Relief action Flood 1953




During the heavy storm in the night from Saturday to Sunday February 1st 1953, in Zeeland and the Isles of South-Holland, the dikes broke and a large part of the land was submerged.

On Sunday the District Commissioner of Rotterdam called upon the aid of the Scouts on the radio. Several groups and individual scouts responded to this appeal.


Aiding Troops went to the Isles of IJsselmonde and Voorne en Putten to help reinforcing the dikes. A service to collect clothing, bedclothes and so on was organized. Help was given to refugees in the Ahoy- and Riviéra-halls and aiding troops went to Voorne and Putten to save humans if possible.


A small piece of the journal of group 30 “Jonker Frans van Brederode”:


18.30 hrs.

For the second time we left for a farm in the polder. Darkness is dangerous and annoying, for barriers are only visible from a short distance. People were afraid to descend in the dangling boat, saved 3 humans and a dog.

To small house 60 m. away. Situation critical, water up to the attic. Saved here 4 humans, amongst them 2 children, and a dog. The guide was familiar with the situation at the site and was afraid in the dangling boat. Saved ones scared, were afraid to lay down on the bottom. Inconvenient for the rowers who couldn’t move. Very dark, afraid for collision with greenhouse or other object that could damage the boat or capsize it. A lot of detour in heavy rain, but progress to the dike. Dropped on the tramway about 75 m. from the dike. Red Cross and civilians came to aid, humans dropped off.


From February 1st to 4th this group was active in het submerged area and more than 100 humans were rescued from isolated houses, farms and dikes.

On Wednesday February 4th at 7.45 hrs. the clipper “Rambonnet” with the “Merwede” as tugboat left from the headquarters at the Haringvliet in Rotterdam. It was filled with food, clothing, medical supplies, gear for soup kitchens, etc. Destination was Hellevoetsluis.


Goodbye at leaving headquarters



The “Rambonnet” at Sommelsdijk-harbour


On arrival instructions came to go to Middelharnis. No one there had eaten properly since Saturday, it was obvious what had to be done there. 6 Butane gas cookers with accessories were organized to feed hundreds of civilians and soldiers. They ate at the council board in the boardroom of the town hall, where the headquarters of the aiding services was stationed.


500 Soldiers were stationed here, working in a day and night shift closing the dikes along the Haringvliet.



On Thursday February 5th at 11.50 hrs. the “Avontuur”, belonging to the Hakkert family, arrived at the harbour of Middelharnis. They had disinterested offered this ship for the aid. It had left Rotterdam at 6.15 hrs, towed by the tugboat “Shamrock”. Promptly after arriving the preparing of pea soup was started. The soup was welcomed very much. The ship also helped evacuating Middelharnis en surroundings.


The third Scouting Aid Ship “Adriana” left on Friday February 6th from Rotterdam, especially equipped for supplying both other ships. In Middelharnis the situation was already secured and help was no longer needed. The “Rambonnet” and the Avontuur” left for Numansdorp in order to make contact with the “Adriana” as agreed before. In Numansdorp there was a lack of clothing. Different goods and materials were loaded from the “Adriana” to the “Rambonnet”. At 19.00 hrs. the “Rambonnet” left for Willemstad.

 Watersnood 1


The “Rambonnet”, the “Adriana” and the “Avontuur” at Numansdorp-harbour



On Saturday February 7th the “Rambonnet” got the orders to go to Ooltgensplaat and the crew has delivered hot meals for approximately 500 civilians and dozens of soldiers (130 litres of thick soup, 60 litres of porridge, 230 litres of potatoes, 65 litres of vegetables, 20 litres of gravy and 10 kilos of meat).



Afbeelding 018

 De “Adriana” at Numansdorp-harbour


The ”Adriana” left for Rotterdam again, through Willemstad and the “Avontuur” got the orders to go to Kortgene, where help was very much needed. People hadn’t eaten a warm meal in days and several humans were handed out clothing’s.

The crew of the aiding ship was welcomed by the Mayor, who asked them to stay till Saturday. The decision was made to divide the crew in different shifts: kitchen crew, cleaning crew, 2 man forage, 3 man distributing clothing and a crew that could do different jobs. The local community highly appreciated the efforts of the “Avontuur”.



Sunday February 8th, Sommelsdijk. The kitchen worked at full speed. In the “Polderhuis” a central soup kitchen was installed that could be operated by the local society.

In Kortgene a short church service was held aboard the “Avontuur”, whereupon the preparing of meals and the delivering of coffee, soup etc. was continued.


Monday February 9th. The central soup kitchen was handed over to the Mayor of Sommelsdijk, followed at 9.25 hrs. by the departure of the “Rambonnet” to Rotterdam. With this departure the aid from the “Rambonnet” and the “Merwede” was ended.


Tuesday February 10th. at 13.10 hrs. the tugboat “Rembrandt” arrived in Kortgene, with a relay team and new supplies from Rotterdam, including a battery of butane gas gears with accessories. Clothing was transferred to the attic of the Central Office in Kortgene and properly sorted. This post soon was named “C&A” (after the clothing stores).


At 15.30 hrs. the ”Rembrandt” left for Rotterdam again.

Watersnood 2 

 Clothing distribution at “C&A”




 Of course the crew also had to eat


Wednesday and Thursday. Everything went smoothly, everyone was getting used to the job. The pea soup was praised all over, everybody was applauding the equipment and the products which were delivered.


Friday February 13th. The usual chores again. During the morning the clothing supplies were transferred tot a representative of the council. In the evening the Mayor thanked everyone for their services during a official farewell speech.


Saturday February 14th. At 7.10 hrs. the “Shamrock” tugged the ”Avontuur” and left Kortgene quietly for the return to Rotterdam. At 16.40 hrs. the “Avontuur” and the “Shamrock” moored at the Oosterkade and the mission was ended.

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