Netherland Line MS Oranje - The Walter von Stockhausen Story - from Stowaway to Naval Cadet

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer

Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!



MS Oranje

Page One-b

Special Feature

MS Oranje is seen as built at full speed ahead

Postcard from the author’s private collection

The Walter von Stockhausen Story

From Stowaway to Naval Cadet


This is the 15 year old Walter’s Passport photo and thus taken prior

to his great adventure on the MS Oranje to the Netherlands!


Please Note: Photographs were provided by Walter von Stockhausen, unless stated otherwise

Ships Operating on the Dutch East Indies Service:

Two major great Dutch Shipping Companies had for countless years operated their ships almost exclusively on the “Dutch East Indies” service. The first of being the Nederlandsche Stoomvaart Maatschapij,” or “Netherlands Line” (NL), including their two fine liners, the; MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and the MS Oranje.

MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in in her 1950s livery with a black hull, but soon she would be extensively be modernised

Photograph from the author’s private collection

The second company was the famed “Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd” or “Royal Rotterdam Lloyd” (RL) and this company operated the; MS Sibajak and the MS Willem Ruys.

The MS Sibajak, which the author of ssmaritime travelled on from

Rotterdam to Wellington New Zealand where she is seen in 1957

Photograph from the author’s private collection


The superbly modern and luxurious MS Willem Ruys

Postcard from the author’s private collection

Below we will find Walter’s remarkable story and we need to remember that he was just 15 years of age. Once he is in the Netherlands and in College, He concludes with Part Two covering the later years.

There is no doubt, but Walter did not have a great start to his life, as he tells it: “From the age of 10 to 15, I was placed in an orphanage of the Salvation Army by my Mother because she was raising 9 children by herself, as after the war when my father did not return it was just too much for her!”

Walter with other children at the orphanage grounds - he is seated on the far right

Walter’s Story – Part One:

“During the two years of 1957 and 1958 there was a major migration of Dutch Indonesians who travelled from Indonesia to the Netherlands on any of the Dutch liners that continues to call on what was now known as Indonesia.

The major cause for this was the worsening political climate for the Dutch and also for the Dutch Indonesians living in Indonesia primarily orchestrated by the Indonesia’s first president Sukarno who felt that the Dutch still had political power in Indonesia, even after the turnover of sovereignty to the Indonesians, but the Dutch insisted on keeping West Papua where the exploration of its resources were still being done by Dutch companies like BPM, Shell, Banka-Billiton, etc. Sukarno nationalized all these companies, closed Dutch language schools and commenced to intimidate Dutch Indonesians who did not choose to become an official Indonesian by Naturalisation. Although, many did so but only out of fear and thinking this would improve their living conditions but sadly it did not and they later greatly regretted that decision.

Pressure from the Dutch government was also exerted on the Dutch Indonesians to minimize their migration into the Netherlands as it would hamper the Dutch own rebuilding efforts after World War Two in terms of housing, schools, transportation and medical services. Without a Dutch passport, Dutch Indonesians were not eligible for free repatriation to the Netherlands. As a result, there were those who decided to become stowaways on ships bound for the Netherlands. Needless to say stowaways to the Netherlands certainly peaked during those years.

Amazingly, this clandestine method of travelling to the Netherlands from Indonesia was not new, because myself and a just few others were considered to be the trailblazers of this phenomenon!

I consider myself to be one of those first stowaways when in December 1953; I decided to hide myself aboard of the MS Oranje as she was bound for Amsterdam. Even though I had a Dutch passport and was fully eligible for free passage to the Netherlands, I decided to be a stowaway considering the situation in 1953 for Dutch Indonesians was not that bad as yet and my mothers and brothers and sisters had not made the decision to leave as yet.

My decision was solely based on my desire to continue my Dutch education. At that time Dutch language schools in Indonesia had turned into expensive private schools and my mother with her meagre widow’s pension simply could not afford my tuition and thus I was transferred to a lower level secondary school which cost less. Being sixteen at the time, I attended the second grade at the secondary school but I was too old to be in that grade, but this was because I entered the school system aged 10 as a result of WWII as well as the Indonesian Revolutionary war. We all entered what was known as a “crash primary school system” and despite all my previous setbacks; I was able to pass the entrance exam for the Lyceum (college), a preparatory university secondary school.

Three months before I had planned to travel as a stowaway, two young men were caught trying to do the same and were sent back to Jakarta, their port of departure. But this did not deter me from trying to do it anyway. I knew I had to prepare my plans with the greatest of care. I had to hide on the ship long enough to pass through Indonesian territorial waters and, if I was caught, had to have all the necessary documents. I made very sure I had my current Dutch passport, my latest school report with good grades and a police affidavit of good standing and no criminal record.

Through all the information that I had acquired, I knew I had to stay hidden for at least four days until the ship was outside Indonesian territorial waters so that they could not send me back. I needed a floor plan of the ship which was available through a local travel agency where a family friend was working as a clerk by the name of Lodewijks. In order not to create suspicion of my plan, I had to come up with the lie that I needed it for a show-and-tell assignment at school. This trick had worked for me before when I requested a free factory tour at the Wybert cough lozenges factory in Bandung just to get a free big box of the famous couch lozenges.

