonial administration as a kind of police reserve in case of ever more frequent unrest among the population. It was rash to rely entirely on military units, in which whites were on average 3 – 3,5 times less than the natives.
The Dutch had something to fear. And not only new Japanese dreadnoughts, cruisers or submarines. A possible uprising of the local population was no less dangerous. The Indonesian archipelago had the richest state and cultural history. Early state formations appeared here already in the first centuries of our era. The intensive penetration of the Western colonialists in the face of the Dutch East India Company began in the middle of the XVII century. Taking advantage of the ancient “divide and rule” rule of the world, the Dutch gradually got their hands on the richest regions of the archipelago. Small, hostile with each other, local sultanate states (Islam was widely spread in this area) could not unite to counteract the creeping aggression. Some of the territories remained formally independent for some time, but in fact were completely controlled by the colonial administration.
This is not to say that the people of Indonesia accepted their fate with calm and gentleness. During the 19th century, at least three major uprisings shook Ost-India, which can even be called anti-colonial wars. Each time the Dutch managed to take over, using their technical superiority and skillfully playing on the contradictions in the camp of the rebels themselves. But pushing the problem in depth, as you know, does not eliminate its solution. The boiler, under the tightly seemingly closed lid, continued to boil. From time to time protests and discontent erupted in streams of steam, the lid vibrated, threatening to dislodge.
The economic crisis, which began at the wrong time, like all crises, was a breeding ground for the exacerbation of the situation in the Dutch East Indies. On the old problems of the struggle against foreign colonial domination overlapped no less acute economic problems. Revenues from the colonies decreased significantly due to the general decline in production. The government had to resort to a number of painful decisions, primarily to reduce the expenditure side of the budget. This has not bypassed the bitter cup and the armed forces. At the end of 1932, the salary of Dutch sailors was reduced by 14%, and their local colleagues were reduced by 17%. The awkward decision, which instead of raising the “prestige” of the white man, caused only the bitterness of the Indonesians. In general, the colonial colleagues - the British - have repeatedly hinted to the Dutch the archaic system of governance and the methods of national policy pursued by the Dutch in Indonesia. Not because the “enlightened navigators” were good Samaritans and did not mind the inhabitants of their own colonies, but because they knew how to extract experience from their mistakes and acted more sophisticated.
The news of the reduction in salaries expectedly caused fermentation and growing discontent. This was especially observed in the main naval base of the colony Surabaya. Of the 4,5 -thousandth garrison, more than half were Indonesians. An underground anti-colonial organization was created and successfully operated among them. The activists of the Communist Party, founded back in 1920, and formed in 1927, led by the future President of the country, Sukarno's National Party, worked energetically. More than 200 man from the crew of the battleship in varying degrees, consisted in an underground organization. It was decided that “De Zeven Province” will become one of the centers of speech for the rights of seafarers. The role of the main protest center was given to Surabae. His fellow Dutch seamen were deeply sympathetic to their Indonesian colleagues, for the reduction in wages concerned them too. It should be noted that during the economic crisis 1929 – 1933. there was already a precedent when naval sailors openly protested against the reduction of the money allowance. In October, the British fleet 1931 shook the sailors' strike on a number of ships, including the Rodney battleship. This strike baffled the Admiralty, and it very thoroughly mitigated the financial measures it took with regard to personnel. According to the latter, what the English sailors succeeded in could and should have succeeded.
Exercise, banquet and riot on the ship
2 January 1933 of the Year “De Zeven Provinsien” left Surabaya and headed for an exercise along the coast of the islands of Java and Sumatra, which were to end with firing in the area of the Siberut wreck. The degree of the situation gradually heated up. The underground revolk on the battleship was waiting for a signal of a riot in Surabaya, but he never came. It should be noted that initially the objectives of the speech did not go beyond the economic, that is, the abolition of the reduction of cash payments. The officers of the Navy treated the Indonesian sailors with disdain, and it was this that prevented them from seeing the signs of an impending uprising.
On January 30, a radiogram about the outbreak of a riot at Morocrembangan air base arrived at a ship in the sea. There has been no news from Surabaya yet. The chief executives of the underground on the battleship - the Indonesian helmsman Kavilarang and the Dutch machinist Boshart - decided to start the February 4 uprising, seize the ship and head for Surabaya. The moment was chosen successful - February 2 "De Zeven Provinsien" threw anchor near the town of Kotaradia off the coast of Sumatra. On the day of the speech, the commander of the battleship with part of the officers had to go ashore to go to the reception, arranged by the local administration in their honor. The arrival of the largest warship was an event for the colonial backwater. The balance of power on board the De Zeven Provincienen was unconditionally on the side of those who were preparing the rebellion. On the ship that night, there were 69 Dutch (of which 16 officers, 9 non-commissioned officers, the rest of the sailors). They were opposed by 187 Indonesians. Some time after Commander Aikboom went ashore, the officers and noncommissioned officers who remained on the battleship were arrested on the signal of the leaders of the underground. Events developed with fights and fights, but it didn’t come to bloodshed. The crew established control over the entire ship.
