Helmond was liberated by British troops on September 25, 1944. The city soon turned into a rest centre, an army camp with maintenance troops where men and equipment could rest and refurbish. This required space, a lot of space. The British 171st Company, R.A.S.C. took up residence in the Helmond abattoir on the former Deurnescheweg.
What will follow are parts of a diary written by Date Pettinga, born on the 27th of June 1916 in Oldehove. During the Second World War he was stationed in the Dutch-Indies, where he took part in the fight against the Japanese. He joined the 12th Regiment Infantry as a conscript in 1936 and left the army one year later with the rank of corporal. However, in 1939 he returned to the military. He served as a soldier in Bandoeng, West Java, before he was transferred in 1939 to the first Infantry Battalion in Magelang, Central Java.
Even today, the Englandspiel is still considered one of the great mysteries of World War Two in the Netherlands. Between March 1942 and May 1943, dozens of agents, dropped by the British, fell in German hands right after landing on Dutch territory. They were deployed in a plan (Spiel) set up by the Germans giving the impression they were still operating in freedom while the British continued sending secret agents and material to the Netherlands. What was going on? Were the British secret services victims of a German deception or were the Germans being deceived themselves? What were the causes of the British incompetence? How could it take so long before the British found out what was really happening?
Seventy years ago I came in contact with two crew members of the shot-down American Boeing Fortress (number 43-37913): John Stevens and Stanley Johnston. About a whole lifetime has passed and of course throughout the years memories have been faded and some are completely lost. That is why it is interesting to compare my memories of what happened during the dangerous journey through German-occupied East-Holland with those of John Stevens. Through mediation of Jaap de Boer, a member of the workgroup "Seattle Sleeper", I was able to read John Stevens' report.
On the cemetery in Huelva, a village on the south coast of Spain, à major of the Royal Marines, William Martin lies buried since the end of April 1943. There have never been more than five people in the world who have known for sure who this man had really been.
To attack a neutral country like The Netherlands without immediate cause, even a warlord like Hitler thought to be too risky. He was industriously looking for a motive to be able to carry out his plans. This excuse took not long to come along and received its carrying out under the name of the so called Venlo incident.