Last Remaining 'England Sailors' World War II Veterans Meet For The Last Time
Ten World War II veterans from the Netherlands, who fled the country during Nazi occupation and came to England so they could fight against Germany, have met for their last ever reunion.
With the youngest of the ten now aged 95, the ten remaining veterans are part of a group of people who became known as the 'England Sailors', who came to Britain from the Netherlands to assist in the fight to liberate Europe from Nazi rule.
Refusing to accept a Nazi-occupied Holland, the Sailors set out on the dangerous journey across the North Sea in ill-equipped boats and just about else anything that would float. Some made the journey in nothing more than a canoe.
Thousands of people made the plight, but only one in ten sailors was successful.
Many sadly drowned or were captured or imprisoned, with some being killed before they even left the Netherlands.
Over 2,000 Dutch men and women are thought to have journeyed to England during the war so they could join the Allied forces in the fight against Nazi Germany.
Upon their arrival, the Sailors would be interrogated by the British Security Service to prove they were not spies. If he or she could prove they were part of the Nazi Resistance, they would be welcomed and trained to fight as an RAF pilot.
Some even became spies for the Resistance and bravely travelled back and forth between England and Holland more than ten times.
But now, according to Jos Teunissen of the England Sailors Museum in Noordwijk, this latest reunion, held at an estate in the northern city of Hilversum, will be the last.
Jos said: "All England sailors are now older than 95. It all gets a bit difficult to keep up all the good work of the society."
The Society of England Sailors will be formally disbanded on 1 January, 2019 and the England Sailors Museum (Museum Engelandvaarders) will take over its work.
Rudi Hemmes, the 95-year-old veteran and chairman of the society, said: "I'm extremely happy that the board of the museum will take over the responsibility for what we will leave behind."
Paul Bartelings, a board member for the England Sailors Museum, whose father was an England Sailor, said that many new facts about the England Sailors are still being discovered.
"We want the youth to keep on hearing about this. England sailors were patriotic and brave and not afraid to take risks. They gave everything to give our country its freedom back. The same freedom we are right now benefitting from."
Featured Image Credit: CEN