The story continues on our series following the liberation of the Netherlands in the final months of WW2 and the thoughts and diary of a Living History Event that follows in it’s footsteps.
These articles are written by Rob van ’t Oost, a member of Keep Them Rolling, a WWII Vehicle association in het Netherlands. They are translated by Joris Nieuwint from War History Online.
Thursday March 29, 1944:
The population of the Achterhoek looked forward to the advance of the Allied troops; abuzz with the rumors: tanks were observed in Terborg, Gendringen, Dixperlo, and Aalten. In Silvolde it was certain that Liberation was approaching. A rearguard action of the Germans took the life of 5 citizens, three farms, the church and a house went up in flames …………
The Canadian Black Watch went at work cautiously, just as the other Allied units. After all, it was expected that the war would end soon and why risk unnecessarily the precious lives of soldiers on the line? The Germans retreated, here and there offering fanatical resistance.
The accelerating movement of British and Canadian units were in fact the flank protection of the great attack on Rheine, Osnabrück and Münster, the northern main goal of the Ruhr area.
The weather reports continue of the same content, wet and cold, sometimes frost. The locals wanted to swap their eggs against cigarettes or chocolate………..
The population knew that Easter was at hand, however, the troops had no idea of the position of the calendar. The eggs tasted none the less. Tomorrow, Friday, March 30, 1944, Good Friday, many residents of the areas where fighting was going on now wondered if it really is a Good Friday ………..
Monday March 29, 2010:
At the bivouac in Ruurlo the Able Company [Living History group] reports in and quickly they build their camp, impressive. It blends in beautifully with the already overwhelming appearance of many “green” vehicles and tents. All participants are now in with only a single cancellation. Schoolchildren from the region bring a visit to the camp today and be guided by Bert Leuverink and his men; KTR vehicle owners tell their story about the background and history of their cars. Later I learn that the children see and listen almost mesmerized. Some sponsored candy and a soda ensure high spirits among the kids as they return home. Bet you they had much to tell at home!
The bivouac in Delden takes shape: suddenly there are toilet cars, shower enclosures, there are pipes from the water supply to various taps and the toilets are connected to the sewage system. Almost self-evident, there are also problems, the connection to the toilets and showers will not fit on the drain pipe. Cornelis Koopman goes to work in the most intense rain, a few men to help him and the whole thing is fixed up. The water comes out of a well on a meadow from Vitens, the water supplier of that region; we get permission to use the well. Now runs our water pipe across a road leading to a farm, the owner flares up and threatens to remove the pipe. Cornelis talk to the man and settles the matter.
Material is delivered by Nico Buijs, and Cees Zwaans, things that are needed for the airport called Porterfield. A pole for the windsock is delivered but the windsock is dropped from a plane flying at an altitude of 50 meters above the bivouac by Robbie pilot Senechal .. ………… That promises to be a spectacle for the future. Scouting Delden digs a big hole that evening for the windsockpole. The Summers [Summer of 42 association] start bringing in their stuff and vehicles; nice to see that the population of Delden is coming around more frequent and longer. Stories of the war period are told, stories that I have not written down, but largely stored on my brain.
Two ladies come up to me: “Are you of the organization?” They ask me. I replied in the affirmative. “We would like to thank our dad lives in the farm next to the Museum Farm Wendezoele and has experienced the war intensely. He never talked about it, only now he started to talk…………….. ” One of the ladies had tears in the eyes, I as well ……… for a moment any doub is gone this is why I, no this is why WE are doing it!
Rob van’t Oost