October 1944: GGeneral Hackett hides in Ede centre
On the 18th of September 1944, during the war, General John Hackett landed in Arnhem, with his parachute on the Ginkel Heath. During the Battle of Arnhem, he sustained a severe injury to his abdomen. He found himself at the Arnhem Saint Elisabeth Hospital. In the hospital, Hackett already contemplates escaping. He succeeds. After major surgery, and a large abdominal wound, he finds himself in Ede.
Family De Nooij
Hackett is brought to the house of the sisters, Mien, Cor and Anna de Nooij, at number 5, on the Toren Street. Several of their family members are already staying there and is warmly welcomed. A doctor comes to examine his wounds. Hackett is impressed with the kindness he is being shown.
The following months, John Hackett is cared for by the De Nooij family. He is given all the time he needs to recover at number 5, Toren Street. He quickly becomes accustomed to the quiet rhythm of the day. The food is excellent despite the shortage. The family pull out all the stops for General Hackett; an egg and a glass of wine are part of the daily menu. Hackett fills his days with rest, he reads the Bible as well as English books that Anna gave him, and he also plays chess once in a while, writes letters, and learns Dutch.
Visit from the Airborne soldiers
John Hackett is not the only airborne soldier staying in Ede; there are hundreds of them. Several Officers visit Hackett from time to time, but visits are always accompanied with caution. However, one day the De Nooij sisters are startled. Unannounced, and in full daylight a British Airborne soldier, Digby Tatham Wartner comes to visit. He asks for “General Hackett”, in perfect English at the doorway. Of course, the ladies emphasise that such a thing must not happen again. Visits may only be planned with extreme caution. Once John Hackett has recovered, he regularly goes for walks with Anna de Nooij. He receives a false identity card from the resistance and now goes by the name of ‘Mr. Van Dalen’. According to the De Nooij family, an appropriate name. After all, he had descended from the plane with a parachute onto the Ede Heath. He also has a button on his jacket that says he is deaf and mute, so he doesn’t have to talk.
The British military leadership and the resistance devised several plans to enable John Hackett's escape, these, however, were all cancelled. Frequently, a plan was obstructed on the day of its execution, for instance, due to poor weather conditions. Johan Snoek thinks that there have been enough cancelled plans, and he is dissatisfied with the efforts to get John Hackett to the liberated territory. He decides to use an escape route known within the resistance through the water of the Biesbosch.
Towards the end of January 1945, everything is arranged, and the bicycle that John Hackett has to use arrives at Toren Street. Hackett goes for a test ride but falls on the slippery, snowy street. Concerned civilians and a few German soldiers rush to him. John Hackett doesn't answer their questions and shows his 'I'm deaf' button.
The next day John Hackett says goodbye to his supporters, he leaves with Johan Snoek for the Biesbosch. Hackett has recovered sufficiently to take the lengthy journey, but the circumstances are difficult: it is extremely cold, and it snows. During the night of the 5th of February, 1945 John Hackett and his companion arrive at Lage Zwaluwe, on the allied side of the Merwede River.