Brittish War Hero Returns to Eindhoven

Following the Allied invasion of Normandy, Joe Cattini was hailed as a war hero in the city of Eindhoven. He was met by a number of cheering citizens, who held Dutch flags high in the air as they greeted those who had helped to liberate the city from occupying Nazis. Seventy years later, having already celebrated the anniversary of D-Day, Cattini has once again ventured to Eindhoven to find himself applauded for his efforts to liberate the city during the Second World War.

Cattini fought as a member of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. When he and his comrades liberated the city, its people had been living under occupation for four years. The city’s residents were so grateful that hundreds came out to greet the Allied forces. Cattini and his fellow soldiers were given gifts by the people of Eindhoven, which included nutritional goods such as apples and milk as well as the occasional gift of beer. Even the city’s children were in attendance to show their gratitude, donning orange ribbons in their hair. Seven decades later, the 91-year-old veteran has returned to the city to once again be celebrated by its residents.

The war hero did not return alone. Three other British veterans and one American were also invited to the city in Holland for a two-week stay. They were not simply there to be applauded, but also to visit museums and meet with other soldiers. Cattini’s trip to Eindhoven brought him back into contact with Denys Hunter, a former comrade with whom he had celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the Normandy invasion. While they had not been reunited for some time prior to the D-Day anniversary, they both served in the 86th Hertfordshire Yeomanry Field Regiment RA together, The Telegraph reports.

Both the British and the Americans were integral to the city’s liberation. The Americans advanced from the north while the British advanced from the south. It was a momentous occasion, as Eindhoven became the first major city in the Netherlands to be freed from Nazi occupation during Operation Market Garden. Although more than two hundred civilians perished in a Luftwaffe bombing campaign on September 19, 1944, their initial liberation the day prior has been commemorated every year since.

The city of Eindhoven has been celebrating their liberation for seventy years, with this year being one of the most momentous celebrations yet. For the seventieth anniversary, runners and cyclists carried a liberation torch from Bayeux. They followed the route taken by the Allies during their liberation of Eindhoven, and they ended with a procession at Town Hall Square.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE