Major Jan Linzel- WW2 Hero.

Major Linzen

On May 5,2019 on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. One of the heroes who contributed to this liberation passed away aged 103.

Like me he was Dutch and like me he had a love for Ireland and we both ended up making this emerald isle our home. But where I am merely a simpleton ,writing about history. I could only aspire to even reach 10% of the man Major Linzel was. He a true hero.

The WWII veteran had moved to Ireland in 1978 after he, his wife Marianne and their teenage son began holidaying in Glengarriff , in Co Cork five years earlier and fell in love with the locality.

Major Linzen was the last survivor of the Royal Dutch Air Force that tried to repel the Luftwaffe when Germany declared war on the Netherlands on May 10, 1940

Born in  Stadskanaal, a town of the North Eastern province Groningen the Netherlands on December 7th 1915, He  always had a keen interested in flying and, after joining the Royal Dutch Air Force in May 1938, was attached to a fighter squadron at Ypenburg when Germany declared war on the Netherlands on May 10th 1940.

He shot down two German fighters before being hit himself and bailing out with a bullet wound in the leg.

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In an interview with the Irish Times , 3 years ago he recalled that ‘dogfight’, in his Fokker DXX1

“I saw the silhouette of an aircraft that I had never seen before… I then saw the German markings and gave a short burst – a very bright violent flame came out of its right engine and then black smoke – it went down straight away,” he recalled.

“I climbed up again and saw a large formation of Heinkels in the direction of the Hague – I dived down to on the hindmost right aircraft and fired everything I had at close range – I am sure I hit it but I did not have time to see the result.

“When I pulled away, a bullet came through the floor and exploded in my thigh – there was a lot of blood and I started to feel faint. I threw off the hood and bailed out – you have no idea how quiet it is when you are hanging in the air.”

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Landing in a field of cows, Major Linzel lay there wounded for almost two hours as a local dairy farmer reckoned he was a German paratrooper but when the farmer finally approached, Major Linzel told him that he was “as Dutch as your cows over there”

He was taken to a hospital together with some German pilots, were he was discharged after 6 weeks.

Undeterred, he joined the Dutch Resistance before making his way to Britain,via Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal,in 1943 where he joined the RAF with whom he flew almost 100 sorties.

Members of the Royal Netherlands Air Force gathered in a quiet country graveyard in West Cork on Thursday,May 9th.2019 to honour one of the last of their famous May Fliers who defended their country against the Nazis.

RIP

Majoor Linzel, Rust in Vrede en bedankt wat U voor uw Vadeland en Koningkrijk gedaan hebt.

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Sources

Irish Times

Examiner

Irish Sun

 

Mary Elmes-Forgotten hero

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Marie Elisabeth Jean Elmes (5 May 1908 – 9 March 2002)was an Irish businesswoman and aid worker who is credited with saving the lives of at least 200 Jewish children during the Holocaust by hiding them in the boot of her car.In 2015, she became the first and so far the only Irish citizen honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel which was in recognition of her work in the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

Born in 1908 at Winthrop Street in Cork, where her parents had a pharmacy, Mary Elmes studied French and Spanish at Trinity College Dublin

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and at the London School of Economics, before going to Spain in the 1930s during the civil war there, where she worked in children’s hospitals.

During the Holocaust, she helped save the lives of Jewish children at the Rivesaltes in the Pyrénées, which became a holding centre for Jews destined for concentration camps.In January 1943, she was arrested on suspicion of helping Jews escape and spent six months in a jail near Paris.

On her release, she returned to helping Jewish people escape the Holocaust.

It would take Prof Ronald Friend almost 70 years to identify the person who saved his life. Then, one morning in January 2011, an email popped into his inbox with a name. The woman who had extricated him from a detention camp during the Second World War was called “Miss Elms”.

He would later discover that her name was, in fact, Mary Elmes. Other details would follow. She was born in Cork City in 1908 and she had helped to save hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazi gas chamber.

(A 1943 school photo of Ronald Friend (middle row, 3rd from left) who was mixed in with local children at a school in the South of France. Mary Elmes extricated Ronald and his brother from the detention camp in 1942)

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He and his brother, then aged 18 months and five years old respectively, were two of those children. Although Prof Friend had spent years piecing together the details of his early childhood, this final piece of the jigsaw had always eluded him.

