The attitude of the Dutch population under the German occupation in 1941 and 1942 was, in the main, apathetic and the people were not resistance-minded. To those few clandestine agents who were functioning at the time, the population was neither dangerous nor helpful. The people were not sure of their attitude towards the Germans who were trying to be as friendly and as correct as possible and to interfere as little as possible with internal conditions in the country. Thousands of Dutch civil servants and business men were confirmed in their appointments by the Germans. While disliking the sight of German troops and tanks in their cities, the Dutch had no great incentive to resist and it was difficult to obtain assistance for resistance movements.

After the big strike in Amsterdam in 1942, which called forth very severe repressive measures and the anti-Jewish drive which began in 1942 and grew intensity throughout 1943, the people began to realise that the same repressive measures would ultimately be applied to everybody and guided by the BBC and Radio Oranje, they began to seek the means of actively resisting the Germans.

Two groups of people were affected in particular by the German d..rees. Firstly, the young men were liable for conscription to work in Germany, secondly ex-officers who, in early 1943, were ordered to register at AMERSFOORT to be subsequently shipped off to Germany under arrest. These two affected groups provided most of the malcontents who went underground in 1943 and who began to organise methodically against the Germans.

Prior to 1943 there was no effective underground movement functioning against the German occupation. Generally speaking the population was extremely patriotic and throughout 1943 their pro-resistance sympathies grew to such an extent that by April 1944 50% of the people were working clandestinely in some way or an other against the Germans. A large Catholic population was responsible for much of the propaganda in favour of resistance. Up to the middle of 1944 the population was united in its desire to rid Holland of the enemy and morale was high, but later, when it became clear that Holland would have to wait for its liberation, morale sagged badly. In early 1945 the population became less willing to assist resistance groups as they were beginning to fear reprisals which were becoming more and more brutal. Also there was a tendency in some areas to regard the NBS as a terrorist organisation in view of the ruthless methods sometimes adopted by NBS (
Interior Force) members. Other factors which weakened the will to resist were the under-nourishment, fear of street-fighting in the towns the Allies were approaching and a reported conflict between the RVV, KP and OD leaders who were said to be working for their own ends and their own prestige.

Resistance activity varied according to areas. In the country, where food was relatively plentiful, morale was much higher than in the towns. Activity in ROTTERDAM, where, there was a large working-class population, was more intense than in THE HAGUE where resistance was confined to less active measures such as propaganda and similar forms of passive resistance.

Operations before November 1944 were not carried out to any great extent but grew in number and importance in December 1944 and early 1945. Targets were attacked by groups of determined full-time resistance members, while the bulk of the people were suffering at the time from lowered morale due to disappointment at the failure of the Allies to eject the Germans earlier.

Some action of the population were by January 1945 by adopting a critical attitude towards the Allies. It should not be overlooked that food was the main occupation at the time and how to get more food was the question paramount in everybody's mind.

In April 1945, thousands of recruits came into Resistance believing that once they were accepted by the NBS they would stand a better chance of being fed.


Throughout the occupation the BBC was widely listened to on illegal sets and in the latter phases, when electricity was cut off, batteries were used to supply the necessary current. Listening parties were organised and an illegal news distributing centre existed for the dissemination of Allied propaganda.

Most of this propaganda of news was done by intellectuals who listened to the BBC English Service, but rumour-spreading was indulged in by the working class population, who listened to Radio Oranje were, however, widespread and the station was accused of being completely out of touch with the real situation and viewing things through rose-coloured glasses. Radio Oranje had, apparently overlooked the fact that the resistance movements in Holland were illegal and that the penalty for participation was death. Frequently it gave away clandestine projects by premature announcements and was guilty of certain inaccuracies in the statements which were broadcast. On one occasion, after intensive German C.E. (
Counter Espionage) activity had resulted in the arrest of hundreds of people in a certain area, Radio Oranje broadcast the boast that resistance was still functioning and that the Germans had by no means caught everybody. This naturally resulted in a renewed burst of C.E. activity on the part of the Gestapo. On another occasion the station broadcast the news of the arrival in Rotterdam of certain agents two days before they were to be dropped in the area.

