The Football Tragedy of November 19, 1944

The history of Sittard-Geleen is a bit of a complicated one. The city used to be 2 towns, but in 2001 the towns of Sittard and Geleen merged and are now known as Sittard-Geleen.

On September 18, 1944 both towns were liberated.

With the liberation of Sittard on 18 and 19 September 1944, the war did not end for this town. On the contrary, in the following five months hundreds more were killed because it was close to the front.

Nevertheless, an emergency football competition started in November 1944 with five clubs from Sittard and Geleen. “The proceeds go to the needy Netherlands,” says Limburgsch Dagblad. On 19 November, the Sittardse Boys and Maurits played in the then-Baandert-stadium, in the presence of several thousand spectators. After about half an hour Harry Ehlen of the Sittardse Boys dropped to the ground because he heard a whooshing sound. Seconds later, shells hit the field for nearly ten minutes. There were also impacts elsewhere in the city centre.

Eleven people were killed throughout Sittard and most of the victims were on the Baandert, the exact number is unknown. In any case, Karel Ermans died there, at ten years old. His brother Sjeng and his father found him. The body of Peter Houben lay next to it, also ten years old.

This grenade attack is the only fatal wartime incident at a sports match in the Netherlands. It is the biggest disaster in Dutch sports history. There have never been more deaths during a match. And yet it is completely unknown, barring those directly involved in Sittard.

This is mainly due to the press censorship of the time. The newspapers only said that the match was ‘untimely halted’ and that the emergency competition had been stopped. In the obituary of Francisca Frissen, ‘a fatal accident’ was her cause of death. Her prayer card, still in the possession of brother Toine, escaped this censorship, “Born in Sittard on June 28, 1929, and there, hit by a shrapnel, died on November 19, 1944.”

After the national liberation in 1945, this football disaster was quickly forgotten. For example, a huge misunderstanding could arise about a memorial stone in the Bernadettekerk on the Baandert, which was always thought to contain the names of the victims of 19 November 1944. That is not correct: on this war memorial from 1952, the fifteen members of Sittardse Boys and Sittard died in the Second World War. Only Karel Ermans, Francisca Frissen and Bertha Simon are victims of 19 November 1944, the other twelve died on another day. The wrong people have been commemorated at this monument for decades, symbolizing the chaos of November 19, 1944.

At the end of 2019, it became clear to the Bernadette Church that a misunderstanding had arisen, after which the church placed a call for more information. Here is a summary of what we have found so far.

Eight names found so far of the victims of November 19, 1944:

Karel Hubertus Ermans (10 years)
Francisca Agnes Frissen (15)
Pieter Jouzef Houben (13)
Bertha John. Hubert Simon (16)
John Peter Ant. Simons (40)
André Carolus Maria Tummers (1)
Maria Neer-Vaessen (56)
Diena Zoer (16)
So there are still three names missing

And these are the fifteen names of Sittardia on the monument from 1952:

Paul Collard
Paul Crauwels
Tonny Hunnekens
De Heus
Piet Letschert
Karel Ermans
Harry Janssen
Charles Soesman
Jack. Hertz
Frans Schadron
Frans Eijck
Frits Clemens
Bertha Simon
Fransien Frissen
Mia Sprenger

I was never aware of this tragedy. I only came across it by chance because I was researching the liberation of Geleen. Strangely, that this is such a forgotten event in both Sittard and Geleen because Geleen is the cradle of professional football in the Netherlands.

sources

https://www.trouw.nl/sport/de-vergeten-voetbalramp-van-sittard~b40e12f4/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ie%2F

Philip Silbernberg -Murdered in Auschwitz

Just a picture of a soldier with his family. One could easily dismiss this photograph as just someone’s memory. A father who loved to smoke, a mother all dressed up and 2 well dressed children, a boy and a girl.

This picture could have easily been a picture of my Grandfather and part of his family. Like the man in the picture my Grandfather had something in common. The man in the pictures is Philip Silbernberg. The picture was taken in 1939. the Dutch army was mobilized for fear of war. My Grandfather was also called up that same year.

War did come to the Netherlands, on May 10.1940 German troops invaded the Netherlands. The fighting continued for 4 days, on May 14 the Dutch army capitulated.

In a way Philip and my Grandfather may have been relieved that the fighting only lasted 4 days. They realised that things would change. The Germans set up a new government, a Nazi regime with both German and Dutch members. But in general things would not change all that much, and for a short time that was true.

On May 12 1942 there was a notification in the newspaper “Het dagblad van het Zuiden! the daily newspaper of the south, that all men who served in the Dutch army on May 10,1940(, the day the Germans invaded the Netherlands, and who were up to the age of 55, had to report to the occupying authorities by May 15th 1942. It had been the 2nd notification

That same day May 12, my Grandfather died, for years I thought he was executed but now I believe there is a possibility he committed suicide.

