Interview with Coby Van Riel


Interview with Coby Van Riel


Coby Van Riel was aged about six when the Germans invaded Holland. She lived in a fishing port area of The Hague, where her father had numerous jobs to make ends meet in the difficult days before the war and her mother ran a chemist shop. She witnessed the German parachutists landing and the bombing of the area and saw the injuries to the civilian population, some of whom went to her mother’s shop for help. When the Germans took over the area, the family were forced to move out of their house and give up the shop and went to live in the cellar of her uncle’s café. She recalls the round-up of civilians sent to forced labour and of the local Jewish population sent to Concentration Camps. She talks about what it was like for civilians to live in the occupation and recalls the time she was asked to carry a secret message in the sole of her shoe. She talks of the Hunger Winter when people began to starve and she lost her uncle to starvation; her parents were very close to death when help finally arrived. She witnessed Operation Manna and expresses her gratitude for the efforts of the RAF. She also recalls seeing V-1 rockets and seeing the damage caused by them.




Temporal Coverage





01:20:26 audio recording


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MC: This interview is being conducted on the behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Mike Connock. The interviewee is Mrs Coby Van Riel. The interview is taking place at her home at Bracebridge Heath on the 25th of August 2015. So, Coby if you can just perhaps tell me a bit about where, when and where you were born.
CVR: Yes. I was born in the Hague in Holland on the 6th of August 1932. And my brother was born two and a half years before. And my parents were not that young because my father had been married before and he lost his wife from tuberculosis and his little baby as well, died as well. And after that, he knew my mother because she was the sister of my father’s, sorry the sister, yeah of my father’s brother. I say difficult. Two families. Two brothers and two sisters. Yeah. So my mother knew him already and then they got to know each other better and they married at a later age. So, when I was born my mother was already forty-one.
MC: Oh goodness.
CVR: Yeah. So, I went to a school. It was the, for little toddlers first in a place called Scheveningen, near the Hague. A fishing harbour. And after that I went to the primary school. Also in that area. And then I, so we, we still lived close to Scheveningen. You know, on the edge of the Hague in the Brederodestraat and my mum, my mother had a chemist shop. Although in Holland they call it drogist. And that means it is a shop. There they can sell everything like in a chemist’s shop except drugs. No prescriptions from doctors and all that. And then I went to the Grammar School. Also, still in the area and I have to think about the —
MC: Did you enjoy the schooling? Can you remember much about your schooldays?
CVR: Yeah. I can remember more in detail but I don’t know if you want to know all about that. But anyway, so I have to think.
MC: What did your father do?
CVR: My father was, worked for a baker’s delivery shop. The co-op. Actually, the co-op it was called in Holland. And not Co-op but Volharding which I think was the same company and he used to deliver bread. And he did lots to earn a little bit more money to keep us going because when my mother had the chemist shop and towards the wartime in 1939 there was a critical time, you know. In ’39. And can you call it malaise or [pause] very difficult to keep going, you know. People used to go to other shops if they got something for a half a cent cheaper than in my mother’s shop.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
CVR: So it was very hard for them.
MC: Was it unusual for both parents to work in those days? Because, I mean, your father worked at a bakers but your mother ran the chemist shop.
CVR: Yeah. My father had a hard job and because he always helped his brother, my uncle, in the middle of the Hague — he had a café restaurant and he used to work there in the evening to help out, you know. And he wouldn’t come home before 1 o’clock sometimes. And sometimes he used to earn a little bit more money. He used to work in the night in the bakery shop and where the bread was baked and had to get it out of the ovens and all that. And he did a newspaper round. He had a very very hard life doing wallpaper for people, you know. And just to keep my brother and I going because the time was so expensive then. And then the war broke out.
MC: So the time before the war it was, it wasn’t easy.
CVR: No. It was a very hard time and at one point it was so bad and I can remember that that we couldn’t, we didn’t have any heating. We didn’t have enough money. Or my parents didn’t have enough money for the heating and my brother and I would sit at a table with our coats on in the wintertime and our hat on to keep warm and then sent to bed early. And then the baker around the corner took pity on us and I can remember he came with buckets full of pieces of coal to keep the stove going, you know. Yeah. That was really great. But yeah then the war broke out.
MC: So how old were you when the war broke out? So, you would be seven? Seven or eight.
CVR: Yes.
MC: Seven.
CVR: Yes. My birthday was in August and I would have been eight in August but the war broke out in May of course. You know. The 10th of May. And I remember that very vividly and that’s where my story starts you know.
MC: Ah yeah. But yeah, but go back.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Because obviously it was September ’39. It was in ’39 that Britain was at war.
CVR: Yes.
MC: But Holland.
CVR: Was on the 10th of May.
MC: 10th of May.
CVR: Yeah. In 1940.
MC: Can you remember, what, did things change? What was it like at the time? Can you remember?
CVR: In 1940. Yes. The start of it which I have written about was. That in the morning there was an enormous commotion and we heard the aeroplanes coming over of the Germans. And you know everybody ran outside to the harbour because the parachutists, the German parachutists came down and there was a lot of bombing going on as well. So I, as a little girl, you know, I thought I want to see that as well. My parents were too busy. And I quickly, I put something on and my apron and I forgot to put a skirt on. I just ran to [laughs] And I had, as a child I had no idea what that was. Staring at these aeroplanes and people dropping from the aeroplanes on parachutes. But the bombing was going on and I ran back home. And then that was really terrible because people who were injured they ran to the first chemist, drogist shop. Which was my mother’s. There was nothing else. And my mother started to help the injured. But in the end then badly injured people came in. She couldn’t do it any more. She didn’t know how to do it. So I don’t know what she did. Referred people to other places and I think she closed the door. She had to. But I can remember that. It was awful. Really awful.
MC: So when did you first come across any occupying troops?