From 1942 onwards Radio oranje terminated all broadcasts with the words "Keep courage, we are coming" and this phrase became a standing joke among the resistance workers. The belief is widespread in Holland that the heavy casualties sustained in September 1944 were due to over-optimistic announcements by both the BBC and Radio Oranje to the effect that Holland would be free by October. These announcements led to open revolt in some areas and careless, indiscriminate recruiting in others with disastrous results.

Pamphlets dropped by the RAF were widelt read by the Dutch and passed round but there were many casualties to people picking up these leaflets. The penalty for retaining RAF tracts, or passing them on, was death and the unfortunate Dutchman caught perusing one of these leaflets was usually shot at once. These tracts were unequally distributed and the view was taken by the underground movement that if they had been dropped to Reception Committees the Dutch themselves would have known how and where to distribute them. Many were lost as they were collected immediately they were dropped by special squads detailed for the purpose by the authorities.

A very active and efficient underground press existed in Holland throughout the occupation and the organisation controlling the underground press remained touch with England (
?) for all matters of policy. The Dutch clandestine papers had a wide circulation and the underground press was responsible for two things: to raise funds for the underground movement and to boost the morale of the population.

German morale was affected adversely by slogans in use by the general population and tracts were issued deliberately by the Dutch in order to mislead the Germans as to the real number of Dutchman working in the underground movement. The numbers of Dutchmen working in active resistance were given as being much greater than they really were. In the latter days of the occupation no propaganda was needed to demoralise the Germans as their demoralisation had become complete through lack of food and transport.


Many spontaneous resistance groups came to light in the early days of the occupation, the principa ones being the ex-officers' organisation which existed to aid officers who had been forced to live underground in order to avoid deportation to Germany and the student groups which were formed to assist young Dutchmen who were refractaires from the German labour laws.

Due to the need of these groups other organisations grew up which were concerned with acquiring false papers, accommodation and supplies for those living illegally. The clergy were active in this respect and later did splendid work in aiding Allied airmen in the same way. Later organisations like the Doctors' Illegal Committee came into existence. This was a Committee formed to assist doctors in trouble and also to provide clandestine medical facilities for wounded patriots.

Many people in the liberal professions formed similar groups. A nation-wide clandestine movement grew up with branches in every town to protect members of technical trades, telephone engineers, toolmakers, etc.

Up to 1943 none of these groups were in any way organised and most of their activities were concerned with defensive rather than offensive resistance. In 1943, however, most active resisters began to cast about for offensive methods of resisting the German repression and while the ex-officers busied themselves with attempts to acquire military information, the student began to commit small acts of sabotage, such as misplacing signposts and puncturing the tyres of German transport.

The underground press organisations had meanwhile grown to be a powerful weapon. Security at the time was negligible. One man might be a member of several different groups and there was much overlapping. People were often indiscreet and most people in resistance knew far too much about other people's business than was good for security. One incentive to better security was the presence of large numbers of NSB informers. These Dutch Quislings were hated by the Dutch far more than the Germans and the first attempts to form really secret and secure clandestine groups were made as a result of penetration and betrayals effected by the NSB spies.

All these early scattered groups which grew quite spontaneously served their apprenticeship in underground work quite independently but later the members were absorbed by larger groups organised on a national basis for active offensive resistance. These organised groups will be discussed later.


Forces employed by the enemy to control underground activity were as follows:

The Grüne Polizei.
The G.F.P.
The S.D. and Gestapo.
NSB - civilian agents.
Dutch and Fleming SS.

The list indicates the degree of importance attaching to each particular force. The Grüne Polizei were most feared by the Dutch underground movement and the Wehrmacht, last on the list, was considered by the underground movement to be relatively unimportant. The Grüne Polizei were apparently a branch of the SD and the latter directed their activities. They were very active and conducted most of the razzias which were made for obtaining forced labour. The GPF were controlled by the Abwehr and operated sometimes as civilians and sometimes in uniform. They were far more active than the Gestapo and were used for house arrests, searches and interrogations. The SD in uniform, comprising may former members of the Kriminal Polizei and the Grenz Polizei were in evidence all over Holland. Many of them were Gestapo men using SD uniforms as cover. Those members of the SD who wore civilian clothes became known fairly quickly to the general public. Civilian members of the NSB were used extensively by the SD to act as informers and street watchers and were extremely dangerous, although most of them were known to the underground movement.

The Dutch and Fleming SS was not particularly astute but had the advantage of knowing local customs and the language and were feared because of their great brutality. The Feldgendarmerie were used in in the towns for street patrols as was the Wehrmacht, but neither of these forces constituted any real danger. The Landwacht was composed of Dutch Nazi's either very young or middle aged and was nuisance but not greatly feared. They always preferred to avoid conflict with resistance unless in great strength. In general controls were relatively few until the middle of 1943 when restrictions began to be tightened up but, even then, the country districts were fairly safe and remained so throughout the occupation.

In 1943 the SD and the Gestapo became particularly active and after D-Day in France thousands of C.E. personnel were imported into Holland. Conditions then became very difficult, especially in the towns. The control of identity papers, however, became, if anything, easier after September 1944 as, in view of the increase in arms receptions the Germans were searching diligently for arms and restricted the body search to weapons which might provide clues as to the whereabouts of arms dumps. There was some rivalry between the various enemy forces and just prior to the liberation fighting broke out in The Hague between the SS and the Wehrmacht.

The native police.

In general it can be said that the Dutch Police were not an obstacle to resistance. 20% had Fascist tendencies and were dangerous, 50% were afraid of German reprisals if they assisted the underground movement and were neither helpful nor dangerous. 30% helped actively and provided valuable assistance. Those policemen who were members of resistance groups acted as guides, transported stores, WT sets, clandestine documents and newspapers and also frequently instructed the underground movement in the use of weapons and explosives. Their uniform was a valuable screen for their clandestine activities. Rank and file were usually reliable but the heads of departments were pro-nazi and had been placed in office by the Germans. A high percentage of policemen were willing to render occasional services but withdrew their support when the Germans began to place informers in all the police offices.

In 1944 and 1945 new police battalions were raised by the Germans from predominantly NSB sources. the new police force was known as the P.O.B. (
Politie Opleiding Battalion) and wore slightly different uniforms. They were very dangerous and much feared by the Dutch underground movement.


There were in Holland at the time of the occupation approximately 600.000 members of the NSB. Most of them were young hotheads and there was a high proportion of criminal types. There was also a large number of middle class people who believed sincerely that the New Order would benefit their country. It was from this hard core of National Socialism that the Germans recruited the new police battalions, the Landwacht and the thousands of informers and street watchers used by the SD and the Gestapo. One report states that every Gestapo or SD agent employed 15 civilian Dutchmen who acted as his informant service. Most of these informers were, however, known to the underground movement and in September 1944 nearly all ceased their activity and searched for a means of changing over to resistance. Their activities in 1943 and 1944 were, however, very successful in penetrating underground movements. Although may farmers and peasants were of great assistance to resistance movements there were quite a number with Fascist tendencies who lost no time in denouncing people who took in refractaires or escaping airmen, or who picked up and circulated RAF tracts in the country districts. Many people recovered parachutes and hid them, using the silk for their own purpose. Quite a number of people were denounced for this alone by NSB farmers and peasants. Many farmers were dealing in the Black Market and supplied the underground or the Germans quite indiscriminately and for their own ends.

After the liberation there were thousands of borderline cases and it is extremely difficult to decide whether these people collaborated willingly with the Germans or not. Thousands of people in the underground movements worked legally for the German administration and used their employment as cover for their clandestine activities. Equally thousands of people worked willingly for the Germans and now say that they did it in order to assist the resistance movement.


From the many scattered and unorganised clandestine groups which sprang up in the early days of the occupation grew large nation-wide movement well co-ordinated and fairly well-disciplined, each movement confining its activity to a type of resistance activity in which it specialised.

