Date: 1945 Jan 20/20 A/C Type: B-17G   Fortress SN: 44-6601 Code: A/C Nickname: The Lucky Lady
 File: 330 Airforce: USAAF Sqn/Unit: 452 BG - 728 BS Mission/Raid: Rheine
1 Pilot 2Lt. Cecil Kenneth 'Tuck' Belton      evaded 9 RWG not carried
2 Co-pilot 2Lt. Andrew B. Shanks     all others KIA 10 TG Sgt. Melvin D. Williams
3 Nav. 2Lt. Carl F. Chillberg 11    
4 B F/O Claude H. Bogart 12    
5 E T/Sgt. Thomas A. Rogan 13    
6 RO Sgt. Warren F. Neilsen 14    
7 BTG Sgt. Sylvester Salamone 15    
8 LWG Sgt. William L. Monroe 16                    

Lt. Belton: "On our 5th mission over Rheine we lost our no. 2 engine, had a fire in the oxygen tank, had a bomb hung up in our bomb bay, a leak in our hydraulic system. Moments later our plane exploded and I was blown out of the plane and was the only survivor".

On the return, Belton's B-17 'The Lucky Lady' flew alone back to England, slowed down due to Flak damage over Germany. He had just crossed the Zuyder Sea in Holland when the aircraft exploded over Wervershoof, in the top of the Dutch northwest peninsula. Debris and bodies came down in a field 300m northeast of Midwoud. Pilot Belton was thrown clear in the explosion high in the air and could use his parachute. All other crew fell dead on the ground. Buried next to each other in hamlet Midwoud, in the churchyard cemetery ( ).

Lt. Belton: "I was unconscious for some time, parachute pack hang above me in the air. I had the pack strapped only to one D-ring on my shoulder. Managed to pull the cord. Unable to control the chute, I spinned around under it. Landed in a field, hard on my back in 6 inches of snow. In distance, civilians in wooden shoes came towards me".

In another world.  American pilot 'Tuck' Belton in Holland, Hungerwinter January/February 1945.

At the time Lt. Belton landed in northwest Holland, 20 January 1945, the situation was grim. It were the darkest days of Holland in WW2, After almost 5 years of German occupation there was shortage of everthing, especially food. People were starving. The winter was dark and cold, there was no more electricity, gas, wood, coals or petrol left. Curfew, no transportation. Resistance groups were very busy with all kinds of activities. The Germans had put up roadblocks everywhere, had firefights with the Undergound and shot groups of prisoners in the streets as counter-measure. Belton had landed in the Dutch clandestine center of weapon droppings, where RAF aircraft nightly dropped containers with arms for resistance-groups. It was remote farm- and agricultural area, but particular dangerous. Unaware in what turmoil he had landed, he soon learned all about it, still recovering from the loss of his crew, whom he paid his repects a cold night in Midwoud Church, used as morgue 21 January 1945.

Lt. Belton was with the Dutch underground for 6,5 weeks (46 days), 20 January - 7 March 1945. His account of his experiences and his 9 March Escape & Evasion report give an excellent and interesting insight in the Dutch Jan/Feb. 1945 WW2 situation, as witnessed by an outsider passing through.

The chicken house

After he landed in the field, Belton is put on a bicycle, but he had never rode one. Between two resistance men (Flip Fluitman & Trenk Kooter) he was kept upright and going, brought to a farm for a clothing-change. His flying gear and uniform go under in a barrel of cabbage and he receives civilian clothes. A few miles is pedalled further to an old wooden chicken shack, 'chicken house', as Lt. Belton recalls it. This is a old stable in a field, behind farm 'De Eendekooi' in Midwoud-Oost, owned by Gerrit Kanis. It is the hide-out of a group of resistance fighters, most of them belonging to group 'Westfriesland-oost/Enkhuizen'. He stays there until January 28th. Via higher resistance channels in Amsterdam, the identity of Belton was checked by transmitting (in Morse code) his service no. to London. The death of all Belton's crew was passed on to London as well.  

