Eelke Sytses Wolters was born at Akkerwoude Friesland on the 14th March 1919 and was a farmer’s son, he was enlisted into the Dutch army in 1939.
When the Germans invaded The Netherlands, Eelke was attached to a horse drawn gun unit which was attacked by planes and the horses killed. Eelke and his comrades escaped by diving into a ditch. On their way south they came across a cow which was in agony because it had not been milked, so Eelke milked it and he and his comrades had plenty to drink.
When they reached Dunkirk they were lucky to be taken off with some RAF personnel, the vessel they were on was a Mersey ferry boat. They arrived in Porthcawl ,South Wales, in the dark and when Eelke looked out of the tent next morning and saw the mountains he could not believe his eyes.
In October 1940 Eelke arrived in Congleton and was billeted in the Marsuma mill. Of course the local girls thought they had been given manna from heaven with this influx of eligible young men. It was during the evening ritual of promenading the main street that Eelke met his future bride Vera Finney, also Vera would meet Eelke during her lunch break from Stott and Smith’s mill. Eelke had an army friend called Bonco who unfortunately got killed when they went back after D Day.
Eelke was invited back to Vera’s home for Sunday lunch and one thing led to another, and they were married on the 20th September 1941. Their first daughter Maaike was born on the 15th December 1942. Eelke was posted to Wolverhampton and Vera went to stay with him for one year and lo and behold their son Kenneth was born on the 21st April 1944.
Eelke and Vera
At the end of the war the Dutch soldiers were not allowed to stay in England and had to be repatriated and Eelke was based in The Hague. In November 1945 Vera followed him and had an horrendous journey starting at Crewe to London, where they were told that the boat from Harwich would not be leaving as planned and would have to spend overnight in London. Eventually the boat arrived in Rotterdam at about 8am, and at 6pm she was still on the quayside with two small children waiting for Eelke to arrive. Nobody had told her that Eelke had been demobbed and got a job as guard at a Bank in Amsterdam. The soldiers found some chocolate and milk for the children and arranged for an army driver to take them to Amsterdam. The driver knocked on the door of the flat at Ceramplein 58 in Amsterdam and went inside. Vera and the children were in the vehicle outside for nearly an hour until the driver thought to say to Eelke, “by the way I’ve got your wife and children outside” !
During their stay in Amsterdam their second daughter Betty was born in October 1946. It was then announced that Dutch soldiers who had married British girls could return to the UK, therefore the family returned in December 1946. They stayed in a cramped cottage with Vera’s mother for two weeks then Eelke obtained a job and house at Eaton Hall, Congleton working for Colonel and Mrs Antrobus. Whilst at Eaton Hall their third daughter Sylvia was born on the 9th of February1948.
After leaving Eaton Hall Eelke had a smallholding at Congleton Edge and worked for Silver Springs dyeworks at Timbersbrook and Crown Wallpapers at Holmes Chapel.
His son Kenneth emigrated to Ontario Canada which is where Eelke’s elder brother Tjalling went to with his family. His younger brother Jurjen joined the Dutch army and served in the East Indies.
Eelke died on 14th Febrary 2003 in Congleton.
(Thanks Neville Slater for the information and photos)