Tuesday, 19 November 1940

RAF Stradishall

At 19.20, information about a planned sortie is passed to 3 Group by phone. At 2300 Group is informed that a Whitley may take off at 23.15, but that a decision cannot be made due to the weather. At 23.20 Whitley ‘L’ takes off, and Group is informed.

According to a summary written in February 1941 the destination is Leiden, Holland. Keast’s logbook says that he and F/O Oettle fly a 4 hour, 45 minute operation in Whitley T4264. The Stradishall Ops Officer’s Log says that they land at 03.57.

The agent appears to have been Cornelius ‘Kees’ van Brink, a Dutchman who had been in Australia in 1939. He arrived in England at the end of July 1940. He was recruited by SIS and parachuted in November. Though the date given by Dutch sources is 18-19 November, there was no sortie on that night.

Van Brink was the second agent parachuted in to Holland. He was dropped near Kippenburg, about 15 Km west of the Tjeukemeer where Lodo van Hamel had been arrested the previous month. Finding that the contact addresses he had been given in London appeared to be under surveillance by the Germans, he made his way to Rotterdam. Though after sending several messages and apparently completing his task he wanted to return to the UK. He appears to have pre-arranged to be picked up by Heije Schaper, the Dutch Air Force pilot who had attempted to pick up van Hamel and only narrowly escaped. But London wanted van Brink to remain in place, possibly because of the previous debacle. Instead, he made his way to Marseille. From there he travelled via Spain, Portugal, Curaçao, the USA and Canada, and from thence to England, where he arrived on 18 September 1942. He was unusual: he had survived.

RAF Ringway

A fatal accident results from a failure of the strop hook, the end of a parachutist’s ‘static line’ attached to a frame inside the aircraft. The other end is attached to the bag containing the parachute canopy and lines. As the paratrooper leaves the aircraft his weight pulls the canopy and lines from the bag, leaving the bag streaming beneath the aircraft under the tail. If the hook becomes detached from the frame there is nothing to pull the parachute out. There was no reserve ‘chute, and no method for the parachutist to deploy the canopy manually. A strengthened strop is quickly developed and tested.


Dutch Wikipedia entry for Cornelis van Brink
RAF Ringway ORB