Lieutenant-General Hein Ter Poorten


Netherlands


Lieutenant-General Hein Ter Poorten

Lieutenant-General Hein Ter Poorten


Hein Ter Poorten was born in 1887 in Buitenzorg, Java Island, where he was sworn in as officer with the Artillery in 1911.

He was the first professional officer who got his international flying licence, which he paid out of his own pocket. He extended his knowledge of aviation in the following years and left for the Netherlands East Indies where he became the founder of the Army Air Force (Militaire Luchtvaart).

He returned to Holland in 1919 to follow a course at the High Military academy (Hogere Krijgsschool). When he returned to the Netherlands East Indies, he didn't resume his career with the airforce, but ended up with the artillery instead. He was detached to the Generale Staf (staff of the KNIL) from 1926 to 1931 and from 1933 to 1936. He finally became head of department and inspector of Artillery. As successor of Berenschot, he became chief of Generale Staf in July 1939, which he remained until the fatal accident of General Berenschot in October 1941. He was preferred over the other officers because he fully understood the problems at hand and had (according to Van Starkenborgh) a large knowledge of his job, a quick and sharp intelligence, originality and initiative. Van Starkenborgh was on the other hand also afraid that "He doesn't have the specific qualities of Berenschot when it comes to working together with civil organisations and problems other than purely military ones. He has a big mouth and operates with less tact. Ter Poorten had experienced some problems with civilians in the years before. The Governor-General didn't exactly like Ter Poorten for what he was, but altogether he was the best to do the job and they would have to live with it. Unfortunately, Berenschot had the quality to explain pure military problems to Van Starkenborgh, and Ter Poorten didn't have that. It caused a certain distance between those two, and mutual respect and confidence never existed. Ter Poorten was apparently also a bit pessimistic towards civilians about the capacities of the KNIL. Van Starkenborgh reprimanded him, and I can only assume that this didn't do much good to their relationship.

Lt-General Hein ter Poorten became overall commander of all army forces on Java after the breakdown of ABDA command, and he was also the one who negotiated about the surrender of the Allies on Java. He survived the rest of the war in various Japanese POW camps, returned after the war back to the Netherlands and died in 1968.

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Copyright Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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