Passengers Java-China-Japan Line m.s. Tjisadane Jakarta-Shanghai via Hong Kong, Xiamen, 1937

Sun, 06/21/2020 - 18:23

Charles Gesner van der Voort (1916-1991) was part of a group of Dutch bachelors in pre-war Shanghai. Another member of this group was David van Gelderen (1908-1990), originally from Rotterdam. He arrived in Shanghai in 1933, working for Unilever, a merger of the operations of Dutch Margarine Unie and British soap maker Lever Brothers.

The photo albums of his China years contain many photos of the bachelor life in those days: travel, work, parties, trips within China and to Japan. They also include photos of the bombing of the Unilever factory during the 1937 Japanese attack of Shanghai, membership of the French Special Police and other unique photos.

Like Charles, David was interned in Chapei Civil Assembly Centre by the Japanese from 1943 to 1945.
Being Jewish, internment in Shanghai probably saved David’s life; since all of his family members in the Netherlands were killed by the Nazis.

David married, had two children and continued to work for Unilever. He became member of Nederlandse Reünisten Vereniging China (NRVC, Dutch Reunists Association China).

This photo shows Java-China-Japan Line (also known as Royal Interocean Lines) m.s. Tjisadane passengers, when the ship departs from Jakarta (Batavia). David van Gelderen returned from a long leave in the Netherlands.

Jan Duinker's son commented: "The ship van Gelderen was on, the Tjisadane, was the same ship my father took to Java when he was called up in  Oct./Nov 1941." Jan Duinker was working for the Netherlands India Commercial Bank in Shanghai and part of the Dutch bachelor group.

Courtesy Van Gelderen family archives

Source: This image came from Flickr, see

Date picture taken
19 May 1937