From the needs of refractaires in search of false papers, funds and accommodation grew first the LO, which catered especially for 'underdivers'. This organisation needed small coup-de-main parties for raiding food offices and arbeidsbeureaux and the KP organisation came to life to supply this need. The LO and KP organisations subsequently merged to all intents and purposes, KP being the shock troops of the LO.

A movement which absorbed most of the amateur saboteurs was the RVV which worked in Maquis style in the country districts. Many ex-army officers, business men and politicians joined the OD, a movement which planned to take over the administration of the country when Holland had been liberated.

These four groups were subsequently merged to form the NBS, who directed all resistance activity on instructions from Prince Bernhard in London.

Other national movements which grew up during the occupation were NC, which was concerned with welfare and social problems; NSF, which was the resistance treasury; AC Action Committee of the Dutch underground press and CID, which was the organisation controlling the black telephone system.

All these movements were represented during the latter stage of the occupation by P.A.R.I. and Advisory Committee to the Dutch underground movement consisting of 12 members representing all types of resistance activities as shown below:

L.O. & K.P. - false papers, etc, aid to refractaires. In Autumn 1944 became NBS.

R.V.V. - Reception and Sabotage. In autumn 1944 became NBS.

O.D. - Post-War planning. In autumn 1944 became NBS.

N.C. - Welfare and Social aid. In Autumn 1944 became NBS.

N.S.F. - Finance organisation. In autumn 1944 became NBS.

A.C. - Action Committee underground Press. In autumn 1944 became NBS.

C.I.D. - Black telephone system. In autumn 1944 became NBS.

Advisory Committee Dutch Underground Movements - P.A.R.I.  Now working for A.N.G. and Civil Affairs.


This was a particularly organisation and supplied approximately 200.000 false papers of all types monthly, besides finding accommodation and clothing for refractaires and escapees. Their methods are described at length but one methode of obtaining documents was to raid Government offices, steal supplies or permits, ration cards, etc and either use the originals or copy them. Raids were carried out by the KP group.

. (Later it was called Koninklijke Patrouille.)

K.P. groups of 7 or 8 men were the shock troops of L.O. and indulged in minor sabotage and small scale raids, in fact in any minor activities calculated to harass the Germans. They frequently engineered prison breaks and recued comrades who had fallen foul of the Gestapo.


This movement consisted of cells of 20 - 25 men, mainly working in the country districts on major sabotage and reception. They worked in some districts on Maquis lines and carried out attacks on military objectives as laid down in directives received from London. They also acquired military intelligence.


The O.D. was not concerned with actively resisting the Germans. It had created a clandestine organisation which was piling up economic and political intelligence with a view to administrating the country after the war.


Inevitably, since all these organisations had grown in a slapdash fashion they were by no means watertight and most of the leaders and organisers of different movements knew each other personally. Equally members had at sometime or other worked for some or all of the four organisations and security was, therefore, not all that could be desired. There were also many personal and political feuds and much rivalry existed between the chiefs of the various movements.

The O.D. came in for much criticism as active resisters liked neither their programme, which was negative, nor their principles. They were accused of being reactionary and in some cases, of working for the Germans. Most of the other groups had left-wing tendencies. There was also a certain amount of overlapping, some movements taking part in activity which was nominally responsibility of others and in some areas where one organisation was stronger numerically than the others, it would engage in a multiplicity of resistance activities and cope with anything from false papers to major sabotage. In the latter stages L.O. had not so much work to do and its members joined the K.P. groups. Similarly O.D. members, tired of inaction, deserted O.D. for R.V.V. and K.P.

In the autumn of 1944 liaison officers were set to Holland with orders from Prince Bernhard to amalgamate all groups in the NBS and not without trouble this was ultimately achieved and the NBS, Dutch Forces of the Interior, was created to cover all underground activity in the country.

The NBS was formed on military lines in zones, regions and districts and Commanders, taken from the KP, RVV and OD, were appointed by the Prince. Political rivalry and personal feuds almost succeeded in making the project impossible but the NBS finally came into existence and is now providing the material for the new Dutch Army.



Most London trained agents were sent either to one or the other of the existing groups which ultimately became amalgamated into the NBS, or to the underground press organisation. Early contact with indigenous groups were made by agents from England returning to Holland and renewing relations with friends who belonged to one or the other of the underground movements. Later, Dutchmen were exfiltrated to England and brought with them valuable information in the way of known sympathisers and up-to-date information on the resistance movements. A chain of contacts was thus build up and agents were sent out from England with a contact's address and usually a mission which necessitated their placing themselves at the disposal of local underground leaders.

The London trained agents, whilst rendering valuable service as liaison officers, WT operators and weapon training instructors, rarely took over complete control over independent groups or areas, as was the case in France but, in the main, were indigenous groups. Once regular WT communication was established with home base by London trained agents, the departure of an agent from this country could be advised to those in the field and his reception arranged.


Agents were normally dropped by parachute into Holland although some were dropped in France and Belgium and made their way into Hollland from there. Before leaving this country, the agent had many things to consider and was aware of the risks he ran in making the journey and returning clandestinely to his country. An unforeseen difficulty which occurred occasionally was when, due to the nervous tension of the agent on departure, he got into the wrong aeroplane and, consequently was dropped in the wrong place and Reception Committee. His arrangements were further complicated if his baggage had been put into the correct aeroplane and consequently dropped on another point.

Once in the plane there was the damper of Anti-Aircraft fire, which was intense over Holland and many agents lost their lives as the result of crash landings. There was also the danger of German fighters attacking the plane and on some occasions, fighters followed the planes in and signalled news of the dropping operation to ground forces. In some cases the despatchers were at fault, dropping stores too late or dropping the agents at too great a distance one from the other. Over the dropping point, if the lighting system were bad the plane had to circle once or twice, thus attracting attention and making things difficult for the agent on landing. Agents usually dropped to a Reception Committee but many were dropped 'blind' and left to their own devices.

Agents dropping to a Reception Committee were given a pass-word for the Reception Committee leader and told to place themselves under his orders until the necessary arrangements had been made to pass them on to the persons with whom they were expected to work. These arrangements did not always function smoothly. Reception Committees in Holland were usually para-military operations, those participating relying more on Sten guns for protection than security measures. Consequently, pass0words, if they were remembered, were often ignored or overlooked in the general enthusiasm. There was frequently no security check, the BBC message announcing the dropping being the only guarantee that the new arrival was genuine. Often however, an agent was received by a friend or a fellow trainee from England and the pass-word was unnecessary. On some occasions agents were dropped in error to a Reception Committee other than the one awaiting them, but usually they managed without difficulty to persuade the Committee that they were genuine agents from London. A complaint received from many agents was that frequently Reception Committees were expecting stores only and the arrival of an agent was quite a surprise to them. This resulted in the new arrival waiting about for instructions until the Reception Committee got in touch with his contact. It is also true to say that it has frequently occurred, even when the agents had been pre-advised, that local Commanders sometimes made no advance arrangements for the disposal of newly arrived agents. One report received states that agents had been shot by the underground movement, who suspected them of being spies because their arrival had not been announced (
Did this happen in Holland?).

In general, the Reception Committee personnel lacked discipline. The guards would leave their posts to greet the new arrivals and there was much talking and smoking , especially when the plane was late in arriving. If this happened security precautions were forgotten and people became impatient. Two other criticisms of Reception Committees are that far too many people attended the Reception (Often up to 50 people would arrive to collect four or five containers and one agent.) Also far too many people knew the location of the dropping point.

Normally a newly arrived agent would be guided from the dropping point to a safe house by members of the Reception Committee. Subsequently he would be accompanied to a contact address where he would meet his chief to be, or the latter would visit him at the safe house.

Transport to and from the safe house was often available in the form of bicycles, ambulances, PTT vans, or milk lorries. Sometimes even in police cars. One methode which was adopted to transport two agents from a safe house to a contact address in Rotterdam, was to stage an 'arrest' of the two agents at the safe house and transport them in a police van to their destination. The 'safe' houses used were not always particularly secure. Security was often negligible and people would use them as rendez-vous points where many people would meet and discuss their clandestine work. The arrival of an agent from England would often start a pilgrimage to a place, curious well-wishers desiring to meet an agent from London.

