70th Anniversary droppings Ginkelse Heide, Ede

 

marketgardenede 0770Today we are set to go early in the morning to the unique commemoration of airborne landings on Ginkelse Heide near Ede and Arnhem. Decided to go , for the expected number of spectators, to go on bike the last piece of the trip. On arrival it was already pretty busy. Walked to the Airborne Memorial. 

In September 1944 it was the largest airborne operation during the 2nd World War. Eventually there where even more droppings than during the D-Day landings. Just like 70 years the fog  also played in the today droppings. No less than 60,000 visitors had come down to this unique event.

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Kamp Schoorl

kamp schoorl monumentLittle bit awkward to have a holiday at the same spot of the first concentration camp in the Netherlands, Kamp Schoorl.

' Wiki: The camp was built in 1939 as a Dutch army camp. Among the prisoners were also people from England, Belgium and France.After a few months the French and the Belgian were released. The English prisoners were transferred to a German camp Gleiwitz in September 1940. For about 1,900 people was the camp their first camp before being transferred to other camps. More than 1,000 of them never returned, mainly Jews and political prisoners.' http://www.kamp-schoorl.nl

See link for the: rememberance on 12th June 2014

 

kamp schoorl IMAG1275   kamp schoorl overzicht
     

blog - Stavelot, Trois Pont, La Gleize

At Robertville we made a trip from Ligneuville through La Gleize. The same route Kampfgruppe Peiper took when the German armies were to break through the US lines in the Ardennes, to cross the River Meuse and take Antwerp, cutting the Allied forces in two.

Advance through Ardennes

 

StavelotIn the advance through the Ardennes they came across an American column at Malmedey. It was here the Malmedey massacre took place. We have visited it again and also the very nice museum. In our earlier trip we made already some comparing pictures. After this terrible incident the Germans advanced to Stavelot. At Stavelot the American's failed the blow the bridge at first but gained time to regroup there units. This resulted in the blowing of the bridges at Trois Pont leaving Peiper only route to La Gleize. Meanwhile the weather improved and squadrons of P-47 Mustang Aircrafts where able to attack the 20 km long column. But in the dazzling ride the Kampfgruppe were stopped at La Gleize because of lack of ammunition and fuel. 

La GleizePeiper was given the use of the newest tank, the 70 ton Tiger II or King Tiger with its 7 inches of armor made it impervious to allied anti-tank weapons. However, the King Tiger had a high consumption of fuel (1/2 mile to the gallon) along with mechanical defects (mainly the tank's suspension system), which would continuously hinder Peiper's ability to reach his assigned objectives in Operation Wacht am Rhein. One of the few left Tiger Tanks is now visible at the La Gleize museum. 

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blog - Siegfried Line Roetgen

Near Monschauer Straße 224, AachenThis weekend we went on a short trip to the Ardennes. Although we have visited it before there are many places to find and pictures to take. On the way to our B&B in Robertville we made a little detour to see the remains of the Siegfried Line near Roetgen.

Roetgen, GermanyIt was here that the American's first entered Germany and few days later on the 13th of September they were able to cross the Siegfried Line (Westwall). Today there are still many remains of this defenses, most notable the dragon teeth's to stop the tanks from crossing it. At Roetgen we faced a closure of the road on which the picture was taken. But we found a way to cross the roadblock (almost like then :-) ) and searched for the dragon teeth's.

Much to our surprise it was all covered with plants and trees now, as the pictures we had even after the war did show a clear sight of the Line. It is now in private hand but luckily the gate was open and we were able to see the remains more in detail.

blog - The Falaise pocket

NormandyToday we follow the same route the Seventh Army followed to make it contribution to the encirclement at Falaise. We started from Clécy and drove towards Argentan and finally St. Lambert sur Dive.

Driving through the countryside it is clear what kind of hurdles the hedges have been to the allies. The first stop is Putanges Pont Ecrepin and the bridge over the Orne. Putanges Pont EcrepinWe have drank a coffee drink in the hotel restaurant ‘Le Lion Verd’ and had a discussion with the waiter over where the picture of the bridge was taken. On the wall in the lobby and bar are pictures of the temporary Bailey bridge and photos of various combat actions during World War 2. According to the waiter the specific photo was taken right of the bridge seen from the square, but we believe it was taken right from the waterfront terrace of the hotel itself. On the wall there is a picture of the Hotel veranda which we believe corresponds to a part of the photo. It would also be more consistent with the building across the street. The only thing is that the Bailey bridge would have been at the spot of the walkway... At the end of the village there is a famous photograph of a German tank that just stopped in front of a house.

Further on the road to Argentan. Again, a famous photograph of a Panther tank in front of a house where a German recruitment agenecy was stationed. We had no specific street name, and for us almost all the streets resembled the streets of the photo. Finally we went to the Tourist Information in hope they could help us. A few minutes later we came back out, with a surprised feeling. The girl behind the counter, with a quick glance at the photo, could identify the street as the 'Rue de la Poterie'. It turned out to be a street behind the church where we had parked our car! Nowdays no more travel agency but a greengrocer, and on the place of the Panther tank there is cafè ‘La Brazza’. A picture from another angle also shows the still hanging medallions.

