Verbatim, Elisabeth H. Wilson

Verbatim, Elisabeth H. Wilson

Sequim's Elisabeth H. Wilson was born in the Dutch East Indies, which is now known as Indonesia. In 1942, on her 20th birthday, the Japanese invaded and occupied the country.

Because she is of Dutch descent, she was among those who were quickly rounded up and placed into internment camps. The following is drawn from her memoir, "Unplanned Odyssey," which she wrote with the help of her husband of 60 years, Roy Wilson. It's available for purchase through or write to

_Civilian camps were segregated by sex, separate camps for men, other camps for women and children. My family was separated, Mother and Toni in Bandung, Jopy in Salatiga, I in Jarkarta, and my father a POW in Japan. For the next three-and-one-half years we had no communication. None of us knew the fates of the others, had we survived or not.

I hadn't been in camp long when I witnessed an event that created a watershed in my life. My Aunt Toos, a pleasant, attractive woman with long blond hair, was in the same camp as I. We had been there only a few days when a detail from the men's camp was brought in to remove the garbage. Toos' husband, my Uncle Gerrit, was among them.

Fraternization between men and women was strictly forbidden, but excited by the sight of her husband, Aunt Toos waved to him. A guard saw her, and with a shout he dragged her away screaming. They lashed her to a tree, and under the horrified eyes of her husband and the assembled prisoners, they proceeded to beat her bloody, an object lesson of what would happen to those who disobeyed the rules.

The sight is burned into my memory. When I think of it today, her screams ring in my ears._

Soon after this event, Wilson escaped the camp. She never saw her Aunt Toos again. Her Uncle Gerrit was killed when the ship that was transporting him and other POWs to Japan was sunk by an Allied torpedo.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 20
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates