Spoor, Simon Hendrik.

Back to all people

Spoor, Simon Hendrik, born 12-01-1902, in Amsterdam,   the son of Andreas Petrus Spoor, concertmaster and conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Catharina Petronella Jautze. Married on 22-12-1923 to Louise Anna Marie Ooms (1902-?). From this marriage a son was born on 22-06-1931, Andre Simon.. After divorce (31-3-1938) Simon married on 6-10-1938 to Rika Cornelia Kroeze (1906-?). After divorce (24-3-1947) he married on 3-4-1947 to Harmanna Trijntje Dijkema (born 1914). The last two marriages remained childless. He attended secondary school in The Hague and then went to the cadet school in Alkmaar. He then studied at the Royal Military Academy in Breda. The journalist André Simon Spoor was his son. .

Spoor was appointed second lieutenant in the infantry of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) in 1923. From 1924 he was seconded to Borneo. He spent twice as long in the Netherlands; first to complete the Higher War School and then he was appointed as a teacher at the Royal Military Academy in Breda. Spoor was attached to the General Staff in the Dutch East Indies in the rank of captain when this Dutch colony became involved in the Second World War and was attacked by Japan on 10-01-1942. Spoor narrowly escaped together with colleague Captain Gerard Leonard “Dick” Reinderhoff, here on the right also with the General Staff, in the last plane from Andir airfield on the night of 8-9 March 1942, while the Japanese forces had already approached the airfield and the surrender of the Dutch East Indies was imminent. would be signed afterwards. Both were allowed to move to Australia on the express order of the then army commander General Hein ter Poorten.  Arriving in Australia, they were added to the recently established NEFIS/Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service. Spoor became head of section I of this service and in 1944 he was subsequently appointed director of the entire NEFIS. Captain Gerard Leonard “Dick” Reinderhoff survived the war and died in Londen, 16-05-1977, age 72. General Hein ter Poorten survived the war also and died 15-01-1968, in The Hague, Netherlands. General Simon Spoor receives an American award (Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm) from Walter A. Foote, the American Consul General in Batavia (Jakarta) for his activities as director of NEFIS during the war years, on the intercession of General Douglas  MacArthur. Third from the left General Buurman van Vreeden, 07-07-1946.

After the Second World War, command in the Dutch East Indies was split over the various army units. Spoor was appointed army commander in the Dutch East Indies in January 1946 in the rank of Major General, temporary Lieutenant General. This promotion was notable because, given his limited years of service, he was in fact not ready to hold the rank of senior officer. However, he had noticed; not only his military capabilities, but also his political adeptness were appreciated by the government in The Hague. Operationally, Spoor fell under the Allied South East Asia Command of Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicolas “Dickie” Mountbatten until the autumn of 1946.

As an army commander, Spoor led the operations against the Indonesian nationalists (the TNI and irregular combat groups). Of these operations, the so-called police actions in 1947 and 1948 are the best known. Spoor was at the head of the largest army that the Netherlands has ever raised outside its territory in Europe: approximately 120,000 men in 1947 and approximately 140,000 men in 1948, consisting of KNIL, KL and Mariniersbrigade.

On 03-04-1947 Simon Spoor married Mans (H. T.) Dijkema of the KNIL Women’s Corps, whom he had met in 1942 at the NEFIS intelligence service and who had served in military positions. The editor-in-chief of the NRC Handelsblad, André (1931-2012), was a son from a previous marriage of Spoor, just like the entrepreneur Arnoud (1933-2009). Dijkema in the uniform of a lieutenant of the KNIL Women’s Corps speaks with residents of a tent camp, October 1946. . The enormous problems that arose in the Dutch East Indies after the Allied victory over Japan in 1945 gave the Dutch authorities a lot of concern. It was hoped that Spoor, who was considered a very decisive officer, would be able to quickly restore peace and order to the islands. Because the British and Australian governments prevented Dutch military units from landing on Java for months, the situation worsened. In those crucial months, several Indonesian nationalist groups, including communist and Islamist groups, seized power. These groups were also divided among themselves, and there were also gangs of robbers that sowed death and destruction, especially among the Europeans and Indo-Europeans who had just been released from the Japanese concentration camps. Some of the Indonesian groups had collaborated with the Japanese under Sukarno’s leadership during World War II. When Spoor became army commander, the situation had already deteriorated very seriously and anarchy threatened in the entire Indonesian archipelago. Murder, rape, robbery and looting were the order of the day. In this dire situation – called the Bersiap period – Spoor had to restore order. To undermine Sukarno’s influence, Spoor secretly supported some Indonesian groups with money and weapons. The result was a bloody decolonisation war. An estimated 100,000 Indonesians died as a result of the Dutch actions as opposed to as few as 5,000 Dutch soldiers.

Death and burial ground of Spoor, Simon Hendrik.


On 20-05-1949, Spoor had lunch in the restaurant of the yacht club in Tanjung Priok, in celebration of his promotion to General (four stars). Three days later he developed serious heart problems from which he died two days later at the age of 47. Spoor’s dinner companion, his adjutant captain R M Smulders, had also become seriously ill after lunch. Smulders was in a coma for four days. However, the other guests of the yacht club, who had eaten exactly the same, were fine after dinner. An accidental, bacterial food poisoning was therefore ruled out. No autopsy was performed on Spoor’s body. According to rumors, Spoor’s death was related to the “Case ensign Aernout”, a corruption investigation into the top of the Indian army, in which Spoor had ordered Aernout to conduct an in-depth investigation. Conclusive evidence for this has not been provided. Spoor’s most likely cause of death is his enormous workload. Spoor had suffered frequent complaints in his last years, including a mental breakdown or burnout in Australia in 1943, and had regularly reported severe headaches. He also suffered from a structural overload of his position, which intensified after his return to Java. After the great efforts during World War II, Spoor had not had the opportunity to go on leave, partly because of his appointment as army commander, which only increased his workload. At the time of Spoor’s death, the Dutch presence in Indonesia was already drawing to a close.

Simon Hendrik Spoor is buried at the large Ereveld/ Field of Honor Menteng PuloJakarta (Djakarta), Jakarta Special Capital Region, Indonesia

Message(s), tips or interesting graves for the webmaster:    robhopmans@outlook.com

Share on :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *