The Wartime Memories Project - The Netherlands - Holland



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The family Haenen who is living in LAAR in the south of the Netherlands wants to come in contact with the soldier in the photo or his family. He probably was with the royal artillery. He was billeted at their farmhouse in the fall of 1944.

Niek Hendrix



I have a amateur film showing Brigadier Gerald Lathbury after his escape from the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Arnhem in sept.1944. This film was probably taken during his stay at the Joannahoeve, a farm just outside the town. There is also a another soldier with him named John Hock. Would it be possible to find some information about him?

Sacha Barraud



The Family Stroeks who lives on the Leenderweg 31 in the place Heeze in the south of the Netherlands (near Eindhoven) are looking for these men in the photo. End 1944 or begin 1945 these English men stayed at their house. They can remember that one of the men was called Freddy. He is the man standing with the children in front of the tank. They stayed there for quite a while. They had very good contact with this family. After they left for probably Arnhem there were rumours that there tank was shot up at Arnhem But nobody could confirm that. The children would very much like to know what happened to them. They were probably from the 4th armoured brigade. If you have any info at all please send an e-mail.

Niek Hendrix



Ernest Hamlett

HAMLETT, ERNEST, SIGNALLER

NO.4462122, P.O.W. No. 118075 BRITISH 1ST AIRBORNE DIVISION,

1ST BATTALION, BORDER REGIMENT,

19 PLATOON, D COMPANY

On June 23, at 2.00 p.m., at the Billy Bishop Legion in Vancouver, Canada, Ernest Hamlett was remembered by family, friends and veterans. He passed away at George Derby Centre, a long term care facility for veterans, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, on May 27, 2002 (Memorial Day U.S.A.).

In 1939, Ernest Hamlett was called up and posted to the Durham Light Infantry. He was based at Palace Barracks in Belfast for six months training and later transferred to the 1st Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, Border Regiment at Carlisle, on the border of England and Scotland. Here, he became a member of HQ Company's Signal Platoon and served as a signaler in 19 Platoon, D Company, serving in Italy, Sicily, North Africa and Arnhem in Holland from 1940 to 1945. He was one of the few remaining veterans of the historical "Arnhem Drop", as chronicled in Cornelius Ryan's, A Bridge Too Far.

At Arnhem, in September 1944, the 1st Airborne Division arrived by gliders. On Tuesday 19th, Lieutenant John Bainbridge was ordered to move his men to a crossroads north of Heveadorp to observe and report on any enemy movement heading eastwards towards lower Oosterbeek. Due to heavily wooded terrain, the number 18 wireless set did not operate properly, and Hamlett was unable to contact Company HQ, based a mile away, to confirm that they had arrived at the destination.

The next afternoon, a German armoured car, and infantry was observed moving towards No. 19 Platoon's position from a westerly direction along the Oosterbeekscheweg, unaware that British opposition was dug in ahead of them. Once within range a PIAT destroyed the armoured car with a single shot, while a Bren gun caused the infantry to disperse into the woods. As this action had exposed the Platoon, they could no longer observe enemy movements on the road, so Lieutenant Bainbridge divided his men into two groups and ordered a phased withdrawal back to D Company. Hamlett and Ron Graydon ran down the road together, eventually meeting up with C Company, before being able to return to D Company later that night.

Communications continued to be a problem for the signalers because of the terrain. When in a slit trench, Hamlett tried in vain to raise a signal and, wondering if there was something wrong with the batteries, he asked a corporal for a relief while he went in search of batteries. The corporal changed places with him himself. As soon as this happened, the corporal took a direct hit inside the trench and was killed. Hamlett carried him to the casualty station, but he died within the hour.This troubled Hamlett for the rest of his life, as he had met the man's children only a few weeks before, and remembered giving his little girl chocolate.

During the battle, a mortar bomb struck Hamlett's foot and broke his ankle but, fortunately, it did not explode. "It didn't explode, Ron!" he had exclaimed to his signaller partner, Ron Graydon. He was captured on September 26 and sent to Stalag XIB, at Fallingbostel, Germany, traveling in a crowded, dark cattle rail car in appalling conditions, the men becoming so thirsty that they resorted to drinking their own urine. His ankle received no treatment but, despite the injury, he was made to work down the Bad Grund lead mine for the next seven and a half months. The mortar bomb had blown the gaiter of Hamlett's ankle when he was hit, and he had to find an old boot to support his swollen broken ankle so that he could work. If the prisoners did not work, they were not fed. All they were given to eat was thin cabbage soup, but a few of the overseers in the mine took pity on the men and slipped them crusts of black bread. For their compassion, the prisoners gave them the coffee from their Red Cross parcels.

A gentleman and a soldier to the end, Hamlett will best be remembered for having survived these hardships with his honour and sense of humour still intact as, even in these harsh circumstances, he would not allow his cheerful side to desert him and he did his best to raise smiles from those around him. There was a record player in the hut at the prison camp. After finishing his shift at the mine he would always put on the only record they had, called "Hail Smiling Morn!", to awaken the next shift who, in return, pelted him with their boots. Hamlett was described by fellow signaller, Private Ron Graydon, as being as brave and as fine a fighting partner as a man could wish for, always doing his best to find a cheerful perspective, no matter what the situation.

With the war almost at an end and American forces nearing the area, the Germans evacuated the prisoners from the mine and forced them to join a column of other workers who were marched eastwards for the next three days. The men were very weak and struggled to walk, and those who collapsed were shot by the guards, as were those who tried to help them. The Americans, furious at news of this atrocity, caught up with the column shortly after and the atrocities were avenged. Since being posted missing at Arnhem, Hamlett's family had received no word of his fate until he arrived on the front doorstep one day, carrying a Red Cross parcel, and totally emaciated. He had been "missing in action" for seven and a half months.

Hamlett was born at 37 Buxton Street, Manchester, on the 17th June1914. He was schooled at St. Andrew's in Great Ancoats and, at the age of eleven joined the 27th Manchester Division of Boys Brigade, based at Jackson Street in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. It was here, under the tutelage of Dan Griffin, that his life long passion for music began, being particularly fond of military music, brass bands, and the pipes; he learned to play the cornet, euphonium, piano, and percussion. Hamlett would go camping with the Brigade and developed an interest in outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, cycling, and sports, especially cricket. Leaving St. Andrew's at fourteen years old, he furthered his education by taking several night school courses. He became an officer in the Boys Brigade and he remained with them until his call up came at the age of twenty-six.

After the war, Hamlett joined the Territorial Army in Manchester and went on a parachuting course in Oxfordshire, where he earned his wings as a paratrooper. He served nearly three years with the Territorials. After being demobbed, he took work as a warehouseman at Sutcliffe's, Manchester, before leaving to become a salesman at Langden's in Liverpool who, amongst other things supplied tents and uniforms to the British military. A member of the Commercial Travellers Association, he specialized in blue jeans and was the first commercial traveller to introduce them into Britain after the war. He worked for Coopers (later Lee Coopers, and now Lee), before moving on to H. Varley, with whom he won the top salesman award several years running. Hamlett was always immaculately turned out, and achieved success as a salesman by being polite and honest, as opposed to being intimidating and pushy.

In 1958, Hamlett moved to Heald Green, Cheshire, where he lived until the mid 70s when, at the age of 62, he moved to Canada to be near his family. He immediately found employment at Edward Chapman's, an exclusive menswear retailer in Vancouver. A British Columbia resident for over twenty-five years, he served with the Commissionaire Corps in Victoria for thirteen of them, during which time the Lieutenant Governor awarded him two medals. Hamlett returned to Arnhem with his wife in 1994 for the 50th Anniversary where they resided with a family at Velp. He was ever a great proponent of the Dutch people.

He is survived by Anne, his wife of 62 years; son, Christopher; daughter, Jean; and grandson, Dane. The family wishes to take this opportunity to extend its sincere appreciation to the wonderful staff at The George Derby Centre, Burnaby, British Columbia, where he spent his remaining days. Anyone who remembers Ernest is invited to contact Jean James at jajames@direct.ca

Thanks to Mark Hickman at www.extraplan.demon.co.uk for help with this biography, and the information obtained from When Dragons Flew, by Stuart Eastwood, Charles Gray and Alan Green - a history of the Border Regiment, in which Hamlett is mentioned on page 134.

