The Forgotten Story of an Unfaltering Love in Wartime
A moving novel based on a true story of love and adventure
Following a tip from a friend and film producer, the authors found themselves on the trail of a love story set in the Dutch East Indies during an all but forgotten episode of World War II. Through the diaries of Guus and Lienke Hagers, the authors have reconstructed the dramatic tale of a couple torn apart by war.
Guus is a passionate aviator, sent to Australia in February 1942 with a group of pilots to collect a new fleet of aircraft. On their flight over, they receive word that the Japanese have landed on Palembang, the first move in a campaign that will lead to the fall of Java.
Powerless to intervene, the pilots soon realise that in Australia all efforts to organize a Dutch squadron fail. Shipped here, there and everywhere, their efforts to enter the fray are blocked at every turn. Distressed about the fate of their loved ones in the Dutch colony, they look on helplessly as senior officials make sure their own families are aboard the very last flights to safety.
Lienke ends up in an internment camp, an ordeal she only survives thanks to bloody-minded perseverance and an indomitable will to live. Before long the camp is seriously overpopulated and the horrific conditions are compounded by the regime of the sadistic camp commandant. Even the slightest violation of the rules results in a collective punishment inflicted on all of the prisoners.
When Guus is finally permitted to take to the air, he soon makes a name for himself by successfully accomplishing the riskiest of missions. His reputation comes to the attention of Captain Spoor, later a controversial general in the Dutch military campaign to crush Indonesia’s fight for independence. Spoor is keen to send Guus as his own secret missions pilot, not least because he suspects that Guus knows something about a shipment of diamonds that disappeared after an air crash. What he doesn’t know is that Guus has already been recruited as a spy by good-looking, firm operative Marja Landberg to keep a watchful eye on Spoor’s shady dealings.
At the novel’s end, Den Tex and Timmerije bring us back to the present in fine style. In a coda that is as startling as it is moving, all is revealed and the truth that emerges gives the novel an added dimension.