CVR: Actually, that same day, you know. We were astonished to see the Germans in uniform coming. And they occupied the whole area there. Just us on the border. There was one street to the border of the Hague and Scheveningen and they occupied the whole area. Germans coming in and buying stuff in the shop. And we were just gobsmacked. But that lasted till the beginning 1943 I think. I wrote about it. When they wanted all the people living there, all of them, out. We just were told you have to leave within so many hours. So my mum had to get rid of all the stuff in the shop. I don’t know how she did it. She had some stuff there. I was still going to school from ’40 to ’43 in that area. I got an ausweis, you know. A permit to go to the school but in the meantime my aunt and uncle who had a café restaurant offered us a place because we were chased out. And they said, ‘Well, the only thing we can offer you is go into our cellars below the restaurant café.’ You know. So, my mum and my dad did that and I remember the last time I went to school in the occupied area there was a huge commotion and bombing going on and at some points. And I nearly was too, not far from the school and I was on my little scooter — you know when you move it, one foot on the step. And that was quite a distance from where we were living then, you know with my uncle and aunt. But then I got close and I got so frightened all of a sudden because there was all people were fleeing and going away. So I turned around and just went back. Luckily. I don’t know what would have been going on then after that.
MC: Do you know why they moved you out?
CVR: Because they, the Germans were afraid that from then on the English would come over with their armies and planes and whatever to occupy. Chase the Germans out of Holland and they had put already those things on the beach. I don’t know what you call them.
MC: Ah yes.
CVR: Yeah. And they were laying mines in the sea there. We were not allowed on the beach at all beforehand already. So we were just chased out. All of us who were living there. And we lived in the cellar. And my aunt and uncle said well don’t worry because it’s only maybe for a couple of months and the war will be over [laughs] In ’43? We lived there ‘til after the liberation.
MC: You lived there all that time.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What did, I mean were you, were there any evidence of any rebellion, you know?
CVR: No. Not in that area. I know there was the, what do you call that?
MC: The Resistance.
CVR: The Resistance was there.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: You know. I wrote about that as well. And I didn’t know that at some point there were certain newspapers going around and also —
MC: Illegal newspapers.
CVR: Yeah. Trouw and Parool I think it was called. And there were people around us who had to take messages, important messages to certain people. And there was one day, it was such a strange day I think that there was nobody who dared to go out with messages and they thought, ‘Hold on. The children. They won’t suspect children.’ And I was asked to take a very important message to a few streets further on. And they said, ‘We’ll put it in your shoe, under your sole, you don’t say anything. You go there. You do as if you go to see a friend. You have to go to that and that address and you deliver that message and don’t speak to anybody. Don’t. Do ignore the German soldiers if you meet them.’ And I did that, you know. So God knows what kind of message that was. Yeah. But we, we noticed quite a few things. Around the corner was a shop and there was, the owner was a Jew. A very nice gentleman. Really nice. And one day there were razzias. You know razzias? A razzia is when suddenly, unexpectedly Germans came along the houses and picked up people. At one point it was boys and men from the age of sixteen I think till whatever. Over forty. They were picked up and sent off.
MC: Forced labour.
CVR: Forced labour. So, one day we thought what’s happening around the corner? This lovely Jewish gentleman was got out of his house. I remember that. Seeing him. He was taken away by the Germans and gone. Never heard of him before.
MC: Because your brother at that time wasn’t old enough for forced labour was he?
CVR: My brother was two and a half years older. Then in ’43 —
MC: So, you would have been ten. No, he wouldn’t.
CVR: Then I must have been —
MC: He would have been about fourteen.
CVR: About ten to twelve. About twelve. Thirteen yeah. So. Yeah.
MC: So, he wasn’t able, he didn’t, he got away with forced labour because —
CVR: No. No.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: But at one point there was another razzia, you know and we were having a party in the café restaurant. We always had parties with the family and so all the old blinds were down of course. You had to have blinds and things. So, we were having this party and then suddenly, that was in the evening, there was a knock on the door of the restaurant and my uncle said, ‘Quick, shhh all down in the cellar. All of you.’ And so we were part of some members and I remember that, lying on the staircase listening what was going on. And later I heard from my uncle when it was safe to come out. He, he hid the son of my neighbour, a cousin of mine. Yeah, the two. Because my brother was not old enough. They got in the top of a big cupboard. On the shelf. There was space but just. They were sitting there. But my uncle had to give up because the dog was there, Sunny. Sunny the dog and he started to bark like anything in front of the cupboard. So we had, the boys had to come out and they were hidden somewhere else. I don’t know. In our cellar or whatever. So the door was closed and we heard my uncle talk to the German soldiers and later he said when it was okay to come out for us and they left. He said, ‘You can come out.’ We continued the party but silent. Silently. And we did but I heard that he had given the German soldiers loads of drinks he still had. Alcoholic drinks. Beer and God knows what so they were really cheerful and in the end they thought, ‘Oh, there is nothing going on here. We’ll leave.’ That was our luck.[laughs]
MC: That sounds very good, that does. Yeah.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. So, what about your parents still managed to do their jobs and their business? Run their business.
CVR: My, my mum was just housewife then.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: She had lost her shop so she looked after us, after us and helped in, as long as the café restaurant was going but in the end there was no food anymore but she helped there and polished the floors. And my father still delivered bread in that area, and it was with a little cart which they did you know at that time. But then in the Hunger Winter it became so bad. And before there was hardly any bread. We had coupons. I can show you later. You know, I still have coupons and, but there was nothing hardly left and then people started to plunder?, is that right, my father’s cart and it was really dangerous. He couldn’t prevent them and there was a lot of things going on. Fights and all that. So he stopped delivering bread and it was not worth anymore because we had only a small loaf for the whole week. I think for a person or whatever.
MC: So how did you survive? Money and things like that.
CVR: Well, money wise I don’t know how that worked. I think my father still earned something, you know.
MC: Oh.
CVR: And my uncle as well in the café. And they offered money for, oh a guilder for one potato. Nobody had that. But what was your question again about that? Oh yeah. The food. The food of course. So they had assistance from the IKB. I K B. That was an interkerkelijk — interchurch organization, a bureau who, and asked the children of us and that was December ’44. After ’45 then. Beginning ’45 to let the children come over to certain areas and then we were examined by doctors and divided into three groups — A, B and C. And I think A was the worse, B medium and C was the children who were still alright. And my brother and I were examined and we were put in the worst group — A. And then they said, ‘You can come,’ I think it was twice a week here, ‘And you will get, you have to get your little saucepan, not a big, a little saucepan and you will have some stew or porridge.’ And we were allowed to take it home but what, what’s happened at home because we were living with then, I think thirteen people together in my uncle’s house.
