The Netherlands / Story
On Sunday 15 April 1945 - the day that is considered Friesland's liberation day - here in Kiesterzijl, German gunfire killed Jitze Pieter van Dijk when the Dutch Domestic Armed Forces (NBS) unit of which he was a member bumped into a group of retreating German soldiers.
waiting the arrival of the Canadians, who had already reached Leeuwarden, members of the NBS wanted to occupy Franeker in advance, after it had become clear that the Germans were leaving the city without a fight and were retreating towards Harlingen.
A group of several dozen NBS members, mostly young men from the area, dressed in blue overalls (the famous NBS uniform) left Achlum by bicycle in the early afternoon. The intention was to go via the Slachtedijk to the Rijksweg west of Franeker, to enter the city from that side. They were armed with Enfield rifles, sten guns, hand grenades and a bazooka dropped from England.
When they had just crossed the bridge at Kiesterzijl, another late group of around twelve Germans came cycling from Franeker across the old Rijksweg. A gunfight ensued, with the NBS men taking cover on the side of the road. Jitze Pieter van Dijk, a 23-year-old farmer's son from Hitzum, did not bend down deep enough and was fatally hit in his back.
The NBS men retreated, walking via the southern railway track to reach the city safely. The Germans drove on to Harlingen, leaving behind some casualties. In the evening, they returned with reinforcements to pick up their comrades. Residents of Herbaijum were used as human shields in the process.
Ale Houtsma's farmhouse, which stood behind the Slachtedijk and where the NBS men had left their bicycles, was set on fire in retaliation. At the same time, the first Canadian scouts were already approaching Franeker from the direction of Leeuwarden.
After the war, opposite the town hall, a street was named after Jitze Pieter van Dijk. Van Dijk's parents' farm in Hitzum was an important base of operations for the local resistance. The dropped weapons lay hidden in the hay.