WWII: Photo of Klaas Siersema and fellow Royal Netherlands officers in 1940

Klaas Siersema and fellow Royal Netherlands military members on the 15th of July, 1940.

This is a slightly retouched photo of Klaas Siersema, second from the bottom right, and his fellow Royal Netherlands military officers on July 15, 1940. At this time, judging by the stars on Klaas’ collar, he had achieved the rank of captain.

On the back, it says that these are the officers of the battalion that Niek commanded, according to a translation my cousin Anje Belmon graciously did. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing who Niek was. Update: About a week following this post, I listened to a 1980s audio interview my mother, Joy Siersema, did with my grandfather and Klaas’ son, Johan Siersema. From the interview, I learned that Klaas went by Niek, so these would have been the soldiers under his command.

As for who the other officers are, the writing on the back of the photo has some clues. The wording, as best as I can make out, reads: “n.d. Sluis – Roos – Tiele – ‘t Mannetje – van der Beek – unreadable – unreadable – van Dok – Boekholt – Schul – van Boal – unreadable – van den Tut.”

The writing on the back also notes that four men are missing from the photo. Their last names were — again as best as I can make out — Ter Hal, Nahuiser, Schiere and Meyer.

Trust me, though, the names are not easy to read! So if you see something different from what I’ve written here, please leave a note in the comments and I can update the tags so if any descendants of these gentlemen are searching for them, they may have a better chance of finding this post. [Hint: If you click on the thumbnail, it will take you to a larger image.]

WWI: Ministry of War promotes Klaas Siersema to Tweede-Luitenant

In this document dated Sept. 25, 1917, my great-grandfather Klaas Siersema, who served in the Royal Netherlands military, is promoted to the rank of Tweede-Luitenant by the Minister van Oorlog. In English, Minister van Oorlog translates to Ministry of War and Tweede-Luitenant is Second Lieutenant, according to Google Translate.

Unfortunately, the document’s actual size is a bit larger than the face of my scanner, so this is just a photograph of the of it, which means it’s a little less crisp and readable. But, you can still see one of the most interesting things, which is that “Bij het Regiment” is crossed out and “den Sergeant” was written below. I am super curious what this means and if it had something to do with it being WWI, and possibly promotions being handled differently? If anyone has a thought on that, I’d love to hear it.

Klaas Siersema appointed an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau


My great-grandfather, Klaas Siersema, was a career military man, and the official document above appointed him as an Officer of  the Order of Orange-Nassau, which honors selective individuals for their contributions to society through either civilian or military efforts.

I know he served in WWII and had achieved the rank of colonel before retiring. My step-grandmother tells me he also worked a lot with soldiers who suffered from disorders resembling what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

WHO WORE IT BETTER?: Helena de Wit or Klaas Siersema?

This is the first (and likely the only) “Who Wore it Better?” post you will ever see on this blog, so — remember — your vote counts! On the left, we have my great-grandmother Helena “Lenie” de Wit, and, on the right, we have my great-grandfather Klaas Siersema.

Lenie never served in the military, but she had many friends, including her husband, Klaas, and longtime partner, Gerard Berends, who did. Plus, she’s just so darn cute.

Then, we have Klaas, who was a career military man. He worked his way up from lieutenant to colonel before retiring. Clearly, his look is more stoic (that might have something to do with the fact that he is quite literarlly in the field in this photo, which I believe was taken during WWII).