Copyright 2002 Jean James.


Submitted by his daughter, Jean James.

Can you help provide anty information on the 17 names on a 20 Reichmark note?



Wilf Oldham

16th September 1944

This particular Saturday my platoon, 12 platoon had to go in a nearby field potato picking, after an hour we had orders to go back to our billets for a church service and once again checking all the equipment, 24 rations etc. In my case I went over my Brengun, my magazines and all the rest of my gear that an Airborne soldier carries into battle. My platoon with many others was a Rifle platoon, further there was HQ, A,B,C and Support Company, each company had 2 medics. I believe at this date the Battalion was trained and fit as it is possible for any soldiers to be, probably in some cases nerves by now bad, had got a little strained with all this waiting, was this to be another false alarm?

Suddenly the long waiting was over and reveille had blown, wash, shave, last minute preparations, then Mr Royall, a well respected and liked platoon Officer gave the call. "Outside 12 platoon." Himself and Sergeant De Muyck our platoon Sergeant inspected us. I was Brengunner in Scout section, on count up, sadly to say 2 men had gone missing, these two men, whom I refer even after all these years not to name, had been trained as special snipers. I knew they were with us for breakfast but had gone absent. I believe they were the only two men in the Battalion who had disappeared, just how I never knew, just what had gone on in these people`s minds only they can give answer. These things happen sometimes without explanation.

17 September 1944

The flight and the first day of the landing I remember very well, also the next day and my escape are still in my memory, so I will try to put it down in writing.

We embussed at about 0800 hours, it was a lovely typical September morning, sunny and dry. Eventually we arrived at our take off drome, there the gliders were set out as if on military parade, two planes in position. After about an hour the order was given to get aboard, this was it, only part of the Battalion was to take part in the Sunday landings.

Now we were airborne and after getting into formation we then headed for the coast, it must have been a wonderful sight from the ground, wave after wave of tug planes and gliders and a huge army of fighter planes filling the sky to protect us from Ack Ack and German fighters. This they did in no uncertain terms.

My part of the flight was quite uneventful, we did hear ack ack burst but these were put out of action by the fighters. We next crossed the Dutch coast, a lot of land we flew over seemed to be flooded, this had been done by the Germans.

I should think the flight was about a few hours and about 1300hrs, word was passed from man to man that we had reached our landing zone. Suddenly all seemed to go quiet as we moved away from our tug plane, into a silent flight then a steep dive. We made a perfect landing, some gliders, sadly to say had made a crash landing, they hit trees causing a number of casualties, but looking round it had been a successful start to the operation.

Everyone at this time must have been in high spirits, it seemed too good to be true. Most of the glidermens job was to protect the landing zones ready for the huge parachute drop, shortly after the sky seemed to be full of parachutes. Whilst the rest of the Battalion dug slit trenches on the outer perimeter of the landing zone B Company as had already been briefed what to do, marched away to the west to capture Renkum, on the march we met very little opposition in the way of enemy, although our platoon shot up a German lorry with a number of soldiers aboard, most of them were wounded.

I gave a little girl a piece of soap, they had not had any proper soap for years and in in return she gave me a bottle of some sort of wine, a little incident that even to this day I wonder if this child remembers the exchange.

Our platoon dug in near the river not far from the brick works, the ferry was anchored at the opposite bank. Suddenly the ferry started up, I covered it with my Bren, it duly arrived at our side of the river and from it stepped 8 or 9 Germans with hands up in the air, surrendering. Nightfall came and we got a few shells dropped on us.

18 September 1944

During the morning the shelling and rifle fire plus mortars got much heavier and it seems that the enemy had surrounded us during the hours of darkness and cut us off from the Battalion.

By mid afternoon after a number of wounded and dead, the situation seemed rather desperate but I think about late afternoon, Major Armstrong the Company Commander got word to try to get back to the Battalion. I believe it was through the gallantry of Captain Joe Hardy and some of the signal platoon who managed to get word through to us, that they were responsible for B Company`s escape.

