The Final Push, the fight to liberate the Netherlands – March 27th 1945

 
 
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A destroyed V1 Launch site. Image Source: http://members.home.nl/almeloliberated/V1.HTM

Today we will start with a series of articles on the battle for the eastern part of the Netherlands in the last months of WWII. We will follow the fight from March 27th onward and the second part of each daily log is a reflection on the Living History Event that was held two years ago and followed the 1945 advance 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 / War History Online.

The articles are backdated to March 27th, today we’ll publish the first one and follow up one each day.

Tuesday March 27, 1944:

On Tuesday, March 27, 1944, the last V1 rockets were fired at Antwerp from the many launchers among others Zutphen, Rijssen, Almelo and Bornerbroek. Their aim has always been the port of Antwerp, in order to bring the transit of Allied war supplies to a screeching halt or at the very least hinder them. Many of these missiles landed in the city of Antwerp, more than 4,000 persons were killed in the months of bombing! Meanwhile, the British and Canadian troops had managed to cross the Rhine, Allied airborne troops formed a bridgehead on the east side of the Rhine.

Therefore, the German High Command ordered the firing of V1 and V2 rockets to stop and return all usable materials to the homeland. Thus there came an end to that dreadful “rain” of German rockets.

Obviously the moving of supplies and the blowing up of the launchers gave the citizens courage; something was to happen, was the Liberation approaching?

In the region of Twente Goor they had other worries, during a heavy allied bombing on March 24th, 1945, the center was completely wiped out and 82 civilians perished. The bombing completely failed to destroy the German ammunition depots in the Eternit factories.

Saturday, March 27, 2010:

It’s so cold that morning, very cold even night frost has left frost on the wet meadows and hedges, it has rained, the grounds are soaked with water and give the bivouac at the Farm Museum The Wendezoele Delden a swampy appearance. The frozen grass crunches under my shoes, the site looks abandoned, here must soon come the airport, the exhibition “Delden in WW2” and a complete camp for dozens of vehicles and tents, a complete Field Hospital will be raised. I’m starting to have serious doubts.

It is quiet, I do not see any movement of vehicles and / or persons. My eye falls on a number of signs that the men in Twente had already placed that morning. You’ve seen them, those signs that always stand at the entrance to the grounds of Twente / Achterhoek Weekend, really cool! It gives the meadow suddenly another perspective.

Image Source http://janvandemaat.blogspot.nl/

I look to the right and perceive a tent, there is a figure that I cannot identify, and the stove that burns in front of his tent is there for a reason. Great, at least I’m not alone here;

Getting closer I perceive Rob Nieuwpoort ………….. I almost got a lump in the throat to see how faithful he appeared on the date and time when he said he would come and help. Great, I was happy just to catch up with him after all the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks of preparation. We drank coffee together and he asked what he could do, that’s club love for a good cause!

This warmth and help from other club members would aid me massively later during the event, you can’t ever organise a major event by yourself, there are always enthusiastic male and female members to help and cooperate. And help I received, from Ruurlo to Groningen and Leeuwarden.

Later that day I got a call from Evert Bouwmeester that many of the vehicles registered only a few had arrived at the bivouac at the Castle of Ruurlo. Did the bad and cold weather play a role? I myself was supposed to be there with several vehicles, but had not even been able to transport them to Delden due to lack of drivers and all the preparations. Rob’s son Gert-Jan had now arrived spontaneously and we moved a few vehicles to Delden to drive them to Ruurlo later. So these problems were solved. In the snow I put up my tent, the wind howled with wind force 6/7 through the rope holes, it was bitterly cold and wet. Then again the question arose: Why am I doing this?

Rob van ‘t Oost