|Amsterdam Staff Songsters|
Gerrit Claeijs was born in 1888. His parents were soldiers at the Hague I Corps but as a young man he did not care much for the Army, which his parents had joined. He started working in a Christian bookshop after his father died and became interested in the Army when he attended a festival given by the International Staff Band during their 1907 visit to the Netherlands. So impressed was Claeijs by the Band and its music that he started to attend meetings on a regular basis and after hearing Staff Captain Brouwer describing his work in the Netherlands-East-Indies made the decision to become a Salvationist.
He became Songster Leader of the Hague I Corps, which was situated opposite the bookshop where he worked. Claeijs entered training in 1921 and his first appointment was as translator to Commissioner Howard and subsequently as secretary to Commissioner Povlsen, who recognised Gerrit's musical abilities by appointing him as Leader of the Headquarters' Songster Brigade. This group supported Commissioner Povlsen in festivals, campaigns and congresses throughout Holland and also made several records on the Odeon label.
In 1926 Gerrit Claeijs married Lt. Nelly van Nith. This was a practical partnership, husband composing melodies for which his wife wrote the words and many of these songs were first performed by the Headquarters' Songster Brigade. Claeijs also translated songs from The Musical Salvationist issued in English by International Headquarters. The Claeijs served as Corps Officers until 1931, when Gerrit was appointed to the Dutch National Headquarters as Head of the Music Department. He continued to lead the Songsters until they were disbanded around 1940. In May 1956 the Netherlands National Songster Brigade was re-formed by Bernard Verkaaik; this group is known today as the Amsterdam Staff Songsters.