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Willem Kleijn

GBG Badge 61

Becoming a member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides in 2008, Willem was awarded Badge #61 on the AGM in Bromsgrove in 2013, the second badge in the Netherlands.

Willem has been organising guided tours around former German Deelen Airfield near Arnhem since 2005. From 2009 on, one and two day Market Garden tours in the Arnhem and Nijmegen area, especially for smaller groups up to 8 people, have been added to the portfolio. So far Willem has guided over 2500 guests in over 125 tours, and received wide acclaim from both English, American, German and Dutch visitors on his tours.

Starting excursions in 2005 for the Deelen Museum by touringcar, which proved an immediate success, Willem founded his own battlefield tour-company in 2006 under the Deelen Research Group brandname. The battlefield touring service is greatly enhanced by an dedicated internet bookshop, which specialises mainly in new and antiquarian books and DVD's on Airwar and Market Garden.

In 2002 he became involved with the local Deelen Airbase Museum, where he was immediately fascinated by the nightfighting developments such as R.A.D.A.R during the airwar. Also being a member of The Dutch Airwar Study Group (SGLO), Willem was involved in the publishing of several airwar related books, such as the much acclaimed standardwork 'Dutch Airfields in wartime' (sold out) and the SGLO 'Air losses register', an inventarisation of the estimated 6000+ wartime aircrashes in the Netherlands, which is published by the Netherlands Institute of Military History.

Willem was born in 1954 in Rotterdam , were his father worked at the Koolhoven aircraft factory, a competitor of Fokker. Because of shortage of housing in Rotterdam as a result of the German bombing in 1940 (which also meant the end for Koolhoven Aircraft), his parents moved to the eastern part of Holland in '55. Together with his brother, who later would work at Fokker Aircraft company, he developed a keen interest in aviation and aircraft model building. Having an uncle who was a Navy-pilot on the famous 'Karel Doorman' aircraftcarrier , also was a great enhancement for the young air enthusiasts.

The Airwar '40-'45 became even more realistic, when 14-years old, together with a schoolfriend, he dug up remains of an American Liberator bomber that had crashed in '44 near Haamstede, some remains of which he still cherishes in his collection.

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Page last updated: 22 April 2022