The banquet on the beach was in full swing when Eykboomu was informed that the battleship entrusted to him turned out all the lights and set off pairs. Having decided to find out on the spot, the Dutchman went to the bay, where he saw "De Zeven Provincien" leaving it. Serious commotion began - the local small garrison was alarmed. However, there was no more sense from this than from catching mosquitoes with a fishing pole. Aikboom, together with the officers accompanying him, took command of a small auxiliary vessel, the Aldebaran, which was stationed in the bay, and chased after the departing battleship. "Rushed" is, of course, strongly said, since the venerable Aldebaran could develop only unhurried eight knots. So far, the hapless commander, like the cartoon characters about Captain Vrungel, who were chasing after “Trouble”, tried to squeeze everything out of “Aldebaran”, anxiety spread through the echelons of the power of the colonial administration. In Surabaya, where the main headquarters of the East Indies Squadron was located, urgent dispatches flew. At an emergency pace, a “police” squadron under the command of Commander Van Dulma was formed from the available forces as part of the light cruiser “Java” and quite modern destroyers “Eversten” and “Pit Hein”. They were built according to the British project of the firm "Yarrow" and adapted for service in the colonies. To this end, these ships were able to take on a single seaplane, which was unique to the class of destroyers.
On the morning of February 5, Van Dulma's squadron left Surabaya in the direction of the Sunda Strait. The fact is that “Aldebaran” from the maximum distance still managed to fix “De Zeven Provinsien”, which was heading south-east. Clear instructions, except as "stop and force to surrender," the commander of the "police" squadron did not have. In many ways, he was asked to act according to the situation. It was not clear whether the rebels would use weapons or not. Having secured additionally, the Dutch command is deploying the DJ “Wal” seaplane “Dornier” link to Tanjong Priok airbase on the island of Java. They were able to take bombs aboard.
Meanwhile, around until now almost no one knows the Dutch armadillo unfolds serious newspaper hype. Sergey Eisenstein's brilliant work “The Battleship Potemkin” was already widely known in the world, and it is not surprising that many of the largest newspapers compared the rebel “De Zeven Provinsien” with the Russian battleship. The crew of the Dutch ship did not set any large-scale goals related to socio-political changes. Despite the strong influence of anti-colonial ideas, no slogans aimed at trying to overthrow foreign colonial domination were voiced. The requirements and goals that seafarers from De Zeven Provinsiena were seeking were localized by claims of an economic and partly national nature. First, not to reduce the salaries of servicemen and raise it; secondly, to equate the rights of Indonesian sailors with the Dutch; thirdly, to amnesty the detainees during a riot at the Morocrembangan airbase. For this battleship and followed in Surabaya. True, it remained unclear how the rebels were going to seek to fulfill their requirements. Or did they seriously expect that at the sight of a rebel ship standing on the roadstead, the local colonial administration would suddenly repent of their deeds, apologize and fulfill all the demands made on it? It is not clear whether the leaders of the uprising, Kavilarang and Boshart, were ready to use the last and main argument: two 283-mm Krupp guns? In the metropolis itself, they took the rebellion very seriously, knowing full well that the events at De Zeven Provinsiena could have become a bright match brought to a long-smoldering Indonesian bonfire. While the events did not take an uncontrollable character, a secret circular was developed on the write-off to the coast in the near future of all Indonesian military personnel.
The rebel, meanwhile, was moving with a 8 nodal speed in a southeast direction. The on-board radio station regularly went on the air, transmitting calming radiograms: “There are no wounded. Everything is good. Crew". Thereby, obviously, the rebels emphasized their not belligerent intentions. However, neither constructive, nor any dialogue at all with the rebels was part of the plans of the Dutch command.
February 10 morning caught “De Zeven Provinsien” near Engagno island in 108 miles from the Sunda Strait. Commander Aykboom, who continued to monitor his escaped subordinates, led Van Dulma's squadron on the radio. The commander, having received information on the movement of the battleship on the eve, took the meeting and a possible clash with all seriousness. Its flagship cruiser Java had an armor belt 50 mm thick, which was no obstacle for the battleships weighing almost 300 kg. For such an enemy as a light cruiser, the archaic “De Zeven Provinsien” was well armored - the belt thickness reached 150 mm, the protection of the main caliber towers and barbets to 250 mm. Of course, there were still 533-mm torpedo tubes of destroyers, but they could be resorted to as a last resort. Van Dulm expected that he would not go that far. Nevertheless, on the ships that were waiting for the insurgent battleship, a combat alarm was played and appropriate preparations were made for the battle. All night from 9 to 10 February, the squadron was located near the island of Engagno, waiting for the approaching "De Zeven Provinsien". In the morning of February 10, the Van Dulma ships were removed from the anchors and the wake column moved to the southern entrance to the strait. On the other hand, the battleship was already approaching. At a distance of about 8 miles from it followed the hydrographic vessel "Eridanus" and minelayer "Goudin Leov." Commander Aykboom, who evaluated the speed qualities of Aldebaran, by this time moved to a more high-speed hydrograph and corrected Van Dulma’s actions from it.