MC: So, you were still in the cellar at that point.
CVR: In the daytime we were in the cellar. In the daytime there was another uncle who died from starvation. And then neighbours came down and we were in the daytime with thirteen people, you know. But they do, when I and my brother came back with a little saucepan we all ate of it and these church people got to know that. They said, ‘Ah. No way they go home with their food. They have to eat in the place itself.’ Yeah. So, you know I’ve still a photo of it in a little booklet I got from Holland, “The Hunger Winter,” and there are photos in there. And also, my brother and I would go to the centres. There you could go and queue up and they would be coming, there were long queues and food would come from another place by boat from Delft to the Hague. And then brought to the, to these streets where you had to queue up. And you had your coupons and you would get from the big, we call them gamellen big metal [pause] yeah, containers where the food was in there. And they would ladle out, one it was either stew or soup but nothing much in it, in your saucepan and you would go home. But some days when there were raids and bombing going on the food wouldn’t turn up. You had to go home. The next day you could come and the food in the summer would go off but you still ate it, you know. So anyway, those things helped a little bit. And a kind butcher asked my mother if my brother and I could come over on a Saturday. He would try to do as much as possible to cook something from where he got it from, from bones. Cook a little bit of soup and veg and with other children we sat there but our stomachs were not used to it anymore. Because meanwhile we ate tulip bulbs, nettles, grass, fodder from the kettle. What was the [pause] sugar beet. That was all we tried to eat. So when we sat in the butcher’s shop around a table, all as small children and it’s not a very nice story but some children they couldn’t [pause] they couldn’t keep it in.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Later they started eating the same again, you know. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. But we had fights at some points when the trailers came in with all these containers. The gamellen the metal containers. And you could go there as well, you know, to get something. But my brother and I and other people, young, all gangs. We called ourselves gangs climbed on the trailers because all the food had been given out. We climbed on it and we would lick, lick from these gamellen and I have a photo in that booklet as well. I haven’t got my own photos because we didn’t have cameras. So how they got hold of it in the booklet. And then we started to fight. You know. We suddenly divided into gangs and they started throwing stones from both sides. The children. And then I remember, I remember that so much and I felt horrible. I thought stones. Them throwing stones at us and we all try to lick the things. I thought forget it and I never went back anymore.
MC: No.
CVR: I hated it. I never did it anymore.
MC: Yeah, it was —
CVR: So that’s how it got around and in the end you know then in April when the RAF came over with the food and the Germans had not allowed them to do it. They asked permission. They said no way because they wanted to starve the whole west out. No. Nothing was allowed to come to us. Not even in Holland from the east where it was a bit better. They said, ‘No. You’ve got on strike with a Resistance group,’ you know. ‘You blocked our trains for ammunition and stuff for the war to come out.’ He said, ‘Right,’ they said, ‘Right. That’s your punishment. The whole west where the strike started you won’t have any food any more. You sort yourself out.’ And then in Holland the Resistance group or the head of the Resistance group got in contact with London. With Queen Wilhelmina and Churchill and they said, ‘You have to stop to try to liberate now. You have to feed us because already twenty thousand people in the west died from starvation and if you don’t do that there will be hundreds maybe two or three hundred thousand people dying very soon.’ And that helped. Wilhelmina and Churchill said, ‘Right. Liberation has to stop. First the people.’ That was our luck. You know. And then the RAF came over and I’ll never forget it. And they didn’t yet know because the Germans had forbidden them to come over with food. But it was towards the end of the war. So, they had to lose their face then you know. And the RAF still didn’t know whether they would be shot at.
MC: The early ones, yeah.
CVR: Nothing happened.
MC: Yeah. Eventually they, they had a truce.
CVR: Yeah. And then I stood outside. I ran outside and everybody ran outside and we looked up and we saw those aeroplanes coming. I just get goose pimples. In the distance we saw the aeroplanes coming over and drop food parcels in certain areas. And from there on we got food. And from the Swedish Red Cross. I’ll never forget that. We got Swedish bread. I first thought, as a child the bread came rolling down now. They had dropped huge bags of flour. They were brought to the bakeries and they baked the bread. And that was the first time I got a piece of bread from, again from Sweden. And the parcels, we had to get them from the RAF. It was divided, you know. Some burst on the, on the ground as well, bitterly but what was there that was divided. Everybody could come in. I don’t know how they did it. With coupons or something. And you got your parcel with a strong warning not to eat straight away all of it. Just little portions because our stomachs were not used to it. But it was high time. You know, I nearly lost my mother and father and that was told on the 21st of April to all the people in the marquee. The Dutch attaché introduced me. He had asked me a little bit. I’d never met him. He had it all in his computer and he introduced me to all the people in the marquee and he talked about it. And I suddenly felt, felt two tears down my face. I thought, oh no. I don’t want to do that.
MC: This was in April of this year.
CVR: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: Yeah. The Operation Manna commemorations.
CVR: I still have it on the television. You know. I kept it but it’s a pity I don’t have more solid things.
MC: Yeah. So, when the food was dropped were the Germans still around? Was the —
CVR: Yes. They were.
MC: Were they, did they get any of the food?
CVR: No. No. And that, that helped us over because it was in April and on the 5th of May for us that was the end of the war.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
CVR: And then, but it took a long time for people and there were still loads of people who died still, you know because they were too far down.
MC: To survive. Yeah.
CVR: So one, one uncle died. And I heard, in the cellar we were sleeping with all the beds you know. One after the other. In between my bed there was string for my father and mother. But I don’t know whether they knew I was there. I was sitting behind my bed. And they had called the doctor and then I got worried and I was listening what the doctor said. And the attaché told the people in the marquee as well. I heard the doctor say to my parents, ‘I am so sorry but you have to prepare for the end because you need food. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m so sorry.’ I heard that. It was just, they just made it, my parents. Just. Yeah.
MC: It was very traumatic. Yeah.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: So, but this, this —
MC: But they managed to survive with the drop. The food drop.
CVR: This whole event and I’m so grateful for it started in January. I’m with the U3A. You know the U3A?
MC: Yeah.
