Peter Koens was only 13 years old when together with his sister Elly and parents, arrived in a flying boat from Java. He describes that morning exactly 70 years later at the age of 83.
My dad was then at that time yelling at me to come and jump in the water because they were coming back.
So I just jumped into the water and swam to my dad and then we had to find my mother and my sister who were on the other side of plane, so then when we were swimming around the plane I could hear my mother yelling at a man that was also swimming with us to come and get his wife because she was hanging onto this burning wing and with a child around her neck.
We had twenty people in our plane so I assume the other ones would have the same.
Just shouting and screaming all the time.
So plane was on fire so then once we collected my mother and sister we stayed as close to the fire as possible, that’s what our dad told us, in case there were sharks or anything like that.
So, and then after we swam for about ten minutes close to the oil fire he just said to just go onto your back and just lay and relax and stay together, and that’s what we did.
It was probably the second run, by the second aircraft anyway that made its run, that virtually chopped our starboard wing off completely.
I got up to the flight deck and was either blown or jumped, here again I don’t know – the crew say I was actually blown out, but at that time one of the fuel tanks must have erupted and caught fire because it was just an inferno from that point on.
It was all incredibly quick. I suppose the whole attack was over in 20 minutes.
Those eight fighter planes tore round at a terrific speed, dived one by one on their objectives, and the rat-a-tat of their machine-guns was followed by a spectacular display of fireworks…
They left a trail of smoke behind them and set fire to everything they hit.
In a few minutes the whole harbour was covered by a pall of thick, black smoke, through which it was impossible to observe what was going on.