The Voyage of the ZEEMANSHOOP, 14-15 May 1940

Bill Forster
7th May 2011, 14:46
On the 14 May 1940 this Dutch lifeboat left Ijmuiden, the port for Amsterdam with 42 passengers and a "crew" of four Dutch students. Most of the passengers were Jewish immigrants from Nazi Germany desperate to escape before the German forces overran Holland.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 15 May they were spotted by HMS VENOMOUS and taken aboard where the refugees were photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR.

His photographs, a description of the voyage and a list of the 46 men and women aboard can be seen at:

Does anybody know what happened to the ZEEMANSHOOP and its passengers after their arrival in England?

Bill Forster

Bill Forster
12th August 2011, 23:13
At least three of the "Engelandvaarders" who left Holland for England on the 14 May 1940 are sill alive and have helped me describe the voyage of the Dutch lifeboat, SEAMANS HOPE, at:

Loet Velmans was a 17 year old high school student and is now 88, Karel Dahmen, one of the crew of university students is now 92, and the young Dutch aristocrat, Marien de Jonge, will be 100 next month. They have told their stories at:

Bill Forster

Bill Forster
13th January 2012, 16:22
The story of the voyage of the ZEEMANSHOOP from Scheveningen to England with a crew of four students and 42 mainly Jewish passengers on the 14 - 15 May 1940 has been completely rewritten.

Radboud Hack, the son of Harry Hack, the "Captain" of the crew of students sent me his father's unpublished account of the voyage.

Karel Dahmen, the only surviving crew member, has described how they broke into the ZEEMANSHOOP and Radboud Hack, the son of the Captain of the four man student crew has carried out a “risk analysis” of the voyage in the top heavy over laden lifeboat which suggests that any change in the weather would have resulted in disaster.


The passengers and crew of the ZEEMANSHOOP were picked up by HMS VENOMOUS near the Goodwin Sands and landed at Dover.

The German Jewish refugees, "Enemy Aliens", were interned on the Isle of Man. The Dutch students served in the Dutch Navy or the RAF.

Their stories are fascinating.

Bill Forster

Bill Forster
14th July 2015, 21:50
On the 15 May 1940 HMS Venomous was escorting two minesweepers near the Goodwin Sands when a Dutch lifeboat was sighted making distress signals. Her deck was packed with refugees from the Netherlands who had left Scheveningen, the harbour and seaside resort for The Hague, at dusk the previous evening, the day the Netherlands surrendered. She had been hijacked by four university students and the refugees were mostly Jewish - some Dutch but others German - desperate to escape death in the Camps of Nazi Germany. They were taken aboard Venomous and landed at Dover that evening.

On the 14 May this year a hundred men and women from three continents assembled at Scheveningen to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their rescue. They included one of the students, 95 year old Karel Dahmen, and a 92 year old "schoolboy", Loet Velmans. The Mayor of The Hague and the British Ambassador were there and the 90 year old Dutch lifeboat, Zeemanshoop (Seaman's Hope), newly restored took them round the harbour. The son and daughter of Lt Cdr John McBeath, the CO of HMS Venomous in May 1940, attended. And the Royal Navy sent HMS Trumpeter, the Cambridge University Royal Navy Unit's training ship, to the reunion of the families of the 46 men and women on the Zeemanshoop.


The event received huge publicity on Dutch television and national papers and a book in Dutch was launched at the reunion. As a result of the publicity the family of another seven passengers on the Zeemanshoop have been traced and their stories told on my web site about the Zeemanshoop.

Bill Forster

Day Sailor
2nd February 2016, 15:31
Thank you Bill for posting this information. I think they chose a much safer vessel for their escape than are being used by the migrants in the Mediterranean. Apart from that I would imagine the experience is similar.