Commander J.J.A. Schagen van Leeuwen

Commander (KMR) Jules Jacob Adriaan Schagen van Leeuwen

Born Pretoria (South Africa) August 28, 1896 - Died Ambt-Delden June 1, 1976

Born in South Africa of Dutch descent, but of British nationality, the admission of Schagen van Leeuwen to the navy's officers' course in Den Helder was at first a problem, since only men of Dutch nationality were allowed to study here. His change of nationality in June 1919 solved this, and he went on to become an authority in the field of artillery and fire control before the war. Schagen van Leeuwen was detached to the B.M.M.A [1] at the Ministry of Defence between his tours of duty in the N.E.I. This department was responsible for the development of fire control systems for the R.N.N. Schagen was a driving force behind the development of the very successful combination between the Bofors 40 mm gun and a gyrostabilized fire control system, which was top of the line during these days. His colleagues, such as LCDR G.B. Salm and LCDR J.J.C.C. Bennink also deserve credit for their work at the B.M.M.A. during these years [2]. There was however a problem with production.

Since the early 1920s, the Dutch company Hazemeijer in Hengelo produced fire control systems for both the army and navy, and foreign buyers. Most of the technical staff was however German, since Hazemeijer was in fact a front for the German Siemens-Halske company, which, according to the Treaty of Versailles, was not allowed to develop defence equipment. The Dutch government didn't prevent this, because the presence of this company would open the door to German experience and know-how in the field of artillery and fire control, which had proven so effective during the First World War. The problem was however that there was no Dutch insider who kept an eye on what was going on. In 1935, Schagen van Leeuwen was employed as a directors' assistant, with the specific job of doing just that. Of course, the German staff (headed by a German former naval officer, Kurt Croll) did their best to keep him oblivious of the day to day operations. Nevertheless, Schagen van Leeuwen kept himself informed about almost everything. His role grew more and more important, as the company began to develop the successful combination between the Bofors 40 mm AA-gun and Hazemeyer fire control system.

In May 1940, Schagen van Leeuwen was caught by the German advance in the Netherlands, but nevertheless managed, together with several other engineers from Hazemeijer, to reach the Dutch naval base in Den Helder through the German lines. He made the crossing to Britain, where his expertise was welcomed at the Naval Ordnance Department in Bath. His duties included the oversight of the production of simplified versions of the Bofors/Hazemeyer AA mounts at Vickers, and the development of new AA-mounts, such as "Buster" and "Staag".

After the capitulation of Germany, Schagen van Leeuwen returned to Holland and went into politics, and became Minister of Navy in August 1946. He quit from the cabinet a year later, because he, like many other naval officers, disagreed with the Dutch policy of negotiating with the Indonesian independence movement. Following his resignation, he was again employed by Hazemeijer, which was renamed N.V. Holland Signaalapparaten shortly after.

Sublieutenant August 16, 1919
Lieutenant August 16, 1921
Lieutenant-Commander September 1, 1929
Commander [3]  
Honorable discharge January 1, 1936
Lieutenant-Commander (KMR) [4] March 13, 1936
Active duty May 10, 1940
Commander (KMR) January 30, 1941
Discharged from active duty August 7, 1946
Captain (SD) (KMR) [5] December 1, 1947
Honorable discharge February 9, 1948
Rear-Admiral (honorary) April 19, 1955

Tour of duty in the Netherlands East Indies 1919 - 1923
Artillery Instruction ship, Hr.Ms. Gelderland 1923 - 1924
Tour of duty in the Netherlands East Indies 1926 - 1931
Deputy Head, Ordnance Dept, Naval Headquarters, London May, 1940 - December, 1942
Detached to Director of Naval Ordnance, Admiralty December, 1942 - June, 1945
Deputy Head, Ordnance Dept, Ministry of Navy June 21, 1945 - August 7, 1946
Deputy Flag Officer, Ordnance Dept. November 15, 1945 - August 7, 1946

Other activities
Directors' assistant, Hazemeijer's Fabriek voor Signaalapparaten N.V., Hengelo October 1, 1935 - 1939
Director, Hazemeijer's Fabriek voor Signaalapparaten N.V., Hengelo 1939 - May 10, 1940
Minister of Navy August 7, 1946 - November 24, 1947
Director, Hazemeijer's Fabriek voor Signaalapparaten N.V., Hengelo February, 1948 - May, 1948
Director N.V. Holland Signaalapparaten, Hengelo May, 1948 - 1957
Military Affairs Dept., United Nations 1956 - 1956

Dutch Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion (NL)
Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau (ON)
Service Cross for naval officers, for 25 years' of service (XXV)
Mobilization Cross 1914-1918 (Mk)
Foreign Commodore 1st class in the Order of Dannebrog of Denmark

[1]: B.M.M.A. = Bureau Materieel der Marine Artillerie (Naval Artillery Department)
[2]: Other names of relevance are Lieutenants R. 't Sas, H.H.L. Pröpper, H.A.N.A. van Adrichem Boogaert, W. van Haaften and H.T. Koppen.
[3]: His promotion to Commander prior to his dismissal from the Navy in 1935 is mentioned by, but not by Klaassen/Van 't Haaff. I'm questioning the validity of this info from due to the erroneous use of ranks in Schagen van Leeuwen's biography there.
[4]: KMR = Koninklijke Marine Reserve (Royal Navy Reserve)
[5]: SD = Speciale Diensten (Special Services)











Klaassen/Van 't Haaff "Gedenkboek Adelborsten-opleiding te Willemsoord 1854-1954"
K.W.L. Bezemer "Verdreven doch niet verslagen", Hilversum, 1967

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