Tom Applewhite’s guide the evening of November 13, 1943 was Jan Naaijkens, a young school teacher from Hilvarenbeek. Picking Tom up at De Jonge Hertog (The Young Duke) tavern near the village of Moergestel, Jan delivered him to the Van der Heijden home in Hilvarenbeek. It was an experience Jan never would forget. Jan had been an expert designer of the false official stamps required to manufacture false identification for fugitives but this was the one and only time that he was directly involved in helping a downed airman. Making the trip all the more memorable were the mishaps with their bicycles en route to Hilvarenbeek. Jan went on to become a prominent author, playwright, theater director, and director of cultural festivals.
On the following pages I am posting two short stories written by Jan Naaijkens, which were inspired by his experience helping Tom Applewhite, De Fiets (The Bicycle) and Drie Wijzen uit het Westen (The Three Wise Men from the West). My thanks to Jan and his son Emmanuel for permission to include them on this website. (For an article about Jan Naaijkens on the occasion of his death, click here. For a video about his life and career, click here.)