Saint Lambert sur DiveFinally the hamlet of Saint Lambert sur Dive where the "corridor of death 'was. The road to this village housed the last escape for the Germans. Eventually, a gap of a few 100 meters to where the huge amount of Germans had to escape the encirclement. For the Allies the opportunity to make a decisive but dramatic blow to the German army. It is almost beyond comprehension that this nice little quite spot on the river "Dive" perhaps symbolises the turning point for the Battle of Normandy and the effort taken by the Allies to make a successful invasion and provide a basis for the further liberation of Western Europe. Exactly a memorable point to end the visits to the various sites from the period 1940-1945. Tomorrow from Clécy back home with enough material collected to last the summer and to publish on the website.

blog - Caen a rebuild city

caen 02If you read the travel guides for Normandy there only a few towns and villages that did not suffered enormously from the war: 'this town is 70%, 80% destroyed', '6 out of 10 houses are damaged in this town', etc. It makes you admire the local residents  for  the energy that the they have put in rebuilding the houses and churches. You have to look carefully to find damage of the war onto the existing homes. Nevertheless, many of today's houses are obviously built after the war. Similarly, the city of Caen which has suffered enormously from the war, looks great. The fortress stands proud and at the cathedral and the two abbeys have become beautiful government buildings now. Only before the abbey 'des hommes' stands the ruins of 'Église Saint-Etienne-le-Vieux' which stand as a symbol for the Cities destruction.
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blog - A remote grave and a facade

culey le patryFirst night sleep at our 'Chateau La Cour’. It really is a tiny hamlet with few houses on a hill. The strange thing is that the public cemetery also is a war cemetery. To me it felt very strange as this was a remote area and also a small cemetery. I first walked by the grave but then I saw it, when I wanted to return to the car, that there was 1 person lying there: 'Flight Sergeant Wilson’ from Brisbane, Australia. Died in air battle, he lies there all alone on this very small cemetery. It so happened that that evening new guests at the B&B would arrive from Austrialia…could it be family? But that was not the case.

thury hartcourtIn the village nearby (‘Thury Hartcourt’) is another remarkable site: ‘Château of the Dukes of Harcourt’, at least only the facade. On 13–4 August 1944 the German forces retreated from the town and set fire to the chateau, which had suffered little damage up to that point The view nowdays is a bit macabre against the twilight. The buildings at the former railway station are also still ruins.

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blog - Leaving Carentan

Today where are leaving Carentan and our lovely stay at the B&B . If you want to see the landing beaches and the Airborne landings this is one of the best options as you are in the center where the actions has been taking place. Nancy is running a great B&B and even makes her own bread, jam, yoghurt (I wonder what she does not make by her own). The rooms are great and large.

 

CarentanThe nature around Carentan is very nice especially if you like Oysters. One road you should drive during dusk is the small road to left side of the river Diver to the 'Parc Naturel Regional des Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin'. Just out of Carentan you cross a side arm of the river on a original Bailey bridge. At the end of the long road you can see the sun going down in the see. 

 

In the harbor of Carentan lies an original Landing Craft (PA30-4). 

 

Carentan landing craft01 Carentan landing craft02

Off we go to Clecy near Caen (and the Falaise pocket)

 

 

blog - Landing beaches 3

point du hoc 02Visited Point du Hoc and Batterie Grandcamp-Maisy today. Point du Hoc is a unique monument for the brave soldiers who have climbed up the cliffs to finally find no guns.

batterie grandcamp maisy 08In contrast the batterie Maisy was firing grenades on the beaches of the Americans until June 9. The site now gives a unique picture of what it looked likes then, Really a must visit to get a good idea where the allies stood for. Trenches are dugged out again and bunkers are in a good state

See for more photo’s: Point du HocBatterie Grandcamp Maisy, Arromanches les Bains

blog - Landing beaches 2

omaha beachLate in the afternoon we were at Omaha beach. I wanted to make a specific comparison photo. So we left the American war cemetery and went looking for the point of the photo. In the hamlet of 'Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer " it is very clear what the Americans had to overcome : very wide beaches and steep dunes.

Omaha beachOne of the striking photographs of Omaha Beach was taken at the beaches of the small town. If you follow the coastal road ‘Rue Bernard Anquetil’ from ‘Les Moulins’ towards the cemetery you will reacht at the end of the road a bunker with an original cannon standing halfway up a dune and besides one of the exits from the beach. This is the bunker of the photo and the dune where the photo was taken lies behind it. On this particular place you really get a good sense of how it must have been here in the early hours of June 6. An extra dimension was the fog that suddenly came up from the sea. Very strange and it disappeared again after 2-hour, but it carried it to the feeling.


See more Omaha beach pictures here

blog - Landing beaches 1

pegasus bridgehorsaAlready arrived at Carentan , to visit the landing beaches. During the drive to Carentan we made a stop at Ranville / Benouville for a visit at the Memorial museum of the Pegagus Bridge. I think this is one of the finest museums that I know off. Because of the many personal messages, objects and inheritance, this museum has a special story to tell. The idea that so much effort is made to keep the bridge makes it almost a kind of pilgrimage and for me it stands as a symbol for the connection between the different groups of people who come to visit this bridge. On the bridge itself are still bullet holes found that arose during the battle for the bridge. Se for more photo's Pegagus Bridge


higgens boatUTAH beach also has such a quiet and modest look. To walk one of the beach exits to walk is a strange awareness. so peaceful it is hard to put into mind the actions which took place ont the same spot. The café opposite (Le Roosevelt) is a great example of Then and Now as they nicely show on a board how it looked when the Americans just landed here.


In Saint Vaast la Houghue we found the ‘Higgens’ landing boat PA30-4 on the dock for repair. In Carentan Port the sig says i twill be oprational again in the summer of 2012. But to us i twill taken a little bit longer. Still it is an unique relic of past time.

See all photo's from: Pegagus bridge, Utah beach, Saint Mere Eglise, Saint Maire du Mont

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