CVR: And I’m in different clubs but once a month we have a meeting and in January there was a speaker. We always had a speaker and that was Paul Robinson. The vice air marshall. He would come then to talk about, did he say [pause] no not, that he would talk. Give a talk. I don’t know what the subject was but something about his career and all that. So I was sitting there and then he started and somebody helped him to show his video and all the pictures on the screen. And then he came suddenly to the Manna operation. He was started talking about Holland and I was sitting there, you know having thought never to be reminded of it any more. And there was this huge picture of the people standing in Holland. They’re looking at the Lancasters drop the food. And he was talking about that and I started to shake so much that somebody next to me put his hand on my arm, you know. To calm down. And we could always ask questions. And I put my hand up and there were more people but I kept on. I think I have to talk to him. I have to talk to him. And when it was my turn I said, ‘I only want to say I was there. I experienced the Manna operation and I have never had the opportunity to thank you,’ I said, although he was not in it but I meant the RAF at that time. I said, ‘I never had the opportunity to thank you for all you did. Dropped the food. Because if you wouldn’t have done that I might not have been here. I might not have had a family of course. Nothing.’ And then I started, blurted out some of my story. I thought later how could I do that? And people, it was so the silent in the hall. There were about eighty people of us. And Paul was standing there and I was so much in my story, and the person next to me, I think he was an RAF man as well he tried to calm down I was shaking so much. And then in my story I looked up to Paul and he had his hanky. He was crying. And then later the whole room, they came to us and loads of people were crying then. I thought, oh no. What have I done? What have I started? But to have been talking still about it all the time from that speech of Paul in January and from there on it, it happened. He said, ‘I want you in it on the 21st of April.’ And I told him I had my story, you know so we were in contact and also you know I went to Hemswell Court. I was invited on the 21st and the 25th is postponed now. The talk. But I don’t know if I can do that again even if they ask me. It’s all in the past now to talk about Manna operation.
MC: Going back slightly. Did you continue your schooling throughout that period and then after the war?
CVR: Yes. In the wartime I had to ausweis, you know.
MC: Yes. You said.
CVR: And then as soon as the liberation was there and the English people took over from the Germans and then I got a permit. An official permit to go to school because in that area nobody lived there yet. But my brother and I were permitted, the school was opened in the area, to go there. So that was quite, going every day to and from. And my brother and I were very inquisitive and after school time we went through all the area and there was no wood left. Not near the tram rails. Not in the houses because we did as well. We stole all the wood to burn in our little stoves we had, you know. We had a special stove in the wartime called Mayo and we burned stuff in there. But my brother and I went through all the streets and we went into the houses. There was nobody there. It was very spooky. And we discovered that the floors had been broken up and we said, ‘God, look at there.’ I can still remember the German soldiers slept under the floors. They had their beds still there and material lying around. We didn’t dare to touch anything but we noticed that in several places —
MC: Which area was that in?
CVR: That was Scheveningen in the Hague again. The Hague and close to it the fisher, the harbour.
MC: Oh, yeah. Where you’d moved out of.
CVR: Yeah. So, we were allowed, my brother and I via the permit to go to school.
MC: To school.
CVR: Yeah. Till people slowly went back, you know, to their own houses or other houses. But my parents were not allowed to go there yet. You know, it was all a very slow process. Because I was there I said, and I knew my mother wanted to go back but not to open a shop anymore. My brother and I didn’t want them to do that because of all the previous long opening times, you know. And I thought hold on. I go the first streets when I cross that border where we have the permit and there was a canal as well. So the first street I went in it is called Zwolestraat where we lived later. And I just knocked on the doors where people were already living. A couple here. A couple there. And when I knocked on the door can you imagine a young girl like that doing that? People opened the door and thought what’s that? They were still frightened. And I said, ‘Can you tell me the name of your landlord?’ [laughs] And they would just smack the door closed and I thought I won’t give up. And I tried again and I got used to putting my foot in between the door and the side so they couldn’t slam the door on me. And at last one couple, they — and then I explained all of that and they said, ‘Right. We will give you the name of the landlord.’ And I don’t know how I got hold of the keys. I got hold of keys of, in that road to look at houses. And my mother was allowed then to have to look at the houses. Our house, which we started to rent there was the floor open and stuff from the Germans underneath, you know. But we started to live there. And I did that.
MC: So there was still the houses were still owned by these people.
CVR: Landlords I suppose, you know but —
MC: Yeah.
CVR: And then slowly.
MC: I just wondered whether people might have just taken over the houses.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. But there was —
CVR: It must have been chaos. You know.
MC: Yes.
CVR: I don’t know all the ins and outs but slowly people came to live there till everything was ready again and the wood was in the houses. And that place around a corner where the V-1 was launched, you say.
MC: Launched. Yes.
CVR: Launched. Yeah.
MC: Yes.
CVR: That was really very damaged. I’d seen that and my brother wrote about it. About that launching there. Yeah.
MC: Did you see any of the launches?
CVR: No.
MC: Could you see them from where you were?
CVR: The damage. I’ve heard. When we lived in my uncle’s place ‘til the end of the war and we saw the V-1 from the distance.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
CVR: Shot off. And then on New Year’s Eve. One New Year’s Eve. That was the last New Year’s Eve I think, in ’44. We were all together all our family and we still managed to do a little bit together although there was no food. But we still had our own parties with whatever we had. And then suddenly we thought, oh no. Gosh. Another V-1 we saw going up to go to England I suppose. And then suddenly we all went, oh my God. It’s not going. It stops. It will turn. And it turned straight in front of our faces. And the whole family, they were standing there nailed to the floor because we didn’t know where it would land. And I was screaming my head off all the time. Nobody said to shut up because everybody was just, you know. I don’t know the word for it. They were stunned or whatever. And it went down a few streets behind us and a friend of mine, I still have contact with him, he lived there but luckily his house was not in [pause]
MC: Damaged.
CVR: In the damage but loads of other houses and all in the area the windows were, and the glass was everywhere but luckily we were then safe. Not other people unluckily. But quite a few people were killed in that V-1 that came down. So, I can remember that. Looking up. Screaming my head off and I was allowed to do that.
MC: So, when you, obviously the house that you moved into obviously needed rebuilding and —
CVR: Yeah.
MC: New floors.
CVR: Yeah, the wood.
MC: Did you get any assistance with that?
CVR: I think the landlord put all the wood, the wood back. Yeah. And inside my, my parents did everything.
MC: Wood must have been difficult to get hold of anyway.
