Ter Horst-Arriëns, Kate Anna “The Angel of Arnhem”.

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Ter Horst-Arriiëns, Kate Anna, born 06-07-1906, in Amsterdam, to Pieter Albert Arriens (1873-1940), director of the Hollandsche Stoombootmaatschappij, and Catharina Hillegonda, born Maingay (1875-1965). Kate Arriënser married Jan ter Horst (1905-2003), lawyer, on 12-9-1930 in Hilversum. From this marriage, six children were born, 2 daughters and 4 sons.

Kate Arriëns grew up with an older brother and sister in a musical family. Her father was often on the road: first for his work on the ocean and later for the railways. The family moved to Hilversum. After a year at the School of Applied Arts in Amsterdam, Kate started studying French at the University of Amsterdam in 1925. She became a member of the Amsterdam Female Students’ Association (AVSV), where she mainly focused on drama and poetry. On stage she met law student Jan ter Horst, whom she married in 1930. The couple went to live in Rotterdam.

Kate ter Horst had meanwhile become acquainted with the anthroposophical philosophy of life and founded a kindergarten based on that approach. Their first child was born:in 1933, Wendela Maria. A year later son Pieter Albert followed. In November 1947, Pieter Albert, was killed by a leftover anti-tank mine in a meadow along the Rhine. The family moved to Arnhem in 1936, where Jan became a partner in a law firm. In the Arnhem years, the family was expanded with another daughter and son Sophie Catharina and Michiel Willem . In 1941 they were able to buy the former rectory of the Oude Kerk on Benedendorpseweg in Oosterbeek. This fulfilled Kate’s wish to live outside. Their son Arend Christoffel was born in Oosterbeek, in 1943.

On Monday 18-09-1944, the second day of the Battle of Arnhem, the house of the Ter Horst family was taken into use by English soldiers as an aid station of the Red Cross. Liberation was near, it was thought, and therefore only a few wounded could be cared for in the wash-house. After a few days, however, it became clear how much they had made a mistake and the English had to withdraw to the area around Oosterbeek. The village came under heavy fire: the rectory was in the front line. Jan ter Horst, a member of the underground, was guiding an English patrol and was unable to return home because of the German deposition.

Kate ter Horst moved into the basement with her five children and housekeeper Nel to accommodate a growing number of injured people. She assisted in the care of the wounded, provided her household goods and pantry, and gave courage to the dying. As the situation grew more dire, she read Psalm 91 in all the rooms and prayed the Lord’s Prayer with the soldiers. In total, about three hundred British soldiers were accommodated in the rectory.  About her friendship with the military and the dilemma of whether to flee or to stay, she wrote: ‘A great bond had grown between us, in any case, we had supported and helped each other with all our strength’ (Cloud over Arnhem, 59 ). On September 26, Oosterbeek fell into German hands and the rectory was evacuated. Kate left with her children via Apeldoorn to a befriended farming family in Friesland, where Jan joined her. Kate ter Horst’s diary entries from this period were published in 1946 in Niet in favour, a collection of war memories from the region.

After the war, the Ter Horst family returned to Oosterbeek. In the garden, where several dozen deceased were temporarily buried during the war, a monument depicting the falling Pegasus, made by sculptor Pieter Starreveld, was erected. A gable stone with a phoenix was placed above the front door of the rectory, also designed by Starreveld. Jan ter Horst, here with Dutch queen Juliana became acting mayor of Renkum. Kate ter Horst appeared in the film  Theirs is the Glory (1946),  about the British 1st Airborne Division, under command of Major General Roy Urquhart  during the Battle of Arnhem. In this she acted out her psalm reading. The grief was great when in November 1947 their eldest son (Peik), age 13 with  stepped on a landmine left behind in the meadow behind their house and died on the spot; his boyfriend succumbed to his injuries several hours later. In 1950 their youngest child was born: Kees Arjen.

In the post-war years, Kate and Jan ter Horst were involved in, among other things, the layout of the Airborne Cemetery and the construction of the war memorial in Oosterbeek. They regularly received soldiers who returned to the rectory where they had been cared for during the war. In 1959 the English translation of Kate’s diary entries was published under the title Cloud over Arnhem.

Death and burial ground of Ter Horst-Arriëns, Kate Anna “The Angel of Arnhem”.

Kate ter Horst was still fascinated by anthroposophical thought. She set up a number of initiatives in Arnhem and in 1980 wrote a book about the Basilica of St. Andoche in Saulieu: Pilgrim paths along good and evil, published by the anthroposophical publisher Vrij Geestesleven. The book was translated into German two years later. On 21-02-1992 the ter Horst couple was hit by a car on the sidewalk in front of their own house. Kate ter Horst  died of her injuries at the age of 85; her husband survived the accident.

Kate ter Horst was nicknamed ‘Angel van Arnhem’ by the Allied soldiers, a worship she wanted nothing to do with herself. In 1980 she received the King’s Medal for Courage in the cause of Freedom from British Ambassador Sir John Lang “Jock” Taylor; Kate and her husband Jan both became Members of the British Empire. The story of the reception in the rectory is incorporated in the film A Bridge Too Far: Liv Ullmann plays the role of Kate ter Horst.

Kate Anna Ter Horst and here husband Jan are buried at the Militaire Cemetery in Oosterbeek, Netherlands. Van Limburg Stirumweg 28, 6861 WL Oosterbeek. Jan ter Horst lived in the secret annexe for 11 years (the rectory donated the couple to the reformed community of Oosterbeek after WWII) of the rectory and died on 31-07-2003, old age 98..

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