Reader’s letter: A day I will never forget


Ignis Jacobson writes:

It was a day I will never forget. On May 20, 1983, I decided to leave the office on the 13th or 14th floor of the Poyntons building, where I served as a two-stripe corporal, in the early afternoon. I was part of the payment team that had to ensure that the troops got their money to the chief paymaster on time.

In the afternoon I decided to walk earlier and went straight to the OK Bazaars in Esselenstraat to buy food for the weekend. While I was looking around among the shelves, I suddenly heard an announcement over the intercom about the explosion of a bomb in the Poyntons building in Church Street. I was shocked and could not immediately comprehend what had happened.

In the meantime, my supervisors in this building started looking for everyone who could possibly be trapped. As a corporal, although young and inexperienced, I always tried to carry out my duties meticulously and satisfy my superiors. It was therefore a big shock for them when they could not confirm my presence in the chaos after the explosion.

The bomb wreaked havoc, windows and walls collapsed and smoke overshadowed the entire building. The danger of another explosion or collapse was great, but my supervisors undauntedly continued to search for me and other missing colleagues. The smell of burning material and the sound of sirens dominated the scene. They moved through the damaged floors, hoping that I might be found sheltered somewhere.

When they finally realized that I might not have been in the building at the time of the explosion, the search turned into an intensive effort to locate me outside the building. They called and inquired at headquarters, hoping that I might have left earlier or might have been busy elsewhere.

I, on the other hand, was still standing in the OR, oblivious to the panic prevailing among my colleagues. When I finally arrived at the apartment, I saw how worried and restless my fellow troops were. They were relieved to see me safe and I assured them that I was unaware of what had happened until I heard the announcement in the store. I immediately called my supervisor from a phone booth to let him know I was safe.

The events of that day left a lasting impression on me. It made me aware of the dangers and the unpredictability of the times in which we lived. The empathy and perseverance of my supervisors and colleagues to look for me in a dangerous situation touched me deeply. It strengthened our bond as a unit and increased my appreciation for the brotherhood within the service.