Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945


Evader chart: E0535
SGLO Date crash Aircraft
T3743 30-05-44 Mustang
MilRank First Name(s) Name
F/O. Czeslaw Oberdak
Milregnr. Nationality Born
P-2224 Polish 8 Mar 45, 20 Jul 21
Returned Y/N Evader Fate Date Captured/Liberated Place Captured/Liberated Escape Line
No EVD-Killed 24 Dec 44 De Harskamp
Evader Story
						F/O. Czeslaw Oberdak was the pilot of Mustang FX979 that crash landed on May 30, 1944, due to engine failure at the Bakhuisdijkje at Dalmsholte, a hamlet between Ommen and Lemelerveld. He got out of his plane unhurt and set fire to it. Oberdak then left the scene and got in touch with the local resistance at Ommen. They brought him to the house of Jan Seigers at the Wolfskuil 1 in Ommen where he joined three Dutch men in hiding. Early June, he was joined here by 1/Lt. Franklin D. (Frank) Coslett (E0475), S/Sgt. Walter Thomas Kilgore (E0476) and S/Sgt. Werner Braun (E0474), three crewmembers of a B-24 bomber.

In the night of June 29, a message arrived that Jan Seigers was arrested and that a German search party was on the way to their hiding address. The four airmen, a Dutchman named ‘Kees’, Jacoba 'Koosje' Seigers and another woman fled into the nearby woods. The next day, June 30, ‘Koosje’ Seigers returned to her home and 'Kees' guided the aviators to the farm 'De Schaapskooi' of Cornelis Timmerman at the Schaapskooiweg in Rechteren where they spent the night. From here they were brought to a houseboat that was moored in the Almelose Kanaal near Laag-Zuthem. This houseboat belonged to the ‘Groene’  resistance group from Zwolle that was lead by Henk Beernink. The four airmen stayed here for about two weeks and then went to Zwolle. Here they were joined by 1/Lt. 'Dick' Cook (E1004) and 2/Lt. J.R. Whittaker (E1100) and together they travelled by train to Harderwijk. On arrival, the group was split up and separately taken to several addresses in Harderwijk. Early in the evening of July 21, they were taken in pairs to the duck decoys of Hendrik de Kok at the Parallelweg 11 in Hierden where they were re-united. While the men stayed in hiding at the duck decoys, they were looked after by the van Poelgeest family. After a while the airmen moved to Harderwijk where they found a hiding place in the bakery of van Poelgeest at the Hondegatstraat 9.

On August 30, Oberdak and Coslett, who by then had become real friends, travelled to Amsterday while Kilgore and Braun stayed in Harderwijk. From this date until November 5, they stayed in the house of Hendrik Jan Schrijver in the Willem Rooyaardstraat 18 in the Dutch capital. They then went to the house of Harrie Scheepstra at the Stadionkade 131. On November 22, they moved to the house of Mrs. Viruly-Van Hattem, the widow of the famous Dutch airline pilot, at the Michelangelostraat 36. Both airmen left the Dutch capital on December 6 and cycled together with Dutch special agent and wireless operator, Adam van Rijsewijk in the direction of the Veluwe. They were probably escorted by Toussy Salomonson and via Groenekan near Utrecht, they rode in three days to Beekbergen.

The local resistance brought the three men to Anton Schol and his family who lived at the Dabbelosepad in Hoenderloo. The family had an underground hiding place (named ‘Beatrix’) in the forest behind their house. Here the airmen joined lieutenant Brian Carr, a hiding British paratrooper, and Wladimir Kapustin, a Russian PoW. In the morning of December 24, the Germans incidentally found the hole and arrested the five men. While they were taken to a truck, Carr and Van Rijsewijk managed to escape. Oberdak and Coslett also ran away, but Coslett was injured by a gunshot in the leg and both airmen were captured again. Eventually Oberdak, Coslett and the Russian were brought to the SD prison in Velp. All three were sentenced to death and Oberdak and Coslett were then transported to prison 'De Kruisberg' in Doetinchem.

In the night of March 6 on March 7, the resistance from Apeldoorn set up an ambush to capture a German lorry. This ambush was set up near the Woeste Hoeve in on the road between Apeldoorn and Arnhem. They thought they heard a lorry approach but it turned out to be a German staff car with a driver and two officers. A firefight ensued and when it became quiet, the resistance men left the scene thinking all occupants of the car were dead. However, SS General Hanns Rauter was badly wounded but survived the attack. As a reprisal for this attack, hundreds of Dutch civilians were taken from prisons and executed at different locations.

Oberdak and 24 other prisoners from De Kruisberg were taken to the Woeste Hoeve and were executed there on March 8, 1945, together with 92 others. All victims were buried in a mass grave at the Heidehof cemetery in Apeldoorn. After the war they were exhumed for identification and 115 victims could be identified. The other two were reburied as Unknown Dutchmen and in 1982 moved to the Nationaal Ereveld at Loenen (Dutch National War cemetery). In 1991 Oberdak’s sister discovered that her missing brother had made an emergency landing near Zwolle and probably had survived. She approached Dutch journalist Richard Schuurman and asked if he could look into the matter. In 1995, a first attempt was made to identify Oberdak but this failed. In February 2008 (!) his remains were exhumed for the second time and in November of this year positively identified.

On December 10, 2009, Oberdak was reburied with military honor in the family grave at Krakau, Poland. 						
* R. Schuurman, Spoor naar Woeste Hoeve, (Hilversum 2012)
* Wolter Noordman, Ondergedoken op de Veluwe, (Kampen 2010), pages 32, 85, 91-92, 152, 279
* National Archives, Washington, NAID: 286688036.