The grounds of the museum belong to the Dutch Navy, which means visitors can witness naval traditions all year round. The Navy Mids exercise here frequently and their traditional march through Den Helder, preceeding the yearly Assaut (ball), starts at the museum as well. In addition, swearing-in ceremonies take place at the museum. The grounds in front of the Bridge House are appointed official memorial grounds.
De Jongh’s Memorial Bench
The Memorial Bench of De Jongh is also placed in the memorial grounds. It is dedicated to the officer Johan August De Jongh who performed a heroic act on October 4th 1917.
That day the torpedo boat Hr. Ms. Pangrango left the harbour of Den Helder in stormy weather for a crusade. During the crossing from Westgat to Schulpengat, sailor Bartholomeus Bleije fell overboard. Without hesitation, officer Johan August De Jongh jumped into the violent sea. Although he just managed to push the drowning sailor on board, De Jongh drowned from exhaustion.
On October 20th De Jongh was buried with military honours in Amersfoort. To commemorate his act the Dutch Royal Association ‘Onze Vloot’ (Our Fleet) donated a memorial bench to the Navy.
Due to reinforcement works on the dike, the bench was broken down in the 1970’s and a simplified version was placed at the Navy Museum. The bench was rebuilt in 2013 and unveiled on June 6th of that year in the presence of the grandsons of the rescuer and rescued.
Shadows of light monument
At the monument ‘Shadows of light’ the yearly memorial of soldiers of the Dutch Navy who died in action and the civilian personnel of the Naval Forces Commando, is held on the last Thursday of May. The monument is produced by artist Caroline van ‘t Hoff-Hörchner.
The lightly bent wall forms a part of the circle of life. The three sculptured silhouette figures symbolize the deceased and the emptiness they leave behind. The waves at the top represent the sea and the wave of emotion that comes with death. The boat with three mourning people symbolizes the relatives who continue in life. The four pillars represent the four elements of nature; earth, water, air and fire. The three silhouettes stand for the Holy Trinity of heaven. Thus the numbers of four and three represent heaven and earth, or life and death.
The name of the monument, ‘Shadows of light’ is related to the effect of sunshine on the monument. “Although death can cause emptiness in human lives, there is room for beautiful memories. In the monument’s cast shadow, the light still shines at the silhouettes”, explains artist and designer of the monument Caroline van ‘t Hoff-Hörchner.