He had the end of the story, but not the beginning.

He had known, for instance, of his family’s near-escape over the Swiss border in 1942. His father Hans and brother Mario had made it to safety over the border. They turned back, however, when they saw that police had stopped young Ronald and his mother, Eva. They would all be detained at Rivesaltes, a notorious holding camp near Perpignan in the south of France.

He had evidence, too, that he had been spirited away to a safe house in Toulouse. He even met the French priest, Fr Louis Bézard, who had hidden him and his brother in a suitcase as they passed through Toulouse train station under intense Gestapo surveillance.

On 25 September 1942, Mary Elmes wrote to say that they were  going to be liberated the next day and taken to a Quaker hostel, or “colony”, in Vernet-le-Bains, called the Hotel du Portugal.

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The hotel is still there.” He and his brother were finally reunited with their mother Eva in 1947 but they found out their father Hans had been deported to Majdanek camp in 1943. He perished there.

On completing her studies Mary joined the University of London Ambulance Unit in Spain to help the innocent victims of the vicious ongoing Spanish Civil War. She was posted to Almeria in southern Spain to a children’s hospital that soon came under the administration of a Quaker humanitarian organisation the Friends Service Council. Almeria was bombarded by the German Navy in support of Franco’s fascists and Mary was moved further north to Alicante. Her organisational skills were obviously already evident as in Alicante she was put in charge of the hospital.

Mary Elmes -Spain 1938-Dorothy Morris and Juan

Things were no easier in Alicante as the fighting raged on and the town sustained one of the worst aerial attacks of the war in May 1938, this time at the hands of the Italian airforce when more than 300 civilians were killed. Despite the desperate circumstances Mary was committed to her work realising that though she may be able to leave, the children she was helping had no choice but to remain. Her commitment was such that even when her father died back in Cork she refused to return home as no replacement for her could be found. It was at this time that Mary began taking children from the war-torn city up into the mountains to offer some refuge from the fighting and the daily horrors they witnessed.

The Civil War came to an end in April 1939 and a mass exodus of half a million refugees began fleeing to France in order to escape the new nationalist regime. Mary and many of her colleagues went with them making the tortuous journey across the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. In France they may have escaped the fighting and reprisals but conditions were terrible. The French government had set up holding camps for the new arrivals close to the coast where they were hemmed in by barbed-wire. There was little shelter, no toilet facilities and food and provisions were simply thrown over the fence.

Realising that most of the refugees would not return to Spain as they had hoped the French government finally put in place more organised camps and by the end of May conditions began to improve. Mary set to work caring for the many children who had made the journey and spent much of her time trying to provide reading materials and some kind of education for children and adults in the camps.

At the same time Hitler’s Germany was making preparations for war and in September the Second World War began when the Wehrmacht invaded Poland.

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Many Germans who had fled to France from the Nazis were rounded up as illegal aliens and sent to the camps in the south and things went from bad to worse as the Nazis quickly overran France itself with thousands more heading for the camps. Mary Elmes was based at Camp de Rivesaltes near Perpignan 40km from the Spanish border. As the war progressed and more and more people were detained it would become one of the largest detention centres in France and conditions quickly deteriorated. Her main concern turned from providing books and education to simply keeping as many people alive as she could.

As an Irish citizen Mary was able to remain working at the camp when many of her British and American colleagues were forced to leave as their countries entered the war. As the war progressed the Vichy government began sending thousands of Jews to Rivesaltes to join the already overcrowded Spanish and others who were detained there.

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Its location on a barren plain near Perpignan left it open to the elements, unbearably hot in summer and freezing cold during the winter and many of those detained had only rags for clothes; malnutrition and disease became a serious problem.

It was at this time that Jewish prisoners began being sent to the Drancy camp near Paris

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and then on to Auschwitz where most of them would be murdered. Mary and her colleagues soon realised what was happening after receiving reports from elsewhere and they set about saving as many people as they could. Under the Vichy regime the government was prepared to allow children to be taken from the camp to stay in children’s ‘colonies’ elsewhere but their parents could not go with them. Mary went around the camp asking parents to let the children go in the hope of saving them from an even worse fate.

