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POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

Article about: Hello! I have had this in my collection for 10 or so years. I found it ad a garage or "car boot" sale as our British friends call it. I always thought this was a POW art mess tin f

  1. #1

    Default POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    Hello! I have had this in my collection for 10 or so years. I found it ad a garage or "car boot" sale as our British friends call it.

    I always thought this was a POW art mess tin from maybe a Dutch? prisoner of war in Japan. Maybe Kawasaki Japan. I read somewhere a list of the many Japanese prison camps, and there was one in Kawasaki.

    So, if found here in the US, it most probably is a war bring back from a US soldier who either liberated the camp, or from trade to someone who did? Just a theory, and not sure. What do you think?

    I see it is carved by someone with a lot of time on their hands, like a prisoner. I think I see something carved about Christmas 44-45?

    Does anyone out there know exactly what it says on this mess tin? what dialect, country etc, and what the 19 is stamped in it?? What country is the tin from??

    I like the piece, and would like to know more about it.

    Regards, Steve
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  2. #2

    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    More pics of the mess tin. Steve
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  3. #3

    Default Translation of the Dutch words

    Very interesting mess kit. I am not sure or it is made in Holland, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) or Japan but the words on the mess kit are absolutely Dutch. So, it should be used by a Dutchman. As far as I know there were Dutch POW in Japan during the end of the war. Probably some of them did hard labour in the city of Kawasaki or at the Kawasaki plant. I know that some Dutch POW were also in Hiroshima during the nuclear attack on that city in August 1945. Dutch POW also worked on the notorious railroad in Burma. The Dutch community that lives in the Dutch East Indies were also locked up by the Japanese in interment camps.
    It is difficult to say by who the mess kit could be used. But because of the word Kawasaki it could be used by a Dutch POW who was in Japan during the war.
    The carved words on the mess kit are Dutch. Hereby the translation;

    EET SMAKELIJK = enjoy your meal
    ZALIG KERSTFEEST = Merry Christmas
    GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR = Happy New Year
    FRISCH (old spelling of the word FRIS) = fresh
    7 SECTIE = 7th section, platoon or department. Probably the section where the owner of the mess kit was divided to.
    The number 223 was probably a prisoner number. The other numbers are dates.

  4. #4

    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    Hello Asjemenou!! Thank you very much for the perfect translation. I was 99% sure this was a POW mess kit, but now 100%. I had researched/goggled the words carved on it, and came up with the same as you, for the Happy New Year, and Merry Christmas. I could not find the other 2, enjoy your meal, and fresh.
    It is nice someone like you someone like you, a collector and who speaks the language, has helped me "decode" this mess kit. Thank you.
    Do you think maybe this was a gift to another prisoner if it says enjoy your meal?? Just a thought. Do you know what country made or issued this style mess kit? I cannot find a similar one. There is a small "19" stamped into it in one pic. Do you have any thoughts on what that might be. Maybe an inventory number to count mess kits to make sure the prisoners were not making weapons or other items out of the kits?

    Regards, Steve

  5. #5
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    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    that looks a really interesting item , great find

    al

  6. #6

    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    Thanks al, I really like it also. It speaks to you. It is very historical also. I am glad I was able to save it from the hillbillys here in FL. who might have bought it at the garage sale. It is now tagged with all correct info.

    Regards, Steve

  7. #7
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    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    great to know it`s found a good home steve

    al

  8. #8
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    Default Re: POW Art Mess kit?? Dutch/Japanese Prisoner?? Help Please

    Who ever he was he did not get to finish engraving the lid for it. Hopefully because he was liberated.