After about an hour we finally joined up with part of the Battalion, the only food we carried was what was known as an invasion pack and as far as I remember this was the only food available. I think the pack was meant to last 48 hours. Fortunately we managed to find a few apples and pears. On the subject of food, one incident I remember, feeling hungry, like most of us were, I`d gone on patrol down a lane when in the front garden of an unoccupied house I noticed some nice red tomatoes. Over the wall and when I reached for a couple, some jerry must have been watching me and a shot just went by my fingers and smashed the window. needless to say I didn`t bother trying to obtain any more toms.

Its now Monday, late afternoon and the 2nd lift that should have arrived early afternoon was delayed by adverse weather conditions and it would be late afternoon before they arrived and by now the enemy had brought up a lot more anti aircraft guns. They guessed that further landings and supplies would have to come in and they gave the Monday landings a real bad time.

B. Company then dug in near the gasworks and the area of Westerbouwing, shells mortars and machine gun fire was almost constant as well as SP Guns and a few tanks and we were moved from position to position until I personally lost track of most of the rest of the days.

By now we had lost a great part of B Company and the perimeter was getting smaller and smaller, the gallant band of men sent to capture and hold the bridge had now been overrun and things seemed to be going from bad to worse.

It seemed to myself that it was only a matter of time before by about day eight that we must surely be overrun. But fortunately about day five 21st Army group artillery was supporting us by laying down heavy barrages of shells on the German attacks, this was coming from British positions from the other side of the Rhine. It may seem strange that part of the time I can remember what happened but mostly its a blank.

As for air support, it was heart breaking to see aircraft flying over enemy territory as if they were on excerise and being shot down, most o of the supplies fell into German positions. Every pilot deserves a decoration for great gallantry. I ma led to believe that one aerodrome that was used for supplies in England that nearly all their planes were badly shot up.

As I said most of the mid days are very vague in my memory, I was dug in not far from the old church at Oosterbeek-low, under constant fire, on the second day there, my pack containing my razor, towels etc had been destroyed by a mortar bomb and I didn`t get a proper wash until getting over the river.

I clearly remember a few fast planes dropping supplies on the day of the same night of the withdrawal, this was to make the Germans believe that we were trying to hold out.

Each day of course we expected the 21st Army Group would be coming to rescue us, but little did we know what a terrible time they were having trying to reach us.

Mr Royall came to me and told me that Monday night, or was it Tuesday? that part of an infantry unit was to be ferried to our side as a diversion whilst we would withdraw over the river, not gold prospects for them was it?

Mr Royall took me to a position and gave me strict orders not to move from there and to be able to tell the troops the direction to make down the river, at the same time during the night, tracer shells would be fired from over the river and this trace of fire would be a guide as to the pathway to escape boats.

After what seemed a long long night, Mr Royall came and gave me the order to go to the river and try to get across, must have been half an hour before dawn, the river was being heavily fired on during this night, the Germans must have thought that troops were coming to help us, not us withdrawing. It rained most of this night and I think this helped us more than it hindered us. We were wet and hungry after about day two but by now all days and nights seemed to be welded into one.

I arrived at the riverbank and to my dismay there seemed to be about three or four hundred soldiers waiting on the river bank and it seemed only one boat was available, most had been destroyed with further loss of life, what to do now?

I saw Corporal "Nobby" Clark of my platoon and he suggested that we could try to swim across, but the river had a strong flood and although I could swim, I knew I never could make it. I suggested that we go down river to see if we could find anything to help get across. After a few minutes walk, by then there was a part of about 12 or 15 men, suddenly we saw a rowing boat, it had four oars, probably the diversion party`s. A scramble to get in the boat on reaching the otherside, we must have gone down stream about half a mile,#there must surely be German troops in this area, so we paddled back to where we hoped friendly troops were.

Suddenly we heard English Language, a Canadian soldier confronted us and when he realised who we were he directed us to more troops further back. By now it was daylight and another Canadian soldier took me to a shelter and although I hadn`t eaten for about 5 days, I couldn`t eat any food, but had a welcome cup of tea.

After about an hour, a truck loaded about 20 of us and took us back to Nijmegen. On arriving we were counted and name, rank and number noted, then taken I think to a school, there I joined up with "Nobby" Clark and we got down the corridor and had a sleep, still in wet and filthy clothes. We didn`t sleep long and as I woke up General Urquhart was walking towards us and he asked Nobby if there was anything he could do for us. Yes said Nobby, a razor, he told us shortly after we had dinner that we would be rekitted. This we got and that afternoon we went to hear General Browning tell us how badly things had gone but that the survivors of this so called Battle of Arnhem would be flown back to the UK in a couple of days.

