Bastiaan "Bob" de Jongste - January 23, 1917 - August 29, 2013
Rest in Peace
The following article was written by Alan Rogers, Editor of Bottleship, the magazine of the European Association of Ships in Bottle
Born on the 23rd of January 1917, Bastianne was known to everyone as Bob, for short, He took an early interest in circus acts and was so fascinated by spinning-rope tricks that a circus took him on for about 2 months, riding, roping and shooting. Then his father told him that it was time to find a proper job and he went to work for the Dutch airline KLM where he was also invited to join the cabaret club, run by the personnel association where he became part of a cowboy band and did some tricks with lassos and spinning ropes. When the president of KLM thought that this junior employee was paying a little too much attention to his daughter, Bob was transferred to Amsterdam Airport to be trained as a line-inspector for South America. However, the second world war broke out so the South American plans went on hold.
In March 1944 Bob was arrested by the German Gestapo on many charges including smuggling pilots back to England. And was sentenced to death! According to the Gerrman records he was officially executed in September 1944 at Fort Blaukappel near Utrecht, but in fact was liberated by the Russian Army on the 27th of April 1945. His own brother, had been told of the existence of the urn which contained Bob?s ashes and Bob told me once that it was only with the greatest difficulty that he finally convinced the Dutch authorities after the end of the war that he was still alive.
When he came home he started his own import and export business and took up flying, first as a private pilot but later on gained his professional license plus an instructor?s license for small single engine aircraft. In the meantime, he had raised a family of three boys ( who all are good at spinning ropes, he said ). He then worked as the export manager for an American company for ten years until he retired in 1974. at the age of fifty seven.
His inauguration into the world of ship-bottling began in 1961 when he was passing through Copenhagen on his way to Stockholm: Walking around the shops, he saw a ship in a bottle. and was intrigued by it. The shopkeeper showed him a second one and on the return journey from Stockholm he visited the shop again to buy the other one as well, only to find that it had been sold ! Undaunted, he made the decision to start making his own and went on to make over four hundred, many of which subsequently found their way to destinations all over the world, including the USA, Australia, the Far East and South America.
Bob was instrumental in helping to set up the European Association of Ships in Bottles in 1982 and also the Dutch Association in 1985 and he was deeply committed to the development and survival of both. He produced the Dutch Association magazine "Welkom aan Boord" for the first six years and was instrumental in setting up exhibitions of ships in bottles in the Netherlands on more than one occasion. For many, many years he was a regular contributor to the European Association magazine, 'The Bottleship': His regular feature entitled ?From Holland with love? contained a lovely mix of humour, puzzles, instructional articles especially for beginners and general snippets of information on maritime subjects.
On a personal note, although we never met we exchanged letters several times a year and occasionally chatted on the phone. He gave me tremendous support as editor, especially in my early days. Along with Max Truchi in France, Bob was to become one of the 'founding fathers' of the bottleship movement in Europe. He's going to be missed !
He always said that he was happy to know that somewhere in the world his ships would be in existence, ?long after the ashes of the builder had been absorbed by Mother Earth.?
Editor of Bottleship, the magazine of the European Association of Ships in Bottles
My full name is Bastiaan de Jongste, which in Dutch was shortened to Bas. Unfortunately my foreign friends pronounced it sometimes as "Boss", others as "Bess" and some others even called me bastard. So in order to satisfy all parties I asked people to call me Bob for short. I was born on the 23rd of January 1917 when the whole family, except my ten year old brother" was down with the Spanish flu. I had a very pleasant youth. In 1936 I finished high school. At time it was hard to find a job, but I was not in a great hurry since I had earned a nice holiday after my exams.