INTERROGATION OF SGT ARTHUR BROWN
35343610 390 Bomb Gp 570 Bomb Sq
8th U.S.A.A.F. by Major A.V. SAINSBURY,
at TILBURG, 6th January, 1945.
(Ref: GSGS 2541 1/100.000 sheets 2, 1, 4.)
1. Sgt. BROWN whose pending arrival was notified to us by RUMMY RLB 477, duly arrived 5 Jan 45 at I.S. 9 FIRST CDN
ARMY together with:
P.C. van RIJN
318 DRIEBOORLAND (Drieboomlaan 318)
2. He is a serious young man af about 24, who impressed his interrogator with his powers to observation and great
security mindedness. He obviously made himself very popular with the resistance movement in NORD HOLLAND as
he was in possession of a silver cigarette case inscribed "With best wishes from all your friends at ALKMAAR".
3. In view of his position NO questions were asked on his personal particulars other than those given at the head of this
BROWN's bomber, of which he was engineer, crashed over HOORN 1050 and he bailed out landing at 17.55. He
wandered round the countryside for seven days and was eventually taken into the house of a girl 'ELLI' at the T-road
in HOUT 276560.
5. Here, being a Catholic, he asked for the local priest and told him he wished to be put in touch with the "underground".
6. Through the good offices of this priest he was put in toch with PHILIP a schoolmaster of BENHUIZEN 2955 who came
visit him at HOUT and provided him with civilian clothes and papers.
7. Although source was at first promised a speedy return to NORMANDY, nothing happened for some time until on
August 10 he and PHILIP and two guides set out for ALKMAAR 9050, where they were to contact the passeur who
could arrange his evasion.
8. They arrived only to find the passeur, whose name source does NOT know who he understands was some sort of
ex diplomatic or consular to the French Govt, had been arrested by the Germans the day before.
9. He was taken to a safe house in ALKMAAR belonging to WIM at 32 ?? street (he forgets the name) the app map ref of
which is 983521, where he stayed for about a month.
10. In the middle of September his host brought him a Sten, which he said was from their first parachuted consignment
and, as soon as he was that source was familiar with these weapons, asked if he would act as instructor to the
resistance group, to which source gladly agreed.
11. The next few weeks he was busy distributing arms and instructions --- their use. Apart from a number of local
deliveries, weapons were taken once to near AMSTERDAM and once to DEN HELDER, for which the team used an
old CHEVROLET truck, run on stolen German petrol. As source had but a sketchy knowledge of Dutch he was not
aware of names and addresses of groups to whom deliveries were made.
12. The section HQ for these activities was a farm belonging to PETER at 057482 where the 10 men of the section stayed
with WIM their section commander. From time to time they were visited by UNCLE THEO, who source believes was
WIM's superior officer.
13. On 10 October when the section was returning in their truck, having completed an arms delivery, they were held up
by a German road patrol at the small village of RUSTENBURG (NOT mentioned on map ) 063525.
14. A shooting match ensued and the R/G lost one killed, one wounded who was taken prisoner; they killed 16 Germans
and although they had to leave their lorry, all except the two casualties were able to escape and make their way to
the farm of Peter KONIJN at SCHERMERHOORN 0648.
15. The prisoner was evidently forced to talk as, a few days afterwards 300 SS troops arrived from the AMSTERDAM
area and razed PETER's farm to the ground and murdered all the people found in it. All arms had, however, been
removed before the raid although some bicycles belonging to the team were left and the four members who had
gone to collect them were caught by the reprisal regiment and killed.
16. As it was through that the prisoner was also aware of Peter KONIJN's address the reminder of the team split up and
source went to another farm EAST of SCHERMERHOORN where he was later joined by WIM. Here they lay low for ten
days until contacted by a policeman of URSEM 0751 name unknown, description: age 31/2 - blond hair - going bald -
height 5' 10 ½". This man uses the cover of one who collaborates with the Germans but is in reality a very active
resistance group member.
17. The policeman provided them with uniforms and lent them his motorcycle on which source and WIM went to
SPANBROEK 1059 where he met GUUS (ROWING) (Frank Hamilton). Just near here was a dropping ground (Mandrill)
at which that night source assisted at his first reception (end October).
18. The next day ROWING and source set out on bicycles to the farm of D. KENIBBA, 4 km WEST of MEDEMBLIK 2267.
This was the central instructor's school of ROWING's area and both of them acted as instructors in weapons and
19. The course lasted one week after which they was a cap of a week during which time source stayed with NIEUWEHUIS
at 135655 at the end of which time he returned to KNIBBA's where he acted as chief instructor for a further week's
20. About 2nd week in December he left with (Adrie) DE GRAAF, the resistance commander of the WIERINGERMEER
POLDER to the farm of one SCHANKE 115705.
21. During the next few weeks they moved to a farm 135725, name of owner unknown and then to DIELEMAN's farm
129735. From here they made several trips to KENIBBA's to collect the arms they had used for the previous
instructor's course. These were brought to DIELEMAN's when a further instructor's course was held by BROWN.
22. Source then returned to NIEUWEHUIS and from there back to KENIBBA's where he spent the week before Christmas
and again met ROWING, and it was decided that the time had come for BROWN to return to the Allied lines.
23. A guide was provided to take source to HOORN by MANSHOUT (Sicco Mansholt) the food controller of the
WIERINGERMEER POLDER who lives at 147705. This guide was P.C. van RIJN (see para 1) who came to collect
BROWN from KENIBBA's.
24. On the 26th December they arrived by bicycle in AMSTERDAM where they stayed with HANS (DRAUGHTS) and on
the 28th left with two guides to cross the lines.
25. As source made no interesting contacts on the journey it is not described in detail. The travelled via NIEUWPOORT,
crossed the RHINE at LANGERAK 0574 and arrived at HARDINXVELD 0262 where they stayed the night. The next
morning (29 December) they left for SLEEUWIJK 0661 and on arriving there contacted CASE (phonetic) (KEES) the
local resistance leader with whom they stayed until 4 January. They then set off with CASE for the BIESBOSCH
where they met BIETOUW of N.Z. HAVEN 112 BERGEN OP ZOOM who ferried them across on their last lap.
26. RECEPTION COMMITTEE
Source --- following comments on the reception committee he attended at the end of October near SPANBROEK:-
a) Local police were used effectively as roving picquets.
b) Members of the reception committee used their torches to light themselves to the ground; resulting floodlighting
could, in that flat country, be seen for miles around.
c) Ground lights were switched on for any aircraft heard, without first flashing a recognition signal (neither Eureka
or S-Phones were in use).
d) The aircraft made four runs over the target and after dropping his last stick stayed around the area at 800 ft. for
far too long.
27. ROWING'S COMPANION.
The "man" who dropped with ROWING was severely injured on landing. "He" is still in hospital at HAARLEM, where
ROWING was going to visit "him" on Christmas Day. Source believes "he"is shortly to have a further bone grafting
operation. The "man" referred to is, of course TIDDLEYWINKS.
Although source spoke little Dutch and had had no previous demolition training, he found that with the aid of the
multilingual demolition pamphlet from SFHQ he had little difficulty in putting over this subject. This is indirectly
confirmed by ROWING who left source as sole instructor on a subsequent course.
Source found it impossible to give accurate numbers of local R/G's (Resistance Groups) but it is his opinion that there
are 1000/1500 armed, trained men ready for any action in the province of NORD HOLLAND.
Prince BERNHARD's message telling R/G's to forget their quarrels and combine under his appointed leader, had a great
effect. Before its arrival the lack of co-operation between the various group was appalling, but the situation is now
much better and is improving every day.
The food situation among the people of AMSTERDAM is bad. NOORD HOLLAND have now run short of potatoes and will
soon have only sugar beet to send them. It is possible to arrange for supplies to be brought from the other side of the
IJSSELMEER, but the skippers are frightened of being shot up by the RAF and are reluctant to sail without some sort of
guarantee that they will not be molested from the air. Source brought a verbal message from DRAUGHTS asking if we
could arrange such immunity.
Source brought with him one letter from DRAUGHTS and one from ROWING; these, less some intelligence which has
been passed to 21 Army Gp, have been forwarded to SFHQ under cover of SFG 257 dated 6 January 1945.
DISTRIBUTION: SFHQ 3 copies NORTHAW BREDA
1 SF NORTHAW BRUSSELS
2 SF Comdr. JOHNS
Vrijdag 7 juli 1944.Een stralende zomerdag. 's Morgens om half acht vliegen al een paar honderd Amerikaanse bommenwerpers in oostelijke richting over West-Friesland. Boven Hoorn komen twee B-17's met elkaar in botsing: de ene van het 570e, de andere van het 571e squadron.In vele brokstukken komen de toestellen naar beneden. Van de 20 bemanningsleden van de twee Vliegende Forten vinden er 14 de dood. Zes redden zich per parachute. Vijf worden krijgsgevangen gemaakt. De zesde, sgt. Arthur F. Brown, zijluikschuttter van de B-17 waarvan het staartstuk neerstort op het garagepad naast de woning van de fam. Sleutel aan de Westersingel in Hoorn, ontsnapt. Via Venhuizen en Alkmaar belandt Arthur Brown in de Schermer. Hij neemt actief deel aan verzetsactiviteiten en overleeft ook de Slag bij Rustenburg!
Uit de twee in de lucht ontplofte vliegtuigen vallen eveneens bommen naar beneden. Aan de Drieboomlaan worden vijf huizen verwoest. Hierbij valt één dode te betreuren. Aan de Merensstraat worden drie huizen onbewoonbaar. Verdere schade wordt, wonder boven wonder, niet aangericht. De foto toont de verwoesting in de Merensstraat; een straat die toen nog eindigde tegen een damhek van een weiland.
Right Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Arthur F. Brown (hometown Wakakoneta, Ohio) evaded back to Allied lines in Holland January 10th 1945.
Arthur Brown came down by parachute near Keern. "I landed 1 mile north of Hoorn, on the side of a road near a German training camp. I collapsed my chute and run into some bushes. A German soldier came down the road looking for me but did not see me". His colleague, the left waist gunner landed close. "I could see Sgt. Grove parachuting down in a field nearby, some Dutch and Germans waiting for him. After a while I went on for 200 yards or so (east), crossed a canal into an orchard and hid there in some carrots growing under the trees. I stayed there (the whole day) until dark. That night, trying to figure out where I was, eating some of the escape stuff from my escape-kit".
Next morning July 8. Arthur Brown thought he was on the East side of the Zuyder Sea (Lake IJsselmeer) in the North East Polder. He was affraid the Lake coastline was a German defense zone, so he decided to walk east to get away from it. In reality it was not defended because coastal defense of the Lake was positioned more north at closure dam Afsluitdike. AB: "I knew I was near the Zuiderzee but did not know which side of it I was on. I wanted to get out of the coastal defense zone so thought I could better walk east. After I while I came to a railroad" (running north-south, Hoorn to Medemblik, today a touristic railroad). "There was a lot of traffic on the roads, so I hid again in another orchard until dark and next morning".
"I began to realize it was hard to walk across country in Holland as there are so many canals and dykes, so I decided to follow the railroad tracks south. My general idea was to get to Belgium and France, as we had been briefed and not to trust the Dutch underground and had been told that many Dutch civilians were hostile". In reality, Dutch underground was very reliable and most civilians helped Allied pilots, despite the death penalty when caught. In fact, an airman on the run had no chance reaching Belgium on his own, only with local help there was a chance of evading successfully. "I walked south and got to within a mile of Hoorn, where I came upon another railroad. I still thought I was east of the Zuiderzee, so I followed this railroad towards east". The railroad in direction to Wester-Blokker (Blokker), Hoogkarspel and Enkhuizen . "For the third time I slept in an orchard. I was getting pretty hungry and began to realize it would take a long time to get to France at this rate...".
"It was getting light. I reached some freight cars (railroad freight cars) on a side track. They were marked 'LEIPZIG". By coincidence the target of his raid on the 7th... "I figured I could jump on one and get a ride to the frontier and then get off. The doors were open and I climbed in without trouble. At about 10:00 hrs the train started. We stopped in next town named Hoogkarspel, near some docks on the canal and loaded some potatoes. I stayed there until 18:00 hrs, when the car I was in (which had not been loaded) was uncoupled. So I moved to the other part of the train. I got in a sort of uncovered cattle car. I took the label which told me where the car was going, but I did not know the name of this town. I had begun to think the train was going to Germany and was not sure I wanted to stay on it. I had just taken the hacksaw of my escape kit and was peeling some potatoes with it, when a man opened the door and looked in. He spoke to me. I held up my finger and said "Shh". He looked startled but went away at once. The train pulled out shortly after, taking me back where I had been that morning". Between Wester-Blokker and Hoogkarspel again. "The next time it slowed down I jumped out. I hid in some reeds by the track until it was dark".