When the Nazis took full control in 1942 they also put a stop to children being removed from the camp and those who had already escaped began to be moved to safer locations high in the Pyrenees where they would not be found by the authorities. Mary also began taking children from the camp directly herself and smuggling them across the Spanish border in the boot of her car with the help of Dr Joseph Weill and Andrée Salomon two members of the Jewish Children’s Aid Society (OSE).

Mary Elmes was arrested in February 1943 and imprisoned in Toulouse and later Fresnes Prison near Paris but was released six months later. She continued her humanitarian work until the end of the war despite the huge personal risk to her own safety. It is estimated that she helped save the lives of more than 200 Jewish children during the war. When the war came to an end she married a Frenchman and settled in the south of France where she raised two children.

She wass awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest civil accolade for her efforts during the war but refused to accept it not wanting any attention for what she did. She often returned to Cork and Ireland to visit throughout her life and died in France in 2002 at the age of 94. On January 23rd, 2013 Yad Vashem recognized Mary Elisabeth Elmes as Righteous Among the Nations.

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The Beamish Brothers-Irish RAF heroes

Sometimes it is difficult enough to find a compelling story relating to WWII. But then there are times when you are having your lunch and are listening to a radio show.

On the Irish radio talk show, Liveline, a lady called in to talk about the ordeal her 98 year old mother had to go through in the A&E dept.(Accident & Emergency) in the local hospital. That story was compelling enough. However, yesterday there was a call back where the lady was asked how her mother was at the moment, then the story got a new twist. It emerged that the 98 woman was the widow of one of the Beamish brother and the sister in law of the other 3. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear how her husband had been but looking at the ages I presume it was Cecil.

Below is the story of the 4 brothers.

The 4 x Irish Beamish brothers (Victor, George, Charles, and Cecil) were truly remarkable as both sportsmen and RAF officers:

Group Captain Francis Victor Beamish  (27 September 1903 – 28 March 1942) was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War. After flying during the Battle of Britain he continued to lead fighter operations until he was killed in action in 1942

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Beamish was born at Dunmanway, County Cork on 27 September 1903 the son of Francis George Beamish and Mary Elizabeth Beamish. He attended Coleraine Academical Institution.

Of the 4 brothers he was the most decorated and well known.

Victor Beamish. Gp Capt Francis Victor Beamish flew in the Battle of Britain and became a ‘fighter ace’ by scoring 10 victories. Victor was station commander at RAF North Weald and RAF Kenley and was awarded the DSO (plus bar), DFC and AFC before being killed in action on 28 Mar 1942 leading the Kenley Wing.

Graduated from Cranwell 1923, retired from RAF on health grounds 1933, rejoined 1937, commanded 64 Squadron, AFC 1-1-38. Commanded 504 Squadron. Became OC North Weald 7-6-40 and flew operationally whenever possible.

He went to Canada on 22nd March 1929 on exchange with an RCAF officer. When he returned two years later he was posted to 25 Squadron at Hawkinge as a Flight Commander.

In January 1932 Beamish was appointed Personal Assistant to the AOC at Uxbridge. A year later he went into hospital at Uxbridge, suffering from tuberculosis, with the result that he had to retire from the RAF on 18th October 1933.
Very unhappy at this, Beamish got a job as civilian assistant at 2 FTS Digby, later returning to Ireland in 1936 to become civilian adjutant at RAF Aldergrove on 18th May. This was a non-flying appointment in the Air Force Reserve. Beamish was sufficiently recovered to be reinstated with full flying status as a Flight Lieutenant on 27th January 1937 and was posted to command 2 Armament Training Camp and Met Flight at Aldergrove. His comeback was complete when he was given command of 64 Squadron at Church Fenton on 8th December 1937. He was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1938) for establishing the Met Flight.
After a course at RAF Staff College, Andover, he took command of 504 Squadron at Digby on 13th September 1939. He returned to Canada in mid-January 1940 on Air Staff duties but, back in the UK, he took over RAF North Weald on 7th June 1940. Beamish flew operational sorties with his station squadrons whenever he could.
On 18th June he claimed two Me109’s destroyed, on 9th July a Me110 damaged, on the 12th a Do17 shot down, on 18th August a probable Ju88, on the 24th a Do17 damaged and on the 30th two probable Me110’s. On 6th September Beamish claimed two Ju87’s, on the 11th a probable He111, on the 15th a share in a He111 and on the 18th and 27th probable Me109’s. He damaged a Me109 on 12th October, probably destroyed one and damaged another on the 25th and probably shot down another on the 30th.

