Den Haag (The Hague) in the Netherlands is the seat of the Dutch parliament, and home to the U.N.'s International Court of Justice. The Politie (Police) of The Hague began using World War II surplus jeeps in 1946, and have maintained a fleet of Jeeps continuously until 2016, a remarkable service record which may be equalled only by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The 70-year tradition, however, appears set to end in 2016 (see below) so I thought the time was right to expand the small collection of CJ-3B photos on this page into a more extensive history of the Politie's use of Jeeps. -- Derek Redmond
Jan Hogendoorn, who has written a book on the subject with former police inspector Hans van Wingerdenhas, told CJ3B.info, "The municipal police of my hometown The Hague used the Jeep since 1946. The first jeeps (MB/GPW) came probably in April 1946 from Canadian equipment remaining at the Demob Vehicle Park of the military airport Deelen (near Arnhem.) In August 1946 a fleet of 17 jeeps arrived from an American surplus depot in a village named Suippes (near Reims) in France.
"Initially the Corps used the jeeps only as service vehicles. Starting in 1947 they were used for regular patrol duty, with blackout lights mounted on the front fenders as city marker lights."
This 1946 photo of Verkeers Politie (Traffic Police) is courtesy Haagse Politie.
"The Police Corps replaced the wartime jeeps in 1949 with Willys Universal Jeeps (model CJ-3A). In this photo the new CJ-3As have just arrived and are equipped with a Federal Signal siren and an Unity Chicago spotlight. On the windscreen is the emblem indicating Marshall Plan aid (130K PNG)."
The 1949 photo of the new Jeeps in dark blue paint with red wheels, is courtesy Haagse Politie.
This 25 March 1953 photo by Van Duinen from the Nationaal Archief (under CC) shows a CJ-3A with the Politie's trademark body alterations -- vertical sliding doors and rear fender skirts.
The two sergeants seem to be in a good mood, despite the massive flood of February 1953 which has just devastated Stellendam and many other small towns along the coast, south of The Hague.
The water from the enormous North Sea storm surge on the night of 31 January 1953 reached the attics of the houses in Stellendam. Five hundred people drowned in that area, and a total of 1,836 people died in the disaster. This photo showing the neighboring village of Oude Tonge on 1 February 1953, is from the Regional Archives of Goeree-Overflakkee.
The Jeep was probably stationed at the edge of Stellendam to enforce the local authorities' decision not to allow anyone to return to the ruined village. This was referred to as an "Iron Curtain" by some unhappy residents who wanted to try to salvage their belongings.
The police Jeeps typically had half doors and fender skirts added, but one of the CJ-3As received a more elaborate conversion, as seen in this 1950 photo courtesy Haagse Politie. Jan comments, "This car is going into history as the 'WKS Jeep' and was developed through co-operation between the chief of the garage (Wuis), the coachworker (Van Koppen) and the local dealer of Willys-Overland (Smit)."
The vehicle did not handle well and was sold after a short time. It was photographed again in 1951 (80K JPEG) by W. Schuitema in the town of Veendam. Photo courtesy Politievoertuigen.nl.
Jan scanned this October 1954 photo of a fleet of CJ-3Bs being delivered to The Hague. He says, "The Police in 1954 bought a number of Universal Jeeps, model CJ-3B, from NEKAF ('Nederlandse Kaiser-Frazer') in Rotterdam. Three CJ-3Bs of that delivery are known to still exist: the registration numbers are NS-88-15, NS-88-20 and NS-88-23." Photo from the collection of Jan Hogendoorn.
This photo of a parade of Police CJ-3As and CJ-3Bs was taken on 13 February 1957 during the installation of the new mayor of The Hague. The Politie clearly preferred convertible vehicles -- the Volkswagen Kever ("Beetle") patrol cars in the foreground are the Cabriolet conversion by Karmann. Photo courtesy Haagse Politie.
See also a closer photo of the Jeeps (120K JPEG) courtesy Jan Hogendoorn, which also reveals that the officer in the foreground is conducting a band.
A unique feature which is detectable but not obvious in the black & white photos above, was the red paint on the wheels.
I colorized this 1960 black & white photo (100K JPEG) scanned by Jan. He comments, "The color of the Hague Police CJ-3B Jeeps was black and the wheels were red (standard colors from the factory.) The older types (MB/GPW and CJ-3A) were dark blue. The color dark blue was ordered by Germans for all police vehicles in 1943 and for some Dutch police vehicles dark blue is still the color. It's possible that some CJ-3As were painted black after the arrival of the CJ-3Bs."
"In the summer season some Jeeps found duty on the beach watching the swimmers in the dangerous North Sea. The policeman behind the wheel in the photo above is Cor Dijkema who lent me the picture many years ago. In 1955 Cor saw the possibilities of the Jeep as an ambulance for the beaches. Before the arrival of the Jeeps, the victims had to be transported by donkeys."
This 1955 sketch by Cor Dijkema was the inspiration for the use of Jeeps as beachwatch ambulances. It appears to show a dark blue Willys MB.
This handmade model served as a trophy awarded annually during the late 1950s and 60's to the best police beachwatch team in The Hague. Jan says, "The Police Corps called it the 'Buijze-prize', named for the first chief of the beach detachment. The coastline of The Hague is about 11 kilometers long and there were 4 watchhouses, each with its own team.
"Every year there was an organized competition between the teams involving lifesaving with lines and by swimming. The winning team got the trophy for one year in their watchhouse. I don't know who made the model, but it still exists in the police station near the beach."
The CJ-3Bs were still used for patrolling the city as well as the beach, and Fred Verdelman took a number of photos of them in action, documenting the exact dates. Here's a great shot of NS-88-23 with an officer running in the background, taken on 11 May 1964.
Apparently the Jeeps were also sometimes called on to push vehicles when necessary (320K JPEG).
This photo of NS-88-20 was taken by Fred Verdelman on 31 December 1964 at the Politie garage. Looks like the officers were having a little trouble with the sliding door as they headed out to keep an eye on New Year's Eve festivities.
Fred Verdelman also took this rear view at the garage on 13 April 1965, showing the seats made by Stabin Bennis, and the distinctive top with high clearance in the rear which has been used on all of the Politie Jeeps up to the present day. The Jeeps carry no spare tire.
The Politie purchased its first CJ-5 models in 1957, and several were painted white for duty on the beach during the summer. The corps also bought their first speedboat, and again Fred Verdelman captured the action here in July 1964 as Jeep and boat arrive at the beach, and the driver probably contemplates giving the little boy a toot of the twin sirens.
Jan says, "The CJ-5 export models were provided with a split-pane windshield with the ventilating inner frame. This Jeep with plate SF-14-01 was assembled in 1959 by importer Kemper & Van Twist in Dordrecht. It was given the characteristic Hague sliding doors and covered rear wheel openings, three-seater bench seat, and half top. With less room on the round fenders, the two sirens were on the bumper, and on the top a new blue Eisemann/Bosch beacon light. This picture is colorized for CJ3B.info from a 1959 Haagse Politie black and white photo (350K JPEG).
Volkswagens also remained popular with the Politie over the years. A nice photo shows a couple of The Hague's finest polishing up a Kever (with canvas sunroof!) and in the background two of the additional CJ-5s acquired in 1962. Photograph courtesy Wouter Duijndam.
In 1970, the Jeeps were moved from general patrol duty, to service with De Haagse Mobiele Eenheid (Mobile Unit), dealing with disasters and crowd control. Here a contingent of CJ-6s with wire mesh over their windshields, carries riot-equipped officers on the Hoefkade after a football match on 11 June 1986. Photo by R. de Hilster.
During the 1970's five CJ-6 Jeeps were also assigned to the beach of Scheveningen, where a strong current along the breakwaters often endangered swimmers despite signs and surveillance. By 1980 when this photo was taken by R. de Hilster, beach patrol uniforms were also more casual.
This silver AMC Jeep CJ-6 with registration number 84-80-XB was built in 1977 and imported by Hollandse Auto Import in Rijnsburg.
Over the years The Hague used every civilian model of the Universal Jeep, with the exception of the CJ-2A in the 1940's when the war surplus units were in service. (And 2003 TJ Wranglers were the final purchase.) CJ-7s are seen here during an exercise of the Mobile Unit in the vicinity of the Burgemeester Monchyplein. 1993 photo by Ruud Speltie.
One tradition that didn't continue when the Politie upgraded to the CJ-7, was the red wheels, which were now white. CJ-7s built in 1980 and later were supplied with a roll bar and seats with high backs for the safety and comfort of the personnel. 1993 photo from the Haagse Politie.
Possibly a more essential step forward in safety during riot duty was the installation of steel and Lexan hardtops for the first time on a batch of YJ Wranglers. The high rear opening was mainatained for quick access and exit, with a rear step resting on the bumperettes.
Here the Mobile Unit is on standby during confrontations between Isaraeli and Palestinian demonstrators in 2004. Photo courtesy David van Keulen.
In 2003 the Hague corps began replacing the YJ's (right) with fourteen TJ Wranglers (left). The fireproof Lexan polycarbonate hardtop and full steel doors reflected the new reality of potentially facing firebombs, but the open rear continued to emphasize that the Jeeps were not armored vehicles, they were police transportation.
2004 photo courtesy Haagse Politie.
The last time the Hague Mobile Unit's fourteen TJ's were deployed was in July 2015, during riots protesting police brutality in the Hague neighborhood of Schilderswijk. Police commented that the Jeeps are perfect for dealing with large crowds -- flexible, fast and able to jump curbs and tram rails. This frame is from video footage by Omroep West.
Since the summer of 2015 the Jeeps have been gathering dust in the police garage, and according to Scheveningsnieuws the fourteen TJ's will be auctioned in 2016, as the National Police standardizes on white minivans.
On 30 June 2016 the Wranglers were loaded by BCA Auctions of Barneveld. Thanks to Ronet Philips for the photo of the departure. Twelve Jeeps, each with only 10,000 to 20,000 kilometers, were auctioned on 15 July, and the last two Jeeps will go to a museum.
This is how many people may remember the Jeeps, massed to block off Hobbemastraat on 2 July 2015. Photo by David van Keulen.
But their rich 70-year history is better remembered in the book De jeeps van de Haagse politie: 1946-2015 by Hans van Wingerden and Jan Hogendoorn. The 98-page book has 218 illustrations.
Thanks to Jan for his documentation of this remarkable series of Jeeps. Thanks also to the other people and archives who provided photos, and Federico Cavedo for his help in finding them. -- Derek Redmond
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