Francien de Zeeuw

Lieutenant ter zee der 2de klasse Francien de Zeeuw (Terneuzen, 19 May 1922 – Middenbeemster, 8 September 2015)[1] was a Dutch resistance fighter during the Second World War and the first female member of the Dutch armed forces.

Francien de Zeeuw
Francien de Zeeuw (1922-2015).jpg
Born19 May 1922
Died8 September 2015 (2015-09-09) (aged 93)


De Zeeuw was the middle of three children born to a house painter from Terneuzen in the Netherlands. She gained employment as a telephone operator and, following the German invasion of the Netherlands, she was in a position to over-hear military telephone traffic. She provided information to the resistance network and also operated as a courier, carrying ration stamps and firearms. She was detained on several occasions and, in 1944, evaded capture by moving through the front lines to meet up with Canadian forces.[2]

A woman's service of the Royal Dutch Navy, Marine Vrouwenafdeling [nl] (known as Marva) was established on 31 October 1944 and de Zeeuw is acknowledged as its first recruit. She served in the Far-East for three years – first at Colombo, arranging transport for the repatriation of Dutch servicemen, and then the Dutch East Indies working in a military post office. During this time, she fell in love with a soldier. As marriage to a lower rank was forbidden, she resigned from the service and returned to the Netherlands; however, her love died from yellow fever shortly after their return.[2]

She continued in her earlier employment as a telephone operator. Some ten years later, she married Wim de Regt and had three children. At the time, it was not permitted for her to continue in employment.[2]

De Zeeuw was decorated with the War Remembrance Cross [nl], the Resistance Memorial Cross and the Medal for Peace and Order [nl]. She died in her hometown of Middenbeemster on 8 September 2015.[3]


  1. ^ "Online Familieberichten; Overleden: Francien de Zeeuw (08-09-2015)".
  2. ^ a b c van Outeren, Emilie (19 September 2015). "Je moest haar niet vertellen wat ze moest doen". NRC. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Francien de Zeeuw". Retrieved 19 December 2016.