The Liberation of Breda

This day 72 years ago the city of Breda is liberated by the 1st Polish Armoured Division. led by General Stanislav Maczek.

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A picture sometimes tells a thousand words, therefore below some pictures of that day 29 October 1944.

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Dutch Resistance fighters armed with captured German weapons celebrate the liberation of Breda by the Polish 1st Armored Division

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Honouring those who died for the freedom of strangers.

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The Liberation of Maastricht

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Today marks the 72nd anniversary if the liberation of Maastricht, the first city in the Netherlands to be liberated from the Nazi’s.

Due to the fact that the small village of Wyck,nowadays a suburb of Maastricht) had been liberated on the 13th of September by 117 Old Hickory, the commander of the 353rd division,General Paul Mahlmann, of the Wehrmacht decided not to defend the the city and joined the the 176th division in Maasmechelen(Belgium) durinh the night of the 13-14th September.

In the early morning of the 14h of September the commander ,Colonel Johnson, of the 117th regiment of the Old Hickory division, accompanied by Major Giles,Private Killinworth and a radio operator, crossed the Maas (Meusse) in a small boat, watched by hundreds of Maastricht residents.

After the city was combed for potential German soldiers left behind it was declared liberated in the evening on Thursday the 14th of September 1944. It was announced on radio Oranje on the 15 of September by correspondent Robert Kiek.

Below are some pictures of the liberation and the aftermath.

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The Monuments

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The Liberation of Mesch-the Netherlands

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This day marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Mesch. The first village in the Netherlands to be liberated.

It was more than three months after the Normandy landings that the men of the Thirtieth Infantry Division, Old Hickory, commanded by Captain Kent, crossed the Dutch-Belgian border at ten o’clock in the morning on September twelfth, nineteen-forty-four. Much of France and Belgium had been liberated, and the Allies were trying to advance to the Westwall or Siegfried Line, the defence line that the Germans had built along their border.

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School teacher Sjef Warnier, who lived across the street, once told a reporter about his first encounter with the liberators. There was a machine gun firing on the school playground. Suddenly there was silence. When he went to look, he saw a German soldier standing with his hands in the air. He was being held at gunpoint by an American. The only thing Sjef Warnier could say was “Welkom in Holland or Welcome to Holland”. And that made him the first Dutchman to be liberated.

Leon Pinckaers (87) still lives in his childhood home in Mesch, the southernmost town in the Netherlands. “The Americans came across that meadow on the afternoon of September 12, 1944,” he recalled, pointing out the window. “They were followed by a jeep and it drove straight across the river Voer.”On the picture below Leon is the boy next to the man with the high hat.

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The family hurried outside and shook hands with their liberators. Mother Pinckaers was perhaps the most relieved of all. She was a refugee from the Belgian town of Visé, which had been all but burnt to the ground in 1914 by the advancing Germans. In May 1940 she had seen how ten inhabitants of Mesch, including her own husband, were rounded up for execution by the Germans on suspicion of sabotage. The execution was cancelled at the last minute, and the village had been quiet since.

Before the family saw the first Americans there had been fighting on the Belgian-Dutch border a mile away from ten in the morning. “Later we could see the dead Germans lying in the beet field.”

Leon Pinckaers doesn’t recall any jubilant celebrations that day. The village was still very much on a war footing. The meadow where units of the 30th Infantry Division emerged on September 12 later served as an assembly point for American jeeps and trucks. Elsewhere broken German tanks littered the road. The erratic German V2 rockets were still coming overhead. Later an American plane crashed in the village.

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A white brick monument with brass plaque commemorates the liberation.

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Liberation Day the 5th of May.

On the 5th of May 1945 the whole of the Netherlands was liberated, with the exception of Texel an island in the North West. The southern provinces had already been liberated in September 1944. But because the failed’Operation Market Garden’ the northern provinces remained occupied until the 5th of May.

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I am not going to write too much in today’s blog. Just a poem and pictures of the day, since a picture paints a thousand words.

My young friend, you sacrificed your live selflessly for my freedom.

We never met but yet your act of valour has changed my life.

My young friend, I thank you for it is because of you I am here.

Often I ponder why you did what you did so that I can thrive.

 

From afar you came to deliver us from evil.

And evil you witnessed all around you.

Leaving a safe place just to be thrown into upheaval.

To see death, destruction and chaos to.

 

You don’t know it but my life you did change.

For if it wasn’t for you I may never have been conceived.

You gave up your life for a land that wasn’t yours but was strange.

Freedom was given by you and by me is thankfully received.

 

Alas there are those who do not realize the debt we owe to you.

They talk about leaving bygones be bygones and forget those who died.

My young friend not me, never will I forsake the memory of you.

The promise I make to you is that your bravery will be the source of my pride.

 

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A wall of names of those who died while liberating the Netherlands and parts of Belgium. They gave their lives for our Freedom-Vrijheid. I salute you and humbly bow my head.

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