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Siblings from Tilburg visit Milwaukee

On July 20, 1946 two siblings from Tilburg, the Netherlands, both in their twenties, boarded the M.S. Noordam in Rotterdam. One week later Jan Franken and his sister Annemie arrived in New York. After a flight to Milwaukee they were welcomed by their friend John Coleman, whom they first met during the war.

Jan and Annemie were members of the resistance, who helped crashed pilots find shelter or escape through underground routes. Capt. John B. Coleman was a pilot they helped. After his plane (P-51 Mustang) was shot down by the German air defence on October 5, 1944, he landed with his parachute near Tilburg. A farmer’s family gave him clothes and clogs. He was then brought to the Franken family in Tilburg.

Wilhelminapark, Tilburg – the second house from the left belonged to
the Franken family (collection: Regionaal Archief Tilburg)

Soon after the liberation of Tilburg on October 27, 1944 Coleman returned to his army unit. In 1946 he visited the Franken family again, this time on a business trip. He then invited Jan and Annemie to visit him in Milwaukee.

Jan Franken wrote about the trip to Milwaukee. His diary was found in August 2019 by Ed Schilders on a book market. The diary has been digitized and is now available on the Cubra website.