FILE: HS9/866/4 & HS7/159
NAME: Kuenen, Gerrit Jan (Jan).
BORN: 13-01-1918, Aalten
ARRIVED IN ENGLAND:
TRAINED AS: WT-Operator , to Dekkers.
TO THE FIELD: 31-05-1944/01-06-1944
CRASHED NEAR: Gilze-Rijen
CRASHED WITH: Dekkers
RETURNED TO ENGLAND: NA
AFTER MISSION REPORT: NA
DIED: 01-06-1944 (plane crash)
TRAININ NAME: Gerrit Koops
NAMES IN THE FIELD: Koops
SET: B2 ?
TX LOCATIONS: NA
SOURCES: Frans Kluiters
REMARKS: Jan Kuenen was de oudste zoon van Gerrit Jan Engelbertus Hendrikus Kuenen uit Winterswijk en Gerritje Johanna Theodora Roelofswaard uit Aalten. Jan had een baan bij de Machinefabriek in Beverwijk toen hij op 2 februari 1938 werd opgeroepen om zijn militaire dienstplicht te vervullen. Hij werd korporaal-geweermaker. Tijdens de dienst werd zijn meniscus beschadigd, waarna hij werd afgekeurd. Hij vond een baan als werktuigbouwkundige bij de Hoogovens in IJmuiden.
Tijdens de meidagen van 1940 zat hij thuis. Samen met zijn collega Kees van der Poel uit Beverwijk bedacht hij allerlei manieren om de Duitsers dwars te zitten. In november 1940 wilden ze naar Engeland gaan met een Messerschmitt die ze zouden stelen op het vliegveld bij Bergen, P. Servaas was piloot en zou ook meegaan. Het plan ging niet door. Nadat het een dag was uitgesteld wegens de sterke tegenwind, probeerde hij op 20 april 1941 vanuit Wijk aan Zee met een zeesloep naar Engeland te varen met Piet Coenen, Jan Schelvis, Slings, Veltman, een onbekende, een onbekend echtpaar, 2 onbekende Amsterdammers en een onbekende uit IJmuiden. Piet Coenen kwam uit Velsen-Noord en zat bij een verzetsgroep in de IJmond, voor hem was dit zijn tweede poging. Eenmaal op zee bleek het toch onmogelijk te zijn om verder te gaan. Door het ruwe weer werd Kuenen overboord geslagen en weer gered, maar er werd besloten terug te keren. Coenen dook onder in Amsterdam, Kuenen werd op 16 mei gearresteerd, ondervraagd en toch weer vrijgelaten. Een dag later werd dit herhaald. Hij besloot over land naar Engeland te gaan, en via Spanje, Curaçao en Canada slaagde hij erin op 17 december 1942 zijn doel te bereiken. In Perpignan kwam hij Kees van der Poel weer tegen, waarna ze samen de Pyreneeën overstaken. In Zaragoza werden ze gearresteerd en vandaar naar kamp Miranda de Ebro gebracht. Na een maand bracht het Amerikaanse Rode Kruis hen naar Madrid.
Kuenen werd in Engeland tot geheim agent opgeleid en gepromoveerd tot 2de luitenant. Op 31 mei 1944 werd hij met Cees Dekkers uitgezonden naar Nederland. De Hudson (V9155) van het 161 Special Duties Squadron werd die nacht aangeschoten bij Gilze-Rijen en stortte neer. Niemand overleefde de crash en ze werden ter plekke begraven.
Op 22 september 1945 werd Jan Kuenen met militaire eer op begraafplaats Duinrust herbegraven.
In 1959 werd in Beverwijk een straat naar hem vernoemd.