On 7th November 1940 Beamish collided with P/O TF Neil of 249 Squadron whilst on patrol and made a forced-landing at Leeds Castle in Kent. In all his sorties in 1940, he was damaged by enemy action three times, on each occasion getting his aircraft down safely.
On 11th November 1940, Italian aircraft based in Belgium attempted a raid and Beamish claimed a probable CR42 biplane fighter.

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Two days later he damaged a Me109 near Dover.On 10th January 1941 he shot down a Me109 over the Channel. Beamish was posted to HQ 11 Group on 17th March 1941.

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He was back in action later that year and claimed a probable Me109 near Mardyck on 9th August 1941. He was awarded a Bar to the DSO (gazetted 25th September 1941).

On 25th January 1942 Beamish went to RAF Kenley to take command and again flew with his squadrons. With W/Cdr. RF Boyd he took off on the morning of 12th February ‘to see what was happening on the other side’. After chasing two Me109’s, they saw part of the German Fleet making its ‘Channel Dash’. The ships had been reported ten minutes earlier by two pilots of 91 Squadron but the news was received with complete disbelief at 11 Group. Beamish’s confirmation was enough to set in motion a series of uncoordinated attacks on the German fleet.

On 13th February Beamish had a share in the destruction of a He115 over the Channel. On 9th March he claimed a Fw190 destroyed and another on the 26th, as well as a Me109.

Leading the Kenley Wing and flying with 485 (NZ) Squadron on 28th March, Beamish saw a force of Me109’s and Fw190’s a few miles south of Calais. He turned the Wing towards them. In the ensuing engagement Beamish was seen to be attacked and damaged by a Me109. He requested a vector over the radio and was last seen entering a cloud near Calais. It is presumed that he crashed into the Channel, possibly wounded and perhaps unconscious. He was 38 years old.

In May 2016  the life of RAF Spitfire ace Victor Beamish was celebrated during the Listowel Military Tattoo in a small town of Listowel Co.Kerry Ireland, where a replica of Victor Beamish’s Spitfire was revealed.

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Air Marshal Sir George Robert Beamish,(29 April 1905 – 13 November 1967) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force from the Second World War to his retirement in the late 1950s.

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Prior to World War II, whilst Beamish was in the RAF, he was a keen rugby union player, playing for Leicester and being capped 26 times for Ireland and was selected for the 1930 British and Irish Lions tour. He was also the chairman of the RAF Rugby Union and an Air Force rugby selector.

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Group Captain Charles Eric St John Beamish (23 June 1908 – 18 May 1984) was an Irish rugby player and Second World War RAF pilot.

 

He gained 12 caps for Ireland as a prop forward and also represented the British and Irish Lions  on their 1936 tour of Argentina.

Air Vice Marshal Cecil Howard Beamish(31 March 1915 – 21 May 1999) was an Irish RAF officer, who served during the Second World war and was later Director of RAF Dental Services 1969–1973.

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He was the youngest of the Beamish brothers, he played rugby for London Irish, the Barbarians and the RAF.

 

All 4 brothers had also been members of the RAF Golf Association.

After the war, many returned home to be branded deserters.

Deserters were found guilty of going absent without leave by a military tribunal.

Their punishment came after the war when many of the soldiers headed home to Ireland.

They were barred from holding jobs paid for by the state, they lost their pension rights and many faced discrimination. In 2012 the Irish government apologised for the way they were treated and in May 2013 a pardon a bill was passed it gave pardon and also granted an amnesty and immunity from prosecution to the almost 5,000 Irish soldiers who fought alongside the allies.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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