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Albertus van Dorssen remembers life at Butlins during the Second World War Back

Albertus My name is Albertus van Dorssen, age 82. I lived in these times (during the Second World War) in Viaardingen, a town situated between Rotterdam and Hock van Holland.

The last year of the war has particularly been a hard time. The region around our town had been made inaccessible because of thousands of piles which the population had been compelled to put there. After 8 o'clock in the evening nobody was allowed to be outside. During the night there were passing over our heads ongoing flights from England with the result that it was 'raining' shell-slivers on our roofs being the answer from a German anti-aircraft station nearby. Also we had often to hide for bombs, who were aimed at German targets. As a matter of fact we lived near the Dutch harbour with it's connected industry and also near the airport. The worst has been the lack of food, we did not have enough to eat and on top of it we could not heat our houses. No coal, gas, wood, whatsoever.

Albertus But, then we were liberated by the Allied troops. We were frantic of joy and dancing in the streets. Our new Government told us that it was now our time to help liberate our colony (Duch Indonesia).

So, happy to be able to do something back, I signed up for this task at the Dutch Navy. At their office they told me to look for myself for transport to London. In Holland there was yet no administration for the army; the Government had to start to reign again..... Indeed, there was still a chaos in Europe; soldiers everywhere looking for means to return home. I travelled to Oostende, helped by military units who happened to be there (I made myself understood through gesticulation!) and so I could board a ship to England sleeping on deck. Then by train to London, where I arrived by night not knowing where to go. I was on my own and walked that night through the town to finally arrive at the Head Quarters of the Royal Dutch Navy. I received a train ticket for Skegness. When I arrived at the station I found truck drivers who had come to fetch more people. Finally, I arrived at Butlin's camp in the country of our liberators of which we earlier had dreamed so much.

After the first training we went to Pwllheli in North Wales. In the HMS Glendower the training continued. I remember that we enjoyed the meals, but it seemed even not enough for these famished Dutch boys as there were still paying from their salary (7 pounds a month) the more than delicious cake in the canteen for 6 pence a block. On Sunday Divisions took place; polished and Sunday facing a review (parade) was hold, accompanied by a band of the Royal Navy (English) which played march music for English soldiers and the Dutch Navy. The march tempo of the Dutch Navy is slower than that of the Royal Navy, which understandably led to some chaos....!

Our following location was HMS Condor in Arbroath Royal Navy Air Station. This was a school for deck landing training. In this camp were also Wrens stationed, whose presence gave pleasure in our daily lives!

Then we were shipped on the HM Karel Doorman in Glasgow. The HM Karel Doorman had been loaned to the Netherlands. It was originally the Ex HMS Nairana (escort carrier). We received the necessary training with the Fire Flies who were not all anymore in good condition and consequently there have been many belly landings....

After a training school for instruments repair did we finally land in Dutch East Indonesia.

Report 1945/1946

Navy Vessel     One of the belly landings!

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