• De Lange Hut
  • Dear Tom,
  • It was such a nice surprise when Sgt Wallace brought me your note. I had read the letter from Dave to Thys so I knew you all got back safely but it was so nice to hear direct from you. Besides, Dave's letter was written in January and I didn't know what had become of you since. You're still in the Army I see, even a Sergeant now. Well done! At any rate, as far as I can remember, you were a corporal last October, weren't you.
  • MaesbergBB
  • And now I'll tell you in brief what happened to us after you left. You remember we had Jerries in the house. Well, after about 3 weeks of them we were suddenly driven out of the house by the SS and so was the whole of Schaarsbergen. They just did it to be able to loot all the houses. Everyone was driven out without even a moment's notice. But as we had the Wehrmacht in the house, the SS didn't dare to loot and the Wehrmacht told my father and mother to stay indoors quietly until the SS had gone, which they did, although the SS even threatened to shoot my father. I myself was out on a bicycle at the moment but I ran straight into a band of SS who were combing the woods and they marched me along for hours on end together with all the farmers in the neighbourhood (including Braafhart, the man who used to give you milk and who lived on the Harderwijkerweg). When it got pitch dark, they merely said with a wicked smile, 'It's a mistake. You can all go home again'. All the old people and children were dead beat, including little Dicky Braafhart, although I had let him ride on my bike in turn with the other kids.
  • I got home after 5 solid hours of marching and to me great relief found my father and mother still there. But 2 days later, on 5 November, we were definitely driven out of the house but that time we were allowed some time for packing the most necessary things but owing to transport difficulties we were not able to bring very much. We went to a village 15 miles away where we stayed for 6 months. All that time Jerry occupied our house so I needn't tell you what state it got into! Each successive unit destroyed a little more (we came back to try and save some more of our belongings 2 or 3 times in between two occupations) and every time it got filthier and more ruined. And then, at last, on April 14th I came back for good and the Jerries had gone. Two days later the English came to Schaarsbergen and drove out the last SS practically without firing a shot. They got a great welcome and we were so glad to see them. Then came Canadian Tanks and Bren Gun Carriers. We had a grand liberation! All sorts of vehicles streamed in in endless succession. And it is so nice seeing the British uniforms everywhere instead of the Jerries. They are so nice and helpful and our food situation is ever so much better now. They constructed two new permanent bridges across the Rhine at Arnhem and they have nearly completed the repairing of the high tension electric cable so that we can get the current from Nymegen. They are all very nice and friendly and I'm having the time of my life. But I shall always keep the softest spot in my heart for the parachutists so you can imagine how glad I was when I saw a couple of them at work on a map in Oosterbeek. Of course I spoke to them at once and they turned out to be the Graves Registration Unit. And then Sgt Wallace came round to our house and bought me your note. I had met the airborne troops' Padre too at a party the night before and now he takes me round in his car and I help him in finding the graves and collecting information about them from the local people. I am so glad I can be of some use to him although it is such sad work. His name is Captain MacGowan and he is very nice. I dare say you remember him. Is it possible that I saw "Jock" (his real name was Tony Case) near Barneveld (our evacuation village) just after the liberation on April 17th? He drove past me and the maroon paratrooper's beret struck me at once and then I saw it was Jock! At any rate, I feel sure it was but it was going fast and I hadn't time to wave and he didn't see me. But please inquire if it really can have been he and do write and tell me what happened to you since you left us in October. The swim across the river must have been pretty cold at that time of year!
  • A few days after the liberation I got a letter from Brig. Lathbury who stayed at our house, do you remember? He was on leave in England and was hoping to see us soon in Holland but was sent to Norway instead, unfortunately. I am very sorry because he was such a nice man and it would have been so nice to see him again and this time openly and not having to hide him in a small room upstairs. I also got such a very nice letter from one of the boys we had at the same time as the Brig. and who is in Norway too. And Brig. Hackett is in Holland too. In fact it was he who brought Brig. Lathbury's letter from England. And a few weeks ago I saw a jeep full of parachutists drawing up by the curb just where I was standing so by virtue of the above mentioned soft spot in my heart I spoke to them at once and it turned out to be Capt. Hay with 4 men who had come from Germany on short leave to have a look at their old haunts again at Oosterbeek. He had been on the staff there. He was shocked to see how very much worse Arnhem was ruined than in September. Jerry was not a kind master to her when he was in sole possession and then of course there was a fair amount of shelling too all the winter and worst of all Jerry destroyed a lot at the last moment.
  • And now I'll give you news of the people you knew. Mrs Stark and all her family were driven out of their house at the same time as we but they all came through it ok and are back here again. Amy is doing fine and her father is home again out of captivity in Germany (he was a Capt, in the Dutch Air Force). The doctor had to hide from the Jerries several times but came through it all right and is in Amsterdam and going to be married next week. Kees (Thys's brother) is in England now, training for the Air Force. All the Underground boys who carried notes and who came to fetch you when you left are alright and so is their father who took Major Tatham Waters and Capt. Frank into his house but their poor mother was killed by a stray British shell 2 days before the liberation, unfortunately. Isn't that sad. Braafhart and all the other farmers in the neighbourhood who used to give you milk and food are alright but the one at the "Groote Kweek" lost his son owing to a V1 - through his own fault I'm afraid, because he picked up some bits after it had come down near Mrs Stark's house! He was killed on the spot. Oh yes, and I almost forgot to tell you another V came down on the edge of your wood! Wasn't it fortunate you had gone! It would have made your hair stand on end if you had still been there. And it gave me goose flesh to see it even several months later. I remember how you were telling me what it was like when you heard them coming. Well, we too had lots of them round here too that came down too soon and we saw whole bunches of them coming over every day. Brutes, they were.
  • I must tell you still how grateful I was for the handful of little wireless bulbs you gave me out of that old set because I made torches out of them with the blue container batteries and they served me beautifully all through the winter.
  • Mrs Stark and Amy and her mother and myself are in the ATS and are frightfully busy; there is much to be done in that branch. I drive the ATS car and love going about all over the country as well. I must stop now. Give my love to Jimmy, Dave......too. It will be nice to see English views again.
  • Cheerio, all of you, your very sincere friend Jean Lamberts.