The next day we went by trucks to a school just near Brussels, I think we stayed there two days then on to an airport, American C47`s were flying in supplies and one plane emptied its cargo and a number of us were loaded onto the plane to be flown back to Grantham in Lincs.

Instead of Grantham we landed near Woodhall Spa, and once more we were back in England, everyone was given two telegrams to send home, I sent one to my wife in Radcliffe and one to my mother in Bury, I think they were already typed out: "Back in the UK safe and sound", all we had to do was fill in the senders name and address they were going to. After a medical the next day we were sent home on leave.

Wilf Oldham

Submitted by Philip Reinders, The Arnhem Battle Research Group.



Michael Cambier

Michael was born into an Army family in Batavia on the 9th September 1921, the only child of Colonel and Mrs Valentine Cambier, his father being a regular soldier in the Indian Army. He was educated in England and gained a Degree in Mathematics at Oxford before being commissioned into the Royal Artillery.

He was posted abroad and reached Egypt in time to take part in the battle of El Alamien. Shortly afterwards he volunteered for parachuting and did his training at the Middle East Pararchute School and was posted to 156 Battalion which was the stationed at Jenin in Palenstine in early 1943. He first commanded a platoon in B Company and was with them in Tunisia and then Italy when 4th Parachute Brigade took part in the sea landing at Taranto, in the subsequent fighting Michael was mentioned in dispatches. On the Battalions return to England in December 1943 he took over command of the recently formed Anti Tank platoon in Support Company.

On the 18th September 1944, the second day of the Arnhem Operation, he was dropped with the rest of the 4th Parachute Brigade on Ginkel Heath. In the next 24 hours the battalion suffered very heavy losses in the attempt to reach Arnhem. Michael was slightly wounded in the foot on the 19th September, he refused to be evacuated and stayed with his platoon.

The last that his friend Ronnie Adams saw of him, he was busily engage in attempting to withdraw his 6 pound Anti Tank guns towards Oosterbeek, which was south of the main railway line to Arnhem. Such a move was difficult because the only culvert under the railway line was obstructed by a supply container with a chute that had "roman candled" and come into the culvert with part of the roof. The railway as being swept by enemy fire, the only alternative route open to Michael and his guns was to retrace their steps along the embankment to Wolfheze where there was a level crossing.

It would seem that like so many others he did not get to Wolfheze and the next we know of his progress is that he was taken with other wounded prisoners to the St Joseph Hospital in Apeldoorn some miles north of Arnhem.

On the 25th of September he was put on a hospital train bound for the Meurenberg Hospital camp. On this train he joined up with Lt Raymond Busel of A-Company of the 3rd Parachute Battalion who had been wounded in the arm. They decided to escape.

They made a hole in the carriage floor through which they dropped when the opportunity presented itself. They made their escape when the train was approximately 10 miles from a village called Bathmen, just to the east of the Dutch town of Deventer.

It was then the afternoon of the 26th September, they walked until they came to a farm. The woman who lived there was in the employment of a Mr Jamsen and she took them to his large house in Bathmen called "The Menop". they were to stay at this house for seven days during which they were given civilian clothes and had their wounds attended to by a local doctor.

On the evening of the 1st October, which was a Sunday, they were put in the care of a student from Amsterdam who was a member of the local resistance. He told Mr Jansen he would take them as far as the river Ijssel which was about seven miles from Bathmen, he hoped they would be able to cross the river and eventually reach the Allied lines. To do so however they would still have to cross the Neder Rijn and the Waal (both much more formidable obstacles than the IJssel) They were of course wearing civilian clothes, having left their uniforms behind at The Menop. They were not without Dutch money because Raymond Busselll had managed to exchange some of the money which had been issued to officers for use in the occupied territories for some Dutch guilders.

They were first taken by their guide to a small place called T`Joppe which was close to the IJssel. They did not stop there however but were taken to another farm called "Braankolk" in a small place called Eede which was further to the south and nearer to Zutphen, It was owned by the same family and was regarded as being safer.

