Bestebreurtje, Arie Dirk “Harry”.

Back to all people

- Medals


Bestebreurtje, Arie Dirk “Harry”, born on 12-04-1916, in Rotterdam , Netherlands, the son of Anton Dirk Bestebreurtje and Hermanna Hendrika, born Worst and became a champion speed skater in his younger years. Bestebreurtje and his family moved to Switzerland during the 1930s.In 1940 he married the Australian Gertrude Maud Bersch, born in Sydney in 1915. Bestebreurtje studied law in Zurich, and his family, wife and daughter, Hendiekje Maud, who was born in 1943, escaped to the United States via Portugal when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands during World War II. Then they went to Canada. He crosses over to England again, is assigned to the newly established Princess Irene Brigade   and is one of the first foreigners to attend the Royal Military Academy in Aldershot, England. There he is called Captain “Harry” because the Americans and British cannot pronounce his last name. Because of his language skills (also German and English) he soon comes into the crosshairs of the OSS, one of the offices “Cloak And Dagger” that fall under the G2 of the Allied Military Command and in 1944 became one of nearly 300 “Jeds” (operatives of Operation Jedburgh)..

Jed: is the shortened name for Jedburgh. This is the name that the OSS or gave to the men that were trained at Milton Hall in England for operations behind German and Asian lines. Here teams were given names and assignments. Jedburgh is actually a small village in Scotland, but had no direct part in the operations of the Jeds. This place hundreds of years ago had a way of dealing with criminals; they executed you first and then you were tried.

In 1944 “Harry” Bestebreurtje led a Jedburgh team and was dropped as a Dutch liaison officer along with two Americans, Willard ‘Bud’ Beynon and George Verhaeghe. Bud Beynono survived the war and died age 87 on 15-02-2011 They were added to the US 82nd Airborne Division and became involved in the airborne landings near Nijmegen. Bestebreurtje knew the area well, because he had spent cycling holidays here in his youth. He, here left in 1936, had also participated in the Nijmegen Four Days Marches. On September 17, 1944 after landing at Groesbeek, he went on a reconnaissance with Commander Major “General “Slim Jim” James Gavin. During this trip they came across a hidden German machine gun post. Bestebreurtje killed the German with a lightning-fast shot from the hip, making a big impression on Commander Gavin. During later reconnaissance he was injured in his hands and elbow. A few days later he transferred to a British unit and managed to reach the Waal bridge after killing one sniper and capturing another. He helped occupy the conquered territory so that the American airborne troops could land. At the end of October he participated with the British in the liberation of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He was the liaison officer who maintained contacts between the British and the Dutch Interior Forces.In the night of April 7-8, 1944, he was part of Operation Amherst. Operation Amherst was a Free French and British SAS attack designed to capture intact Dutch canals, bridges and airfields during World War II. It was led by Brigadier Mike Calvert of Chindit fame. Calvert died in his 86th year on 26-11-1998 in Richmond-upon-Thames. Harry’s team also consisted of RAF captain Harry Harcourt, Carel Ruijsch van Dugteren and the British sergeant radio operator C.C. Somers . There was parachute over Hooghalen in Drenthe; because of the bad weather they ended up at camp Westerbork . On landing, Bestebreurtje landed unhappy on his leg and was unable to continue the operation. Harcourt hid him and Bestebreurtje is in the woods for a few days. After four days he crawled to the farm of Mr. Schutten in Hooghalen. Harcourt , with baret, was later captured. The other members of the team had been dropped so scattered that there was no contact with them. On Friday, April 12, the region and also Camp Westerbork were liberated by the Canadians. Bestebreurtje here in hospital

Death and burial ground of Bestebreurtje, Arie Dirk “Harry”.


Lieutenant Arie Dirk Bestebreurtje was sporty, he was one of the twenty bearers of the Skills Medal of the Royal Dutch Brigade “Princess Irene”.

After the war Bestebreurtje emigrated to the United States, where he had three more children. In 1952 he was naturalized as an American citizen and honorably discharged from military service on 10-07-1952. In 1954 he attended Theological Seminary in New York and became a pastor of the Presbyterian Church, first in Louisville, Kentucky and later in Charlottesville, Virginia. He retired in 1981. In 20-01-1983, age 66 he while skating, collapsed through the ice and drowned. His wife Trudy died on 11-04-1999, age 83.

Bestebreurtje, Arie Dirk “Harry”. is buried, together with his wife Gertrude, who died age 84 in 1999, at Monticello Memorial Park Albemarle County, Virginia, Section 33, Space 2.

Message(s), tips or interesting graves for the webmaster:

Share on :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *