This article was written by my Dutch colleague John Boeren of Antecedentia. Can you help with the research?
He is almost 90 years old and physically troubled, but he does not want to give up. Jacques Brijl, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Dutch army, still works on what seems to be a never-ending task: he seeks recognition for soldiers who were killed in action during World War II and never received a medal for their brave actions.
Four years ago, Brijl filed his first application for a decoration. It was an instant success: the Dutch government honored a (deceased) war hero with a military cross. Ever since, relatives of other World War II soldiers seek contact with Brijl. They ask for his help with filing applications for the ‘Mobilisatie Oorlogskruis’ or ‘Ereteken voor Orde en Vrede’, two Dutch decorations that can be awarded posthumously. The former army officer collects information from relatives and military sources and checks all data. He knows the procedures and he has experience with all the necessary paperwork. He does all the work completely disinterestedly, his only reward is the satisfaction that ‘his men’ are not forgotten.
Sometimes Brijl knows about brave actions of a soldier and he initiates the procedure himself. As the Dutch government requires an application filed by relatives, Brijl then starts to search for family members. It is not always easy to find them. A couple of months ago, John Boeren read one of Brijl’s calls for information. Boeren, who is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands, sent an e-mail and offered the former lieutenant-colonel his services for free. The veteran and the genealogist now work on their first case together.
** To help find relatives of these soldiers, please contact John Boeren at Antecedentia.
© 2016 World War II Research and Writing Center