Erna Heinen-Steinhoff is related to the Dutch national hero J.C. van Speijk (also spelt van Speyk) through her mother, Mrs Maria Trümmers. Jan Carlus Josephus van Speijk was born in Amsterdam in on 31st January 1802.
The explosion of gunboat No. 2 off Antwerp under the command of Jan van Speijk on 5 February 1831 (Martinus Schouman, 1832)
He served in Dutch East India (now Indonesia) from 1823-1825, where he fought at Bangka and Java. As a lieutenant of the Dutch Royal Navy, he commanded a gunboat which was tasked with blockading the harbour of the city of Antwerp, which at the time was in the hands of Belgian revolutionaries during the Belgian War of Independence.
Jan van Speijk discusses on 5 February 1831 whether the
fuse should be inserted into the powder.
Due to stormy seas, his ship was unable to manoeuvre and drifted towards the port’s quay, where a large crowd was waiting to board the ship. To prevent his ship from falling into the hands of the revolutionaries, van Speijk decided to blow it up in an act of desperation. His last words are thought to have been: “Dan liever de lucht in” - “I’d rather be blown up then”. He was killed by the explosion on his ship on 5 February 1831. 28 of his 31 crewmembers died with him.
The Netherlands declared an official state of mourning eight days after his death. His remains were then interred in the Nieuwe Kerk, which is the coronation church of the Dutch royal family.
Grab von J. van Speyk
On 11 February 1833, a royal decree was given that there must always be at least one ship in the Dutch navy bearing the name Van Speijk. Since then, 7 ships have borne the name. The lighthouse in Egmond aan Zee was designated as a national memorial to Van Speijk.