Hein ter Poorten

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Hein ter Poorten
Hein ter Poorten.jpg
Hein ter Poorten in c. 1939–1942
Born (1887-11-21)21 November 1887
Buitenzorg, Dutch East Indies
Died 15 January 1968(1968-01-15) (aged 80)
The Hague, Netherlands
Allegiance  Netherlands
Service/branch Royal Netherlands East Indies Army
Years of service 1908–1945
Rank Lieutenant general
Commands held American-British-Dutch-Australian Command
Battles/wars Dutch East Indies campaign
Agneta C. Roqué (m. 1912–1925)
Anna Maria Bergman (m. 1934)

Hein ter Poorten (21 November 1887 – 15 January 1968) was a Dutch military officer. He was the commander of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in World War II. Ter Poorten was also Allied land forces commander in the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command on Java during early 1942.[2]

Early life[edit]

Hein ter Poorten was born on 21 November 1887 in Buitenzorg (now Bogor) on Java, which was at the time part of the Dutch East Indies. He was the son of Franciscus Hendricus ter Poorten, a chief mate in the Government Navy, and of Clasina Ambrosina Kater.[1]

After having been sworn in as an artillery officer in 1911, he helped to found the army air force, and in 1919 began a course at the Hogere Krijgsschool staff college in the Netherlands.[2] He was invested as a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau[citation needed] with swords for his part in the development of military aviation in 1911.

World War II[edit]

The General in Japanese captivity.

He steadily rose up the ranks upon his return to the East Indies, and by July 1939 was the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger or KNIL) Chief of the General Staff. Lieutenant General Gerardus Johannes Berenschot's death in a flying accident in October 1941 saw Ter Poorten, by now also a lieutenant general, promoted to Commander in Chief of the KNIL.

Ter Poorten was regarded by his contemporaries in the army as a skilled commander with a firm understanding of military affairs in the East Indies, and thus was able to get on well with his subordinates and fellow officers; his relations with the civilian administration were less successful.

In January 1942, following the outbreak of war with Japan, Ter Poorten was appointed commander of land forces in the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, a short-lived unified command of all Allied forces in South East Asia.

By March, Ter Poorten became the de facto head of all Allied forces on Java, following rapid Japanese advances and the break-up of ABDACOM. It was left to him to unconditionally surrender the island to the Japanese on 8 March 1942. He spent the rest of the war in various prisoner of war camps.[2]

After the war[edit]

After his liberation in August 1945, Ter Poorten moved to the Netherlands.[2] He requested his resignation as commander of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army and head of the Department of War in November 1945. His request was not granted right away, but he was eventually honorably discharged on 28 February 1946. Despite these honors, Ter Poorten believed that he was being scapegoated for the defeat in the Dutch East Indies.[1]

Ter Poorten died on 15 January 1968 in The Hague, at the age of 80.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e (in Dutch) Poorten, Hein ter (1887-1968), Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, 2013. Retrieved on 4 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Klemen, L (1999–2000). "Lieutenant-General Hein Ter Poorten". Dutch East Indies Campaign website. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. 

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