Genealogie Bos

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29 Aug 2018

3 Otterspoor brothers in Australia

The Australian Anzacs website shows the records for Dutch immigrants in Australia who enlisted as soldiers in World War I. Among them are 3 brothers of the Otterspoor family: Servaas (“John”), Arnoldus (“Harry”) and Franciscus Jacobus (“Frank”). John Otterspoor is listed in 1917 as being an engineer, born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, aged 24 years and 2 months, and married to "Trintje". In fact, John and Arnold were born as twins in Utrecht on 19-11-1892. Their mother was 19-year-old and single Hendrika Johanna van Kesteren. She was born on 7-10-1873 in Amersfoort. Her parents are Arnoldus van Kesteren and Engelina Welling.

Servaas ("John")
   Arnoldus ("Harry")
Franciscus Jacobus ("Frank")

On 25-7-1894 in Utrecht Hendrika Johanna van Kesteren was married to Servanus Otterspoor. Upon this marriage the twins Arnoldus and Servanus were acknowledged as being their children. The groom, Servanus Otterspoor, was born on 5-3-1871 in Utrecht as the second son of an elder Servanus Otterspoor (1838-1919) and Jannetje Aletta Offerman (1838-1885), his first wife. Servanus was aged 14 when his mother died. Within a year, his father was remarried to a widow, Maria Schaad (1842-1896). When his father married a third time in 1898, young Servanus was already a married man himelf.
The younger Servanus Otterspoor and his wife Hendrika Johanna had a third son, Franciscus Jacobus (“Frank”), who was born on 15-11-1894 in Utrecht. The couple subsequently moved to The Hague and had some additional children. In 1912 the couple and their kids travelled with the S.S. Gneisenau to Australia. Leaving their 3 elder sons in Australia, the couple returned to the Netherlands in 1913, and in november Hendrika Johanna gave birth to daughter. The family returned to Australia in 1920, and lived there in Cooper's Plains, Brisbane. Servanus died on 11-8-1950 in Brisbane. His widow died there on 12-8-1962.

WWI enlistment document for soldier John Otterspoor

In World War I, 21-year-old Frank Otterspoor joined the 31st infantry battalion. He was admitted to a field ambulance on 17-4-1916, and discharged to rejoin his unit on 13-5-1916. Frank died in action on 19-7-1916 in Pozieres, Somme Sector, France. 

John Otterspoor embarked with the 4th Pioneer Battalion from Sydney, New South Wales, on board the ship “Hororata” on 13-6-1917. He was killed in action on 22-5-1918 near Villers-Bretonneux, France. John was buried at the Daours Communal Cemetery Extension in France. His widow declared her husband had "died for his principle as he was anxious to help crush German Militarism".

The third borther, Harry Otterspoor, was incorporated as a trooper in the 11th Light Horse Regiment, and stationed in Egypt to guard the Suez canal. After the war he returned to Australia, married and had children. Apparently, he disappeared in 1946, and it wasn't until after his death in 1968 that his wife and children found out he had taken the name “Arnold Ward” and subsequently lived with another woman in Adelaide.

Sources: Discovering Anzacs (AU), The AIF Project (AU), Stamboom WellingStamboom OtterspoorWieWasWie, Delpher Newspapers, Het Utrechts ArchiefAustralian War Memorial (AU).

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