"My escape map was not much good for this district and I still did not know exactly where I was. For the first time I saw the sea early this morning and realized I must be west of the Zuiderzee. I hid again all that day, then walked on after dark. Two men on bicycles came by me and saw me. I ducked in the bushes and they went away after a few minutes. I started on again towards Hoorn (1), hoping to get from there to Amsterdam where I could get help. There were a lot of foxholes along the road and a lot of traffic". The foxholes were man-holes, dug every 30 meter on each side of the road for a person to take cover in case of an Allied strafing of the (German) transport on the road. The Germans had ordered these foxholes by forced labor. "I walked until 04:00 hrs in the morning, then hid in a haystack, where I slept the all next day.
"In the evening a man found me. He was working in the field and started to pitch the hay where I was lying. I made him understand I was an American, but he was afraid to help me. He pointed out on the map where I was, then went away. I decided I had better move on. I sneaked down the road for a mile or so, crossed it, and hid in another haystack, where I slept again until the next day".
July 13. Farm Commandeur Family, Venhuizen. De Hout.
"About 08:30 hrs children who were playing there found me". The children: "we found a man in grey uniform who was pretending to be asleep. He walked away saying he had to work". AB: "One of the children ran off yelling and brought back an older man". This was farmer and father Thames Commandeur. Arthur Brown went to hide in the field, but the man spotted him. AB: "I motioned to his house and walked over to it. He let me go in but looked scared". Thames Commandeur had already to two persons hiding underground in his farm. He had a number of small children and his wife died two years before. Next to that his farm was regular used by the resistance to hide weapon-containers that were dropped by air by the British SOE squadrons.
One of the persons hiding in the Commandeur farm, was Jewish girl Steffi Tikotin. She was just as old as the farmer's childeren and had become one of the family. Steffi had fled to Holland from Dresden (Germany) with her father and mother after the Kristalnacht 9 November 1938. In 1942 they were in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam (on the premises of the Fokker aircraft factory in Amsterdam-north). It became clear deportation to 'work camps' was eminent. Steffi's father asked her to take off her yellow Jew star and travel by tram (forbidden for Jews) to resistance people who could help her further. This was the last time see saw her parents. First Steffi stayed a year in the attic of a house in Berkhout near Hoorn, but a razzia was planned and a policeman tipped them to leave. Her next stay was on the Commandeur farm. Post war Steffi married, name Steffi Robertson-Tikotin.
Arthur Brown when first in the farm: "I let them shut the door. Took out my phrase card (a card from the escape kit with translated sentences) and told them I needed help. I said I was an American aviator. The farmer said "Ja, ja, Chicago piano". He went out and got a girl who was staying (hidden) in the house. She spoke some English and was able to arrange for me to get in contact with the Dutch underground". Resistance man Freek Luider from Venhuizen provided Brown with civilian clothes, food stamps and an ID-card with trade def & dumb watch maker. The children: "Later he told us his name was Arthur Brown and he had parachuted out a B-17 bomber near Hoorn. He fed himself with what he could find in orchards, gardens and lived on concentrated food from his escape kit. He had tablets to purify water (Halazone). One day a German car with soldiers stopped on the road in front of the farm gate. Steffi and Arthur Brown were enjoying some sunshine behind the hayshed. Father Commandeur could only just warn them to go in their underground hide-out under the haystack, but the Germans drove on.
With the resistance.
Brown left the Commandeur farm in Venhuizen at some point. He was brought by courier Ms. Kokkie Wittebrood to Alkmaar and was for two months with 'Mr. Wim', leader of the resistance in Alkmaar . Also he was in hiding with Mr. Piet Koning, farmer near Alkmaar (Stomptoren, later executed). Gradually Arthur became a member of the resistance. They were active in the wide area and often the armed groups stayed overnight in a remote safehouse or farm. Arthur Brown gave weapon-instruction lessons and also participated in the weapon droppings. Guns were dropped in containers by the British RAF at night on fields that lay at least 6 miles from German control posts.
Arthur Brown in the Battle of Rustenburg, 10 October 1944.