CVR: Yeah. Yes, but I think it was not too bad and we lived there. And I lived there ‘til I got married. Yeah. Yeah.
[recording paused]
MC: Going back to some of your times during the war. I mean you mentioned things like you were forbidden to listen to radios.
CVR: Oh yes.
MC: And the Germans used to check you. Yeah.
CVR: Yeah. They were all hidden.
MC: Oh yeah.
CVR: All hidden. And as —
MC: You were told to hand them in but you hid them.
CVR: No. No. Hidden. And as soon as the programme with Churchill came on in the evening, 8 o’clock or so all the radios came out, you know and we were listening to it and the start of it, that special sound voom voom voom you know, news from Churchill. So, and then they were hidden again. But we had also to give all our jewellery, bicycles, you name it, we had to give that as well. But about the jewellery I have still have one little brooch left and money as well. Silver money. And that was with Queen Wilhelmina on it of course. And what people did they made jewellery out of the money. The silver money. And I still have one. I still have it.
MC: You talk, you talked about the German bunker. Passing the German bunker.
CVR: Oh God yeah. That was horrific that day. My mother, my brother and I walking home from church and that was just there where the Germans had their bunkers you call them?
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Yeah. And also, that canal which was contaminated by the Germans. We picked up scabies from that, really bad. Anyway, when we came home from church and we walked past and of course my brother and I looked and then this German bloke got so angry with us and he lifted up his grenade and my mother said, ‘Walk. Walk. Look forward, in front of you. Look. Walk. Walk. Go home. Go home.’ And then my brother still looked around and he went straight into a lamppost and he broke his teeth [laughs] Yeah. But we were terrified because we thought really that bloke would throw the grenade. Luckily he didn’t.
MC: Very frightening.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. I mean you mentioned about a Jewish family down the road. Obviously there was a lot of Jews around and of course they wore the —
CVR: My little friend you are talking about. When we still lived in, in the occupied place before we had to leave. I don’t know if you mean that one. My best friend around the corner Greetje Stellamon.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Never forget her name. I can cry now because I don’t know what happened to her and then at that time my mum on the corner with her shop and Greetje just living a few houses further and the whole family had to wear the stars. And my mother was so terrified because if it was spotted that I had a Jewish friend God knows what would have happened to me and my family. So my mother, bless her she had to forbid to get on with Greetje Stellamon and I suppose she had a talk with the family. And I never never went along with her any more. We just ignored the whole Jewish family because my mother, and my father I suppose were terrified that something would happen to them. And now yet and I have contact with Thea Coleman, this Jewish woman who survived the war as well and I haven’t talked about it with her. Sometimes I phone her and she phones me. She was there on the 21st of April but her story is also fantastic. She wrote it in a different way because she had to hide and she was twelve years old as well. And she had to go from one place to the other. She had, oh she had not a very nice childhood. In a certain way worse than I but she survived and now the strange thing is, Mike when we have been talking to each other we lived always close together in the occupied area. Never to know each other. We know all the roads and after the wartime she moved into a road straight behind the road where I lived, Zwolsestraat. She lived in Harstenhoekstraat — one street further. She was always close to me in whatever area we lived. We never knew each other. And every time —
MC: You lived that close.
CVR: Every time we come to different solutions. I think her cousin went to the same school as I went. Thea, just in the last three years of the wartime he went to the same school as I went also. And it’s just amazing. Just amazing.
MC: When you lived with your, in the cellar with your family. How many of you were there in the cellar then? Because —
CVR: My mother and my father. Next to them I slept, is three. Then my brother, four. And my cousin, five. And then the maître d who served in the restaurant.
MC: That’s the domestic help you referred to.
CVR: Six. And sometimes if my family could still come over before it got too worse then there was another one. So, about the most was seven or eight but normally five to six. Yeah.
MC: So, did you, you didn’t have any windows in the cellar then?
CVR: Horrible. Because it was low on the ground. We had two windows. If I look up. In my memory there was one there, small window. And there was one there, small window. And then you could just see through the grid. There was a grid in the garden of course from my uncle and aunt’s garden. Just look through the grid up there. And then there was this open place, you know. Just a bricked, bricked hole there. But then the Germans flooded the west of the country. Also as a punishment. The water came in those areas as well. In those holes. And that flooded into the cellar where we lived and every morning we were up to our ankles in the water. And then we got this flea epidemic. I was an expert in catching fleas there. It was absolutely a horrible situation. Yeah.
MC: But you ate, you used to eat upstairs in the restaurant there.
CVR: Well not in the restaurant but in the dining-sitting room of.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: You know we were with, with whom we lived there day in day out. We were sitting around a table with this uncle who died who was sitting next to me, you know. Yeah. It was really, really bad. But there was hardly anything you know. And if my aunt still could get hold of something. Especially from my uncle. He was the one who got extra food if he had. I don’t know but being a child if I noticed that there was something in the kitchen, just move that plant away, if there was something in the kitchen from my uncle. She managed one day I remember to make sort of pea soup and if I knew there was nobody around I quickly went to the kitchen and I just stole a few spoons of the soup. Or in the cellar, on the top she had some store or something from oats. Raw oats. And I would put my hand in it and ate a handful of oats. You know.
MC: Yeah. Amazing.
CVR: I stole from the Germans as well.
MC: Did you?
CVR: It’s in there. Because they had potato plants in, in the parks you know and there was, there were always soldiers on guard with their guns and at one point my friends and I decided to steal potatoes, you know. Not telling our parents we went there and one of our group would stand guard for us to warn us if the German guard would come along. So we just pulled out potatoes, you know and we had a plastic or not plastic bag. I don’t know if plastic bags were there then. But in a bag and then one, at one point our guard shouted, ‘Run. Run. Run.’ You know. They never said anything [unclear] we knew we had to run. So we just ran home and I gave my parents these few potatoes. And I was told off by my father. He said, ‘Where did you get them from?’ And I would say, ‘I stole them from the park.’ And he said, ‘You must never steal.’ I remember him saying that honestly or honestly, profoundly. You must never steal. He said, ‘Give the potatoes and I’ll bring them back.’ I thought oh great. But I never saw the potatoes any more and I think we had eaten them that night [laughs] Yeah.
MC: Tell me about your story you told about David and Goliath. The two stoves.