Belton recalls "there were 12 to 16 members of the undergroud in the chicken house, one was a woman". This was Ms. Alie Commandeur, the eldest daughter of Thamis Commandeur. He owned the farm in nearby village Venhuizen, which was the previous hide-out of the resistance group. At this farm another American on the run came to the door in July 1944: waistgunner
Arthur F. Brown of B-17G 42-97983 (crew Cribbs). His B-17 bomber had collided over Hoorn with another B-17, both crashed. Sgt. Arthur Brown had become member of this resistance group for months, but left 24 December 1944, a month before Lt. Belton's arrival 20 Jan 1945. Sgt. Arthur Brown tried (succesfully) reach Allied lines in the South of Holland. Brown had shot dead opponents while with the group, and despite his short stay Lt. Belton would do the same. 

The resistance also had a British airman in its care during the Belton period. This was (Scottish) Flight Sgt. Henry Radcliffe, navigator of the nearby crashed (Twisk) twin engined Beaufighter NE465 of RAF Coastal Command 254 Squadron (pilot F/Sgt. Arthur J. Maton, KIA 17 January 1945, grave in Twisk). Radcliffe was soon brought in contact with Belton. From April 16, 1945 the group kept underground a Spitfire pilot (Spitfire NH425). This was a Norwegian: Sgt. Bjarne Aasberg of 332 RAF (Norge) Sqn.

Under. Names Lt. Belton remembered of the men in the chicken house. Followed by our (2017) initial attempt for identification:

"BILLY, leader, 45 year, blond, a recent bullet wound in his right calf".
                                                                                 -> the former Dutch Army Sgt. BAREND Mes, bullet in leg during secret weapon instruction.

"GLASS, 40 years old"                                            -> Probably Ko "KLAAS" Singer or KLAAS Bras.  

"SCHOCK, 20-25 years"                                         -> SJAAK Stroef

"DICK, 21, dark, parents in Sumatra"                      -> Guus "DICK" van Vliet

"FLIP, 27, blonde, schoolteacher"                           -> Adriaan "FLIP" Fluitman. District and Enkhuizen resistance leader.

"YOOP"                                                                   -> JOEP Rieter (from Nijmegen), 18 years.

"STEPHEN"                                                             -> Constant "STEEF" Meijer (from Nijmegen), 18 year, friend of Joep.

"BOB"                                                                      -> ?

"TED" "COWBOY TED", "a Smith & Wesson on each hip, handgrenades on chestbelt, in long overcoat".
                                                                                -> Theo "TED" Laagland. Son of policeman, since 1942 experienced resistance man.

Other men were: Simon "Trenk" Kooter, Kick Böhler, Gerrit "Bennie" Gerritsen and Jan "Harry" Licht.

Images below.  
Group portrait of the resistance men May 1945. Right: STEPHEN visits approx. year 1990 farmer Gerrit Kanis, owner of the chicken house.




The January 22nd 1945 shooting at cafe Bantam in Hoogkarspel and Enkhuizen hospital.

"Plenty of arms at the chicken house", said Belton. "They issued me a Colt .45, a Smith & Wesson revolver, a Winchester rifle and a small British MG (machinegun, Stengun) to use when on guard". Already after two days, Belton was taken along on an emergency action. 30 civilians who were cutting down roadside trees for firewood, were arrested by Landwachters (armed Dutch Nazi-collaborators, traitors, "Quislings" as Belton says). The chicken house group decided to free the civilians by scaring away the Landwachters. Some of the Landwachters had went to find transport, two others guared the prisoners who were assembled in cafe Bantam in village Hoogkarspel. The resistance men fired at the cafe, one landwachter came outside and was shot dead. The other went around the back and encountered STEPHEN. His stengun jammed and subsequently Stephen was shot through the chest and an arm by the Landwachter. Stephen fell behind a bush. The Landwachter reached over the bush to finish the job, but Stephen drew his pistol and shot into the traitor's hand that held the gun and could get away.

Belton: "We took Steve, who could talk a bit English, to a small hospital" (Enkhuizen). "I was on guard outside the hospital. Around the corner came two "Quislings", I did not know what to do. One moved his hand to his sidearm. I opened fire first and shot them both with my stengun". "Everybody rushed outside, I ran until I was in a an orchard and hid there for the night. It was icecold. A black dog came to me. I kept him under my coat and so we kept each other warm. Next morning our men found me and took be back to the chicken house". 

Unknown to Belton, who left the chicken house on the 28th, the shooting would have consequences. On the 6th of February, a German truck stopped in Hoogkarspel and five men were executed as reprisal. They had nothing to do with above incident, but were captive resistance fighters from Amsterdam Weteringschans-prison: Joris Ruijter, Cor Schreuder, Anton Ammerlaan, Jan Bos and Johan Bos. A monument was erected for them in Hoogwoud (monument).   

