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This page is dedicated to
Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje

Movie Brings Past to Dutch War Hero
By Bill McKeway
Time-Dispatch State Staff

Click here for "How to pronounce Bestebreurtje" audio track.  Recorded by John H. Beach during Brotherhood Week in 1957 at Roosevelt HS in Yonkers, NY. Material is Copyrighted by John H. Beach and the Bestebreurtje family.


Dr. Arie Bestebreurtje was a man that would become well known and respected in his lifetime. He was born in Rotterdam, Holland and became a champion speed skater in his younger years, and later studied law in Zurich. When the war started he joined his country's army and furthered his military training in England and later was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services. Dr. Bestebreurtje would soon make history, working behind enemy lines as a team Jedburgh on missions to Market Garden, Camp Westerbork, etc. working along side of the Dutch resistance. This would win him the distinction of being one of the most highly decorated soldiers with 18 medals, second only to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. A true hero. His dangerous experiences and several brushes with death later became one of many reasons that influenced his decision to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Bestebreurtje was exposed to rigid religious training by his family as a child and also by a minister of the church they attended while living in Berlin. His father was also an Elder of church. His ministry touched so many people's lives for almost 30 years, but sadly his life was cut short when he died of exposure after he fell through the ice while skating near his home.

I hope those who knew Dr. Bestebreurtje would share their experiences with me for all to read. Knowing Dr. Bestebreurtje in the 1950's inspired my life so much it prompted me to research on his life. Many have been so kind to give me invaluable information. The war consumed only 4 years of his life, but was an important milestone for him. I am looking for additional data on this hero, especially by those that knew him during the war while in training and or on missions. His ministry also touched so many and I would like to hear from those whose lives were also inspired by his teachings. He was a noted athlete and would like gain knowledge from those that participated in sports with him. I am in touch with members of his family and will share this information with them. I hope the following pages will bring you great enjoyment.

Arie just after he landed on Sept 17,1944

Arie with another Team Clarence member

Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje, 1946

Major Arie D. Bestebreurtje, 1946

Arie in 1977 Newspaper interview, Charlottesville, VA.

Jed: is the shortened name for Jedburgh. This is the name that the OSS or gave to the men that were trained at Milton Hall in England for operations behind German and Asian lines. Here teams were given names and assignments. Jedburgh is actually a small village in Scotland, but had no direct part in the operations of the Jeds. This place hundreds of years ago had a way of dealing with criminals; they executed you first and then you were tried.

Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje: Retired as Major.

Captain Harry: Name often given to Mr.  Bestebreurtje by the locals in Holland during the war. Also this was easier for non Dutch people to equate to who they were talking about since Arie's last name was hard to pronounce when seen.

Rotterdam: The place where Arie was born April 12, 1916. It is located in Western Holland, an inland seaport, which is situated on the border of the river, Nieuwe Maas, which connects to the Rhine river. Rotterdam is one of the most important seaports in the world today.

Holland: The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999.

Military: (from latin militarius, miles "soldier") as an adjective describes anything related to soldiers and warfare. Used as a noun, it is equivalent to Armed force.

WW2: World War II was the most extensive and costly armed conflict in the history of the world, involving the great majority of the world's nations, being fought simultaneously in several major theatres, and costing approximately 55.5 million lives. The war was fought between two groups of powers: the alliance of the British Commonwealth, United States, Soviet Union, China, and the governments-in-exile of France, Poland, and other occupied European countries - collectively known as the Allies; and the alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan and their allies - collectively known as the Axis.

Most of the fighting occurred in the European theatre in and around Europe, and in the Pacific theatre in the Pacific and East Asia.

The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 is the most common date in the West for the start of World War II. Others cite the Japanese invasion of China on 7 July 1937 as the war's beginning, or even the 1931 Japanese incursion into Manchuria. The war ended in Europe with the surrender of Germany on 8 May 1945, but continued in Asia and the Pacific until 2 September 1945, when Japan surrendered.

82nd: Name of the US Airborne division that Arie was assigned to a day before the invasion in Holland on Sept. 17, 1944. It was a means of transportation and a way to be in contact with General Gavin with the data he found from the Dutch resistance. The Jeds used two airfields near Milton Hall in Petersbourgh, England to air lift supplies and agents.

Royal Dutch OSS: The Dutch were only one of many made up in the OSS. It was represented by all or the allied countries fighting the Germans. OSS - Office of Strategic Services and was under control by the G2 command of the Allied Military Command. OSS was the same as the modern SEALS, Special Forces, etc. All better know as the Cloak and Dagger Boys.

Team Clarence: The team of three men that went to Holland on Sept 17, 1944 in Operation Market Garden.

Team Stanley II: The team of three men that went to Holland on Oct 3,1944 during the extension to Operation Market Garden.

Team Dicing: The team of four men that went to Westerbork to liberate Dutch political prisoners on April 12, 1945.

