The ones on the wrong side of the war

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Sep 19, 2006
I found info about our (NL) less glorious war heroes, the ones we do not want to know. I cannot imagine what makes someone help the enemy who invaded his country, but on the other hand, it's easy to judge 60+ years later in a totally different situation.
As an example, here the story of mr. Kuhn, who turned traitor twice, first on the dutch and allied cause, then on the german LW:

Johannes Antonius Kuhn. Born in Amsterdam on 15th November 1908 was destined to survive WW2. Having obtained his pilot's brevet in 1932, he was applied in 1937 for a six-year posting to the KNIL. He was accepted on August 14th. In the colony the reserve NCO flew Martin 139 bombers, but in 1938 he was repatriated due to health problems related to the tropical climate. En 1939 he re-engaged for service in the ML. He started with the unit I-2 LvR (equipped with Fokker C-V Koolhoven FK-51) before progressing at the end of 1939 to V-2 LvR (a fighter unit) to re-train as a fighter pilot. At the start of 1940 he was the pilot of a Douglas DB-8A. The Netherlands had 28 of these aircraft. It is amazing that they were in service as fighters as they were designed as two-seat bombers. A shortage of fighter aircraft had forced the Dutch to take this drastic measure. Kuhn's (nicknamed 'Bulletje' by his colleagues on account of his short stature) involvement in the May 1940 actions was to be brief. On the 1oth May his DB-8A N° 392 was shot down near Pijnacker (probably by a Bf 110 of II./ZG1) Kuhn and his radio-operator NCO Staal were able to leave the machine but Kuhn suffered serious injury to a knee as a result of the crash landing. This meant long months of recuperation in hospital which then followed. In 1942 he was regarded as fully recovered and discharged on 15th October, having been declared as unsuitable for flying duties. That same year he applied to join the Luftwaffe. What was his motivation? In 1944 during interrogation by the British he stated that his German fiancée pushed him into making this choice. One suspects that this was purely an excuse.

Anyhow, in view of his prolonged absence from flying, the Luftwaffe were not going to let him escape the need for re-training! From October 1942 through to April 1943 he was at Flieger-Ausbildung-Regiment 63 at Toul (F) before moving on to the Flugzeugführerüberprüfungschule at Prenzlau. Subsequently at the start of January 1944 he moved to Schlachtgeschwader 101 (a ground-attack unit equipped with Fw 190 and some Hs 129s) based at Orly (F) After an interlude training at Quedlinburg, the Dutchman was transferred to Überführungsgruppe West, a ferry unit formed in mid-1943to fly new or repaired aircraft from factories to front-line units.

Überführungsgruppe West comprised 4 Geschwader. Kuhn belonged to the third. It Willie recognised that Kuhn had arrived at a bad moment. In the weeks preceding June 6th 1944 the ferry pilots had to accept the risk of allied intruder fighters spoiling for a fight. Many pilots were shot down due to this cause. When the ferried aircraft finally reached the airfields, they were then likely to become targets for allied bombers. After the invasion on D-Day 6th June, Überführungsgruppe West abandoned their advance bases and retreated to within the Reich borders. The quality of the pilots declined rapidly as a result of losses reaching 35/40%! Kuhn was particularly depressed as, being based at Langendiebach, he regularly had to take-off in He IIIs of TG 30 participating in supply flights for the German pockets of resistance on the Atlantic coast.

He decided to desert. To do so he had to wait for a favourable moment, which presented itself on 30th August 1944. On that day he was flying one of fourteen FW 190A8s being sent to reinforce JG 26 at Brussels-Melbroek. Kuhn was flying Werknummer 171747. Time was getting short. At 11:30 he took off for Belgium. He passed Aachen Ostend and then headed west. Close to the many ships at sea he crossed the North Sea. So as not to run the risk of being shot down by British flak, he did not head for a known aerodrome, but managed to put his aircraft down in open country near Monkton in Kent. It was a good landing and his aircraft suffered only minor damage. It would receive the serial AM230 and would be displayed to the public many times; at Farnborough in 1945 , then going to the Science Museum in London in 1946. It was later scrapped.

As for Kuhn he remained a POW in Great Britain until 1949. In the 1980s he was given a friendly welcome by Dutch military aviation veterans. His peers managed to sponge over his 'intermezzo' in the Luftwaffe.

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