They reached there on the 2nd October, having passed some German soldier on the way. On leaving the farm the next day, they were challenged by a German soldier who asked they for their papers. German soldiers were very much in evidence because they were busy building a defensive line to the East of the IJssel. the son of the farmer who was very young at the time says he can only remember three strangers walking round a shed. They were asked to produce their papers, which only the Dutch guide could do.

Michael and Raymond had been told to say "Verloren" which is Dutch for lost, if they were ever challenged and asked for their papers. The German had no idea that he was faced with two British Officers but he ordered them all into his vehicle and took them to a police station at Zutphen. Later they were transferred to the police station at Gorssel where a Dutch policeman released the student because he could find nothing wrong with his papers and in any event he was sympathetic to the cause.

Michael and Raymond had no reason at this stage to believe that they would be treated other than as prisoners. Had they done so they might have contemplated another break.

While they were still in the police station a Dutch member of the SD (Sicherheidsdienst) The German Security Police came into the station and when he discovered that the two men in civilian clothes were British Officer he informed his superior who was Untersturmfuhrer Ludwig Heinneman. When Heinneman heard that a Dutch Policeman had allowed the Dutch civilian to go free, he was immediately arrested and sent to a concentration camp from which he returned after the war a broken man.

On the 10th October Michael and Raymond were taken to the local SD headquarters, this was Villa T`Selsham at Vorden. Here they were interrogated by two members of the SD, one of whom spoke English. Both Michael and Raymond refused to give any other information than their name, rank and number. After interrogation they were taken downstairs and confronted by Heinneman who accused them of being spies and terrorists, their hands were tied behind their backs and they were told that they would be shot.

They were taken outside and shot in the head by Heinneman himself using a captured Stengun. They were buried in the lawn at the front of the Villa along with three Jehovah`s Witnesses who were also executed on the same day. The lawn was then set on fire to remove any trace.

On the 9th June 1945 members of the War Crimes Commission a former member of the Dutch resistance and some local civilians exhumed the bodies, Raymond Bussell still had with him the money he had exchanged with Mr Jansen, 57 guilders. Michael and Raymond were reburied in the General Cemetery at Vorden.

Before he left, Michael had given a letter to Mr Jansen to pass to the first British Officer he met, it was addressed to his mother. After the war Mr Jansen, unaware of Michael`s fate wrote to Mrs Cambier to enquire what had happened to him and heard the terrible news.

Ludgwig Heinneman was arrested on the 18th March 1946 and after a trial was executed by a firing squad at Arnhem on the 10th Feb 1947. He was found guilty of many War Crimes including the murders of some 70 people. He had nothing to say for himself except that he what his superiors told him to to, orders were orders.

Submitted by Philip Reinders, The Arnhem Battle Research Group.

who is indebted to Michael`s friend Ronnie Adams and former members of the Dutch Resistance who helped piece this story together.



I live in the Netherlands , born just before the war in 1937.

I very well remember that our family had to evacuate to friends in a village some 10 km from home. Here we lived with some 40 others in a shed and in cellars - protecting us from bombs.

When we returned home after 6 weeks the German soldiers were exchanged in Tommies. At our farm with 12 poultry houses, many English soldiers were housed. Food was available in any quantity - what a luxury. The Tommies called me Tjeemy , a name was long time used after the war.

Since the war I have a black box with the inscription : LT.Col.R.C. Stockley. Also is mentioned : telegraphic equipment.

Via the War Graves Commission I found out that Stockley is buried at the Groesbeek War cemetery here in Holland. Some 40 Km from the place where I lived. He died at an age of 37 years on 30th.November 1944. He was son of Brigadier General Hugh Stockley , C.I.E., Royal Engineers and of Edith Beatrice (nee Capel) of Oaksey,Wiltshire, England. He was married with Pamela K. Stockley of Englefield Green , Egham,Surrey, England.

It is my wish to come in contact with relatives and if they are interested in such souvenir, I am willing to return this box. How can I find these relatives ? Who can help me ??

Theo Philipsen


Update: The relatives of LT.Col.R.C. Stockley have now been found.Click here for details



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