CVR: Oh the two stoves. Yeah. David and Goliath because I told you that David we called the Mayo, Thea in our story knows this as well and she mentioned it at Hemswell Court when the BBC took film there. But that was very dangerous because they had to get that stove going. The David. The Mayo and put in all the stolen pieces of wood all the time to keep warm. And they warmed at the same time and the pan with water because we needed some times hot water and then it happened that my, the poor aunt she pulled the pan with the hot water over her leg. That was absolutely horrendous you know but that’s how we lived every day, you know.
MC: Because that’s where the wood came from. From the houses.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: To fuel the stoves.
CVR: Yeah. Oh people stole everything. Wood. Everywhere around. And then the Goliath. That was in the restaurant still. A huge stove. But that was not used anymore in the end. There was nothing. The restaurant was closed. There was nothing any more.
MC: You talked about the bicycle. Riding to the farms.
CVR: Oh yeah.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Yeah. And then often then they came back from the farmers and we had to give our linen, you know. In exchange for food.
MC: Swap it. Exchange it for food.
CVR: And then sometimes people went back on their bicycles. Sometimes without tyres, you know. Just the wheels.
MC: Why did they not have tyres?
CVR: Because if the tyres were finished you couldn’t get any new ones and then, then they came suddenly to a post where the German guards were they had to give everything. The bicycle, all the food stuffs, the lot. They had gone to the farmers for nothing that day.
MC: So the Germans could take the bikes off them.
CVR: Yeah. And the food.
MC: And the food.
CVR: So one day I went with my brother but we were not successful that day, you know. And then my parents were so near to starving as well I thought you know, I go. I knew somebody around the corner and I think he had a chicken farm. Yeah. So I went there and I knocked on these big doors and the doors opened and I put my foot in between there as well so I had learned that already from that time and I told him if, ‘My parents are very ill. They need some food otherwise they’ll die. Can I have a chicken that they can cook it and make some soup of it?’ And he said, ‘No. No.’ That was one of the people who didn’t cooperate. And I said, ‘Oh my father, he always delivers bread here. He has loads of bread,’ it was not true anymore, and I said, ‘I will get you a nice loaf of bread.’ But no. I had to get my foot out of the way. I didn’t get it.
MC: What about clothes? How did you cope with clothes?
CVR: Clothes. You couldn’t get clothes at all any more. And my mum, somehow she got hold of a vest and pants for me. Horrible. Horrible colour. Horrible green. Funny colour. And all straight. No shape in it at all. And God knows how much she paid for it but they were absolutely horrible. So, oh yeah, and what we did as well, people, if the men’s trousers were worn then the women would turn the material. All unravelled and turn the material and from the good pieces they made skirts for themselves or for the children. Yeah. They did that as well. No. There was nothing. I’ll show you the coupons as well, I have.
MC: You’ve got some coupons.
CVR: Yeah. Yeah. See then I go into it. I can talk for hours and my children would say, ‘Mum. Stop your non-stop talking.’ [laughs]
MC: You keep talking.
CVR: Yeah. But I still think again twelve years old. How, how could I remember all that? Now I have to, difficulty remembering other things, you know. The short term memory. It’s still okay but this is better in my memory than anything else. It must have been, made a huge impact.
MC: When you talked about you going to the farm and getting some chicken and that you said that you talked about getting a big, going to the Germans with a big bang.
CVR: Oh. Oh my gosh. If I remember that day. I thought I have to get some food, you know all that time that my parents were ill and my uncle. And there was, on the, on the main street I used to go on there to school if I still could go there in the city and then I thought I’ll go there. I never told my parents anything what I was up to. And I got the largest pan out of the cupboard and I went to this place which used to be called [unclear] And that was a place where they had [pause] it was a milk factory. Yeah. They got the milk from the farmers, you know, from the cows and there they processed the milk. But the Germans had occupied that factory and chucked out all the Dutch people. They, that was for them. Nobody could get anything. And I knew that they were cooking food as well there and I thought I would go there. So there was this German on guard there, you know, with his gun and I said in Dutch then, you know, ‘Could I have some food for my family because they are really very bad at the moment?’ And he got so cross with me and I didn’t go away. I said, ‘Please. Please. Just a little bit.’ And he got so cross with me. Couldn’t get rid of me. And he said something in German which funnily enough I’d picked up a little bit of German and he started shouting at me. I had to go away. And it was the fault of Queen Wilhelmina, ‘That schweinhund,’ he went. You know, you know what schweinhund means. ‘That schweinhund leaving you all to yourselves and just fleeing abroad.’ He said it was her fault and he wouldn’t give me any food and if I would not go away quickly he would just shoot me. And he went like this with his gun. And I’m frightened. I ran with my little legs as quickly as I could. I ran away and I came home. And then I got told off. My parents were mortified that I had done that. It was [unclear] never never ever to do that again.
MC: You got into a bit of trouble with your parents occasionally didn’t you?
CVR: Yeah. And with my brother as long as we could go to school along this big long road we passed a little shop which used to be an ice cream parlour before the war I think. And he tried to do something still for everybody you know. We had to pay a little bit of money. I think a kwartje they called it. Twenty five cents and then I got that, you know from my parents. And maybe later they did it without being paid. They were very good people and they gave us sort of what they called [unclear] and that was a very fluffy, a fluffy bit of, not ice cream but very fluffy stuff. Like foamy stuff and it was either white or pink and we ate that and that filled up our stomachs like anything, you know. And we never knew what it was. And later from my friend in Holland and in the booklet I got to know now that was made of sugar beets. Of the, the moisture, the sap that came from it they used to make that sort of foam in a certain way how they made ice cream in the machines.
MC: A bit like candy floss?
CVR: Yeah. Very light stuff.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: And that filled our stomachs up for an hour or so.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Yeah. That was what we did. Oh gosh and I’m sure, the rumours then but I’m sure we ate some cat and dog as well in the end. Yeah. What do you do?
MC: Yeah.
CVR: You eat rabbits.
MC: That’s right. Yeah.
CVR: And in that situation why not cat and dogs?
MC: You talked about getting bags of grain. When you’d got to sort out the mouse droppings.