Given the cover name of Gerrit Koops, he was sent to Stodham Park (STS 3), near Liss, Hampshire, where in early April, Sergeant Mendes reported on his background and character. ‘Very determined fellow with plenty of willpower. Carried out instructions with regard to security (viz. identity, cover story etc.) with understanding. Pro-English and American sympathies. Past History: born 13.1.18 Aalten. Technical School (Middelbaar Technisch Onderw) Haarlem. Profession Technical designer - Inspector of the foundries at Ymuiden after the invasion; left Holland 5.6.41 alone via Belgium and France. Was 6½ months in France especially Toulouse and Perpignan. (Hollands Huis) Left France end of Dec. 41 without papers for Spain. He was caught in Spain and sentenced to 1 month imprisonment and 2 months concentration camp. Was free in Madrid for 2 months. Left Spain on 5.6.42 on the labo de Bono Esperanta for Dutch W. Indies. Arrived there 27.6.42 (Curacao) and stayed there 10 weeks - as Sgt. Instructor W.T. Went afterwards via New York to Canada to the Dutch Camp at Guelph. Left Canada 12.12.42 for U.K. Rather good example of his character: His fiancée - Dutch girl, who he knew since his schooldays in Holland - is now living with her Mother in the States (New York). The girl is coming to England end of June as they had planned to get married. All the same, Nol hopes to be sent away before then to avoid making the subsequent parting too painful. Also: He is not advising her to stay in the States as he would have to give reasons for advising this, reasons which might endanger security of movement. (TNA HS9/866/4, 7 April 1943)
As regards his security mindedness, it was pointed out that the only danger was that he was inclined to talk too much and it was recommended that he learned to stay in the background. His habits were regarded as temperate, ‘drinking and smoking in moderation. Quite intelligent and resourceful. Emotionally a little highly strung […], very quickly flustered and agitated when he feels he is under observation. Hands become shaky and speech broken and uncertain. Otherwise lively disposition.’ (Ibid. 30 April 1943)
Whilst on parachute training at Ringway, he stayed at Dunham House (STS 51a) where his instructor made similar points: ‘he tends to blurt out things under provocation. He is very excitable and then will lose control over his nerves. He is aware of this shortcoming and maintains that his nerves have been in a bad shape ever since the days of his internment in the Vichy Labour Camp and the Spanish concentration camp. (Ibid, 7 May 1943)
The only mention of training was him practicing using the ‘leg bag’. This was usually a sack of sand attached to a parachutist’s leg to get him used to having a heavy wireless set wrapped in protective material and put in a sack that would hit the ground before him.
There were no reports from his training instructors at Beaulieu or Brickendonbury but his file indicates he spent a month at the former and four days at the latter. He also spent time at the Averard Hotel in Bayswater and Green Park Hotel when on leave in London. He also stayed at ‘St Agnes’, which very likely was a flat used by N Section in St Agnes Place, Kennington. (Ibid.) .
In early October, SOE sent him to Howbury Hall (STS 40), near Tempsford, where specialist radio ground-to-air communication was taught. Sgt. Hartog, his instructor, commented that Kuenen had worked as a volunteer with his father on the Dutch State Railways. ‘He has shown great interest in this course dealing with the “S” phone and also the Eureka-Rebecca, but notwithstanding he has set his mind on demolition work and does not want to go in for reception committee work. […] He is very disappointed that he has been waiting all this time as he has been promised to go over some time ago and it is now October and he is still in England.’ (Ibid, 14 October 1943)
On 17 November he was at Gaynes Hall (STS 61), suggesting a flight had been arranged but it must have been cancelled as he was back in London three days later. Intriguingly, he was reported at sea on 21 November. Whether this was an attempt to infiltrate him by boat is unknown but he was back in London on 23 November and over the following six months, apart from a second visit to Ringway at the end of April 1944, he was accommodated at Stodham Park, Dulwich, Gorse Hill, Dulwich, Hayes, the Averard Hotel and on some occasions he found his own accommodation in London.
The long wait led to him getting into trouble, ‘misbehaving himself in West Dulwich’ where Dutch agents were looked after in a hostel. On 27 March, in a note, probably by Johns, he informed Seymour Bingham that,
Your ex-agent who was taken over by us is still in our service at the present time. We are, however, thoroughly dissatisfied with him, and have only been waiting for the problem of the personnel on the Dutch S.O.E. side to be settled before taking up with them the question of this man’s disposal.
I will see that this matter is put on the agenda for one of our next meetings with our Dutch opposite numbers, and we will then decide whether he should go to the Cooler, or whether the Dutch can take him back and ensure that he does not endanger either your or our services by his indiscretions. (Ibid.)