As a backup plan, I befriended a Dutch Indonesian sergeant of the Dutch Military Mission transportation department who was also leaving for the Netherlands on the same ship. I asked him if he was willing to hide me in his “hut” (cabin) onboard as soon as I got on the ship. He said yes, probably thinking that there was no way I could possibly enter the ship.

From local newspapers ship arrival and departure notices, I was able to determine the departure date of the ship. Thus two days before, I was able to hitch a ride from Bandung to Jakarta on a transport truck owned by the company where my older brother was working. In Jakarta a worker of the same company who worked at the harbour was able to get me a pass to get to visit the ship. Then on the day of departure, there was a large crowd of people with all kind of luggage ready to board. I had nothing on me except for what I had on. Thus, in order not to attract any attention to myself, I offered to assist an old lady, who happened to be an acquaintance of my mother. Her name was mevrouw Schaverbeek. She gladly accepted my help and thus I simply walked onto the ship carrying her luggage, just as if I was one of the paying passengers.

Based on what I memorized from the ship’s plan, I was able to find a hiding place where I had intended to hide for the next four days. But I found out that as soon as the ship was in open waters, it was easy to pretend that I was one of the passengers and joined groups of young people during the daytime hours. But yet, I did not completely feel secure. Luckily, I was able to locate the sergeant who was, of course, surprised to see me but he kept his promise and hid me for a few days in his cabin and I slept under his bed. He also fed me. On the fourth day, he told me that we passed the last Indonesian port of Belawan and he made me promise that I never divulge his name, no matter what.

He made sure that nobody was in the hallway when I slipped out his cabin. I asked the first crewmember I met in the hallway for the way to the Captain’s cabin. I was surprised by the laconic reaction of Captain Lasche, possibly because I had all the required documents with me. I will never forget his name. He called the Chief Boatswain and I was assigned to his crew of deckhands. Never having done any kind of manual labour, I found the physical work very hard. The crew accepted me right away as one of them. However, the head purser was not as easy, for he kept on demanding who helped me on board and subjected me to stern interrogation. However, as promised to the sergeant, I kept my mouth shut.

The MS Oranje seen at sea bound for Amsterdam

Postcard from the author’s private collection

I saw this sergeant, who hid me in his cabin just one more time when we arrived in Amsterdam when I was in the ship’s dining room, for I was being interrogated by the Dutch immigration police. He appeared for a brief moment at the door and threw a neutral glance at me as if he wanted to remind me of our agreement. I winked at him indicating everything was OK. I understood his concern, being in the military and having been involved in an illegal act. And, up to today, 60 years later, I have never been able to locate this sergeant. I cannot even recall his name and possibly erased it from my sub consciousness out of fear that I would divulge it at an interrogation. The only thing I can remember is that he was a transportation officer in the motor pool of the NMM (Netherlands Military Mission) in 1953 on the Riouw straat in Bandung. His last residence was close to the “Vijfsprong” in Bandung, in the vicinity of the tank brigade camp. His young wife was of Menadonese descent and was expecting a baby in 1954. She was 2-3 months pregnant while on board because I had to endure her constant throwing up in the cramped cabin. His military destination was Brabant in South Netherlands. He may have stayed in the Netherlands or immigrated to the US, Canada or Australia. I hope one of his children or family member reads this and recognizes the story.  But I am afraid that he might have kept it a secret.”

A News report from the “Java-Bode” on January 16, 1954

“Java-Bode” Translation:

Stowaway On Board “Oranje”

“The MS Orange that arrived in Amsterdam today, with its passengers there was a fifteen year old boy who experienced the trip from Indonesia as stowaway.

The boy told that his father who was a Dutchman but during WWII was killed but with the knowledge of his mother he went to the Netherlands.

The boy, we read in “The Parool” was hidden for just a short time on board. Thereafter he continued the voyage as a working "passenger." He told the Captain, that he had an uncle in Harmeleen and that he could live in his house. The Amsterdam Youth Police had been in contact with his family and the young boy was soon collected by his uncle and taken home.”

“Once I was taken from the Oranje, I was transferred to the Police Station on the Overtoom in Amsterdam where my uncle, who was notified of my arrival, collected me. I stayed six months at my uncle’s place in Maurik where he registered me at the HBS (High school) in the town of Tiel. I really did get along very well with my uncle and he admired my guts and determination to travel as a stowaway just in order to continue my education. He seemed to enjoy tutoring me in maths and geometry because those were the tools of his profession when he worked for the former “Dutch Indies Topographical Service.”

But sadly, late that spring my uncle died of a heart attack. My relationship with my aunt was never that good; it could have been that she was jealous that my uncle and I spent so much time together with me. One late afternoon, it came to a point when she pushed me in anger against a burning stove. Therefore, that same evening I left the house and rode on my bicycle to Tiel with my suitcase on the back the bicycle. However, along the road, I met my math teacher who was wondering where I was going so late in the day with a suitcase on my luggage rack. I explained to him the situation. He did not say much except for wishing me good luck. When he got home, he called the Tiel Police who searched for me. It was not until the next morning that they located me and I was transported to the Orphanage Neerbosch close to the town of Nijmegen. They could do that because I was still a minor. I was thinking, to myself “again?” because from the age of 10 to 15, I was placed in an orphanage of the Salvation Army by my mother because raising 9 children by herself after the war when my father did not return was just too much.