CVR: Oh my gosh yeah. You had to sort all these grains out. It was [pause] we sat in the restaurant then. No people came any more. I remember sitting at a table and sort out all this grain and get all the droppings out, you know. And I used to make myself and my cousin Stijnie, a girl, she was a bit older than I, about four years older and we tried to make a sort of cake out of the sugar beet if we could get hold of it. Just put sort of soya sort of milk to get it smaller, or whatever we did. A sort of mincemeat machine, yeah, and tried to make a nice cake of it and make some thick, some [pectin?] in it. And once my uncle came out from the café restaurant to us because he still had, when there was still something to drink, my cousin and I always had to do all the washing up and before also when the food was still there and we got plates and plates for trays and trays full of stuff to wash up, you know. And as soon as that was finished he came with another tray. And then once he came at the back and he settled to how sort of, ‘What the hell are you going to do there?’ And we told him we were trying to make a cake of sugar beets. And oh he was livid. Livid. ‘Who would eat this rubbish you feed to the cattle,’ you know. ‘Stop it.’ But we didn’t stop. We wanted to eat something. Yeah. Oh dear. Crikey. I have so much information now. It’s amazing that I got straight into it. This one I have to have translated because it’s so interesting. I tried to find it because it tells me so much of, about the gamellans. If you have time.
[Pause. Shuffling paper]
CVR: Here we are, coming down. The parachutes. It’s a huge thing, you see.
MC: Yeah. After the war, yeah —
CVR: Yeah.
MC: And you talked about bread from Sweden arriving.
CVR: Yeah. Yeah. The flour came, you know first, in the centres.
MC: And you did your own baking.
CVR: Hmmn?
MC: You did used to —
CVR: No. it was baked for us in the bakeries.
MC: Right.
CVR: Yeah. But he had such a, every day he wrote what happened. How many —
MC: That was your brother.
CVR: What is luchtalarm again. When the alarm goes off again. That there is a bombing.
MC: A siren.
CVR: Siren. Yeah. Six sirens. Nine V-1s came over. Every day he said the same. Three V-1s. The next day twelve sirens. What we ate these days. Soup. Soup again. Or something else you know. It’s amazing what he wrote down for every day that happened. Half a litre of soup. Eight V-1s.[pause] Amazing. Amazing. His story is so different from mine but so interesting.
MC: So after, at the time of the liberation, obviously the liberating army came through.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: You saw the tanks.
CVR: Yeah. Yes. That was the day I was so astonished, you know. We all went to look when the tanks came in with the soldiers. And loads of then older teenagers, I didn’t do it, I was too young but all the older girls, you know they were mad about all these soldiers. Climbing up and kissing them and throwing flowers everywhere and, you know. And then after that all the girls who had been girlfriends of the Germans soldiers they had come along you know, run the gauntlet and before that all their hair was shorn off. They had to do that. I can remember that. I thought, yeah. You know, it was a sort of revenge. What, what use is it? But —
MC: But that was their only punishment.
CVR: Yeah. You can imagine how people reacted after that. But they left them alone. Nobody was attacked. Nothing.
MC: You talked about the canal.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: Being a tank wall.
CVR: Oh yeah.
MC: It was contaminated.
CVR: That was contaminated. And so all we children we jumped in it. We wanted to swim and, you know we felt free to do what we wanted to do. So all these children they got a skin [pause]
MC: Scabies.
CVR: Scabies yeah. Skin trouble. Scabies. So from the, the yeah sort of NHS [unclear] you know a service to look after people if they become ill and all that. And send doctors out to check and examine. And so all the children, including my brother and I were diagnosed with scabies. And my parents were given a sort of soap. Maybe I wrote about it. I can’t come up with it now. And in the evening they had to wash us totally and then put all this certain soap, I think there was sulphur in it. Yeah. A sort of sulphur soap. They had to cover us from top to bottom in this sulphur soap and then sleep in it the whole night. And then the next morning my parents were advised to make a bath ready. We didn’t have a bath. We had a sink top you know, with hot water. You had to sit in it. And then scrub us with a hard brush but my mum couldn’t do that, you know. So she washed us properly and maybe rubbed us very hard. And then I think that would do the trick and I think it did the trick but so many children had that and they were told all the stuff we had slept in that night we had to bring to a certain centre and it would be burned in an incinerator. I don’t know what my mother did but maybe she washed herself. I don’t know what she did.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: So that was at the end. After the war. At the end of the war was it?
CVR: Yeah.
MC: That was the end of the war.
CVR: Yeah.
MC: So did things get back to normal fairly quickly or —?
CVR: No. Not quickly. It took quite some time. A few months to get everything back to a sort of normality because there was still not food enough. That had to come in slowly, you know. It took a long time. Like you hear now in all the other countries where things happen. It takes time as well
MC: It does take time. Yeah.
CVR: People complain sometimes. Why not do things directly. It can’t be done. It has to be organized.
MC: So the [pause] your parents, your father carried on working but your mother didn’t. Where did you finish your schooling then?