  9. #9

    Default KNIL mess tin

    After some research I found out that this type of mess tin was used by the KNIL, Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger (Dutch East Indies Army). This type was in use until 1942, the year that Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies. The number “19” on the mess tin can be an army stamp but I am not sure of that. I found two interesting pictures of KNIL soldiers with a similar mess tin. Both pictures are taken in the Dutch East Indies in 1941.
    Until 1942 your mess tin should have belonged to a KNIL soldier. After the capitulation of the KNIL in March 1942 a lot of KNIL soldiers became POW of the Japanese occupier. It is difficult to say who owned and carved the words and figures on the mess tin. Only the original owner of the mess tin can tell us the real story behind the mess tin. In the Japanese interment camps there was a lot of barter. Maybe the mess tin had more than one owner during the war. Because of your story and the word Kawasaki on the mess tin it is very likely that the last owner of the mess tin was transported to Japan to do hard labour at the Kawasaki ship yard. I found out that a lot of Dutch POW (also civilians) were forced to work at this ship yard. At this ship yard all kind of vessels were build for the Japanese navy (aircraft carriers, destroyers but also submarines).
    The Dutch POW were incorporated into the “Osaka-Kobe group” (Kawasaki camp Kobe). During their stay in this camp, Dutch POW have made drawings; het Geheugen van Nederland) . Especially the drawing of the oil tanker at the Kawasaki ship yard is interesting; Kawasaki Shipyard - het Geheugen van Nederland .
    The drawings are part of an exhibition about Dutch POW in the Far East during WWII. In this collection there is also a similar mess tin like yours; het Geheugen van Nederland .
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  10. #10

    Default Re: KNIL mess tin

    Hello Asjemenou! Thank you very much for the detailed information, and the pics you have provided about this mess kit. I will print out this info, and keep it with kit. The mess kit is one of my most special things. Very special, and very tragic also. I hope the owner, or owners got back to their homes & Families OK.

    I believe the mess kit had at least two owners. The 1942 & initials you can see, that are covered up on the one side, and the initials/coat of arms on the other side, that was not finished being covered up, are the same. It looks like the Dutchman who did the rest of the detailed carving stopped before he could cover that side done for some reason. I would like to think he got liberated, I hope. If you notice the coat of arms, or family crest with the initials EG?F, they were done by someone else I am sure. Quality of carving & style is different. The dates from the second owner/carver are 2-3 years later than '42 also.

    That is what makes you really think, at least I do, what those prisoners went through, a living nightmare. The chances of the first owner with the initials "ED?F" surviving that ordeal, was in my opinion, very slim. You probably know how the Japanese treated their POW's. Very tragic. They also never signed the Geneva Convention also.

    I am very happy I was able to save it. It will be tagged now with what I think is very important info, and story. Just in case, and when, something happens to me. I am getting older, and have been trying to do my best to tag, and include all known information about important items with interesting stories and histories. If not, they may be forgotton in the future.
    I wish all collectors did that, past and present. Then we would have stories and facts about all our WW2 items. I will make it easy for the next guy
    I bought the kit here in Florida at a garage sale for $4-5 about 10 years ago. Who knows what would have happened to it if one of the "hillbilly's" here in FL. got their hands on it. It would probably be used it to scoop fishing bait, or a flower pot or something undignified like that. It rests comfortably now with other Pacifc War items in my collection.

    Thanks again, Regards, Steve



    Quote by Asjemenou View Post
    After some research I found out that this type of mess tin was used by the KNIL, Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger (Dutch East Indies Army). This type was in use until 1942, the year that Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies. The number 19 on the mess tin can be an army stamp but I am not sure of that. I found two interesting pictures of KNIL soldiers with a similar mess tin. Both pictures are taken in the Dutch East Indies in 1941.
    Until 1942 your mess tin should have belonged to a KNIL soldier. After the capitulation of the KNIL in March 1942 a lot of KNIL soldiers became POW of the Japanese occupier. It is difficult to say who owned and carved the words and figures on the mess tin. Only the original owner of the mess tin can tell us the real story behind the mess tin. In the Japanese interment camps there was a lot of barter. Maybe the mess tin had more than one owner during the war. Because of your story and the word Kawasaki on the mess tin it is very likely that the last owner of the mess tin was transported to Japan to do hard labour at the Kawasaki ship yard. I found out that a lot of Dutch POW (also civilians) were forced to work at this ship yard. At this ship yard all kind of vessels were build for the Japanese navy (aircraft carriers, destroyers but also submarines).
    .

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