Searching for the Preston family who aided Dutch war hero

Hans Jordaan was a Dutch secret agent captured by the Gespato during WWII. He died in a concentration camp. During his SOE training he spend time in preston with the James family
Hans Jordaan was a Dutch secret agent captured by the Gespato during WWII. He died in a concentration camp. During his SOE training he spend time in preston with the James family
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THE great-nephew of a Dutch war hero is trying to find the Preston family who looked after him when he trained in England in early 1940.

Han Jordaan was training as a textile engineer in Manchester when war broke out.

After Holland was occupied by the Germans he was unable to return home.

Instead the 21-year-old volunteered with the British Special Operations Executive, a network of secret agents undertaking highly dangerous missions in occupied Europe.

During his spy training in England, he spent a week in Preston with the James family, who gave the young man a much-needed taste of normal family life during his intensive training as a special agent.

Han was parachuted into occupied Holland and spent five weeks working undercover before he was betrayed and captured by the Gestapo.

He was sent to prison, then later to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he died in May 1945, aged just 26.

Now his great nephew Joost Rethmeier, who works in finance and logistics in Hilversum in North Holland, is trying to trace descendants of the James family.

Joost said: “In his pocket diary, Han wrote about the James family. He said he was having quiet times with a pleasant family, and that the food was good.

“I would like to know more about the James family and perhaps learn where they lived and maybe even receive a photograph of them.

“Han’s diary suggested that Mr James had worked in Paris before the war.

“The James family had been recruited by SOE in order to harbour the occasional foreign SOE agent, who needed a break between the training courses.”

l Anyone who thinks they may know the James family or any of their relatives is asked to contact the newsdesk on lep.newsdesk@lep.co.uk or (01772) 838 101.