An estimated 1,800 Dutch citizens attempted to escape to England during World War II. The majority chose to travel via neighbouring countries, while a minority went straight across the North Sea. Many different vessels were used and at least 204 people made the crossing successfully. Most of the attempts were made in 1941 when the Dutch coast was still somewhat accessible. One crossing from Scheveningen was undertaken on 16 March 1941: seven young fishermen from Scheveningen journeyed to England on the shrimp barge Anna KW 96. All of them subsequently enlisted in the Royal Netherlands Navy and survived the war. Four Engelandvaarders (Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema-aka Soldier of Orange, Chris Krediet, Peter Tazalaar and Bob van der Stok) started Contact Holland as a way of improving contact between London and the Dutch resistance. Reliable radio communications were crucial. Dutchmen who had previously ventured across the North Sea as Engelandvaarders were trained as secret agents, ready to return to the Netherlands armed with instructions and Morse code equipment. These secret agents then had to be dropped off on the coast of Scheveningen along with radio gear. Hazelhoff Roelfzema, Krediet and Tazelaar carried out two landings off the coast of Scheveningen during the winter of 1941-42. A number of agents were arrested in the spring of 1942; Anton van der Waals, the most significant Dutch traitor in World War Two, played an important role in this. The Allied secret agents were captured and forced to continue to communicate with England through messages written by the Germans. This was the start of the Englandspiel. Not realising that the agents were sending their messages while in the enemy’s clutches, the British continued sending secret agents to the continent. Upon arrival in the Netherlands, they were immediately captured by the Germans. At the end of the war, most of the secret agents were deported from the Netherlands; 54 did not survive the Englandspiel.
Two of these men were captured respectively 80 and 81 years ago today on 9 March 1942 and 9 March 1943.
Thijs Taconis born in Rotterdam, on 28 March 28, 1914—Mauthausen, was a secret agent with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. On 15 May 1940, he arrived in England on a fishing boat. In January 1941 he travelled to Canada to enlist. On his return to England, he started his training with the SOE on 28 May 1941. After he was parachuted into the Netherlands on 7 November 1941, he was arrested on 9 March 1942. He was deported to Mauthausen via internment in Kamp Haaren. Here he was executed on 6 September 1944.
Pieter Arnoldus Arendse,
Born: 14 February 1912 The Hague. Dutch agent of the SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuted into the South of Ermelo and was arrested the same day 9 March 1943. He was executed on 6 or 7 September 1944, in Mauthausen.
The aforementioned Antonius van der Waals (Rotterdam, 11 October was a traitor and a spy for the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). He played a leading role in the Englandspiel, in which at least 83 resistance members were arrested, thanks to him. After the war, he was sentenced to death for this betrayal. Van der Waals was executed on 26 January 1950 on the Waalsdorpervlakte.