29 January - 2 February 1945. Spanbroek, Wormerveer, Zaandam (Hembrug bridge) to Amsterdam.

The leaders of the underground decided it was better to move Lt. Belton further south, to the frontline and cross to Allied lines. He left the chicken house, was shortly back in Midwoud and on farm 'Mandrill' (resistance HQ for the weapon droppings fields, commander mr. Hil Schipper) and met Scottish F/Sgt. Henry Radcliffe in a safehouse in smalltown Spanbroek-Obdam. From then on Belton and Radcliffe were a team. Together and accompanied by guide "Janish" (Jannes, age 25) they bicycled towards Zaandam. Stayed there three days with a woman (30) and two small children. She was also hiding a doctor in the attic. Her husband slave-labourer in Germany.

The Hembrug-bridge had to be crossed between Zaandam and Amsterdam. To the guide's horror, they saw how a large group of German soldiers (50) had arrived on the bridge, preparing themselves for a big control on passing people. The three simply slowly zig-zagged between them, the guide said 'Guten Morgen' to the soldiers, who had not started the control yet and let everybody pass until seconds later the control started. Here Belton went through the eye of the needle. His false papers (below) were of reasonable quality, but the qualification 'doofstom' (deaf & dumb) would not have gotten him through this control when challenged.

Text on above Belton's false ID: Willem Schenk. Born 16 October 1912, Zaandam NH (North Holland). Occupation: book binder.
Issued on 11 February 1944. Home address: Westzijde 22. Remark: doofstom (deaf & dumb).

During bicycling and stay in Amsterdam, Cecil Belton witnessed or heard of executions. On the 30th of January 1945 five men were executed in a small park (Rozenoord) at the Amstel dike. This was nearby one of Belton's safehouses on the Amstel Lane. The victims had age between 19 and 26. They were shot as reprisal for resistance sabotage (blowing-up) of electricity sub-stations that powered German facilities. Killed were Pieter Hartog, Jan Kloos, Jan van Nijendaal, Leen Reidsma and Thomas Treffers. The next day six men were shot on the same location: Gerrit Jonkhart, Karel J. Krop, Anton G. Siem, Ernst Meyer, Arnold Werst and Pieter Spel.

In the safehouses underway, Belton and Scottish navigator Radcliffe stayed in cramped hiding spaces that the Germans could not find in case of a searching. Food was very scarce, said Belton "Civilians were eating cats and tulip bulbs, but he and Radcliffe got food that could be procured from the Black Market". Belton heard that the Germans sometimes shot bullets through suspected double walls, floor and ceilings. Below an example of a WW2 hiding space, the Corrie Ten Boom house in Haarlem (below). Belton did not stay there, just to illustrate such hide-outs.

Amsterdam, 2nd to 12 February 1945, "Hans".

In Amsterdam the two evaders came in the care of a very important underground agent: Tobias 'Hans' Biallosterski (alias "doctor Hans de Bruin"). This young Dutchman was only 25 years old, escaped to England in begin of the war and parachuted back as secret agent in Holland twice. He was initiator and organisor of the weapon droppings around Midwoud-Spanbroek and maintained contact with England via morse-code transmitters and receivers (also dropped by parachute). Belton and Radcliffe had landed in the dropzones that Hans had set-up together with priest-student Hil Schipper who lived in Spanbroek, farm they codenamed 'Mandrill'. Hil became the drop-field commander. Belton and Radcliffe had now arrived in the Amsterdam-headquarters of this very successful weapon smuggle organisation.

Belton in his 9 March 1945 Escape & Evasion report: "Amsterdam. Stayed in an underground HQ, where there was a small switchboard to which information was relayed and then passed on to a radio transmitter elsewhere. This HQ was run by Hans (25, dark, 6 ft, slim, dressed often as doctor with black hat, RAF black boots, dark suit and stethoscope, spoke English and had been trained in England". Belton's trained eye had noticed these Royal Air Force flying boots on Hans immediately. Hans had requested brown shoes in a transmission to England, to be dropped with the weapons at 'Mandrill'. The shoes came, but not reached him. Hans wife Eva (Danish, living in London) arranged dropping of boots because of the cold. However; RAF boots were very riskfull footwear in occupied Holland 1945 indeed. Already a week after Belton and Hans had met, Hans was arrested at a control in Wognum in which the boots drew attention, but also without the boots he would have been arrested.  

