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The Dutch Underground

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Mussolini, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    There seems to be more non-WW2 discussion on these forums these days, so I thought I'd do my part in steering away from modern politics/modern wars/Trump/Hillary etc and go with a WW2 themed topic.

    I have been reading 'A Bridge too Far' by Cornelius Ryan. It happens to also be one of my favorite WW2 Movies which is part of the reason I decided to finally get around to reading the actual book. I am getting quite close to the end and have recently read a part on the Dutch Underground.

    I find it quite interesting that the Americans seemed to have no qualms about having the Dutch Underground help them during Operation Market Garden. I believe they even gave them some weapons to help out and used them as guides etc.

    Now, the British on the other hand seemed to, quite frankly, not give a rats ass about the Dutch Underground. The Dutch offered to help and were quite frustrated when told to stand down, despite it appearing that they could have been quite useful during Market Garden.

    I understand that the greatest turn-coat action took place in the Netherlands - every agent was captured and turned against the Allies for quite a long period - but that didn't get as far as the reistance fighters, who were apparently the best organized of all underground resistance groups during the War.

    Part 1: So why, even when on the ground, did the British continue to refuse their help? Why didn't they have something in place to help vet the reliability of the reports, especially when they had no communication due to faulty radios? If the Americans were perfectly happy using the Dutch Underground, why not the British?

    Part 2: This one borders along a 'what if' line...but 'what if' the British had relied on the Dutch Underground, considered their reports legitimate (thus alerting them to the situation on the ground with the Paratroopers much earlier, along with what German forces were in the area), and used their aid to combat the Germans?
     
  2. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    If I recall, weren't their Jedburgh teams dropped alongside the advancing force in Nijmegen, Eindhoven and Arnhem. I would think they were vetted then. The British just didn't seem to trust the Dutch Resistance cells believing that they were compromised by the Germans.

    This was just one component of the overall failure of the plan. The lack of tactical planning (drop zones, terrain, recon) and execution of the operation, among others, was also to blame. Perhaps if they believed the reports they may have delayed, gathered more intelligence on the buildup of forces. I don't think that would of made a difference. It seemed there was a perfect storm of issues not even counting the many that the Allies could not have predicted.
     
  3. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Mussolini - time for a LONG answer lol...

    There were three separate strands of "resistance" in Holland; the SOE-networked resistance group(s)...that almost from Day One were totally compromised by Hermann Giskes' "Englandspiel". Over a number of years this penetration of the Soe netoworks got SO bad that they were being run by the Germans entirely, with the British dropping huge amounts of arms and munitions, money and food into German hands!

    But there had long been a "turf war" in London between these SOE-networked groups....or rather their unknowing UK-end representatives in the SOE - and the four separate "royalist" resistance groups that reported directly to the Dutch government-in-exile. There were two large nationwide ones, and two smaller, almost family-based ones in several of Holland's smaller fishing ports. These were funded by the Dutch government in exile, and were hampered greatly by the British' refusal to work with them, supply them radios etc. - and as an example of their ingenuity, tog et round this otherwise major problem they actually managed to reconnect the broken submarine cable links across the North Sea, so they were in phone contact with the Dutch government in exile!

    Third major strand was the whole support network behind the "onderduikers", the nearly a quarter of a million working men and their entire families who went underground. moving from safe house to safe house, sometimes for years....rather than be transported as forced labour to Germany. This movement, also loosely run by the Dutch government, worked with secretly loyal Dutch civil servants and police, and counterfeiters LOL...the later providing huge numbers of forged IDs and forged ration books for feeding so many people - while the loyal civil servants provided the fake personnel records backing them up etc.

    But as of 1944, and D-Day - the problem with the British not trusting the "royalist" Dutch underground was that some months after D-Day Giskes had kept the Englandspiel going....until he suddenly closed it down with a broadcast to the SOE :) And a mass arrest of those unknowing Dutch members of the compromised resistance groups. So instead of choosing to "adopt" the royalist groups that had done so much...the thoroughly embarrassed British instead ordered that ALL Dutch resistance groups be ignored! Until the SOE could manage to build up a replacement network in the still-Occupied part of Holland, that is.

    Thus the British chose to ignore the valuable information provided by the royalist Dutch resisters prior to MARKET GARDEN...and chose to ignore any help they offered during it. The Americans had no such qualms :)
     
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  4. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    (And of course...given the vast amount of munitions the SOE delivered straight into German hands in Holland for several years - I've always wondered if the SOE demolition charges used by von Stauffenberg on July 20th 1944 were in fact part of this particular booty...?)
     
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I have read about this before some time ago, but thanks for refreshing those memories! More or less on topic: We used to have a family friend, gone for some time now, who parachuted into Holland when his B-17 was hit by flak. When he landed a local farmer took him in, hid him in a closet in his house and said he'd be back with the resistance to take him away to safety. The problem was the farmer returned with German soldiers resulting in him spending over a year in a Stalag with a very scary foot march around Germany during the last two weeks. It seems Holland had its share of turncoats too.
     
  6. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'm assuming that intelligence was shared between the Anglo-Americans? Wouldn't the British have passed on their fears to the US, telling them that the Dutch are not to be trusted?

