Don't miss a story sign up to Midweek Herald's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Tributes paid to wartime heroine

12:26 07 September 2012

Mieke Miller-Jansen

Mieke Miller-Jansen

Archant

Brave Mieke Miller-Jansen risked her life working for the Dutch resistance before making her home in Colyton

A heroine of the Dutch resistance, who made her home in Colyton, after the war, has died, aged 88, at a Seaton nursing home.

Tributes have been paid to courageous Mieke Miller-Jansen whose happy childhood came to an abrupt end when the Nazis invaded her native Holland.

She started work in a food distribution depot and went on to train as a general medical nurse, later switching to dental nursing in Amsterdam to avoid having to care for Nazi Germans.

From 1941, aged just 17, until the end of the war Mieke witnessed and endured many horrific experiences and privations, all of which had profound and lifelong consequences for her beliefs and attitude to life.

She lost family friends in the ruthless Jewish purges, witnessed the house raids by German soldiers and endured the cold winters with no heating and lack of food.

Unknown to her mother, Hubertha, or their closest friends, Mieke and her father, Bernadus, sheltered and protected several local Jews from capture and almost certain death at the hands of the occupation forces.

Many were hidden in the home and surgery of the dentist for whom she worked.

She also helped Dutch fugitives hiding from the Germans, acting as a courier of food and information by pedalling her bicycle between hideouts – a highly risky and dangerous enterprise. She maintained that her youthful good looks, blond hair and cheeky disposition helped her outwit many a German sentry.

By the end of the war, due to acute food shortages in Holland, Mieke was suffering from chronic malnutrition and exhaustion. So, in 1947, certified as a ‘Loyal Dutch Citizen’, she was given a work permit and sent to England for medical care and convalescence.

Arriving in Axminster, she initially worked as a nursery nurse. Later she obtained lodging in Honiton and resumed her career as a dental nurse working in a local practice.

She met Philip Miller – a Beer farmer’s son, who had recently served in the RAF, at Honiton Fair, and they were married in Amsterdam Town Hall in 1949, returning to farm at Lea Croft, Colyton Hill, in 1949.

Max Drukker, one of the Jewish friends that Mieke had helped to save from the Holocaust, in turn helped Philip and Mieke overcome early financial hardship, and so they went on to farm successfully on Colyton Hill for more than 40 years.

Mieke became actively involved in the community, joining the Women’s Institute and becoming a member of the Colyton Leisure Painters.

She served on Colyton Parish Council for two terms, well known for her forthright views and comments. She was secretary of the 1977 Queen’s Silver Jubilee committee and was involved in the building of the Jubilee shelter at the picnic site.

She helped raise funds for the Colyton Abbeyfield Retirement Home, which was opened and dedicated to Mrs Marjorie Baker.

Mieke was an original supporter of the Friends of Seaton Hospital, a staunch supporter of the Devon Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, and served on the judging panel for the “Best Kept Village” competition. She was heavily involved in the Colyton Royal British Legion, being the organiser of the Poppy Appeal, and as a member of the Colour Party at the Annual Remembrance Service.

Widowed in 1994, Mieke continued to live at Rosamundford, where she and Philip had moved, until she built her new home in 2000, symbolically named “Manna”, using the code word for the RAF food drops over Holland after the war.

In 1995 Mieke travelled back to Meppel on the 50th anniversary of the liberation, where she was honoured for her work there with the Dutch Resistance, an occasion that filled her with enormous pride. Mieke is survived by two daughters and her granddaughter Alice.

A Service of Celebration will be held at St Andrew’s Church, Colyton, on Saturday (September 15) at noon and all are welcome.

0 comments

Other News Stories

14:58
Winning RNLI  stall organisers (l to r) Brian Cursley, Gerry Hampton and Peter Hampton.

Lifeboat team wins the Axe Vale Skip Award for Best Presented Charity Stand

Read more

Gallery: Cranbrook Day

14:19
Helen West and Todd Plant from Cranberry events with town council members. Ref mhc 26-16TI 3196. Picture: Terry Ife

Hundreds of Cranberries joined in the fun on Sunday for the Cranbrook Day festivities at The Education Campus.

Read more
13:06
Honiton 1st Brownies celebrate The Queen's 90th birthday with an indoor street party. Ref mhh 26-16TI 3301. Picture: Terry Ife

Celebrations took place on Sunday at The Bee Hive for The Queen’s 90th birthday.

Read more
17:30
Joan Davies -  the only survivor of the original Trustees when the ACS was formed 30 years ago

Members of Axminster Care Service (ACS) will be in party mood when they celebrate their 30th birthday at their annual meeting in The Guildhall on Thursday, June 30, at 7.30pm.

Read more
11:59
Pictured at the tea party  are (left to right) guests Elsie Williams, 100, Dorothy Bagnall, 95, Irene Tapner, 88, Audrey Stenton, 89 and Rotarians Mick Askew, Les Andrews, Gareth Davies (president), Jean Davies, Terry Grimsley (treasurer). Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Seaton and District Rotary Club welcomes guests to the Memorial Hall including 100-year-old Elsie Williams

Read more
10:04
Relaxing at the Axe Vale Show. Ref mha 26-16TI 2901. Picture: Terry Ife

Crowds flock to the Axminster showground which avoids the worst of the rain

Read more
07:36
Colyton Grammar School's victorious mock trial team with their trophy

Grammar school team is named the national mock trial champions

Read more
11:30
Matthew collects the scooter on behalf of mum Kelly Keast.

New lease of life for ME sufferer Becky Keast.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:54

Cirrus Vape Shop, in New Street, was hit between 1.30am and 1.45am on Sunday (June 26).

Read more
Yesterday, 14:25
Martin Croad who has moved to Seaton with his family. Picture: RICHARD HOROBIN

Dedicated member of the RNLI team steps down aftre moving to Seaton

Read more

Local Weather

Rain

Rain

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Midweek Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Local business directory

Honiton's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications