History: Ir M.W. van Batenburg (EN)


Ir M.W. van Batenburg (1919 – 2017)


A short career description

Born on November 20, 1919, in Delft, where his father was a general practitioner, he attended the gymnasium. After obtaining his diploma, he qualified for officer training at the Royal Netherlands Army (KL) in Haarlem. Only just started, he was deployed in the defence against the German invasion on May 10, 1940.

During WW II

After the capitulation of the Netherlands and the dissolution of the Netherlands Army on July 15, 1940, he continued his studies in electrical engineering at the Technische Hogeschool Delft. In  1942, as a reprisal by the Germans, all students at universities of applied sciences were imprisoned, first in Scheveningen and later in the Vught camp. After approximately three weeks of detention, Van Batenburg was released. After being in hiding for a year and a half, he was able to get a job as a car mechanic in the food service.
After the liberation in May 1945, he remained for some time with the Binnenlandsche Strijdmacht (BS). From September 1945 to February 1950 he was Inspector of Transport at the Dutch Red Cross, where his first assignment was to set up the organisation of patient transports in the Netherlands deploying eighty military ambulances previously used by the British Red Cross.

After WW II

In the autumn of 1945, his exam was taken by Capt. ter Zee Professor J.L.W.C. von Weiler, who had succeeded Prof. Dr. Ir. N. Koomans as professor at the Technische Hogeschool (University).
A secondment after his graduation on 20 November 1945 to the laboratory (LEO) of Prof. Von Weiler was in the offing.
However, since he had served in the Royal Netherlands Army (KL) in 1939, he could not be placed with the Royal Netherlands Navy (KM). After a conversation with Prof. dr. ir.  J.L. van Soest, the latter ensured that Van Batenburg would strengthen the future RVO-TNO in the PTT building on Binckhorstlaan starting from January 1, 1946.

Because Van Batenburg had not completed his full officer training, he was seconded there as a sergeant. In conversations with (reserve) officers, he therefore often appeared in civilian clothes. Soon he managed to become ranked as an officer with the Royal Netherlands Navy as he had designed the sonars for the Dutch naval ships. On his retirement, he had reached the rank of KLTZ 2OC. In 1955 he had been appointed deputy director of the RVO-TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory. 

The sonar speciality also brought him the directorship (1967-1972) of the NATO SACLANT Anti-Submarine Warfare Research Center in La Spezia, Italy.

After his return to the Netherlands, he became director of the RVO-TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory until his retirement.

To frame his farewell as director, on December 1, 1984, the annual celebration of the founding of the Laboratory, the various research groups competed in a set of games. A joker could be used to double the points when the group considered themselves unbeatable. This joker bore the portrait of Ir. M.W. Van Batenburg, adorned with a laurel wreath.

Ir. M.W. van Batenburg
Ir M.W. van Batenburg


Etching plate at farewell
Etching plate at the farewell in 1984

In recognition of the important importance he has had for the National Defense Organization TNO (RVO-TNO), the then Secretary of State for Defense J. van Houwelingen pinned on him the decorations belonging to the knighthood Knight of the Netherlands Lion. He had previously been appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Ir. M.W. van Batenburg (foto NURC)
ir M.W. van Batenburg (foto NURC)

Ir van Batenburg passed away in 2017.