MilitaryPOW TRIBUTEStoriesWitness to the War

By Robert Vanderwaall, nephew

Name:  Pieter Hendrik van der Waall
Born:  July 3, 1921 Dutch East Indies
Died:  July 5, 1993 Zoetermeer, Netherlands
POW:  Thai-Burma Railway

Pieter Hendrik van der Waall July 3, 1921 to July 5, 1993.  He was the brother of my father Charles.  During the war he was  a mechanic in the military.  Oom Piet was one of the many prisoners of war working on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.  He was imprisoned for 3-1/2 grueling years.  I don’t have all the details of that time but the facial expressions in these pictures says it all.  He never talked about it too much so I don’t have details other than it took a lot out of him.

After the war from 1954 until he died Oom Piet lived in Holland and his last residence of was Zoetermeer.  He worked at the Ministry of Defense in The Hague (Den Haag) until his retirement.

Oom Piet was an honorable man.  He was very social and was always willing to lend a helping hand to someone in need.

Oom Piet’s Paybook 1945

Oom Piet with comrades possibly taken in Japanese camp



  1. From the picture of your uncle I can tell you that it must have been taken right after the Japanese capitulation. The shoulder shows the rank of sergeant on black triaangle background and also the belt of the person in the middle is the kind issued after the war and comed from the British Army.

  2. Hi!

    Thank you for sharing these with us. The picture and paybook are real treasures. My Dad was on the Railway too.

    The photos could also have been taken after the war. The paybook has indicates he went to Saigon to recover from his captivity, and of course, it’s in English. If only those things could talk!

  3. My father also was a POW on the Burma Death Railroad and he worked for the Defense Ministry in Den Haag. I wonder if they knew each other.

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