Friday, 12 October 2012

Sepia Saturday - A Military Dad

When my paternal grandparents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on August 15, 1938, my father added to the festivities by making an overview of their life so far. He did this by preparing a roll made of linen about 10 yards long and 5 inches wide. Then he attached family pictures and self made drawings to it. I would imagine that he presented his parents with a kind of This is your life
Part of the linen roll with highlights of my grandparents' marriage.
Mathematicians among you will have already calculated that my grandparents were married in 1913, just before the start of WW1. Although The Netherlands remained neutral during this war, its army was in a mobilized state during the four years the war lasted. The mobilization officially started on August 1, 1914 and included my granddad Andreas Miebies (1883- The Hague -1957). Two days later his first son, my father, was born. During their wedding anniversary 24 years later, my father made an artist impression of this memorable event.
Johannes Cornelis Miebies seated on the knee of his father Andreas.
The drawing shows my grandmother Lena Bakker (Heenvliet, 1880 - The Hague, 1959) sound asleep and probably exhausted after the delivery of a baby boy able to sit up so soon after the happy occurrence.  Please also note grandfathers' rifle and uniform on the bedside chair. 
We are now coming close to the Sepia Saturday theme of this week. It is a heroic looking group of soldiers wearing sabers and caps resembling those of bellhops. 

It is my good fortune that my father included a similar picture in his This is your life for his parents. So now I can show you my grandfather in the King's armor. 
Grandfather Andreas (to the very right) and his military pals
during his mobilization.
I have been trying to find out in which part of the military he served but so far in vain. The one thing that strikes me in this photo is the large variety of uniforms. And contrary to this weeks Sepia Saturday picture, on this photograph the mustaches are a minority. My grandfather displays the most evident one. Knowing Andreas lived in The Hague and assuming that he stayed there during his mobilization, I think this photo was taken in the dunes near The Hague. 

For more uniforms, caps, helmets, mustaches and heroism, have a look at the Sepia Saturday site. It is managed this week by Kat Mortensen, a lady with military genes.

Update Oct. 16, 2012: Among many other particulars the Dutch Army Museum informed me that my grandfathers rank was sergeant and that he was the section commander of this 47th infantry battalion Jagers (Hunters).
In Dutch the detailed information received reads as follows:

De foto is genomen na maart 1916, toen werd de kepie (pet) ingevoerd in het leger. De in het midden staande en de liggende persoon dragen deze kepie.
Het is een sectie van het bataljon Landweer - Infanterie (Jagers No. 47) met als standplaats Den Haag. Er waren 44 districten en 2 batajons grenadiers (3 en 32) en 2 jagerbataljons (36 en 47) Op de hoofden draagt men de sjako M 1865 met de groene bol van de Jagers, twee sjako's model 1912, waarvan men de emblemen ( een lauwerkrans met daarin een hoorn) heeft afgehaald (om beter te kunnen camoufleren). Het is ook mogelijk dat ze in die tijd niet meer geleverd werden aan eenheden die de kepie kregen. De platte pet behoorde bij het uniform van 1912, een grijsgroen uniform met groene jagers kraag en mouwopslagen. De persoon links draagt de jas die ingevoerd werd in 1905 en gedragen werd tot 1912. De jassen met twee rijen knopen werden gedragen van 1865 tot 1905. Allen zijn bewapend met het geweer M.95. De twee onderofficieren, sergeanten van de Jagers met de kepies, zijn de instructeurs van het regiment Jagers. Uw grootvader was, als sergeant, de sectie-commandant.


  1. That is an interesting and historical piece of art.

    Do you have a definition of "role" as you used the word?

  2. The following question is good in several parts of Europe and in the Netherlands too.
    Imagine You may speak to Your grandfather and tell him about history of the last 100 years.
    1-We make a world war (the first) against Germany;
    2-Germany becomes a republic and the last emperor (Kaiser Wilhelm II) moves to Holland;
    3-Germany attacks the Netherlands again (WWII) and brings terrible pains to the people and to the territory;
    4-From Amsterdam You can travel to Germany without border control and without changing the currency.

    Perhaps Europe really deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace just gained in 2012...
    Best wishes

  3. My grandfather too served in the mobilised Dutch Army during the Great War, and I have a few photos of him and his friends in similar uniforms to that which you show of your grandfather. If your grandfather is the soldier on the extreme right with his left hand on his hip, and the other hand clutching his rifle, then I would say that a good place to look for his unit is the 47th something-or-other (Infantry or equivalent), judging by the number on his cap badge. I can't tell his rank from the photo, but he looks a little older than the others.

  4. I LOVE your dad for creating the linen roll of "This is your life" scenes. The one you featured is hilarious. I hope we have more Sepia prompts that will inspire you to reveal more of your dad's artwork and creativity.

  5. That is a most amazing anniversary gift, like a scrapbook but so long! Your father was very creative.

    I enjoy seeing group photos like your grandfather's when they show more individual personalities than the stiff formal poses of regimental groups. The lad reclining in the front seems destined for trouble.

