War Graves in Oegstgeest

Are there war graves in Oegstgeest? There were many graves, at least 175, within what is now the community of Oegstgeest. Here Dutch, British, Canadian and German victims of war were buried in graves located in cemeteries at the Groene Kerkje, H. Willibrord Church and Verlengde Vinkenweg. A few bodies were buried at Rhijnhof, then a cemetery belonging to Leiden but located on Oegstgeest’s terrain; these latter individuals have not been included in this survey.

After the war, the majority of the Dutch soldiers were transferred to the Military Cemetery on the Grebbeberg while German soldiers were relocated to their own burial ground near Venray. The British and Canadian servicemen remained buried here, in accordance with the British tradition to bury a soldier where he had lost his life. The majority of these men were airmen in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) who had been shot down over Oegstgeest by the Germans. In addition, of the more than 60 Dutchmen buried here after the war, the bodies of three soldiers remain. Two of these men died during the fierce – and successful – struggle for the airfield Valkenburg and access to The Hague and one serviceman, killed in action in Loon op Zand, was later brought back to Oegstgeest by his wife for re-burial. Moreover, the bodies of several resistance fighters, who either died in Oegstgeest during the war or were brought back for interment, lie buried here.

In this publication will be included those men whose final resting place is in Oegstgeest. First to be introduced will be Dutch servicemen who were killed on 10 May 1940, then Allied servicemen, and finally resistance fighters. The sequence given will be based on date of death, first for servicemen and then for civilians.

While writing several sections on the resistance fighters, appreciative use was made of the book Oegstgeest in bange dagen, written by Riet van Dort and Bert Driessen, which was always kept close at hand on the writing table, and also used as a handbook for other issues.

Immediately after the war, the situation was quite different than today regarding the war graves. This will be discussed later. Thereafter will follow a very concise overview concerning inhabitants of Oegstgeest who were killed during the war but buried elsewhere.

To begin, a brief overview will be presented about World War II in general, about World War II in Oegstgeest, and about the Groene Kerkje (Little Green Church) where most of the fallen men were inhumed.

When deciding which descriptive material should be included in this summary, choices had to be made. The content has been limited to those individuals who died during the war as a direct or indirect result of the German occupying forces and who now lay buried in Oegstgeest. However, although this is an apparently clear-cut strategy, it also brings with it arbitrary choices. For example, Jan van Gilse has been included, although he died in hospital of cancer. However, Theo Fles has been excluded because he did not die until 1958, although his death probably was due to the wounds he had suffered during the explosion which immediately cost Piet van Manen his life. Also excluded are inhabitants of Oegstgeest who died beyond the border of Oegstgeest during bombardments and shellings as well as children who, for example, died while dismantling stolen grenades, et cetera.

The seventeen gravestones of allied servicemen.