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  • "
    ...came to England with her sister Willy in 1945.

    Precisely when in 1945 is significant. The process of kicking the Nazis out of Holland was protracted and tortuous. The Americans pushed through France and Belgium into Germany after D-Day, largely leaving The Netherlands bypassed and in Nazi hands, a strategy that was reinforced by the failure of Operation Market Garden (aka the Battle of Arnhem). From autumn 1944 to spring 1945 the Nazis exacted bloody revenge on the Dutch as their grip crumbled (Ian Kershaw's recent book 'The End' has background on this). Even if you weren't Jewish, you would have been living through the 'Hongerwinter' of 44-45, when, as its name suggests, mass starvation did indeed happen.

    Given the relatively short distance between the coasts of Holland and south-east England, I think it's quite likely that these two sisters quite simply got on a boat (a small fishing boat could easily have made it) and left, especially if their parents had died.

    Unless they sailed all the way up the east coast, however, the question remains open as to how they wound up in North Yorkshire, even if the above speculation is correct."
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Solving the puzzle of Dutch girls’ time in England

Solving the puzzle of Dutch girls’ time in England

Dutch woman Grada Tjooitink

A picture of a “big house” which was among the possessions of Dutch woman Grada Tjooitink, who worked in the York area shortly after the Second World War

A postcard of Appleton Roebuck wjich was among Grada's possessions

Jill Weenink

First published in News
Last updated

A DUTCH woman has appealed to readers of The Press to help her discover why her grandmother came to live and work near York at the end of the Second World War.

Jill Weenink, who lives in Dieren, near Arnhem, in the Netherlands, said her maternal grandmother Grada Tjooitink, who died in 1997, came to England with her sister Willy in 1945.

She said they visited twice, firstly staying for a year and later for another six months, but unfortunately she did not have exact dates.

“During her time in England, she wrote back to the family mentioning that she worked at a big house near Appleton Roebuck,” she said.

“She always said that she worked in York, and lived 15 minutes by bike from the city. In her possessions, there is a photo of a big house and there are also two postcards of Appleton Roebuck and of Bolton Percy.”

She said she hoped Press readers might be able to help her in her search for information concerning her grandmother’s time in York.

“I’m traying to trace her movements to gain a fuller picture of her early life,” she said.

“I would like to publish a request to see if anybody remembers them or has information about the large house where I think they spent their time in England, perhaps working for a family. It is a mystery to my family why, so soon after the liberation of Holland, the two girls came to England. Grada was 20 at the time.

“I realise that this happened nearly 70 years ago, but if I can gain any information at all, it might be the missing piece in the jigsaw.”

• Anyone with information can write to Jill Weenink at Mezenlaan 117, 6951 HL Dieren, The Netherlands, or email her at

Alternatively, email, and we will forward your message.

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