Here we see Walter von Stockhausen later when he had become a Naval Cadet with his adventure having become

a success during times when there could have been a great deal of hardship, for Sukarno’s days become full of turmoil!

At the orphanage, they decided my profession for me. They placed me in the print shop to become an apprentice printer. I have nothing against the profession of printer. But that was not my choice; I wanted to continue my secondary education. So I had the audacity to write to the Ministry of Social Services in The Hague and explained my situation of why I had risked so much to come to the Netherlands to continue my Dutch secondary education. That month, a social worker from Arnhem, Ms. Ficke, visited me and arranged for me to move to a Boarding School in Harderwijk to finish my secondary education under the condition that I maintain a B plus grade average. That summer, she arranged for a math tutor, my weakest subject.

In late summer I rode my bike with my belongings on a long scenic trip to Harderwijk. Through the Betuwe, along the Rhine river and Utrechtse Heuvelrug into the Hoge Veluwe and down to the lowlands of the IJselmeer. During my trip, I noticed many estates with Indonesian names on it, indicating their connection to Indonesia. So this is how they got rich, from the Indonesian oil, tin, palm oil, rubber, teak wood, etc.

I was able to finish the Lyceum level secondary education at the boarding school.

During the great influx of Dutch Indonesians in 1957-1958, I took part o a Dutch Radio program. Entitled; “BOEKA PINTOE” meaning, “Open Your Doors”, and it generated goodwill for the new arrivals of Dutch Indonesian’s to the Netherlands.

Mariner von Stochausen seen during his days at the Royal Dutch Naval Academy in Den Helder

After my final exit exam of the Lyceum, I applied for admission to the Royal Dutch Naval Academy in Den Helder. There were 1,000 applicants and only 80 were admitted. I took a huge risk in order to acquire the education that I wanted.  And, now looking back, I am truly one of the lucky ones as I became a Naval Cadet!”

Walter’s Story – Part Two:

“However, due to circumstances I did not end up continuing a marine career once I completed the Naval Academy. This was mostly due because when we lost New Guinea thus there was no opportunity for me to return to the Archipelago and I signed up for a course in the Broadcast and Engineering School in Hilversum and I became a broadcast engineer the rest of my life!

Walter is seen as a Television Engineer for the NOS

I worked with the Dutch Radio and TV station NOS, which had me working both indoors, but also as a cameraman in some exciting places!”

Here we Walter as a TV cameraman, during his “Hollywood period“

Amazingly as Walter Ben von Stockhausen’s life continued his stature grew along with his profession to the point it even allowed him to return to Indonesia for a several years, as he stated;

“The country I left as an illegal when I was just 15 years old and amazingly I returned to Indonesia in 1983 as a Semi-Diplomat as I was no an American AID Consultant for the US State Department and was involved in the building of a TV studio for the Indonesian Department of Education.”

Walters’s official American Embassy Jakarta ID


The US-AID Team in Jakarta

In Conclusion:

I hereby wish to thank Walter von Stockhausen for his kind assistance in delivering his remarkable story and his amazing photographs. I believe that his story proves beyond doubt that when a young man has a dream regarding making something of his life and has a desire for education and was determined to make something of his life, he will do everything in his power to get to achieve his goal! Walter certainly has done that and I wish that the children of today would stop playing all those games of death and destruction and get a good and solid education and follow Walter’s lead, for he went all the way to get there!

Reuben Goossens.

Maritime Historian, Author & Lecturer.

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960.

MS Oranje seen berthed in Amsterdam

Postcard from the author’s private collection



Page One: The Oranje Story From shipyard, Wartime until her sale to Italy in 1964.

Page One b: MS Oranje The Walter von Stockhausen Story - From Stowaway to Naval Cadet.”

Page Two: The Angelina Lauro Story Transformation into an modern Italian liner.

Page Three: Angelina Lauro Photo Page

Page Four: Angelina Lauro’s demise A Tragic Day on March 30, 1979.

Page Five: Angelina Lauro Deck Plan

Page Six: MS Orange Passenger list of her very first voyage/cruise 4 Aug 1939 Provided by

. passenger Dieuwertje Goedkoop. Note: This is the ONLY List Have!


Visit our Main Index for features on other Dutch liners, such as the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Sibajak, Willem Ruys (Achille Lauro), the TSS Rijndam and her sister the TSS Maasdam, as well as the then Flagship of Holland America Line, the grand SS Rotterdam and the magnificent SS Nieuw Amsterdam, as well as the three simple migrant ships; the SS Waterman, Groote Beer and Zuiderkruis, as well as the famous small, but the “Elegant White Yachts” of Royal Interocean Lines as well as a number of other excellent Dutch Passenger/Cargo ships. All of these can be found on my ssMaritime Main Index below.



Return to the ssMaritime Main INDEX &

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!

Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!

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