CVR: Let me think. In 1948, I still know the name of the Grammar School where I went to then [Paulussbaustraat?] My brother and I went. And I finished my schooling in 1948. And, yeah. What did I want to do then? I was then sixteen. Nearly seventeen. And I wanted to go into nursing but nobody accepted me. I had to be eighteen. So I thought what shall I do then? And I thought hold on they take on younger people in centres where there is tuberculosis. In sanatoria. So I went there without telling. You know, I just went there. My parents. And went there and could I become a nurse there. I don’t know what the outcome was there then but then I came home. I told that I had did that. I had done that and my father went livid. I’d forgotten all about his first marriage and losing his wife and child from tuberculosis. And I can still remember him sitting opposite me and my mum was always very sweet and calm and all that. She didn’t know what to do. To say. And my father went, he was a good man but if he would get angry, and the words he said then sometimes, oh. But he said, ‘If you go ahead with that,’ I can still remember him sitting there, ‘If you go ahead with that I’ll break both your legs.’ He said that to me. And, and then I thought oh my gosh, you know. So the next day I thought I want to keep my legs so never went ahead with it.[laughs] And then, you know I thought, yeah what do I do then and then I decided to go to a domestic science school. And that was a course for two years but because there were only four students who wanted to do this special domestic science course that would last two years and they said we can take you on only for one year because we can’t keep you on for the second year. Only four. So you have to do this course, that was said to the four of us, in one year. It will be hard work but you will have to do it. Otherwise forget it. So we did it. You know. We did it in one year and then my father offered to me, he said, ‘Why don’t you stay on or apply for a course to be a teacher in cookery.’ Cooking. And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do that.’ I thought I had to stay on in that school for a start. And the director Der Theresa, the woman, I didn’t like her at all. She was always caked in makeup and she was never very friendly. The teachers were fine and I thought no I don’t want to be in her school any more so I said no. And then later I thought how would he have paid for it? My father. I had no idea how he would have done that. Anyway, I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do that.’ And then I started applying for jobs. Loads of jobs. I wanted to be a midwife. I wanted to be a stewardess. I wanted to be a social carer. I wanted to be going on in dancing. I loved dancing and still, until two years ago I still did, tried to do the can-can. On my eightieth birthday I did a can-can. And I invited loads of people from church and U3A and they still talk about it. I do the swimming. I did a can-can. Anyway, I wanted to do that in performances. You know, theatre stuff. Nothing worked. I applied for a job for checking washing machines. Go in to that what was the best washing machine and things. The most silly things I did. Never got going. And then in the end I thought hold on I can apply with a steel company in the Hague. [Roopervandervoort?] a very famous steel company. And I have to earn money. My parents said, ‘You have to start somewhere. You have to earn money.’ Meanwhile I had finished my grammar school you know and I had got my diplomas and all that and my diploma from the Domestic Science School and then so I started to work for the steel company. And that was okay. I got my salary you know and worked from nine to five. And I didn’t like working from nine to five and I thought what shall I do now and the director of the steel company suddenly said, ‘Would you like to come with me for a week to Rotterdam,’ to the same company to set up a sort of system I did already in the Hague. And I said, ‘Okay fine.’ So he picked me up and he had a beautiful Oldsmobile. Went to Rotterdam and did that but in that time I had a boyfriend. He dumped me and I was crying every morning and this director said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I told him. I was okay in the daytime but oh that affected me so much. Anyway, I thought I’m fed up with this nine to five job. I want to do something else. You know what I did then? I applied to work for the police headquarters in the Hague. And I was accepted.
MC: Yeah.
CVR: As a telephonist telexist but that involved working different shifts which I loved. Night or day. Or Sundays. Easter. Christmas. I didn’t care. That was what I liked. On call sometimes. So I worked there till I met my husband. And I still worked on and we married and I still worked on but then I was expecting a baby and I had a miscarriage and then you know then I had to give up.
MC: So when were you married?
CVR: In 1954 I was married. In November. 20th of November ‘54. Yeah. And then after this miscarriage I was expecting soon again and I got with twins.
MC: Bless you.
CVR: Amazing. Yeah. So but I never went back to work then anymore. It was impossible. Impossible. Yeah.
MC: So when did you come to the UK then?
CVR: In 1966 when my husband worked for Esso. First for [unclear] and then for Esso. And then he was asked by an American boss of, in America then of Esso or that was not ExxonMobil yet I think. Anyway, he came over and he had talks with my husband and my husband [pause] yeah yeah he said would, would he be interested in a job in England? In London. To set up an office there for Esso. Although there was already Esso in I think it was Mund Street, someplace. Anyway, so we thought it over and we had my four small children and I was worried stiff about my children to move to England. And my husband said as well you know if he come to do it it will be very challenging and an adventure. He said, ‘If I say no I will be ever stuck after my bureau in the Hague. I will be never asked again for something.’ And anyway this, this person, the American, he was called Tom Kennedy and he came over again. And I had had talks with my English teacher. That year before we decided to move I went to conversation lessons in English. I loved it. And I said to her, I said, ‘We are offered this job but I’m scared stiff about my children.’ She said, ‘What? Don’t worry about your children. They will be fine. They will pick it up very soon.’ And she said, ‘And in your case don’t worry.’ Because at the Grammar School I had to learn, apart from Dutch, French, German and English. So I had three basic languages. She said, ‘Don’t. Don’t worry,’ you know. ‘Go to a little school there and you will be fine. Don’t worry.’ So then in the end when Tom came over and he invited us to go to Rotterdam on this sort of tower that went around like in London as well. We had a dinner and talks and he took us out on a canal tour with the children as well. And then in the end without children he invited us again and he said, ‘Have you come to a decision?’ And he said, ‘You know what? I think you are nearly there. I’ll leave you on your own here. Just have a coffee after your dinner. I’ll go away. I’ll come back and see what you have decided in the end because I have to know now.’ And he came back and my husband and I talked about it for five minutes and we said, ‘We’ll do it. We’ll do it.’ So we told him and he said fine. And from then on you know we moved to England in ‘66 with our four small children. And we decided on a house in Caterham in Surrey. But the people still lived there so they had to move out. They wanted to sell the house. And for the time being we were in Selsdon Park Hotel. Do you know Selsdon Park Hotel?
MC: No.
CVR: No. In Surrey. Anyway, a lovely hotel and we, we lived there a couple of weeks with the children until we knew we could settle in a house. And so it went. And we came without a penny because you know we didn’t have a lot of money when we lived in Holland. And then four children. And, and so we had to have a loan. A sort of mortgage. A bridging loan it was called. Yeah. And so we came without a penny and then we decided to get rid of this bridging loan and the mortgage as soon as he could and of course because he got this job in England he was paid well so we paid lots and lots off every month. What we could. And in eleven years we had done it. Yeah. We did it.
MC: Very good.
CVR: Really great. Yeah.
MC: So you’ve been in England ever since.
CVR: Yeah. On the day we, we moved that was on the Cup Final day. The last day of July ’66 was it?
MC: I think it was. Yes.
CVR: In July. And my taxi driver who picked us up from the airport and took us to the Selsdon Park Hotel he had a face like that. And he said, ‘You know what. Because I have to take you to the Selsdon Park Hotel I’ve missed the whole Cup Final now,’ [laughs] I’ve never forgotten that. Yeah.
MC: Well that’s a lovely story that Coby. It’s a lovely story.
CVR: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: And I thank you very much.
CVR: Yeah. And again I hope I didn’t keep you up too long.
MC: No. no. no. as long as you can talk we can record.
CVR: Yeah.



Mike Connock, “Interview with Coby Van Riel,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024,

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