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Help – Any Dutch speakers?

(18 Posts)
absentgrana Thu 08-Sep-11 13:48:42

Although he came to England as a small boy, my father was called up by the Royal Dutch Army following the invasion of Holland in World War II. He was eventually transferred from square bashing in Wales to the Dutch War Office in London. In 1943 he was given a silver cigarette box with the initial O.G.S. and the date at a posh party at the War Office (now in my possession). Does anyone have any idea what these initials stand for and what the English translation would be?

Aurelia Thu 08-Sep-11 15:23:52

Hello there absentgrana,
I wonder if this might be to do with the establishment of the Dutch War Graves Commission, (Oorlogsgravenstichting) ? Just a thought.
I find these fragments of family history are fascinating.


gangy5 Thu 08-Sep-11 15:46:08

Yes, my DH who's mother was Dutch thinks that Aurelia is right.

absentgrana Thu 08-Sep-11 16:46:07

Aurelia, Gangy5 and Mr gangy5 Thank you for your suggestion, but I don't think you can be right. The war was still going on in 1943 and I shouldn't have thought war graves were, at that point, a priority. The other piece of information I have is that the party at the Dutch War Office at which this cigarette box was presented was specifically thrown for my father who, bizarrely, was only a corporal, but everyone else present, apart from my mother, was an officer, some of them extremely senior. A solid silver (hallmarked) cigarette box seems a bit extravagant as a present to a mere corporal. My father rarely talked about his war service but did once make a very bitter comment about the stupidity of those who made decisions that caused the suffering and death of agents and pretty much the annihilation of the Dutch resistance. He was a linguist so I wonder if he had anything to do with Dutch Intelligence. Would that ring any bells?

Aurelia Thu 08-Sep-11 17:57:15

Maybe it stands for "Oorlogstijd service" ~ wartime service, perhaps the Verzetsmuseum could give you some leads?

absentgrana Fri 09-Sep-11 11:32:24

Aurelia I'm so grateful to you and sorry to bother you again. Where is the Verzstsmuseum and what does it mean?

Aurelia Fri 09-Sep-11 12:49:06

Hello absentgrana,
Sorry, I was in a bit of a rush when I last posted, or I would have explained more, and I've realized I was not too clear.
I meant that the initials OGS might not be a recognised acronym, but might instead represent a personal message to your father that only he would understand, hence the mixture of languages that I've used above.
The Verzetsmuseum is the museum of the Dutch resistance, which many towns have, here is the address of the one in Amsterdam;
Plantage Kerklaan 61
1018 CX Amsterdam
They might know if OGS was an organization or department or even an event or call to arms.
Good luck with your search.

absentgrana Fri 09-Sep-11 13:17:32

Aurelia You are star. Many, many thanks. I'll let you know if I have any success. By the way, do you have Dutch ancestry, live in the Netherlands or did you just learn Dutch for the hell of it? My mother wanted my father to speak Dutch to my sister and me when we were children so that we would grow up bilingual, but he reckoned that there were far more useful languages to learn and didn't bother. As his parents, brothers and sisters tended to talk Dutch to each other at family gatherings, I picked up quite a bit as a child, but have now forgotten it. However, I was extremely surprised when visiting Bruges to discover how much Flemish I could understand – but, sadly, I was completely unable to reply.

Aurelia Fri 09-Sep-11 20:26:35

Hello again,
I do hope that you find something interesting out about your family history absentgrana, I wonder if you have requested information from the Imperial War Museum?
My family are Belgian, I love Brugge and often stay on the coast near there at Knokke.
Best wishes.

absentgrana Sat 10-Sep-11 10:37:36

Oh whoops – I went all francophone. Apologies.

Aurelia Sat 10-Sep-11 11:05:36

grin grin
I often do that myself as I have a house in France also!!
wink wink

johanna Thu 02-Feb-12 18:02:58

* absentgrana*

Sorry , this a very late reply.

OGS could mean: operational groups strategic services.

But maybe you know that by now?

Butternut Thu 02-Feb-12 18:18:06

We have found the Imperial War Museum a fountain of knowledge.
Good luck absentgrana
Let us know when you find out. smile

absentgrana Fri 03-Feb-12 10:03:00

Thank you for your suggestions johanna and Butternut. I don't seem to have had much time to pursue this, but I shall eventually. Pulling all the family archive together and sorting it out is my retirement plan.

johanna Fri 03-Feb-12 19:26:13

hello absent

Just read your original post again. Only found it yesterday.
Your father would not have been called up after the invasion of Holland.
The whole operation lasted maybe three hours ( slight exaggeration ) .Holland was neutral, and proud of it. The military was poorly equipped
The armed forces were finished.

Also there was no Dutch War Office, as such. It was a cabinet in exile who could not even make laws. Unless by Royal Decree. Which was not too difficult since
Queen Wilhelmina was there too. But that is another story.

I have done some rummaging, and learned the following:
Many armed personnel fled to England, and they were " put" in Wales by the British. This was in 1940.
By May1941 they were officially recognised and christened The Princes Irene Brigade. Sort of a crack regiment. You said your father was square bashing in Wales , I would bet he was with the Princes Irene Brigade. Some, were deployed in London, and joined the special services.

Also googled OGS again, and it seems it is American. Set up during WWII.

Check the hallmarks on your cigarette box. Is there a makers mark?
That could help.
Good luck.

absentgrana Sat 04-Feb-12 17:15:23

Hi johanna My father was resident in England since the age of three (1914) and he and his brothers were all called up into the Royal Dutch Army in England from the time that the Netherlands were invaded in WW2. One of them was killed in Europe rather later. I don't know what the official designation may have been, but there was certainly an active quasi Dutch War Office in London. Whatever my papa was doing, it did not, I think hugely involve Americans. He had big issues, not often expressed, about how desperately stupidly Dutch Resistance personnel in Occupied Europe were treated by officials in the UK.

He certainly spent a bit of time square bashing in Conway and, apparently, eating boiled sausages, but I have no idea about the brigade or regiment. Given that he had a congenital deformity to his hip – over a year in traction at the age of eight, doing his lessons on his back – that was never resolved, I doubt if he was the Dutch equivalent of the SAS or Navy Seals.

The hallmarks are hard to see – one on the lid and one on the base – but I think the assay office is London, which would make sense.

johanna Tue 21-Feb-12 15:46:33

absent, In today's Daily Telegraph is an obituary of MRD Foot. He was an eminent historian apparently .
The book you might be interested in is" SOE in the low countries " which deals with the incompetence at the London end.. Published 2001.

Waterstones has a good synopsis on their website.

absentgrana Wed 22-Feb-12 11:19:07

Thanks johanna. I think MRD Foot is generally regarded as one of the main and most eminent historians of the "secret wars" of World War II.