  6. @Postcardy
    You are absolutely right, I used the wrong word! It should have been "roll" as in "rolling up a document". I'll change that in the post!
    @Gio Ve
    I agree with your last remark.
    What a pleasant surprise! Another "Dutchman" taking part in the weekly Sepia Saturday fun! Indeed my grandfather is the one on the extreme right. On this picture he is 31 years old. And would you believe I had not seen the number on his cap!! A case of temporary blindness, I guess. I had a quick look whether I could find something about a number 47. It seems there was a military organization called "Landweer" and they were divided in 48 districts so... maybe...
    In any case, thanks very much for pointing this out to me, Brett.
    Even if this one looks a bit childish, I know my dad could draw very well. Please see The post is in Dutch but the drawings are not ;)
    I see what you mean about the lad in front. His weapon is nowhere to be seen and he is the only one smoking. He radiates carelessness to say the least.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  7. Peter, This was a fascinating post! The linen roll of life is so wonderful to have in your possession and your father was quite an artist!

    I am intrigued by your missing piece of information regarding your grandfather. Is there not a website for the King's Army? Do you have a regiment number for your grandfather?


  8. Oh Peter, I hope you don't think I meant the quality of artwork is funny. No, I am amused at the newborn sitting up on his father's lap. I can tell your dad was talented, both in drawing and creative thinking.

  9. This has been a wonderful theme. Everyone has done a great job. Thanks for missing me Peter, just a little old lady puttering around all over the internet having a great time meeting new folks. That roll was indeed very creative and gives me an idea for Christmas as I make all my families gifts. Blessings to you and family.

  10. It's like the Bayeux Tapestries! Utterly charming.

  11. I never knew that the Netherlands remained neutral in WWI. A fascinating post Peter with an impressive 'group' photo.

  12. An excellent post Peter, and I have to agree with the others about the linen roll. What a wonderful and unique gift to present to your grandparents. It was made with much love and humour and I bet they treasured it.

  13. Very entertaining Peter, love your father's artwork.

  14. I just love the linen "This is Your Life" roll your dad made for his parents. What a talented and thoughtful father you have!

    Great post!

  15. First I must say your grandfather was quite handsome, but he stood out as being quite the strong leader, just by his stance, and facial expression! How special, and by far the best handmade with love and devotion article to make (a man even- as more often it's women) that make things of such nature. That has to be the greatest gift they ever received. I hope you bring it out often to share with your family. What a treasure! Especially his artwork by his own hands!

  16. The linen roll was such a creative anniversary gift. I clicked on the photo to enlarge it and enjoyed seeing the details. Your father had artistic talent.

    Great group picture - your grandfather cut a striking figure in his uniform.

  17. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing the linen roll and the drawings in it. Your father was a very clever and talented man. You are very fortunate to have the World War I photograph of your grandfather!

  18. @Kat
    Brett put me on the right track and I am making progress regarding the unit my grandfather served in.
    No, I didn't think that, honest! I just wanted to point out that he, in my opinion, could do better than this one. So don't worry! I am not that sensitive :)
    "a little old lady..." Just for the record, you didn't hear me saying that! I wouldn't dare!! But I'm glad you're back ;)
    I've seen the Tapestry in Bayeux but I wouldn't dare comparing it with that piece of art but I am sure my Dad would have been very happy with your remark.
    Although we did not participate, there were many (Belgian) refugees here. Also the German emperor Wilhelm II fled to Holland towards the end of the war. He died here in 1941 when we were under German rule (sic).
    @Little Nell
    He made another one for his parents-in-law when they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. And what is even better, I possess that one as well!
    Thank you!
    And he had another talent: writing fun poems. A number of those survived as well.
    As I said to Little Nell, there is another roll. How lucky can you be? Very!
    @Queen Bee
    I have never known my grandfather look so serious and determined. But I know he was, certainly in his job.

    Thank you all for taking the trouble of visiting my blog. Much appreciated!

  19. You are so lucky to have this linen roll. Even you have a second one! I'm sure you will show us more when time has come. Thank you for sharing this amazing post.

  20. What a great idea that your Dad had there. I love it! The drawing was so neat, and then with the photo head. Very creative. I'm glad that you still have that long photo album.

    I enjoyed this post very much, Peter.

    Kathy M.

  21. Your grandfather looks brave, but I'm not sure this unit would have been every effective against the 'huns'. Great photo though, and the roll of linen is a treasure to possess.

  22. Your father was quite the artist and "scrapbooker"! I love how he used photographs for heads on his drawings. Whimsical and humorous. What treasures you have!

  23. What a great timeline! I have often thought of doing that on a roll of paper but never did it. You father was quite the little man and only hours after his birth.

  24. Peter,
    You are so lucky to have TWO of those wonderful "this is your life" rolls. What a clever and creative way to scrapbook. I've seen a lot of scrapbook pages, but never one on fabric. fabulous.

  25. How cool that I arrive just in time for your update!! Glad you got some answers. In the drawing, not only the baby is sitting up but its way too tall!! No wonder the mother was SO exhausted!!

  26. @Prenter
    One day the day will come... :)
    @Kathy M
    Thank you Kathy, glad you did.
    If I read my history books well, that problem was not limited to this unit alone...
    I am told he loved doing these things.
    If you do this on paper you have to use glue or maybe staples. My father stitched everything with a sewing machine. You can still see all the small holes.
    I haven't got a clue where how he got this idea.
    I knew you would be dropping in so I put the info there in a hurry :)

    Thank you all for visiting!

  27. Sorry to be so late with this. I have to agree with my sister, Nancy, that's a truly wonderful scrapbook. And to find out he stitched it all together! What a guy. I'm impressed.
    About my father's pictures...yes they each were taken at the same place. They might have been "play-acting". But I wonder how they got a hold of the uniforms? Take a look at some of the other play-acting they did which I posted in a previous blog a couple of years ago.


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