First Mission

(draft version)

 

Tobias and Jan both landed safely and the distance between them was very small. While they were still descending they noticed a German nightfighter flying low over their drop zone, however they were not noticed. They carried a homing pigeon with them to let SOE know they had landed safely. Back on the ground the bird was still in excellent shape. After they had checked the terrain, they buried their parachutes into a ditch, but burying the basket with radio equipment wasn't so easy. So they decided to bury it on a piece of waste land, 30 meters from a hedge and 10 meters from a trail. They camouflaged the spot so it became part of the rest of the field. At about four in the morning they left the drop zone and after having walked for about a mile they decided to take a break and wait for daylight. Jan appeared to be very tired and feel asleep right away till the sun came up. A little later, at about a quarter to eight, they released the homing pigeon and started walking again. At nine in the morning they reached the village of Etten where they took the bus to Breda. In Breda they wanted to take a train that would take them to Santpoort, to their safehouse, but they have to wait a while for the train to arrive. In the mean time they went to the restaurant in the trainstation and since both of them were hungry the ordered a bowl of soup. After finishing the first one they wanted another one and Jan shouted in English "WAITER!". The Germans who were also present in the restaurant didn't notice this blunder and so they were able to continue their journey to Santpoort where they arrived around half past two in the afternoon. From the trainstation they walked to the house where Tobs' mother was living, 99 Kruidbergerweg, this was their safehouse. Mission Draughts had started.

The purpose of mission Draughts was ambiguous, Tobias had to act as a liaison officer between London and the underground press in Holland and he had to take care of the distribution of propaganda materiaal to the German occupying forces in the Netherlands. To be able to carry out the first task he had to find and organize droppings fields and reception committees in order to receive material from England that was needed by the underground press. An other thing Tobias had to do was to find out what had happened to SOE agent Johan Grün, also known as BRUTUS. Grün was sent to Holland somewgere in october 1943 with the same task as Tobias, to contact the underground press. London had lost contact with him and had the idea that he had been arrested after getting in touch with a certain George van Vliet, the alias of George Ridderhof who had been exposed as a German counter espionage agent and traitor. Tobias also had to try to get in touch with Dutch forced labors in Germany who had to carry out epsionage and sabotage activities.

The next day after arriving in Santpoort, Sunday 2nd of April 1944, Tobias contacted local police sergeant De Vries and his friend Anton Bangma who also lived in Santpoort. They had to inform him about the current situation in Holland and tell him about the changes that had taken place while he had been away in England, specially about new measurements taken by the Germans, like adding a new stamp on the identity cards.

Tuesday April 4th 1944, Tobias contacted Adriaan de Bak (or de Back), editor of the underground newspaper 'Je Maintiendrai'. Tobias gave him the assignment to get in touch with all underground newspapers and to act like a cut-out between them and him. Tobias also handed to him the rubber printing plates which he had brought from England, containing a message from Queen Wilhelmina to her people. This message was then printed in all underground newspapers.

Wednesday April 5th 1944, Tobias met Cor van Paaschen, chief editor of 'Je Maintiendrai' and together they travelled to Mr. Harry Holla in Vught who was in touch with a lot of resistant movements in the southern part of occupied Holland. 

Thursday April 6th 1944, Tobias tells Cor van Paaschen, whom he given the alias PIETER DEKKER (in fact Pieter Dekker was an uncle of his mother, living in North-Holland), to organize the transportation of the buried radio equipment from the drop zone to Santpoort. Both of them travelled by bicycle on Black Friday, April 7th, to the drop zone near the village of Etten. Arriving at the field at half past five in the afternoon they nocticed men who were plating patatoes. They decided to retrieve the readio equipment that same night and move it to Breda where Cor knew some friends who could be trusted. Due to the fact that is was Black Friday it seemed impossible to get a place to sleep in the nearby monastery 'Klein Zundert', so they spent the night in the open air close to the patato field. During the night they tried with bare hands to dig up the basket containing the wireless sets, but in vain, it seems gone. They managed to find pieces of the packing and a small empty gunny bag. After sunrise they borrowed a shovel from a nearby farmer and started digging again to find the basket, but again in vain, everything had disappeared. So Tobias and Cor went to Rijsbergen by bike and took the train to Breda. From Breda they travelled by train to The Hague and spent the night at the house of Cor's fiancée Jos Gemmeke, 119 Amalia van Solmsstraat.

Saturday April 8th 1944, Tobias introdices Cor to his wireless operator Jan Steman. They unpack the bags both of them took along and decided to hand over its content to Cock van Paaschen, but only one one codition, he had to stop working for the underground newspaper 'Je Maintiendrai' and concentrate fully on his new assignment. By doing so Cor became the organizer of mission Draughts-2. Tobias had brought 50.000 Guilders with him from the Dutch Government, he gave 5000 Guilders to Cor to be able to pay for his underground activities and he gave 5000 Guilders to Jan for personal use. The rest of the money went to Adriaan de Bak, who together with Cor, would divide the money over those underground newspapers which had not yet received any financial support from the Government in exil in London. Jan trusted Cock immediately but is very sorrow over losing his radio equipment.