    If not, why did the US not tell the Brits that the Intel etc was good?

    Its certainly arguable that even with Dutch help, that the outcome might not have changed, but in the book it does mention that there were a lot of Dutch Resistance members in the area that could have bolstered the British, or informed them of German positions etc. And the use of the Dutch Telephone lines - the Dutch had secured means of communicating over them and in those important hours, the opportunity was passed up (and was ironically how the stranded troops got in contact with HQ later on in one instance). In fact, it was via the Dutch Telephone lines that back in the UK, word of what was happening first trickled through.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It may have come down to word of mouth and personal experiences. Patton apparently made extensive use of the French Resistance in the breakout. Word this may have inspired other American commanders to make use of resistance fighters that they came in contact with. Not sure what word was coming down from upper echelons either.
     
  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    The British were officially ordered not to cooperate in any way. The mid-war "turf war" had been bad enough - the "royalist" networks constantly attempting to alert the SOE to what was going on in Holland - but the SOE managed to get ALL Dutch resisters branded reliable if not traitors...thus ALL their intel was dubious if not actual disinformation. basically the SOE tried for months to sweep their embarrassment under the carpet. A pretty shameful episode, all in all, that began at heart with a complete breakdown in the SOE's own security arrangements - not recognising that "security keys" in wireless messages were missing, that the sender's "fist" was different etc...and thus to cover their own arses they had to brand ALL Dutch resisters.
     
  9. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Monty also refused to use the services of Dutch army command. A exercise for graduating from the army high command school used the very problem of Market garden. There were two solutions, the one Monty chose would have resulted in failing the exam. I believe this is from a Bridge too far
     
  10. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    You are correct. I finished the book yesterday - a very good read if you have not read it yourself.

    The Dutch were not part of any of the planning stages. If they had been, they would have used different landing zones (knowing the areas first hand and all) that were closer to the bridges.

    Part of the pre-war Dutch military test was, I believe, an attack from the direction of Nijmegen bridge to Arnhem, which involved that raised road. If you went directly down the road (what Monty planned) you failed the test. If, halfway or so along the road, you hooked and left and then made a right etc, coming in eventually from almost behind Arnhem, you passed the test. Monty failed the test. It was something the Dutch had run excercises on prior to the outbreak of the war.

    Which, itself, baffles me as well - why didn't they use Dutch advisers to help them with the plan? Much better than relying on maps and photographs (which were often outdated and irrelevant or completely ignored in this case) and perhaps could have changed things?

    The book was quite good with how detailed it was and how Cornellius interviewed hundreds of veterans from both sides but only published stories that could be verified or were not 3rd party. For instance, the Ferry the Polish were meant to use to get to the trapped Paras in Arnhem...no one could find it. A day or two afterwards, the Dutch Resistance were able to find it a mile or two downriver. The cable had somehow been cut (most likely by artillery fire as there is no German documentation on any order given to cut the wire and no Germans who were interviewed ever mentioned anything about the Ferry) which had sent it down river into some bushes by another bridge. It was large enough apparently for 3 Tanks to fit on, so it makes you wonder what might have happened if not for the bit of bad luck...

    Speaking of ferries, there was another Ferry that the Allied Forces seemed completely oblivious too and which the Dutch were somewhat surprised by, as it would have allowed elements of the XXX Corps to cross the river while waiting for a bridge to be secured/built across it. It may have been the Diel Ferry but I could be wrong. It was completely overlooked in all planning phases even though it was roughly 6 miles away from some of the other objectives. As the operation began, the Dutch Civilians were constantly using it and it wasn't until much, much later (and beyond its effective use) that it was finally 'discovered' by the Allies. Again, I wonder if Dutch Advisers would have pointed it out during the planning stages.
     
  11. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    His best historical narrative IMO.

    Loved the Longest Day and The Last Battle as well but ABTF takes the cake. There are many other works out there with deeper research and a modern take, but his books are timeless and an engaging read.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    If you want the German side of the battle, read It Never Snows in September by Robert J. Kershaw. It's an interesting read and I feel a "must" for anyone who wants to really understand M-G and what went on in Holland during the battle.
     
  13. Leon Gebbing

    Leon Gebbing New Member

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    When the British soldiers came into Arnhem. Both sides my grandparents lived there. My grandfather on my mother's side was first aid person. He was very excited when he realised the British soldiers had come. From what I know from stories and readings of a Dutch book called Arnhem 44/45. Heavy fighting had broken out between the British and the Germans. A first aid station was set up in a girls domestic school (Huishouldschool on the Rinjkade, the roadway along the bank of the Rhine, adjacent to the bridge and running under it) . My grandmother did not want my grandfather to go and help the wounded British soldiers it was too dangerous she said you have four children at home to look after. My grandfather did go and help at first aid station. A number of wounded British were treated at this first aid station. On September 19th my grandfather Jan Mielekamp brothers H and J Smit, C.J Veldhuizen and Doctor J Zwolle were summarily executed by the Germans, there was apparent reason other that they were helping wounded British soldiers
     

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  14. Leon Gebbing

    Leon Gebbing New Member

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    Another good book is from P.R.A Van Iddekinge called Arnhem 44/45
     

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