Nearly eighty years ago, on 23rd November 1941, a joint British-Dutch intelligence operation successfully managed to send a Dutch agent to the occupied Netherlands. The operation was called “Contact Holland.”
Pieter Tazelaar swam from a boat to the beach at Scheveningen. He was wearing black tie evening dress. He poured some Hennessy XO cognac over himself and walked up the beach, pretending to be a drunk reveller, and he was thus able to get past the German guards.
On 20th November, on the windswept boulevard in Scheveningen, a small group of people took a moment to remember the Special Forces agents in the Second World War. The head of the Dutch SAS was there, along with descendants of Tazelaar, and representatives from the Museum Engelandvaarders. A letter was read from Dutch Prince Peter-Christiaan, who works closely with Dutch security forces.
After Emma’s song, a man dressed in a black tie ran up to the boulevard from the beach carrying a torch to symbolise the hope that the intelligence team brought to the Netherlands. The group then raised a toast, of course with Hennessy XO.
The ceremony was organised by Dutch author Victor Laurentius who published a biography of Tazelaar in 2009. Needless to say, Tazelaar and Operation Contact Holland were the inspiration for Ian Flemming’s James Bond.