Holandia / Historia

Front line-crossers of the Biesbosch




During the last year of the war, resistance fighters crossed the water between liberated and occupied territory hundreds of times, right under the nose of the enemy. Each trip was an extremely perilous undertaking.

After the liberation of North Brabant in early November 1944, the Bergse Maas and Amer rivers formed the new front line. Nevertheless, contact between the resistance in the already liberated area and that which remained occupied was immediately resumed. Resistance fighters sailed in boats in the dark across the inhospitable Biesbosch, from north to south and vice versa. All this under the eyes of the German sentries scattered here and there throughout the Biesbosch.

Fortunately, from 16 November until the end of the war, these guard posts were occupied by the Volga Tatars Bataillon 628, a fairly passive unit of Russian defectors. The Biesbosch was an almost impenetrable network of creeks and waterways, and few knew their way around. Cross-country travel was extremely dangerous; anyone caught could face a death sentence. Of the 21 crossers, some narrowly escaped capture. Two of them were less fortunate. Arie van Driel and Kees van der Sande were shot shortly before the end of the war on 30 April 1945 in Utrecht.

Function of the crossings

The front in North Brabant came under the responsibility of the First Canadian Army, whilst the sector near Lage Zwaluwe and Drimmelen was under Polish control until April 1945. Dutch resistance fighters were in charge of organising the crossings: Jos van Wijlen from Sprang-Capelle (resistance name 'André'), was in charge of the crossings from North Brabant, whilst the Crossmaster in Sliedrecht was Bertus van Gool.

The crossings were used for various things, including the transferring of people. This included couriers from the Dutch government and Prince Bernhard, agents with secret transmitters, pilots, and the espionage group Albrecht which took messages to the liberated territory via these crossings. Eventually, two routes emerged: the André route from Drimmelen to Werkendam, and the Albrecht route from Lage Zwaluwe to Sliedrecht. A total of 374 crossings took place through the Biesbosch.

Ameroever, Lage Zwaluwe