Ruyter van Steveninck, Albert Cornelis de.

Back to all people

Ruyter van Steveninck, Albert Cornelis de, born 28-11-1895 in Tiel Netherlands the son of Albert de Ruijter van Steveninck and Agnes, born, Bär von Remmersweil. The Catholic family had five children. Albert was the youngest; his two sisters were Nicole (1890) and Henriette (1893) and his two brothers Anthony (1892) and Raimond (1894), also military, who was mayor of Leiden as a former NSB member during the war. The de Ruyter van Steveninck family are direct descendants of Admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter. He was in poor health. His brother Raimond is one of the founders of the NSB and during the war NSB Raimond De Ruijter gets the Leiden chain of office hung by Mayor Tepe (May 1941)

After the liberation Raimond De Ruyter was arrested and tried by the Leiden Tribunal. During his trial, De Ruyter, as one of the few defendants, remained faithful to the principles of the NSB. Mainly because of this obstinacy, the Tribunal sentenced him to 10 years in prison plus the additional penalties such as loss of the right to vote and stand for election and the prohibition of ever holding public office again. However, the prison sentence was reduced to four years. Raimond died age 69, on 26-10-1963 in The Haque.

After the HBS in Leeuwarden, Albert followed the Dutch Royal Military Academy (KMA)  in Breda from 1915 as a cadet for the artillery. Because of his interest in artillery reconnaissance, De Ruyter van Steveninck transferred to the Air Force. He married on 29-9-1919 to Berendina Maria Françoise Houwing. No children were born from this marriage.

On 01-10-1915, he was admitted to the Royal Military Academy in Breda as a cadet for the artillery coat of arms. After his appointment as a second lieutenant in 1918, he held a number of positions with the 1st and 2nd Field Artillery Regiment in the 1920s and 1930s. Due to the various reorganizations and downsizing of the army, his promotion was slow. His interest in aerial artillery reconnaissance, a recent development in those days, led to his obtaining the air observer’s license in 1921. The following year he attended a course with the French army on the cooperation between artillery and military aviation.

During the mobilization of 1939, De Ruyter van Steveninck – captain since 1936 – was attached to the staff of the 1st Army Corps in The Hague, in the position of officer of the air forces. After the German invasion on 10 May 1940, he was part of the military mission sent to the Belgian General Headquarters for operational cooperation. Already on 18 May, however, he was assigned to the Dutch military attaché in Paris, Lieutenant Colonel David van Voorst Evekink. David van Voorst Evekink survived the war and died age 59, on 16-03-1950, in Londen,

On 14-06-1940, just before the German entry into Paris, De Ruyter van Steveninck left the French capital. After some wandering, he ended up in La Bourboule, about 100 km south-west of Vichy, the seat of the French government. After months of procrastination and an unconvincing attempt to reach Spain, he finally complied with the government-in-exile’s orders to come to London. He arrived there in early February 1941 via Marseille, Algiers, Oran, Casablanca and Lisbon. He was admitted to the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Brigade,  the unit in which the government housed all the expatriate personnel of the Royal Netherlands Army . In the meantime, with retroactive effect to 01-11-1940, promoted to Major, De Ruyter van Steveninck became commander of the 1st Battalion on 15-03-1941. After being entrusted with the brigade command on 07-01-1942, he was given the appropriate rank of lieutenant colonel four months later.

When De Ruyter van Steveninck took command of the Royal Dutch Brigade ‘Princess Irene’, as the name had been since the Royal Decree of 26-08-1941, this unit was not in good shape. The brigade had already worn out six commanders in its short existence. Its personnel had been brought together from all corners of the world and, insofar as they came from the mother country, often demoralized by the course of the battle in May 1940. The average age was over thirty, and a large part of the personnel was physically unfit. suitable for field service. Above all, however, the brigade played tricks on the lack of a clear task. In effect, it served as a reservoir from which the government drew at will for more important tasks, military or not.

It is to De Ruyter van Steveninck’s credit that he has managed to break the vicious circle of this situation. He separated the fit from the less fit personnel and reorganized the brigade into three battle groups and a reconnaissance division. Trucks were made available so that she could operate on a mobile basis, and the equipment and armaments were brought up to standard. In the spring of 1943, the unit underwent a rigorous training program with a British training unit. The brigade commander turned out to be a strong, if somewhat distant, leader who, despite his weak constitution, set the same high standards for others as for himself. He shared the lives of his subordinates as much as possible, without becoming too intimate with them. With his attitude and great military expertise, he commanded respect and restored military discipline and mutual trust in the troop.Here with  General Bernard Paget Commander of the Home Forces  In addition, De Ruyter van Steveninck had the circumstances with them. The brigade had been encamped at Wolverhampton in May 1941, had been assigned to the British 21st Army Group in July 1943 and was destined to participate in the proposed invasion of the Normandy coast. All effort now had a clear purpose, albeit that the brigade was not judged fit to act in the front line.

When De Ruyter van Steveninck set foot on the European mainland again at Courseulles-sur-Mer on 08-08-1944, the Allies were on the eve of their breakout from the beachhead in Normandy. He led the brigade as it advanced to the Seine and from there further north. In the night hours of 20 to 21 September 1944, he and his men crossed the Dutch border south of Valkenswaard. At that time, the brigade was carrying out flank security missions as part of Operation Market Garden. After this attempt to conquer the bridges in North Brabant and the Gelderland river area had not brought the desired success, De Ruyter van Steveninck moved his troops to the islands of Zeeland on the orders of the British 2nd Army. Here they performed security services during the winter, until they were sent back to North Brabant in the spring of 1945.

Death and burial ground of Ruyter van Steveninck, Albert Cornelis de.


After the dissolution of the Irene Brigade in The Hague on 13-07-1945, De Ruyter van Steveninck was appointed acting commander of the Netherlands Armed Forces and with effect from 19-11-1945 as commander of Division A, an administrative unit in which various troop units were temporarily housed and trained as necessary. In these positions, De Ruyter van Steveninck was involved for some time in the reconstruction of the Royal Netherlands Army. On 22-07-1946, having just been promoted to colonel, he took a seat in the High Military Court in Nurnberg , fulfilling an express wish of his. On 22-03-1949, shortly before his death, he was promoted to Major General. Albert De Ruyter van Steveninck died 25-06-1949, age 53, The Haque. Albert is buried at the Cemetery Kerkhoflaan in The Haque, Section A1, Row 27, Graf 1. The gravestone is alas very feral and poorly maintained. My brother Hans and his partner Daisy were so kind to visit the graveside and made the grave photo’s.

The Dutch government in exile had formed the Irene Brigade because it was politically desirable to contribute to the liberation of the motherland with its own troops. The significance of De Ruyter van Steveninck was that he forged a combat unit that could serve this purpose from the very heterogeneous human material of which the brigade initially consisted. In addition, thanks to his efforts, immediately after the liberation, modern trained and experienced personnel were available for the encoding of the most important weapon training courses of the army in the making.

After the war, De Ruyter van Steveninck was appointed acting commander of the Netherlands Armed Forces. In 1946 he, now a colonel, took a seat on the Supreme Military Court. On 22-03-1949, shortly before his death, he was promoted to Major General. After his death, the Army Place Oirschot was renamed General Majoor de Ruyter van Steveninckkazerne in recognition of his achievements. The Dutch 13 Light Brigade (2020) is now housed here.


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 *