gahetNA in the National Archives

I’m looking for non-commissioned officers and servicemen in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL)

The Nationaal Archief holds the service book records of non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL). The records relate to European or equivalent regularservicemen and to servicemen recruited from Africa. Records of European or equivalent conscripts (from 1918 onwards) and reserve personnel, as well as indigenous servicemen, were only kept in the Dutch East Indies and were not sent over to the Netherlands. The files in the Nationaal Archief that contain records of these categories only date from 1942.

How do I proceed?                              

You will find various series of service books with different titles at the Nationaal Archief. For example, there are the Supplementary Folios (Suppletiefolio’s), the service books of the Colonial Reserve (Koloniale Reserve), the ‘Control’ books (Controle boeken), the Dutch East Indies book (Oost-Indisch boek), the General Dutch East Indies Service Book (Algemeen Stamboek Indië), the Full Service Book (Volledig Stamboek) etc. All these service books can be found in catalogue reference 2.10.50.

Start your search in the indexes of names for the following service books:

Overview of service books of KNIL servicemen

Service bookEnlisted inYear of departure/year of enlistment
Inspection bookThe Netherlands (Harderwijk)1815-1817
Supplementary folioThe Netherlands (Harderwijk)1817-1949
Colonial Reserve service bookThe Netherlands (Nijmegen)1890-1909
Dutch East Indies BooDutch East Indies1815-1949

You only need to consult the Colonial Reserve service books if you find that the supplementary folios do not contain any information, or if you are sure that the serviceman departed from Nijmegen during the period 1890-1909.

The indexes can be viewed on microfilm. You can study these documents at the Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG). The CBG is accessible via the Information Centre. Start by searching in the year in which you know, or think, the serviceman enlisted. Servicemen had to be at least 16 years old.
When you are searching these indexes of names, pay attention to how the names are alphabetised. Many of the names are only listed by the first letter of the surname. But sometimes you will see a combination of two letters. These are always the first letter of the surname, followed by the first vowel. The following step-by-step instructions explain this in more detail.

Step-by-step instructions

- KNIL serviceman enlisted in the Netherlands
- KNIL serviceman enlisted in the Dutch East Indies
- Abbreviations and references in the service book records

More information:

The following Dutch publication provides more in-depth research instructions and examples:

Liesbeth Beelen and Geert de Kinkelder, Soldaten Overzee, aanwijzingen voor het doen van onderzoek naar officieren en personeel van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (KNIL) en het leger in West-Indië (1815-1949), fully revised version, The Hague 2004

For the World War II years, see also chapter 22 of De Oorlogsgids (‘The War Guide’, in Dutch, edited by Jan H. Kompagnie), The Hague, 2005: Hoe verging het de militairen van de land- en luchtstrijdkrachten in Nederlands-Indië?

Both publications are available in the reading room at the Nationaal Archief. You can also consult the Oorlogsgidsonline under 'Q & A'.

Police actions
For information on servicemen belonging to Dutch army units who were deployed during the post-war Indonesian independence struggle (police actions), you can contact: Ministerie van Defensie, DG Personeel, Bureau RIOP, Postbus 7000, 6460 NC Kerkrade, The Netherlands.

KNIL serviceman enlisted in the Netherlands

Did the serviceman enlist in the Netherlands (Harderwijk) during the period 1815-1817?

  1. Collect film 2 from stack D18, drawer 2, in the microfilm repository in the reading room.
  2. Make a note of the registration number you find for the serviceman concerned on this film.
  3. Look in catalogue reference 2.10.50, inventory numbers 80-85, Inspection Book series. Check which inventory number the registration number you found appears in.
  4. Request this inventory number on the computer.

Did the serviceman enlist in the Netherlands (Harderwijk, or Nijmegen from 1909 onwards) during the period 1817-1949?

  1. Collect one or more films from series 3-12 from stack D18, drawer 2, in the microfilm repository in the reading room.
  2. Make a note of the registration number that you find for the serviceman concerned on one of the films.
  3. Look in catalogue reference 2.10.50, inventory numbers 87-317, Supplementary Folios series. Check which inventory number the registration number you found appears in.
  4. Request this inventory number on the computer.

Did the serviceman enlist in the Netherlands during the period 1890-1909, but you can’t find his name in the index of names for the Supplementary Folios?
In that case, he probably did not leave from Harderwijk but from Nijmegen in that period (1890-1909).

  1. Collect film 14 from stack D18, drawer 2, in the microfilm repository in the reading room.
  2. Make a note of the registration number you find for the serviceman concerned on this film.
  3. Look in catalogue reference 2.10.50, inventory numbers 496-509, Colonial Reserve service books series. Check which inventory number the registration number you found appears in.
  4. Request this inventory number on the computer.

KNIL serviceman enlisted in the Dutch East Indies

Did the serviceman enlist in the Dutch East Indies during the period 1832-1939?

  1. Collect film 13 from stack D18, drawer 2, in the microfilm repository in the reading room.
  2. Make a note of the registration number you find for the serviceman concerned on this film.
  3. Look in catalogue reference 2.10.50, inventory numbers 334-443, Dutch East Indies Book series. Check which inventory number the registration number you found appears in.
  4. Request this inventory number on the computer.

Did the serviceman enlist in the Dutch East Indies during the period 1815-1831?

You will only be able to find his military records if he was still in service in 1832. Follow the instructions listed above under ‘Did the serviceman enlist in the Dutch East Indies during the period 1832-1939?’ There are no known service records for Dutch East Indies servicemen who died before 1832, or whose service ended before then for another reason.

References in the service books themselves

Service book records may also contain references to other service book records for the same serviceman:

  • references to earlier or later military service in the Supplementary Folios series:
    abbreviation S or Sf plus registration number.
  • references to earlier or later military service in the Dutch East Indies Book series:
    abbreviation OIB plus registration number.
  • references to the General Dutch East Indies Service Book:
    abbreviation A.S.,Alg.Stb.orPresentnr.plus registration number;
    abbreviation V.S.,Voll.Stamb.orExtr(act).Stplus serial number.

General Dutch East Indies Service Book (Algemeen Stamboek Indië)

Sometimes you will find the abbreviation A.S.,Alg.Stb.orPresent nr.along with a registration number in the actual service book records. This means that there is another service book record (in the General Dutch East Indies Service Book) which you can look at. But only if the serviceman’s departure date was before 31 March 1898. A record in the General Service Book can provide additional information on Dutch East Indies service records. You will need the microfiches in drawers 22-24 of stack D7d in the microfilm repository in the reading room. Check which microfiche contains the general service book number you found. Make sure you collect the right series of microfiches for the period you are interested in. There are two series of microfiche in these three drawers: one relating to departure dates up to 1876 and one for departures from 1876 onwards.

The General Dutch East Indies Service Book for the period 1898-1949 was never sent over to the Netherlands. It is not known whether it survives in Indonesia. There are also some gaps in the series before 1898; see catalogue reference 2.10.50.01.

Full Service Book (Volledig Stamboek)

Sometimes you will find the abbreviationExtr(act).St.,V.S. orVoll.Stamb.along with a serial number in the actual service book records. This means that there is another service book record (in the Full Service Book) which you can look at which may contain more information, particularly about the period in the Dutch East Indies. What advantages does this book offer over the General Service Book?

Although the information in both series may coincide, the Full Service Book sometimes contains more information. Spouses and children are sometimes mentioned in it, for example. It also covers a much longer period: it also includes the period after 1898. In addition, you can view the original documents, so they are easier to read. Finally, the records are loose and therefore easier to photocopy.

You will need catalogue reference 2.10.50.02. Here you can look up inventory numbers 300-630 and check which of these inventory numbers the serial number you found appears in. Ask for this inventory number.

gahetNA is a website of the Society for the Nationaal Archief in cooperation with the Nationaal Archief and Spaarnestad Photo.
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