De Vries, Johannes Grerardus Maria “Jan”, born 08-12-1918, in Goirle, Noord Brabant Netherlands, to Cornelis Hubertus der Vries (1880-1969) and Theresia Dirks (1888-1970). Besides Jan there was an older brother Augustinus, born in May 1907 and a younger sister Elisabeth, born in February 1921. Jan was a professional baker, but during the mobilization Jan de Vries was assigned as a conscript hussar with the 2nd Platoon of the1st Squadron Armored Car (2-1 E.Paw.) under command of Captain / Ritmeester J.L. Bruinier,
The 1st Eskadron Armored Car was founded on 01-04-1936 as the Eskadron Armored Cars, based at the garrison in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The E.Paws. was equipped with 12 paws of the Swedish type Landsverk 181, with the Dutch designation Pantserwagen M.36. On 01-06-1938, in connection with the foundation of the 2nd Eskadron, the name of the Eskadron changed to 1st Eskadron Armored Cars. The 1st E. Paws. consisted of 4 platoons of 3 armored car each with a command armored car of the type M.38. The Paws. In addition to a civilian license plate, they also had a military license plate. The wagons of the 1 E.Paw. were numbered consecutively from 601 to 612 and 613 as the commando armored car. In addition to the 4 platoons, the Squadron also consisted of a command, administrative and medical group. There was also a motorcycle machine gun group per platoon. Also present is the corps train with kitchen supplies, goods, ammunition and petrol cars. The first exercise lasted 15 months for the crews. In principle, the crew (5 men) was trained for all functions in the armored car, driver, gunner, aimer, driver/gunner. In practice, it turned out that a certain specialism was emerging in the functions. A good driver is not yet a good driver/shooter. Hussars assigned to the machine-gun group received training in addition to their own function as gunner, aimer or driver/gunner of an armored car.
Conscripts with proven suitability could be designated by the squadron commander after the 1st period for training as watchmasters with the function of car commander or commander of a machine gun group. During the mounting tensions in Europe in September 1938 and in April 1939 the 1st E.Paw. mobilized. After April 1939 it remained stationed under arms in the newly built Frederik Hendrik barracks in Vught. After the proclamation of the general mobilization at the end of August 1939, they moved to the mobilization destination in Mierlo-Hout, followed by stationing in Boxtel and Breda for a short time.
At the beginning of April 1940, the German invasion of Denmark and Norway took place, in which the rapid capture of the airfields made an impression in Dutch military circles. As a result, it was decided to strengthen the defense of some airfields within the Vesting Holland. On 20-04-1940 the 1st and 2nd platoons, under the command of reserve lieutenant ir. M.J. Aldenkamp, stationed at Ypenburg Airport near The Hague and on 29-04-1940, the 1st Eskadron Armored Cars (minus 1st and 2nd platoon) was moved to Schiphol. Four hussars in armored car overalls with Jan de Vries on the far right.
The 3rd Battalion of the Regiment Grenadiers was present in defense of Ypenburg. The battalion was reinforced with the 1st and 2nd platoon of armored cars of the 1st squadron. These troops were under the direct command of the Commander Air Defence, (C.Lvd.) Lieutenant General P.W. Best. An inner and outer defense and a reserve were set up. The inner defense had the task of defending the airfield against enemy airborne landings. The outer defense had to be form screens. These screens served to protect enemy paratroopers and other enemy elements (fifthcolumn) to prevent access to the airport from outside. We will focus on the armored cars and in particular the car 608.The crew of the 608 consisted of: Watchmaster G. Bonga, Commander; Corporal Sleeuwenhoek, shot aimer; Hussar de Bruin, chief driver; Hussar C.J. Joosen, reverse driver and Hussar Jan de Vries, driver/gunner.
The armored cars were engaged in the inner defense as follows (see sketch below). Cars 602, 603, 605, 608 and 611 were scattered around the buildings located on the north-western edge of the airfield and camouflaged there as much as possible. The crew camped nearby of the chariots to be ready for combat quickly. The two machine-gun groups were positioned at a watermill in the northern corner of the airfield to deny any enemy landed off-field access from the north and south-east. The car 601 was part of the outdoor defense set up for security at the main entrance of Ypenburg
By order of C.Lvd. the troops had to be on high alert from 3.15 am. The reveille was therefore for both platoons Paws at approximately 2.15 am, so that the positions of Paws and machine-machine guns were fully occupied from the designated time. Lieutenant Marinus Jan Aldenkamp made a round between 03:30 and 04:00 to make sure his troops were ready. Lieutenant Marinus Jan Aldenkamp survived the war and died, age 71 on 14-10-1981, in Hengelo, Nederland. At about 04:00 am the main building sounded the alarm for approaching aircraft from the direction of Hoek van Holland. It turned out to be German bombers that immediately started a bombardment of the airfield. Lieutenant Aldenkamp was able to reach his armored car, the 603, even before the bombs fell. The bombardment lasted about 45 minutes, after which enemyfighter planes fired on. Even before the bombing ended, German planes dropped a large number of paratroopers north, west and south of Ypenburg. These paratroopers tried to gather and advance in the direction of Ypenburg.
Death and burial ground of De Vries, Johannes Grerardus Maria “Jan”.
At about 5:20 am, enemy aircraft with airborne troops landed. The armored cars and machine guns of the Grenadiers on the field immediately opened a murderous fire, which brought the aircraft to a halt and some immediately went up in flames. A second landed and went downsame fate, as a group of several aircraft were hit during the landing and ended up in the flames on the landing area.
All enemy troops landed on the airfield were put out of action, so that the enemy refrained from making further landings. The action of the armored cars in the early morning hours of May 10, 1940.
601: Stood just behind the car after a bomb impact, sunk at the main entrance, attempts to get the vehicle afloat failed. Despite the precarious position and unfavorable position, cannon and machine gun continued to harass the enemy. The 602: Standing in position near a hangar, around the car a parapet of loose stones was built. Despite the fact that the hangar was on fire from the bombing, fire was opened on the attackers.The 603: The aiming equipment was seriously disrupted by the bombardment. After being shot again, this car scored seven or eight hits.The 605: Due to the bombardment, in which the bombs fell around the car, among other things, the periscopes were damaged and the cannon disrupted. Car abandoned by crew with machine gun and cartridge drums. Have joined the motorcycle machine gun group to continue fighting.The 611: Two descending aircraft fired, sufficient ammunition. No details, later went to the main entrance. The 608: After the bombardment, fire was successfully delivered to landing aircraft. At 07:30 the crew drove away three cars that limited the field of fire under enemy fire. Hussar Jan de Vries made himself very deserving. By order of commander 1st company, 3rd battalion, Regiment Grenadiers was driven to the main entrance. The car was attacked and the gunman was injured. At the behest of Lieutenant Aldenkamp, rounds were now being made to reconnoitre the enemy positions. In front of the hangars, the main driver and the driver/gunner [Jan de Vries] were injured.
Jan de Vries was wounded (including gunshot wound left knee) and transferred to the hospital Sint Antoniushove at Oosteinde in Voorburg (ZH). He came here as a result of his injuries death on Sunday 26-05-1940 at 20:00.age 21.
Jan was buried on Thursday May 30-05-1940 at the Roman Catholic cemetery in his hometown Diessen. The grave of Jan with four French soldiers killed in May 1940.