A pencil-written note on Johns’ memo identified Kuenen as ‘Koops the VD merchant who we intend sending back to the Dutch or Cooler.’ (Ibid.) VD almost certainly refers to venereal disease, a sexually transmitted disease, which suggests that he had relationships with a number of women during his periods of leave and was accused of spreading it. It might explain his visits to hospital in February and March. One of the accompanying officers at the West Dulwich hostel stated that,
On Saturday, 18th March 1944, I went to The Grove [Public House], West Dulwich, with Sgt. ‘A’ and Sgt. ‘B’. At about 9.30 p.m. I saw the ex-B.I. agent, Kuehnen, enter the saloon in civilian clothes. He was obviously drunk and jovially greeted several British persons sitting down at tables. I instructed the agents, Sgt. ‘A’ and Sgt. ‘B’, to go back to our establishment. Since I thought it would not be at all dangerous to talk to Kuehnen myself, I decided to speak to him. In the meantime, Kuehnen had gone to the adjoining bar and I waited in the passage for him, as I knew it was one of his favourite occupations to loiter between the two bars and to contact various females in the two bars.
When he appeared I spoke to him. He was startled and, seizing my hand, cried: “Piet, old boy, let me see how many pips they have given you” and, suiting the action to the word, he felt at my collar to find how many stars I had. After having asked him, he told me that he had already learned about my return some time ago. He had heard from Mrs Bates, an ex-domestic help in our establishment. This woman saw me about a week after my arrival at the Dutch H.Q. at 71 Park Street, as I went from one room to another. Kuehnen had already told me, on my enquiring, that he was now working for the British, since Lieftinck [?Dutch official] saw no way of getting rid of him, and they were now doing things above France; but that he and six other lads were trying to get sent to Holland. He then asked about Johnson [?] and I told him that he was all right. He also told me that he continually went to The Grove because he still had an affair with the same woman from West Dulwich. An R.A.F. man came out of the saloon at that moment, a good friend of Kuehnen, who was also very drunk, and who interrupted us and asked us both if we would buy him a drink: whereupon Kuehnen offered him a pound to go and buy a drink for himself, which was refused.
In connection with the previous report from Lt. Cmdr. Child concerning a Dutch officer who is said to have told a certain Mrs. Trevor (?) in The Grove that I had not gone to Australia, as had been my cover story, but had been to Holland and had come back; it appears that this must have been Kuehnen, since the personal descriptions tally.
It appears to me that this is a very clear case of insufficient security which must not be allowed to continue, certainly as regards Kuehnen, taking into account the fact that our new agents are still being housed in West Dulwich. The British and Dutch authorities in question should take the necessary precautions. (Ibid. March 1944)
There is no evidence that he was sent to the Cooler but one has to imagine that he would have been reprimanded about his lack of security. According to his file, he was in London from on 5 April, spent four days in St Agnes, two in Dulwich, nine at Gorse Hill, seven at the Averard Hotel, two in the ‘flat’, four at Ringway, eleven at the flat, nine in Hayes, six in the flat and then one at Gaynes Hall. It needs to be remembered that as the RAF had banned flights to Holland, Dutch agents had to be occupied so as not to let them get too bored.
The location of the flat is unknown but it was probably where he stayed whilst he was in London, meeting with SOE and BBO officers, being provided with Dutch clothing, visiting a Dutch barber and dentist, learning his cover story, writing his will and given the orders for his mission. Such orders are rarely found in an agent’s personnel file but his, stamped TOP SECRET in red ink, are worth including to give one an insight into what information agents were provided with and how SOE had learned from its mistakes over the North Pole fiasco.
In preparation for and during the invasion of Western Europe by the United Nations there are many useful and important tasks which can be performed by loyal patriots in HOLLAND. For the execution of many of these tasks members of organisations already existing, and of the general public, can be usefully employed. The task of sabotage instructor can be considered highly important.
a) Operation Name
The name of your operation is FOOTBALL and you will be known by this name at the station of your departure. You will never use this name when you are in the field.
b) Code Names in the Field
(i) Your field name will be WILLEM. This is the only name you should use in messages from the field and it is the name by which you will be known by other members of the organisation.
