Hagelaars, Adrianus Josephus “Janus”.

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Hagelaars, Adrianus Josephus “Janus”, born 05-03-1922 te Oerle, Veldhoven. Janus on the left, the son of Franciscus and Wilhelmina Hagelaars, born Jansen in Oerle, Veldhoven, where the webmaster is also living now. Janus had a brother and three sisters. Father, better known as ‘Ciske de Kuiper’, had café ‘De Linden’ at number 58 of the Oude Kerkstraat.  Janus attended primary school in Oerle and then vocational school in Eindhoven, where he was trained as a car mechanic. From 1938 to 1941 he worked at various garage companies and then for another 11 weeks at Welschap airfield, then called Fliegerhorst Eindhoven. He had already been approved for military service before the start of the war and had volunteered for the Dutch East Indies army. On 19-05-1942 he would have entered active service.

With his friend…. Meulenbroeks he conceived the plan to go to England. Through a convent brother and Thomas van den Boomen from Wintelre, he obtained the address of Baronnesse Helena Schoenmaeckers in Amby, near Maastricht. She ordered them to return with 1150 guilders each. That money would then be exchanged into Belgian and French francs for the trip. They would also receive contact addresses for the journey. On 18-02-1942 Meulenbroeks, van den Boomen and Hagelaars went by bicycle to Arendonk, by tram to Antwerp and by train via Brussels to Doornik (Tournai).At night they crossed the French border on foot and then by train from Lille to Paris. Their contact turns out to be impossible to find and they decide to travel on to Les Laumes, halfway between Paris and Lyon. There they cross the demarcation line on foot between the German-occupied part of France and the part controlled by a pro-German French government ( Vichy Regime)

of French Marshall, Vichy Gouvernement Petain, Henri Philippe Benomi Omer Joseph.

During the train journey to Lyon, they are stopped by the French gendarmes and forced to report to the foreign legion in Marseille. After three days in the legion’s barracks, they were allowed to go to church, but instead they went to the Dutch consulate. There they were advised not to sign and to flee. When they fled, they were arrested, severely beaten and imprisoned for three days. After release, they came via the consulate to a Dutch camp near Toulouse. On 30-09-1942 they moved in convoy to Madrid and on to the port city of Cadiz in southern Spain. On October 6, they embarked on the “Cabo de Buena Esperanza” to Curaçao, where they arrived on October 25-10–1942. Through contacts with the Shell community there, Janus can sign on as fifth engineer on the Belgian oil tanker “Laurent Meeuws” that sailed to England in a convoy via New York.

After the usual interrogation by superior Ernesto Pinto at the Royal Victoria Patriotic School, which was the subject of all Engelandvaarders/England sailors from the Netherlands, Janus was assigned to the Princes Irene Brigade. The Royal Dutch Brigade ‘Prinses Irene’ (PIB), named after the second daughter, Irene Prinses Irene of Queen Juliana Louise Emma Wilhelmina, , and Pirnce Berhard von Lippe Biesterfeld  was a Dutch army unit that originated from Dutch troops who managed to escape to England in May 1940 and also consisted of Engelandvaarders and Dutchmen from abroad who the Brigade fulfilled their national service or volunteered for the Brigade. The account above is largely based on the report of the interrogation by on 04-01-1943. On February 08-08-1943 he was transferred to No. 2 Dutch Troop of Interallied Commando. He was trained there to be one of the first Dutch commandos. On 24-02-1943, he was awarded the bravery award, the cross of merit, for his escape from the Netherlands.

After his commando training, he was sent to British India in December 1943 with other commandos to be deployed there. Janus belonged to the group that was kept there in reserve. On 15-08-1944 he was back in England with the rest of No. 2 Dutch Troop. Most of them took part in Operation Market Garden from September 17. However, five commandos, including Janus Hagelaars and Ab van Creveld, his friend and companion after Curaçao, were appointed as Prince Bernard’s bodyguard . The other three were a lieutenant and two corporals.

The Royal Netherlands Princess Irene Brigade landed in Arromanches on 08-08-1944. Attached to the 6th British Airborne Division, under command of Major General Richard Nelson ‘Windy’ Gale the Brigade took part in Operation Paddle for the liberation of the Pays d’Auge area starting on 17 August. The Princess Irene Brigade was thus the first Allied unit to liberate Pont-Audemer on 26-08-1944. Major General Gale died 09-07-1982, age 86, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom..

He and the prince arrived in liberated, my home town, Eindhoven  on 23-09-1944. He was given permission to visit his parents and fiancée in Oerle, Veldhoven on October 4. He was accompanied by the other members of the bodyguard, with the exception of his buddy Ab van Creveld.

Death and burial ground of Hagelaars, Adrianus Josephus “Janus”.

Janus back in the middle..

The next morning the three members of the bodyguard told Ab van Creveld that Janus Hagelaars had been killed in no man’s land in Nuland-Geffen. Ab was furious because of the commandos’ code of honor never to leave anyone, wounded or dead. He managed to return to the place where Janus had been killed in a jeep with one of the corporals. Halfway through, however, the corporal deemed it too dangerous to continue. Only threatening a court-martial made Ab van Creveld agree. Partly because of this, the remains of Janus Hagelaars remained in the open air in no man’s land for a long time. Janus Hagelaars was buried on 27-10-1944 in the cemetery of Oerle, Veldhoven, now my village where I of life.On 03-06-1982, Janus Hagelaars was reburied at the National Field of Honor Loenen (Section E, no. 1260). A memorial plaque can still be seen in the cemetery in Oerle.

Why did the 4 men go to Nuland-Geffen, about 50 km away, after their visit to Oerle? Nothing can be found in the archives of planned actions. Ab van Creveld was also told nothing about it. The reason given for the fact that he was kept out everywhere was that he was of Jewish descent and was therefore at extra risk. Inquiries at the Royal Household Archives yielded nothing. When asked, the response of Prince Bernard’s private secretary resulted in the following quote: “…..to inform you that the Prince does not remember Mr. Hagelaars and that he does not appear in the personal archive of His Royal Highness.” It’s still hard to imagine not remembering a member of your personal bodyguard who dies in the armor. The question marks surrounding the death of Janus Hagelaars only increased because of this, but answers are no longer to be expected.


Message(s), tips or interesting graves for the webmaster:    robhopmans@outlook.com

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