Easter Sunday April 9th 1944, Tobias again travels to Mr. Holla in Vught. This time he want to discuss him leaving Holland for England because he has no contact with London anymore after losing the wireless sets. He also needs to find a dropping field and organize a reception committee, this will enable the possibitity to drop material for the underground newspapers, but it also enables SOE to drop new wireless sets for Jan Steman. Mr. Holla knows about an Orde Dienst (resistance organization) field that is still in use. Tobias however refuses to use this field because he doesn't trust the Orde Dienst organization, he believes it's infiltrated by the Germans. Tobias wants Mr. Holla to get him in touch with someone who is able to organize a reception committee. That same day Tobias travels back to The Hague.

Easter Monday April 10th 1944, on this day Tobias travels from The Hague to Arnhem where he meets 'MAARTEN' alias of Frans Goedhart alias Pieter 't Hoen. He is one of the Chief Editors of the underground newspaper 'Het Parool'. By talking to him Tobias hopes to find out what has happened to 'BRUTUS'. However 'Maarten' is not able to give any information about him, or abouts agents called Van Vliet, Van Dam or Brandy. He had only heard about a certain Bram van Oord who lived in a village called Doorn and here BRUTUS had stayed with him for a while. However there was no trace of Bram van Oord to be found, he had also vanished. Adriaan de Bak was able to tell by a person description that he had met BRUTUS. Mr. Holla was able to tell Tobias that BRUTUS had made a crash landing in Belgium, that he had stayed in Doorn and that he had managed to get in touch with members of the underground press in Holland.

Tuesday April 11th 1944, Tobias meets a man called 'THEO'. Slender build, length 1.77 m, fair hair, wearing glasses, pale complexion and blue eyes. Age 26 or 27 years old, had been a printer and was wearing a striking hat. His real name was Erik Berding, head of the Amsterdam Identity Card Central, an underground organization which was producing false papers including Identity Cards. He was able to give Tobias information about Gestapo agents and they would meet again in the railway station of Ermelo on April 13th. After this meeting Tobias returns to Vught where he meets father Hubertus in the house of Mr. Holla. Father Hubertus had travelled all the way from Belgium to organize Tobias' return trip to England. Late in the afternoon Tobias travels back to The Hague. Here he stays in the Peace Palace where Cor is living (his mother is the care taker of the building) and witnesses the RAF attack on House 'De Kleykamp'.

Wednesday April 12th 1944, After an eventful evening the night before, Tobias explains to Cor how to write a so called 'innocent letter'. This are secret messages written in letters or on postcards that look like an ordinary message and they are send through neutral countries like Sweden and Switzerland to England. In this way agents are able to let SOE in England know what is going on. That same day an 'innocent letter' is mailed to Sweden to let London know why Jan wasn't able to contact them by radio. Tobias asks Cor to send such a letter each week to keep London informed. Later that day Tobias travels back to Santpoort where he composes an 'innocent letter'on behalf of Jan and this one is mailed to Switzerland. In the meantime Mr. Holla was able to get a fake identity card for Jan complete with a recently introduced stamp.

Thursday April 13th 1944, Tobias travels from Santpoort to Amersfoort where he meets Cor in the railway station. Together they travel to Ermelo to meet 'THEO' but the later one doesn't turn up and so Cor and Tobias take a very expensive taxi to the village of Putten where friends of Cor areliving who are also working for 'Je Maintiendrai'.

Friday April 14th 1944, Both friends travel from Putten to Vught where they meet again with Mr. Holla. After a while 'THEO' appears too and explains why he didn't turn up the day before. He just didn't trust the situation in the railway station in Ermelo. He hands over to Tobias several documets, including original German permits. He wants SOE to make copies on the condition that he gets copies as well for his own use. Theo also possesses a wireless set that was mend to get operational in Zeeland in the south-west of the country, but if Tobias needs it he can have it. They agree that Jan and Cor will inspect and collect the set in Eindhoven on the April 18th. That same day Tobias travels back to Santpoort to contact policeman De Vries and asks him to investigate what has happened to to the buried radiosets on the dropping field near Etten in Brabant. He gives him some money to be able to carry out this investigation. 

Sunday April 16th 1944, Tobias again travels to Vught where he meets Anton van der Braak who will form a reception committee. He lives in a village called Esch and is a good friend of Mr. Holla. He had already done a great job in helping Jews to go underground. He is a very smart country man and knows lots of people who are willing to give Jews a place to hide for the Germans. He also helps people who are hiding Jews to get extra food for their 'guests'. He has got a strong sense of security and knows what he is doing, this is the kind of man Tobias is looking for. Together with Cor her visits several fields that might be used as dropping fields and explains to Cor what the requirements for a dropping field are. He must only select people for the reception commitee he fully trusts. Tobias observes one of the candidates from a distance, it was a civil servant from the Esch community. Tobias did not know his name, but is it likely that this man was Giel Konings who worked in the townhall of Esch.

Monday April 17th 1944, Tobias travels by train from Vught to Eindhoven and futher by bike to a village called Reusel. Here he meets mr. A.A. Willekens the former Burgomaster of Reusel and he tells him about his plan to leave Holland soon. His departure is now set for April 19th. 

Tuesday April 18th 1944, Cor and Jan travel together to Eindhoven to inspect 'THEO' radioset and it turns out it didn't generate enough power to reach England. The engineers are able to build a stronger version, but it will take them a long time to 'organize' the components. Tobias advises Cor to take it easy and wait for the result in due time.