The Royal Dutch Brigade ‘Princess Irene’ (PIB) was a Dutch army component that originated from Dutch troops who could escape their mainland in May 1940 and consisted of individual civilians and student escapees, (see Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema), to England and Dutchmen from abroad who fulfilled their duty of service at the brigade or volunteered at the Reported brigade
The Princess Irene Brigade was founded in Congleton, England on January 11, 1941 . In September 1941, General Major David van Voorst Evekink became Commander of the Irene Brigade. Voorst Evekink died age 59 on 16-03-1950 in London. He wanted to send the Brigade to India, in which Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard supported him. He went there with a company of volunteers, and the command of the Brigade was taken over by Colonel, later Major General Albert Cornelis de Ruyter of Steveninck . When he returned from Front, he became Head of a new Office of War; The Organization General Staff Office. de Ruyter of Steveninck died age 53 on 25-25-1949 in Den Hague.
Some 500 Surinamese people volunteered for the Brigade, but were denied by the Dutch government because volunteers and civil servants from South Africa could take offense because of their racial background. Otherwise, 156 Dutch soldiers went in 1941 with the Hr. Ms. From Kinsbergen via Bermuda, Saint Maarten, Saba and Saint Eustatius to Suriname to train the shuttles there. In 1942, in Suriname, the duty was imposed and 5,000 men had to be trained. Also, the Irene Brigade was deployed as a guard on the transport ships carrying bauxite from the mines in Moengo. More than 60% of the required bauxite for American aluminum factories came from Suriname. In 1943, the military were called back to England to attend D-Day. Also fifteen Surinamese took part in the liberation.
A few months after the foundation, the Brigade was stationed in Wolverhampton. The strength of the brigade ranged between 1200 and 3500 men .Prins Bernhard vonLippe Biesterfeld visiting the town.
In August 1944, so after D-Day, the Brigade landed with 1200 Irish men at Arromanches in France . On August 12, the Brigade took part in the fighting at Pont-Audemer and Saint-Côme. There, and later also in Belgium, the battle was fought with the German troops that the Allies tried to stop. The Brigade also took part in Operation Market Garden and fought in Zeeland and in Hedel. The PIB was involved in the liberation of Tilburg (October 25) and The Hague (May 8).
On July 16, 1945, the Royal Dutch Brigade Princess Irene, was officially dissolved, with Prince Bernhard distinguishing standard with the Military Willems Order 4th Class and 29 other brave divorces, some of which were posthumous.
Near Wolverhampton, 24 men were killed, by illness or by accident. Most were buried at the Borough Cemetery in Wolverhampton. Cadier, Das, Van Hage, Korteling and Thomas were reburied after the war on the Dutch Field of Honor in Mill Hill.
One member of the Brigade was our local Tony Herbrink. He was destined to become a priest, but joined the willows. When the Second World War broke out, he chose for a crossing to England for safety reasons. But not much later, Herbrink left the priesthood training and he entered the army. and joined the Princess Irene Brigade in 1940. Ton Herbrink defended their honor at all times. Tony died old age 97 in 2016 in Waalre and was with his age the oldest of four remaining Irene Brigade warriors.