The Reception Committee, often assisted by the local Police Force, would dispose of the stores dropped with the agent and collect his equipment. The agent dropped 'blind' was free from the anxieties experienced in passing through a Reception Committee, but on the other hand, he was handicapped in that he had to make his way alone to his contact address. If he was unfamiliar with the country, or had been away from Holland any length of time, he needed especially careful  briefing about local conditions in his dropping area, which would facilitate his movements during the 48 hours after his arrival. If he were badly, or insufficiently, briefed he could easily make some error which could attract the attention of the population in country districts for whom the arrival of a stranger was in itself an event and among whom there were many collaborators eager to inform against anybody acting suspiciously. Another worry of an agent dropping 'blind' was the disposal or concealment of his equipment. Cases have occurred where agents being anxious to leave the scene of their dropping as quickly as possible had not concealed their equipment carefully enough and have returned later to to the spot to find their kit had been removed (
Tobias Biallosterski & Jan Steman). In some cases, due to faulty despatching, equipment had been scattered far and wide and the lone agent has been unable to retrieve it. Equally some equipment, especially WT sets was found to be damaged on landing and unusable. This delayed the commencement of the work in some cases for months. Some agents dropping 'blind' discovered that their contact addresses were useless, as the contact had either left of been arrested and many were forced to find accommodation with friends with whom, for security reasons, they would rather not have renewed acquaintance. Finally, one big risk was taken by the agent dropping 'blind' was the possibility of injury on landing and the necessity of getting medical attention at a hospital or doctor's surgery without betraying himself to the Authorities. One report quotes the case of two agents who dropped together - one sustaining a bad fracture (Frankie Hamilton) of the leg in dropping. The uninjured agent (Frank Hamilton) spent days trying to find a doctor who would cope with the situation clandestinely and also to take the injured agent away from the scene of the accident, where he had been lying for some days.


Having overcome the initial difficulties connected with his arrival, and having made contact with the underground movement, the agent was faced with other difficulties. In some cases, instructions given him in London were ignored by the man on the spot and he was put to work on missions for which he had not been prepared. In other cases, the local leaders were not interested in the agents from London, or, lacking pre-advice, did not know how to use the new arrivals. Much time was therefore lost before they started work. One danger was that agents sometimes only had a very vague idea as to what their mission really was and lacked information about the underground movement and its organisation. They were not always sure of their status and not knowing whether they were to advise or take command, felt that they lacked authority and prestige with the groups to which they were attached. Some London trained agents, however, went too big a sense of their importance, which did not improve relations with the man on the spot.

The following is an extract from a report on London trained agents, made by a Regional Commander:

"Their training in the use of sabotage material and their knowledge of London's facilities and limitations, helped to give the local men a better idea of possibilities. Their knowledge of specialised weapons etc, was very useful. In the beginning it was not difficult to find them accommodation, but later on this became more and more difficult. The identity cards they brought with them were very bad. The photographs, finger prints and other technical details were incorrect but the worst mistakes were in the profession chosen and in the use of the age 19 which was a most dangerous age to choose. They only carried identity cards and no other papers. It was not understood why London could not provide better cards as grave risks were taken by having to procure new ones for the men as soon as they arrived. Clothing supplied to London trained agents was fairly good imitation but shoes were obviously made in England and the fact could be noticed 100 yards away. These agents had no idea of conditions in the field. They thought it was all shooting and that there was an SD man behind every tree. When they were on bicycles they expected to be controlled at two minutes intervals. At first they were very jittery but recovered their nerves very quickly once they saw what true conditions in Holland were like."

In spite of handicaps, the agents from this country achieved very good results in liaison work between the different groups and between London and Regional Commanders in Holland. They were of great assistance in the early stages of the formation of the NBS. WT communication with this country, an essential part of co-ordinated underground effort, were also maintained almost exclusively by London trained operators. Agents from this country also did valuable work as weapon trained instructors and demolition experts. they also helped to co-ordinate the propaganda disseminated by the Dutch underground press.