Operation Market Garden: First Allied invasion into Holland from the south in Sept 1944. Was the largest air invasion of the war. The mission was to open up a corridor to Germany, but failed after two weeks when they were stopped at Arnhem by the German Panzer Division. Great lost to the military and civilians due to many factors such as poor communications between Allied divisions.  Operation Market Garden was an Allied military operation in World War II, which took place in September 1944. It was an attempt to take bridges over the main rivers of the German-occupied Netherlands, enabling the Allies to advance into Germany without any remaining major obstacles.  The operation was successful up to the capture of the Waal bridge at Nijmegen, but was overall a failure as the final Rhine bridge at Arnhem was not held, resulting in the destruction of the British 1st Airborne Division.

Westerbork: A Jewish interment camp built by the Jews in 1939. The camp was in northeast Holland in a small village called Hooghalen in the Providence of Drenthe. The camp was taken over by the Germans in 1940 and made into a transit concentration camp where 102,000+ Jews were sent by rail to death camps in Germany and Poland until Sept. 1944. The last train out had the family of Ann Frank. It was infiltrated by Team Dicing, a Jedburgh OSS, and liberated by the 7th Troop'8th Reece Canadian Reg. on April 12, 1945.

Hero: Arie was decorated with 18 of the highest medals from around the world, second only to Eisenhower. He was shot in two different missions, arrested and captured by Germans and escaped twice.

Minister: Joined the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham, NY in 1948; and ordained in this church in 1950; made Superintendent of Junior Dept. at this church in 1953; Assigned to Asbury Methodist Church as Director of Youth Studies in 1954, as part of his schooling at Union Seminary; Graduated the Union Seminary, NYC, with Master of Divinity in Sept. 1956; became co-pastor at Asbury Church in 1956; turned down candidate to chaplaincy at Choate School in CT in 1956; left Asbury in 1957; given his own parish, Calvin Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY in 1957; transferred to First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Va. in 1966.

Pelham Manor: The place Arie and his family moved to from NYC to begin his minister future. He already had two children, one born in London and the other in NYC. He had two more while living in Pelham Manor.

Louisville: He became a minister in this parish in 1957. It was part of a previously merged Presbyterian parish and he started this new parish from scratch, building a new church.

Charlottesville: This was his second parish and his last. He retired in 1981. He died in 1983 while skating and falling through the ice succumbing to the extreme exposure.

Speed skating: Arie speed skated with several skating clubs in Zurich from 1933 - 1941 and won several National competitions. He was on the 1936 Olympic team in Berlin, but was an alternate and did not skate. He also skated in 1946 in Zurich and Holland, but did decided to quite competition. He skated in the States as an Ice Clown and became a friend of Dirk Button.

Military: Joined the Royal Dutch Princess Irene Brig. in Canada in 1941. Went to the Royal Military College in London in 1941-42; further training Edinburgh for OSS; further training at Milton Hall for Jedburgh assignment; assigned to Team Clarence for Operation Market Garden, Team Stanley II for Operation Market Garden and Team Dicing for infiltration of Camp Westerbork

History: History is often used as a generic term for information about the past, such as in "geologic history of the Earth." When used as the name of a field of study, history refers to the study and interpretation of the record of human societies. The term history comes from the Greek historia, "an account of one's inquiries," and shares that etymology with the English word story.

Historians use many types of sources, including written or printed records, interviews (oral history), and archaeology. Different approaches may be more common in some periods than others, and the study of history has its fads and fashions (see historiography). The events that occurred prior to human records are known as prehistory.

Knowledge of history is often said to encompass both knowledge of past events and historical thinking skills.

Keywords: Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje, Captain Harry, Rotterdam, Holland, military, ww2, 82nd, royal Dutch OSS, Team Clarence, Team Stanley II, Team Dicing, Operation Market Garden, Westerbork, hero, minister, Presbyterian, Pelham Manor, Louisville, Charlottesville, speed skating, military, history

February 1, 2017

I am writing in response to your page on Dr Arie Bestebreurtge, who was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church I attended for two years while I was a student at the University of Virginia. That would be the academic years of 1967-68, and 68-69. He was the best preacher I had ever heard to that point, and still remains among the top three. He was an excellent scholar, but even better, a great communicator.

He came and spoke at our Chapter of the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in the fall of 1968. He told of his days as a leader in the pacifist movement in Europe in the 1930's, and then of his conversion from pacificism to the idea of a just war as a basis for Christians participating in combat. Clearly, from what he did in WW II, his move was whole-hearted. He drew a distinction between engaging in combat out of love for others, and for truth, and engaging in combat out of hatred and anger. The former was the proper motivation for a Christian soldier, while the latter was not.

I was very interested to learn of his work in Operation Market Garden, since my dad took part in that operation. He was a glider pilot who landed in Holland, about 60 miles inside enemy lines. I believe he took troops in, although he may have carried equipment. At any rate, because the mission ultimately failed, my dad and his fellow pilot had to walk back to Allied lines. They were assisted by the Dutch Underground. Who knows if perhaps Dr Bestebreurtge had a part in that trip?

As a side note, I eventually became a pastor myself - and Dr Bestebreurtge didn't hurt that process in the least!

God bless,
Charlie​ Sutton​

Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31,32

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