08 January 2014

Willem Hertzog - Doctor to a German Spy

Introduction

On February 1, 1941, Josef Jakobs was discovered in a field at Dovehouse Farm near Ramsey, Huntingdonshire. Josef had suffered a broken ankle during his descent by parachute from a German aircraft. Unable to move, he summoned help by firing his pistol into the air. Two farmers found Josef that morning and notified the Home Guard.

Josef was transported to the Ramasey Police Station in a horse-drawn cart by members of the Home Guard. Upon arrival at the police station, Josef was examined by Inspector Horace Jaikens who summoned Dr. Willem Hertzog, the local doctor. Dr. Hertzog confirmed that Josef had a broken ankle. Later that day, Hertzog certified that Josef was in a fit condition to be transported to London.

Dr. Willem Hertzog

Willem Hertzog was born on 29 July, 1903, in Jagersfontein, in Orange Free State, South Africa.
Location of Jagersfontein, site of Willem Hertzog's birth.
Location of Jagersfontein, South Africa (from Google Maps)

In 1924, Willem embarked from Durban, South Africa on the mail boat Arundel Castle. On April 21, 1924, Willem arrived at Southampton, England and began his career as a student.
Image of passenger ship Arundel Castle.
Arundel Castle (postcard from Simplon Postcards)
On October 19, 1928, Willem departed Southampton for Cape Town on the Kenilworth Castle, presumably to visit his family. Willem listed England as his country of permanent residence. On January 14, 1929, Willem traveled back to England, arriving in Southampton again on the mail boat Edinburgh Castle.
Willem Hertzog - Passenger List - 1929 - Edinburgh Castle mailship
Willem Hertzog, 1929 Passenger List of Edinburgh Castle - from www.ancestry.co.uk

Willem studied medicine and, in 1932, obtained his LMSSA (Licentiate of Medicine & Surgery of The Society of Apothecaries) at Guy's Hospital Medical School. Willem was registered to practice medicine in England on May 1, 1933.

In 1934, Willem married his wife Elfreda Margaret Curtis in London. By 1935, Willem and Eldreda had moved to Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, where they lived in The Gables, a historic dwelling dating from the 1200s. Willem and Freda had three children, one of whom also went on to become a doctor. Willem served as a general practioner in Ramsey for many years, finally retiring in 1968. Willem and his wife spent a lot of time maintaining and improving their medieval-halled house and gardens.
The Gables, Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, former residence of Dr. Willem Hertzog.
The Gables, 31 High Street, Ramsey, Huntingdonshire - from Google Streetview

Willem passed away on 12 December 1991 in Ramsey. He was 88 years old and survived by his wife and three children. Willem's wife Eldreda passed away in 2003 at the age of 91.

According to an obituary published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1992, Willem Hertzog was proud of his South African roots. He was a compassionate, thoughtful man, courteous at all times.
James Barry Munnik Hertzog, uncle of Dr. Willem Hertzog of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.
James Barry Munnik Hertzog
Prime Minister of South Africa 1924-1939

Willem's uncle was James Barry Munnik Hertzog, a lawyer who served as Prime Minister of South Africa from 1924 to 1939. A biography of James B.M. Hertzog notes that he was a descendant of German immigrants, Johann Barthold Hertzog and Susanna Maria Jacoba Hamman. Johann Barthold Hertzog may have come to South Africa in 1734 from Braunschweig, Germany.

It is interesting to note that Willem Hertzog, a South African descendant of German immigrants, eventually ended up treating an erstwhile German spy in the village of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.

Sources

Ancestry Genealogy records
British Medical Journal - May 16, 1992 - Volume 304, p. 1306 - Obituary of Willem Hertzog
South African History Online - James Barry Munnik Hertzog

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