(ii) The operational name of the W/T operator going with you is POKER and his name in the field and in telegrams is KEES.
You will go to HOLLAND for the purpose of instructing members of the organisation in sabotage and the general use of explosives and incendiaries. For the time being KEES may use you as reception leader [for container drops] but this is left to his judgment. KEES will have with him Hfl. 25,000 and three directives to pass to the organisation. KEES may use you also to make contacts for him.
You and KEES will be dropped together in HOLLAND by parachute on the first favourable night during the June moon period, at a point which will be shown to you prior to your departure.
Immediately upon landing you will bury your parachute and equipment; the parachute leg-bag must either be destroyed or buried, and on no account must it fall into the hands of the enemy. The wireless set and accumulator which are in your leg-bag you will bury separately and, if possible, in such a place as can easily be recognised so they can be collected by a fourth party if necessary. If you wish, you may bury your revolver with the W/T set; this W/T set must be handed over to KEES as soon as is convenient.
When you have done this you will proceed to a safe house indicated by KEES.
At your own choice. In case of emergency you may use the address in France. […] It is important to note that before an address is used it would be well to have it checked by us in LONDON.
You will carry with you the sum of Hfl. 5,000, also 2,500 French francs and 2,500 Belgian francs for your own use should you require it in case of emergency. KEES will have Hfl. 25,000 for the organisation
Package - Equipment - Camouflage
a) Your personal baggage will consist of one brown paper parcel.
b) You will be supplied with Hfl. 150.00 in small money for your immediate needs.
c) The remainder of your personal money is camouflaged as follows: -
Hfl. 4,850, FFrs. 2,500 and Bfrs. 2,500 in a money belt.
d) KEES will also have the sum of Hfl. 5,000 on his person and Ffrs. 2,500 and Bfrs. 2,500 for his own use.
e) Your code (One Time Pad) and reserve poem will be camouflaged […]
f) In KEES suitcase with W/T equipment there is a silent .32 with 50 rounds. He will hand this over to you as soon as possible.
(See Annexe V [not included]
You will have received these in accordance with your requirements.
You have been interviewed as to your requirements for the field and will receive these, plus your parachute equipment, at the station of departure.
You have been issued with a Dutch identity card [in the name of Gerrit Boerendams].
Return to this Country
You have been interviewed by an officer with regard to routes and have been given all the necessary information.
a) In the Field
You will use the various methods which you have been taught for communications between yourself, the W/T operator and other members of the organisation - postboxes, cut-outs etc. You may also arrange various danger signals.
The W/T operator will be in possession of his own code and equipment for the maintenance of two-way contact with LONDON. You will do all the encoding and decoding of our messages to you; this must be strictly adhered to for the security of all concerned. The W/T operator will only send messages to us concerning technical matters relating to his mission and/or the acknowledgement of messages which we shall broadcast by W/T.
c) Messages by W/T
In order to maintain the security of the W/T operator, it is essential that your messages should be kept as short as possible and limited to important information connected with your mission. Records of messages exchanged should not be kept.
d) Innocent Letters
(i) Code. You will use the convention which you have been taught: […]
(ii) Address: You send your Innocent Letters to an address […]
(iii) Signatures: You will sign your Innocent Letters WILLEM and we shall sign DORA.
e) B.B.C. Messages
On the first, second and third days and on the two following Sundays, we shall broadcast […]. This will serve to prove your bona fides if necessary.
f) Emergency Address
It is important that we should remain in contact with you, and if possible you should give us an address before you leave for the field. If you are unable to do this, you should let us have at the first possible moment by W/T. […]
Should you and KEES lose each other on landing, you should meet every day in order to regain contact.
If we have reason to suppose that you have been arrested and that the Germans are working your transmitter, we shall ask you an “innocent” question. If you are safe you will give us the correct answer, but if we do not receive the correct answer we will presume that you are in enemy hands.
6. FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
Your rank on leaving this country will be Sgt. and your salary will be credited to your account with the Dutch government. (Ibid. 26 May 1944)