Belton: "Four girls worked in the Amsterdam HQ decoding and transmitting messages. They were: (1) Loli - 21, dark, heavy, Russian, (2) Geraldo, 21, brown short, glasses, South-Holland, (3) Josephine, 26, brown hair, dropped by plane with five other girls, resulting broken leg still in cast, (4) an American girl, 21, dark, 5'6", heavy. Also three men: (5) "Yat" - 24, 5'10", med. light br., (6) Posed as Gestapo - 6'2, slim, 35-40, (7) Carls - 28, blond, high forehead, sabotage chief".

Probably the persons Cecil Belton describes were: (1) Louise 'Laloe' de Vries. One of the dropping-fields was named after her, (2) Gerda 'Geraldo' Meijer-Lankhorst, (3) Frankie 'Josephine' Hamilton, British agent, she broke her leg in nightly parachute jump into Holland, (4) Madeline van Geuns. Dutch father, married her American mother in California, raised in the USA. (5) probably 'Yard' or 'Jard'. Dutch secret agent, also parachuted in Holland, real name of 'Jard' was Gerard du Celliée-Muller, (6) doctor Henk Veeneklaas ?, (7) possibly Jaap Carels, technical specialist and chief of the 'Brandt Group' who had build an illegal telephone network in Amsterdam.

Belton heard in the HQ that they had blown up electricity (transformers) buildings as sabotage. He may not have known that the executions he saw on the 30th were German reprisals for this. On the 7th of February five well known and influential Amsterdam civilians were shot at Rozenoord as reprisal for the liquidation of 'Quisling' Jan Feitsma. On the 9th of February, ten men (most arrested for printing an illegal newspaper) were shot by firing-squad on the street for liquidation of two Quislings in Zaandam. This was on the Prins Hendrikkade (monument) towards Hembrug bridge that Belton had crossed a week earlier.   

On the 11th of February 1945, the Amsterdam HQ fell. Gerda 'Geraldo' was arrested when she came back to collect some left clothes. Hans and Jard were arrested the 10th in village Wognum after a meeting with Hil Schipper at the Mandrill dropping-fields the day before. Arrested with them were also three other important men in their organisation. Belton and Radcliffe were in hiding in safehouses in Amsterdam and left the city to the south between 9 and 12 February 1945.

Alphen a/d Rijn, Rotterdam, Zwijndrecht (15 February), first frontline-crossing attempt from Sliedrecht.

First stop after Amsterdam was Alphen aan de Rijn, here they stayed one night. Their guides were 'Black Bill' (dark hair) and 'White Bill' (blond hair). They were moved to Rotterdam where another guide took over, this guide was 'Pierre'. He took them to Zwijndrecht. Stayed there for three days in the house of a policeman named 'Freek' (40 years), he had a big wife, his mother-in-law living in and two boys of 12 and 14 years old. On the 19th of February Pierre and Freek took Belton and Radcliffe to Sliedrecht.

In Sliedrecht was a safehouse on the river dike (Molendijk 16) from where nightly trips to Allied held territory were made, by canoe, a 15 kilometer long and dangerous journey to Lage Zwaluwe. They had to cross the New Merwede River (Waal), pass through the 'Biesbosch' swamp with numerous German machinegun posts and finally cross the Amer River (Maas) to enter the small Lage Zwaluwe harbour. 

Sliedrecht - Lage Zwaluwe

The route Sliedrecht to Lage Zwaluwe (Allied territory) was a new one (first trip 6 February 1945), set-up by Bertus van Gool (Desiderus Hubertus) and Jacobus Bakker, codename 'Alblas'. Starting point was the house of Bertus' mother-in-law, Molendijk street no. 16. In the cellar was a hidden room. The men had crossed to the liberated south of Holland before via other lines and had been included in the Canadian Army, appointed the function 'crossmaster'. They were issued Canadian uniforms, canoes and weapons. In total the line had about 21 resistance men in service as crossmaster (group photo). Also Canadian special forces were involved, led by Captain 'Andre'.

