World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF THE PACIFIC: Het is Zoover

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Het is Zoover (See Cover)

The Eastern Theater of war moved on. Americans still held a corner of Luzon, British still held Singapore, but the Japanese had overrun most of the Philippines and Malaya. Now their attack was rolling on toward their third major objective, the Indies —a new terrain with a new cast of defenders, with new military problems —with new and still bigger stakes to play for.

On the morning of May 10, 1940, the scrubbed, immaculate city of Bandung, on a Java plateau, seemed unwarily peaceful. Halfway around the world, before dawn in Europe, the Army of the motherland was reeling from the first sudden assault of the German. But that morning in the white-stoned General Headquarters build ing of The Netherlands East Indies in Bandung —there was a cooling breeze, and negligent ease.

In the office of the N.E.I. Chief of Staff sat the Japanese Consul General, faultlessly dressed, inscrutable Otosugi Saito, talking pleasantries. From the corridor, aides and orderlies heard him laugh, a discreet, flat overtone to the mellow gurgling rumble of their chief, Major General Hein ter Poorten. Then, as an aide in gleaming white duck showed Saito-san from the room the phone rang.

It was the Commander in Chief of the N.E.I. Army, Lieut. General Gerardus J. Berenschot. Hein ter Poorten's beefy, weather-beaten face was impassive, his great 220-lb. body vastly immobile as he heard the message: "Het is Zoover"-This is it. With the economy of movement characteristic of great bodies, he hung up, pushed a button on his desk. N.E.I.'s well-concerted war plans went into action.

Fifteen minutes later, as Saito-san reached the Preanger Hotel in the center of the city, he was shocked and surprised to see armed Dutch soldiers hustling German guests and hotel staff members off to concentration camps. The same thing was going on in all the 3,000-odd islands of Hein ter Poorten's domain. At the seaports, soldiers had seized every German ship, while others grabbed their officers and crews ashore and confiscated bombs (intended to blow up their ships) before there was a chance td use them.* Thus Saito-san saw how quickly Ter Poorten could move.

On Dec. 8, 1941 Otosugi Saito, back home in Tokyo, could not have been much surprised by the first news he heard from the N.E.I.: that within two hours of the attack every Jap in the islands had been interned; that the Dutch were in action and that one of their submarines had started things going by nosing like a blind mud cat through the shallows on the east coast of Malaya and had sunk four Jap transports. For by now he knew that the Dutch in the Indies were, like his onetime friend Hein ter Poorten, pleasant, poker-faced, indomitable, prepared.

They had gone into action at the drop of the Jap's hat in Pearl Harbor. By now Hein ter Poorten was a lieutenant general. He had been Commander of the N.E.I. Army since October, when General Berenschot was killed in an airplane crash. His planes ranged far out to sea, attacked and sank Japanese ships. They worked closely with the N.E.I. Navy, which was at sea. The Navy commander, Vice Admiral C. E. L. Helfrich, a shorter, stubbier, seagoing edition of Ter Poorten, had sent the fleet out days before.

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