In the night of 10 October 1944 a parachute drop of weapon containers was expected in a field east of Alkmaar at Spierdijk, in the Wogmeer Polder, a new location codenamed LOBSTER. It was bad weather, clouded. They heard the aircraft circle over twice, but apparently the pilot did not trust the light signals or something else was not in order, which proved to be correct later. The aircraft flew on without dropping. That night, Arthur Brown was part of the transport-team that had to take the assembled weapon containers out the polder by truck. Unaware that the dropping failed, they were on their way on the road from Stompetoren to Rustenburg, heading for Lobster.
On the Ford flat bed truck were 9 men: in the cabin the driver and next to him the leader of the transport-crew, Gerard Veldman. Outside, standing behind and leaning on the cabin roof were two men with their stenguns ready to fire. On the loading deck under a tarp, lay Arthur Brown and four others, all five armed with stens. At the Rustenburg bridge no less then 7 roads come together. As often, the bridge was guarded, but this night by no less then 20 'Landwachters', Dutch Nazi-collaborators, armed with outdated carabines and hunting rifles. The high number of Landwachters suggest that the weapon drop was betrayed, but there were almost no German forces around. This suggest the Landwachters were doing a big night control on whatever would pass the crossroads and bridge.
The Ford truck came up this road towards the bridge and was halted just before it. It was pitch dark and the resistance men in the truck smelled trouble, but the engine of the truck refused to re-start for a getaway. Dark figures approached the truck. The two men over the cabin opened fire with their stenguns. The landwachters returned fire. All jumped from the truck to find cover on the sides of the road, shooting as they went. Of the Landwachters three were killed, four severely wounded, one wounded. In Arthur Brown's 1945 Escape & Evasion file is something you do not see very often; after the typed standard question "Did you kill any Germans in escaping?" is handwritten "YES".
11 October - January 5, 1945.
After the shooting, Arthur Brown crawled away from the bridge. During the rest of night he crossed through fields and canals to get as far away from the scene as possible. Early in the morning he recognized a lonely house we had been before with the resistance, a safe location. When he entered, one man of the truck was there as well. All were quite surprised to see Brown, for his knowledge of the area was limited, still he made it. Others had found rescue in farm Houtlust, but traces led to this farm and next morning a group of 150 Germans surrounded it and burned it to the ground. Trying to escape the fire, a number of hidden men were shot dead. In total 13 resistance fighters lost their live in the shooting at the Rustenburg bridge and its aftermath.
The wide area of Rustenburg stayed a drop zone for weapons for the remaining 6 months of the war. At least 150 tonnes of material was parachuted down. Destination of the weapons was mostly Amsterdam. Leaders of Brown's group learned that road transport had become too dangerous. Decided was to revert to transport by boat, in the same fashion as vegetables from the fields were brought by farmers via canals to the central auction buildings. Small boats were loaded with weapons and topped with vegetables and crops. As an extra precaution, the boats did not went south to Amsterdam, but north to the Wieringermeer Polder. There the guns were assembled in barges that sailed to Amsterdam.
Arthur Brown's new job was to receive and handle the weapons in the Wieringermeer Polder . According to his interview report, he stayed in this period on the farm of Mr. Kinebra in Middenmeer for a month. And three weeks with farmer 'Nieuhouser' in Middenmeer. Also each a week with farmers Schanke and Dieleman in Middenmeer.
Crossing the front line.
Mid December 1944 Brown requested to try to reach Allied lines in the South of Holland. This was granted. He was December 25 1944 in Medemblik . Mr. P.C. van Rijn with address Drieboomlaan 318 in Hoorn took Brown to Amsterdam. From there, with false papers, he was escorted in a train journey south to probably Rotterdam. Moving from safehouse to safehouse he reached Hardinxveld and became a 'Biesbos-crosser'. Via Werkendam and Dussen/Muilkerk on 4 January 1945 he crossed the frontline river and reached Allied held territory at Sprang-Kapelle on 5 January 1945. A week later, Brown was returned to England.
Lt. Larue F. Cribb's '97983' came down in pieces at hamlet Keern at farm 'De Gare Goedsbogert', address Keern no. 217. In the cabbage fields between Keern and the road to Den Oever (today highway A7, north of today's ice skating stadium, Roskam street). Lt. Lawrence J. Gregor's aircraft '107070' fell on the Western outskirts of Hoorn, on the lawns of Westersingel and Pelmolen street. Close to the entrance of the shopping streets, opposite to the new theater Schouwburg 'het Park'. Both bomb loads were not armed yet and all bombs went unexploded deep into the soft ground.