The Dutch crossers delivered persons and intelligence in Lage Zwaluwe and canoed back through the frontline (Biesbosch) to their homes in Sliedrecht before dawn. Another line ran from Werkendam to Drimmelen. They returned to the occupied zone with medicines and especially insuline. Each men made between 5 and 50 trips between November 1944 and May 1945 (450 trips made in total).

The new line was intended to cross mainly military personnel to own lines, such as downed pilots, secret agents and British paratroopers that were underground since the battle of Arnhem in September 1944. The first trip was made by crossmasters Jan Visser ('Grey Jan') and Koos Meijer, night 5 on 6 February 1945. First passengers came from hidings in the Amersfoort-Barneveld-Maarn region and were no less than the wounded British 1st Airborne Brigadier-General John Hackett, Colonel Graeme M. Warrack and Captain (MD) Alexander Lipmann-Kessel, the South-African Airborne surgeon who operated on Hackett when they both were POW and Hackett was shot through the stomach. The trip of Lipmann-Kessel failed, but the 2nd try on the 10th was successful and he was reunited with Hackett.  

Belton and Radcliffe and four British paratroopers were crossed in the 4th trip night 19 February 1945, but at the rendez-vous point Captain Andre was not there with his boat and all had to be returned to Sliedrecht. Belton: "Our guides were 'Lofty' (22, very tall) and Pete (24, dark). We had hoped to meet a Captain 'Heaps', who ran a Canadian patrol boat on the river, but he was not there". "Next days I stayed in Sliedrecht, three days with a couple who had six girls, age 8 - 20 years, name wife 'Tinie'.

Zoll-sekretär Willy F.E. Fischer
After the failed crossing on the 19th, Belton and the other five had to wait three weeks underground in Sliedrecht. What nobody knew, is that German searches for Lt. Belton and F/Sgt. Radcliffe in the Midwoud-area went on. It was known to the Germans that a crew member of the crashed American bomber was hidden somewhere around Midwoud, as was the navigator of the downed RAF Beaufighter.

In Medemblik was stationed a fanatik Nazi, a Dutchman named Willy Franz Emil Fischer. He was a military border control and customs agent, Dienststelle Zollgrenzschutz Medemblik, attached to the German Schutzkommando in north Holland. Under his leading, he and his men brutally interrrogated civilians in Midwoud and Oostwoud on the whereabouts of the airmen. The resistence men of the chicken house and the Madrill-farm decided to teach him a lesson and warn him to back-off. On 17 February they shot-up Fischer's car, wounding Fischer. On 27 February the reprisal came. The Germans took five resistance men from Amsterdam-Weterschans prison. There was no transport to Midwoud availabe, therefore the five were executed in Amsterdam, again at the Amsteldike in Rozenoord park, not far from Belton's Amsterdam safehouses he had just left. Victims names: Zeger Besterveld, Leo Bosch, Dirk and Jacob van der Heijden and Jacob Roman.

In December 1951 the Dutch still had Fischer in captivity for his violence in Dutch towns in WW2. After a trail in December 1951, with also charges in the indictment for confiscating food, furniture, clothes and money. He was set free because the sentence for imprisonment did not exceed his remand. He was expelled to Germany.

Back in the free world.

Belton: "On the 6th of March I was in a Sliedrecht house at the river, owned by 'Hans', a girl, 26, dark. Four paratroopers, Lofty and another Guide (30, small moustache). Left in a row boat and arrived in Lage Zwaluwe the morning of the 7th and met the French-Canadians". Belton first interrogation was 9 March 1945 in Tilburg, near Breda. 


Photo above. Crossers Adriaan de Keizer (back) and Piet van den Hoek (front) on the Allied river side. Stenguns ready on their knee. Waiting for darkness to go back. Canoe is an American or Canadian one, motorized. Engine insulated for sound and exhaust with muffler, but it was not silent enough and only used where it could. The floater on the side is probably the mooring buoy.  


-Book 'Verzet in West-Friesland', 3rd print 1991.
-MACR 44-6601
-E&E Belton
-Illinois Veterans Classroom Project (video interview Belton):

-website of Willem Mugge on his uncle Tobias Biallosterski
-website Oud Enkhuizen

Photo of aircraft 44-6601 in the sky with contails and Sgt. Salamone:

Sgt. Williams:

Exhibition in museum Midwoud Jan de Groot:


© ZZairwar (Zuyder Zee Air War)