Light cruiser "Java"
At about 2:00 in the morning, a battleship noticed a battleship from the flagship Java, which at the sight of a squadron turned to the shores of Sumatra. Government ships lay down on a parallel course, trying not to approach at close range. There were great fears that De Zeven Provinsien could launch its main-caliber artillery, capable of beating miles on 8. Soon, four Dorniers appeared over the scene, circling the rebellious ship. The Dutch were relieved to note that both towers were deployed in a marching way and were not aimed at government ships. Taking courage, Van Dulm set about the “police” operation.
Initially, Java raised a signal ordering the battleship to stop. He expectedly remained unanswered. Then the commander ordered one of the hydroplanes to fly directly to the “De Zeven Provincien” and transfer the order for immediate surrender. Dornier began circling the ship at an altitude of 600 meters, going on the air three times, demanding surrender. He then dropped to 400 meters and duplicated the order, giving the insurgent 10 minutes to think. At this time, the revolutionary committee, as often happens in such cases, fiercely consulted on the subject of "what to do" and "shoot or not shoot." Like their counterparts from Prince Potemkin of Tauride, the rebels could not decide on bloodshed and on any decisive action at all. All opposition was limited to raising the signal "Leave us alone."
Seeing that the rebels were not ready for decisive resistance, Van Dulm ordered his seaplanes to attack the battleship. They could not sink him with their 50-kilogram bombs, but they were quite capable of causing damage and forcing them to surrender. The first bomb exploded in front of the “De Zeven Provinsiena” bow, the second one exploded on the bridge. Part of it, along with the radio room was destroyed. An 21 man died from the explosion, many were injured, including one of the leaders of the uprising, mate Kavilarang. In fact, at the decisive moment almost the entire revolutionary committee was out of action. Although numerous, the Indonesian faction was left without a leader. Quickly realizing that the government is not joking at all, but determined to be adamant, the less resolute and vacillating part of the crew, first of all the Dutch, hoping for leniency, released the arrested officers who raised the white flag. Battleship stopped the car - on the bridge blazing fire. "Dornier" stopped the bombing. Not allowing to come to their senses, in 9 hours 30 minutes on board the “De Zeven of Provinsiena” a boarding party disembarks from the cruiser “Java”. Boschart and the wounded Kavilarang are taken into custody. Given the large number of local in the team, the Indonesian away from sin is sent to the destroyer Pete Hein. The ships of Van Dulma took the arrested battleship into a tight warrant and were escorted to Surabaya under cover of seaplanes. The entire crew was already arrested there. The uprising is over.
Military Tribunal. From armadillo to block shive
The uprising on De Zeven Province was a high-profile affair. A rebellion on a warship of a European country is an extraordinary event, though not so fantastic after the strike of the English sailors of the 1931 year. An investigative commission was established to study the circumstances of the uprising. Investigation, interviewing witnesses and participants, various inquiry procedures lasted for almost a year. At the beginning of 1934, a military tribunal meeting was finally held in Batavia. The desire of some officials to arrange a trial to the fullest extent, with the gallows, for the edification of the rest was stopped from above - it was decided not to give a special reason for unrest among the locals. However, the final verdict did not look soft. The leaders of the uprising, Kavilarang and Boschart, received 18 and 16 years in prison. 162 crew member (136 Indonesians and 26 Dutch) were punished to varying degrees. Depending on the degree of participation in the events that took place on board the “De Zeven Provinsien”, they were set different terms of imprisonment. Naturally, there could be no question to recognize the demands of the rebellious sailors as fair and fairly moderate. The officers also got, although, of course, to a lesser extent. The main accusation against the commanders was irresponsibility and the inability to prevent a rebellion on the ship, in other words, neglect of duty. Someone was written off ashore, others were moved down.
Surabaya, former battleship De Zeven Provinsien
The culprit of the passing events and the troublemaker of the almost unshakable colonial calm, the battleship of inland navigation De Zeven Provinsien, which was damaged during the suppression of the uprising, was withdrawn from the fleet in July 1933. However, calm in the Far East inexorably reduced, as fuel from a punched gas tank, and the old ship was removed from conservation, refitting during 1935 – 1936. in the artillery training ship. Now it has been renamed “Surabaya”. With the former battleship dismantled part of the weapons and steam boilers, transferring the remaining liquid fuel. Since the beginning of World War II, the Surabaya was designated to perform the functions of a floating battery to protect the Surabaya of the same name from possible Japanese landings.
One of the Japanese raids aviation on Surabaya
February 18 during the next raid of enemy aircraft, the old ship was sunk. During the occupation, the frugal Japanese, who did not disdain even the old ships, lifted the Surabaya and used it as a blockade. In 1943, he was again sunk by Allied planes. The Japanese who occupied Indonesia indiscriminately and unsuccessfully flirted with representatives of the national liberation movement. In 1945, Japan even threatened to make Indonesia independent. 17 August of the same 1945, the country declared itself free from Dutch colonial domination. The returning owners tried to drive everything into the old bed, for they "did not learn anything and did not forget anything." The point in the unfolding national liberation war was set in 1949, when the Republic of Indonesia finally got rid of the power of The Hague.