Article written by Rende van de Kamp, please visit his facebook pages(Dutch only):

No Men, But Devils!

Operation Keystone

Since about ten years I am a writer of military history books. I also write every once in a while articles for a Dutch magazine for veterans. In those ten years I wrote five books about Dutchmen in foreign armies.

Now how did I get interested in mercenaries, foreign service and foreign volunteers? It all started maybe in 1975, I was 15 years old then, when I saw on the news that British mercenaries jumped out of a bus on Heathrow airport on their way to Angola.

British Mercenaries Angola

I wanted to quit school immediately to join the fight but had no money. My father refused to lent me any, so I went back to school.

A few years later I joined the Dutch army, served as a tank gunner, switched to the infantry to get send to the Dutch UN-detachment in Lebanon and served a short while in the Sinai-desert with the MFO.


After that I served in the South Lebanon Army in 1981 and 1982. I found out soon enough I missed decent training and decided to join the French Foreign Legion.

Rende van de Kamp

I served a total of five years in the parachute regiment of the Legion, the famous 2e REP and served after that two years as an instructor in basic training.

The Parachute Regiment, the famous 2e REP

I was a sergeant when I was watching the television once again and saw how a nice rebellion in former Yugoslavia ended up in a full-scale war.

Special Forces unit, Bojna Zinski

With another Legion sergeant I went AWOL and joined a unit of the Croatian army on the front in Eastern Slavonia. A while later I went to a special forces unit called Bojna Zinski. With this unit I served in Hercegovina in 1992.

After that I went back to the Legion to face the consequences of me being AWOL, which resulted in getting busted and 41 days jail.

After having returned to a boring Holland, I walked around years with the idea I had to write a book. Finally, when I was working as a doorman in a titty bar, I could write the first word.

The first book was about myself, the second and third books were about Dutchmen in foreign armies, Dutch mercenaries and contractors. The fourth book was about Dutchmen in the French Foreign Legion from the start in 1831 till today. This book, called ‘Geen mannen, maar duivels!’ (No men, but devils!) can be considered a standard work about the French Foreign Legion. The book has a beautiful lay-out and color photographs and ancient postcards. The book is only in Dutch language.

Some time after that last book my publisher came up with a story he had heard about Dutchmen in the famous Special Air Service. Now if there is anything that has been well researched and published about it is WW2. But almost nothing was found about Dutchmen in the SAS and very little about an operation they participated in Holland, called Operation Keystone. There were even historians that had written that Operation Keystone never happened.

After some research I found out that indeed a number of Dutchmen had been flown to England in the end of 1944 to be detached in the SAS. Out of 27 candidates, 15 made it through selection and training and were placed in 1st SAS and 2nd SAS.  Soon all the Dutchmen were placed in 2nd SAS that was stationed at the time in Wivenhoe House in Colchester.

With my co-author Jeoffrey van Woensel, a reserve-officer and historian working for the Dutch Veterans Institute, we discovered how these Dutchmen became a part of Operation Keystone, an operation that had to clear the way in fact of a Canadian much larger operation called Cleanser. The SAS was supposed to reconnoitre, assist and manage Dutch resistance, liaison between the resistance and London, assist to save some bridges, lay ambushes and disturb the Germans, and last but not least, according to several Dutch SAS-men, they had to kidnap or liquidate the German governor of The Netherlands, a sinister character named Arthur Seyss-Inquart.

German governor of The Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart

The actual operation consisted of several components. A jeeping party under command of major Henri Druce, formerly of the SAS and a veteran of Operation Loyton and quite a character, and three teams that would go in with parachute and material and supplies. Now, due to all kind of circumstances, the parachute component was only partly possible and no heavy weapons and jeeps were dropped.

Operation Loyton

Apart from a few minor successes the operation more or less failed to have great effect. The German governor never even new people were looking for him, the occupation of a few important bridges resulted in a massacre of Dutch resistance fighters by German paratroops and in the SAS-teams a few little disagreements seem to have taken place. Apart from that all SAS-casualties were a result of friendly fire.

The only component that was going happily along was the jeeping party of major Druce. At one moment a British officer saw a jeep approaching his position. In the jeep a motley crew commanded by a half-naked officer with a black top hat. They were the SAS!

The book was published December 12 last year and is only in Dutch language.

Thank you for reading, please visit my facebook pages:

No Men, But Devils!

Operation Keystone

Regards, Rende van de Kamp


    • Thanks Tadhg, 5 tours South Lebanon sounds like an adventure as well.. 🙂 I will be posting more really good stories from Rende, make sure to subscribe, to keep up to date! Regards, Mark.

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