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Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales

The Royal Dutch Troops - Dutch Legion

War Years Section || Kenfig Area - The Royal Dutch Troops - Dutch Legion


The War Years around Kenfig
Documenting the entire history of the old kenfig borough / old bro cynffig

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The Royal Dutch Troops

The Royal Dutch Troops - Dan-y-Graig Camp, Porthcawl

'Prinses Irene Brigade'

First billeted in Haverfordwest then moved to Dan-y-Graig, Porthcawl the Dutch soldiers were accommodated in tents. Out of 1460 who arrived, 120 were officiers, 360 were senior NCO's and 980 corporals and privates.
Collectively they were known as the 'Royal Dutch Troops' and also as the Dutch Legion until 27 August 1941 when Queen Wilhelmina presented them with a standard in the name of 'Prinses Irene Brigade'.

Background

On 13 May 1940 the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina telephoned King George VI adising him of the danger she was facing by the advancing German Army, she left the Hauge and boarded the Royal Navy destroyer 'Hereward' and sailed to the United kingdom.
On 14 May Rotterdam was attacked by air, German airborne troops entered the city and on the following day many Dutch soldiers were captured. About 1400 military personnel evaded capture and made their way to England.
First billeted in Haverfordwest then moved to Dan-y-Graig, Porthcawl; they were initially guarded behind barbed wire by British troops as it was feared that there were fifth columnists amongst them.
The soldiers were a mixture of the regular Dutch Army, the Marechaussee and the Politie Troepen. They wore impressive dark blue uniforms with white braiding and breeches tucked into high boots.
The Politie Troepen were more or less police troops and wore grey-green uniforms with braiding. All the soldiers didn't keep their distinctive uniforms for long as they were issued with standard British battledress uniforms.

Forming a Brigade

The 1460 soldiers were joined in Porthcawl by Dutchmen from America, Canada and South Africa and eventually formed a brigade of a Headquarters Unit, 3 companies with machine guns, motars, anti-tank and light anti-aircraft guns, a reconnaissance squadron with armoured cars and an artillery battery.

Dan-y-Graig Camp

The camp gates were roughly where the concrete roadway of Dan-y-Graig Avenue joins the tarmacademed surface of the post war housing developement now stands. Tents occupied the area up to the Porthcawl - Penybont boundary and the Marechaussee and Politie Troepen were accomodated towards the bottom of the slope (roughly in the area of Lime Tree Way). The Officer's Mess was located in the area now occupied by the houses of Chestnut Drive.

Lt Col Hertel of Eibergen

The first Dutch soldier in Porthcawl to be equipped with British battledress was Lt Col Hertel, of Eibergen. He was a Sergeant in the regular Dutch army when war broke out - his Dutch army uniform had been badly damaged during the early part of the war and re-equipping him became an urgent necessity.
Sergeant Hertel only spent 3 months in Porthcawl before being transferred to London and becoming driver to Prince Bernard of the Netherlands.

Moving away from Porthcawl

The Dutch didn't stay very long in Porthcawl. In September 1940, the 2nd Battalion of the Dutch Legion moved to Ruperra Castle near Machen. They were then moved to Conway and then onto a newly built camp at Wrottesley Park, Wolverhamton - it was there on 27 August 1941 that they became known as the Prinses Irene Brigade.

The Brigade during War II

The Brigade trained with British units and on 06 August 1944 embarked for Normandy and joined the British 6th Armoured Division east of the Orne. They took up a frontline position on 12 August and taking part in the advance towards the Seine.
The Brigade was heavily involved in the fighting through Belgium and Holland and on 08 May 1945 it entered the Hague as the first allied unit.
The Brigade was disbanded at the end of 1945 but on 15 April 1946, the Prinses Irene Regiment was established - this later became the Prinses Irene Guards Regiment which still maintains the traditions of the original Brigade that began in Porthcawl.






Dutch Soldiers (Dan-y-Graig camp, Porthcawl, July 1940)
Dutch Soldiers (Dan-y-Graig camp, Porthcawl, July 1940)

Dutch Soldiers (Dan-y-Graig camp, Porthcawl, July 1940)
Dutch Soldiers (Dan-y-Graig camp, Porthcawl, July 1940)

Royal Dutch Army celebrates Queen Wilhelmina's birthday, 31 August 1940
Royal Dutch Army celebrates Queen Wilhelmina's birthday, 31 August 1940

Queen Wilhelmina's birthday parade, 31 August 1940 (Dutch Anti-Aircraft Truck)
Queen Wilhelmina's birthday parade, 31 August 1940 (Dutch Anti-Aircraft Truck)



Associated Website Links ||

Acknowledgements ||


Bibliography

(1) Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
(2) 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945)
(3) Porthcawl Museum & History Society
(4) Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group

Webpage Author

(1) Mr Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009.

3rd Party Copyright:

The Royal Dutch Troops - Dutch Legion (Porthcawl);

Information & photos originally researched by Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) and part re-published online strictly for educational purposes only - 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) - (First Printed 1994 - ISBN 0 9523152 0 3)
Information edited & sub-edited for online purposes || Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009
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