70th Anniversary droppings Ginkelse Heide, Ede

Today 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 a role in the today droppings. No less than 60,000 visitors had come down to this unique event.

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V2 rocket

Antwerp was to prove a vital port to the Allies as they pushed towards Germany. The German Oberkommando realized the importance of Antwerp and the Walcheren area had the allies. In September 1944 it was decided to bombard Antwerp with V2 rockets.  The number of V2 rockets outnumbered the attacks on London with many. From october 1944 till march 1945 5960 rockets (v1 and v2) were launched in Antwerpen province. ln the early morning of 18 May the first ‘feldgrau’ soldiers from the North came into the city without a fight and the swastika flag was hoisted that same day on the cathedral. The second German occupation within a quarter century was a fact.

It made a lasting impression on all Antwerp. They would soon be confronted with a new order which took 4,5 years to be freed from. But only then the worsted  had yet to happen. Germans decided to bombard the Harbours of Antwerp with V1 and V2 rockets because of the strategic importance to the Allies. Nearly 5600 rockets where launched in the province of Antwerp.   

KBC Tower
Leader of the Flemish National Union (Dutch: Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, VNV) Hernik Elias inspects the troops at the Meir.

 On November 27, a terrible incident occurred at a major road junction near the Central Station. Teniers Plaats (Square) was the busiest intersection in town (as it still is today). Military policemen were always regulating the heavy traffic for an Allied convoy passing through the square.   

terniersplein V2
Teniersplaats just after the V-2 struck the convoy.

 A V-2 came down at ten minutes past noon and exploded in the middle of all this activity. A British convoy was moving through the intersection and was caught in the blast. This particular rocket was believed to have exploded just above ground possibly having struck the overhead tram lines just where the traffic policemen stood. A city water main burst, water bubbling up from the ground. Soon, the whole square was filled with water.

terniersplein V2 rocket
The tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlargeThe tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlarge
terniersplein_02 V2 Rocket
Many people wachting the convoy where killed immediately. Click to enlarge
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carentan_center_sign-wwiiFour major highways and a railroad converged in the city of Carentan to make it one of the strategic points to link the 2 beachheads Omaha and Utah. 5 days of fear fighting made Carentan a difficult objective to meet. On June 13th the Germans counter attacked Carentan in which the 506th held there positions just long enough to let the American tanks stop the attack. This part is seen in the episode of ‘Band of Brothers’

Carentan was defended by the 6th Parachute Regiment, two Ost battalions and remnants of other German forces. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division, ordered to reinforce Carentan, was delayed by transport shortages and attacks by Alliedaircraft. The attacking 101st Airborne Division, landed by parachute on 6 June as part of the American airborne landings in Normandy, was ordered to seize Carentan..

gis-pointing-to-a sign-carentan

GI´s pointing to a sign post at the center of Carentan.

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Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse is a small town just 10 km west of Caen. The town was captured by 7th Canadian Brigade on 7th June. German Mark V Panthers and Mark IV tanks of the 12th Panzer Division re-took the town again.

‘C’ squadron of the 6th Canandian Armoured Regiment had lost contact with their infantry on D-Day and advanaced through Bretteville with no opposition. Later they withdrew again from Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse. The town was eventually captures by 7th Canadian Brigade on 7th June. German Mark V Panthers and Mark IV tanks re-took the position again.


Crossing at Bretteville. Click to enlarge.

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On 6 June 1944 in Normandy, the 3rd British Infantry Division under General Rennie slammed ashore around 7:30 am. The vehicles of the 79th Armoured Division, the engineers and the tanks of the 13/18th Hussars landed on Sword Beach, Queen sector. The special tanks tanks neutralized the fortifications of the beach.

Many of those buried in Hermanville War Cemetery died on 6 June or during the first days of the drive towards Caen.
The cemetery contains 1,003 Second World War burials, 103 of them unidentified.

Hermanville Sur Mer ww2

But when the assault waves arrived on the beaches, some German positions were still offering resistance. At La Brèche d’Hermanville, the 2nd East Yorkshire and the 1st South Lancashire suffered losses facing the German machine-guns. The position – Cod – was a strong bastion, the Germans had reinforced the houses along the coast with concrete and trenches. The Commandos of the 4th Special Service Brigade and the 1st Special Service Brigade were brought with the second wave and moved toward their objectives. The 8th Brigade progressed toward Hermanville-sur-Mer, the town was liberated by the 1st South Lancashire around 9:30 am.

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