Indigenous Agents.

A high proportion of clandestine work was done, not by the 100% clandestine agents, but by men still working legally in responsible administrative positions under their own names and whose only precaution was to adopt an assumed name when working subversively and to conceal their address from all intimate associates. Most of these men were of an age which exempted them from the German labour laws.

Indigenous clandestine agents working completely underground adopted a variety of covers which were changed or modified as and when it became necessary through new laws and decrees issued by the occupying authorities. The main consideration was avoidance of conscription for work in Germany and consequently semi-official jobs were chosen as cover - such as food controller, inspector of transport and communications or policeman. Other professions chosen were teacher, nurse, doctor, engineer or clergyman. Many agents adopted O.T. cover. In general, papers supporting the cover story were duplicates of those issued to legal holders who knew that a double was using their identity. Agents usually had some person to vouch for them in the bureau or administration which nominally controlled their activities and by connivance with State servants working legally in responsible positions, obtained the necessary information about their adopted profession which would enable them to talk convincingly if questioned. Thus they were able to produce day-to-day or hour-to-hour alibis to cover their movements. False papers were acquired through L.O. sources of from one or the other of the groups engaged in producing all types of papers en masse.

Two reports explaining in full the methode of obtaining false papers are attached - Appendix A (D.22) and Appendix A (D.42).

London Trained Agents.

In general, cover stories prepared in London were not retained for any length of time in the field. Some were rejected on arrival because of flaws pointed out by men on the spot and many were rejected by individual agents who realised that the story would not have stood up to a serious investigation but could have been cracked wide open inside two minutes. Many agents, therefore preferred to take up their own cover story on arrival, with the help of the local men. London was at a disadvantage in the preparation of cover stories as it was apparently impossible to keep up with events in Holland and faulty or incomplete sets of papers were issued to the agents to support their cover stories. Cover stories were often based on papers available and consequently an agent was frequently committed to a completely false story. A big handicap was the youth of most London-trained agents, as the Arbeitsdienst claimed all men from 18 to 25 and subsequently from 18 to 40. Professions had to be chosen with this in mind. Another consideration was the problem of explaining away a period of absence from Holland while the agent was training in this country. Both of these difficulties were overcome in many cases by adopting the cover of a seaman or ship's carpenter waiting in Dutch ports for a ship, or of a Dutch Merchant Nany officer on leave from Germany. Some agents were given O.T. cover, according to which they had left other occupied countries to avoid capture by the Allies and in some cases they posed as store-masters working for the Wehrmacht. Some explained their absence by claiming to have arrived from the Netherlands East Indies. Others posed as repatriated prisoners of war or clerks employed in foreign firms and visiting Holland to see relatives. Many agents obtained exemption from the labour laws by posing as Category C. men.

Although a few agents were ordered to prepare their cover story on arrival, most were given a cover story to leanr before they left and some did not see eye-to-eye with their Section Officers in the matter. One agent for instance, was sent out with papers showing him to be a baker, whereas he, knowing the area to which he was being sent, maintained that a better cover story would have been that of a farmer or agricultural worker.

Many agents with London's approval, prepared their own cover story, retained their own identity and papers and consequently only had to explain away the period of their absence from Holland. This they did by claiming to have been in Government service in some other part of the country, or persuading friends to vouch that they had been living with them for their period of absence.

Papers given to agents in London were almost invariable considered by local resistance leaders as worthless and immediately exchanged for local products. Sets of papers supplied by London were usually incomplete and even if retained, had to be augmented by documents obtained on the spot. The faulty watermark of the London identity came in for much criticism. Some agents never used their London papers at all, but kept them as souvenirs. There were cases of agents returning to Holland with papers previously acquired when in resistance before being brought to England for training. Two criticisms made by agents about London's papers were the following: In one case a man's profession on his identity card was indicated as a private secretary without stating by whom he was employed, thus leaving the agent to find his own employer, another case an agent's address was given as a certain hotel which had in the meantime been requisitioned by the Wehrmacht. This main objection to London papers was the …
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