Jacob Beekman Jacob Beekman and his wife Yolande Elsa Maria Beekman-Unternahrer 1 of 1 Jacob Beekman and his wife Yolande Elsa Maria Beekman-Unternahrer 1 minute ago Jacob Beekman, who survived for more than seven months as a secret radio operator in the Dutch underground, belonged to a large Dutch family — he had eight brothers and four sisters — at Zwolle, in the eastern Netherlands, and grew up to be 6ft 2ins tall. His friends called him Jaap. He went into the army in 1938, serving as a hussar, and transferred to the police in June 1940, just after the German Army had trounced the Dutch in five days in May. From the police he was persuaded, by some French prisoners of war on forced labour in The Netherlands, to desert in May 1942, and managed to reach Spain across occupied Belgium and France by July. He went by ship to Curaçao, whence he managed to reach England that December; and volunteered at once for secret service in his home country. SOE took him on, put him through the usual paramilitary, parachuting and technical training courses, and trained him also as a clandestine wireless operator. His school reports described him as shrewd and cunning, but no intellectual. During his training, it became clear to his high command — British and Dutch alike — that all of SOE’s work into The Netherlands so far had been hopelessly penetrated by the Germans; he was one of those sent, rather late, to try to pick up the pieces and rebuild effective resistance. While under wireless/telegraph training, he fell in love with a fellow student, the Swiss Yolande Unternährer, whom he married. She went to France by Lysander light aircraft in September 1943 to assist the unforgettable Canadian Major Biéler, was arrested with him next January, and murdered in Dachau next September. Beekman had heard of her arrest, but not of her fate, when he parachuted on the night of August 28-29, 1944, into the Veluwe, the heathland that lay between the Zuider Zee and Arnhem — the one part of The Netherlands suitable for guerilla operations. Codenamed Maurits, he was to operate his set for his two companions, Luykenaar and Hinderink, whose task it was to make touch with local units of the Raad van Verzet, the best of the Dutch Resistance movements on the spot, and to supply them with arms. The RAF was to drop the arms under detailed arrangements to be made by Beekman, who kept himself apart from his colleagues, and took care never to spend more than a few minutes on air at a time. He also sometimes provided supplies for a parallel SOE venture, the Jedburgh team headed by Major Brinkgreve north of Arnhem, which had expected to be in the field for a few weeks but in fact lasted most of the winter. They managed to impose a few delays on German reinforcements hurrying to the Arnhem battlefield — a battle which surprised them as much as it surprised their enemies — and to provide some useful tactical intelligence and guides for the allied armies when they eventually broke out north of the Rhine in the closing weeks of the war. Beekman crossed into Allied-held territory on April 5, 1945. He did not hear for certain what had happened to Yolande until 1946. He went back to Zwolle, went into business, flourished quietly and remarried. By his second wife, Kathleen Mary Pickering, who died before him, he had two sons and three daughters. He was a familiar, stalwart figure at meetings of former resisters, retaining a stolid good humour to the end. Jacob Beekman, SOE agent, was born on December 21, 1919. He died on November 15, 2010, aged 90.