I do not know if Philip Silbernberg had seen that notification, he probably did because he lived in the same area as my Grandfather, only a short cycle distance. Philips outcome was different though.

Philip was born in Ophoven-Sittard. Where his father had a shop in draperies and colonial goods since 1890, later also for men’s fashion. His father died in 1934. Philip and his brother Les took over the business in 1929.

In August 1929 Philip married Jenetta (Jettie) van der Stam from Rotterdam. They settled in Sittard though, where there daughter Roosje was born in 1930, and their son , Herman was born in 1934. Les married in 1937 and started his own shop in Geleen, my hometown, while Philip continued his parents’ business.

Mother Rosalie, affectionately called ‘den Engel’,(the angel) moved in 1939 with daughter Else and her family to Nieuwer-Amstel, near Amsterdam, where she died in November 1941.
In the spring of 1939, Rosalie’s brother Albert and his wife Hedwig Schwarz-Wihl had emigrated from Dortmund to the Netherlands and had moved in with Philip’s family.

When the Nazis force the Jews to wear the yellow star. Philip goes purposely to city photographer Wulms in Sittard to be photographed in his suit with the Star of David. He told his son Herman: “Boy…you should be proud of it”.

In August 1942 the Silbernbergs escaped the first major deportation round in Limburg because Philip had recently been registered as an employee of the Jewish Council. Nevertheless, Philip and Jettie decided to have their children go into hiding in Heerlen, and in October they also went into hiding. Philips brother in Geleen and his sisters in Amsterdam and Nieuwer-Amstel also went into hiding with their families.

The mayor of Sittard issued a warrant for Philip and his wife, to be arrested, detained and brought to trial.

The charge was having changed their place of residence from October 20, 1942, without having the required authorization to do so. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding. It was also requested that the two children of the Silbernbergs be located.

March 6, 1944 they were betrayed while in hiding in Heerlen and arrested; deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz on March 23. The exact date to when he and his wife is not known, they have put it on the August 31,1944.

The two children survived, they were able to escape and go into hiding in Belgium. After the war they were taken in by Nathan and Else Wijnperle-Silbernberg.

The more I do research on the victims the more I realize it could have easily been my family. Sittard used to be the neigboring town of my hometwon Geleen, but in 2001 the 2 towns merged together and are now known as the city of Sittard-Geleen.

A few weeks ago a grandson send me a few more pictures

Philip and jenetta honeymoon in bruxelles. Philip’s brother was Ies (Isidore) who is pictured with his wife Greta and children of Philip and Jenetta, Herman and Roos. The photo must have been taken in Liège at the end of the war.

sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Philip-Silbernberg

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123077/philip-silbernberg

https://www.maxvandam.info/humo-gen/family/1/F20693?main_person=I55913

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Silvain Wolf-Just a holiday trip

Silvain Wolf was just a footnote in history. But his story is an important one to tell.

He was born on October 7,1902 in Beek, a small town in the province of Limburg, in the South East of the Netherlands.

In 1930 he moved to nearby Sittard, where he got a job with his uncle Adolf Wolf- In the shop Wolf & Hertzdahl. (Which is a shop I often passed when I worked in Sittard.)

On August 25,1942 Silvain got the call to report for labor in Germany. He wanted to hide but was too late. He was initially sent to Westerbork. In Westerbork he wrote a few letters to his family. Below is part of the text of one of those letters.

“We are all good… Mrs van de Hors is keeping well too. Sophie(his sister) needs to remain tough, or do something else……. We had red cabbage and rotten unpeeled potatoes, and will disappoint more often.

You all keep strong, it is just a Holiday trip”

That last line says so much. He was still anticipating a return home. This was because the Nazis had created the illusion that all wasn’t that bad. On August 28,1942 he was put on a transport to Auschwitz.

But Silvain and other men were taken off the train in Kosel ,about 80 km away from Auschwitz. From labor camp Kosel the men were sent to other camps ,after that theirs and Silvain’s fate is unknown. There is only a footnote saying ‘Died in middle Europe’ not even the date is known. They put Silvain’s date of death on April 30,1943 but that is a fictional date.

He was punished and killed because he was Jewish.

sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Silvain-Wolf

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123000/silvain-wolf

https://www.tracesofwar.nl/books/1648/Een-voetnoot-bij-de-wereldgeschiedenis.htm

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This is how close the Holocaust still is.

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May 10, 2020 is Mother’s Day in most countries, with only a few exceptions like the UK and Ireland who had it on March 22. May 10 1943 is the date when one Jewish Mother and Grandmother was killed at Westerbork, aged 83. Her name was  Jeanette Meyer-Cahn, wife and  widow of Daniel Meyer. Daniel had died on 10 March 1941 in Geleen, the Netherlands.

Although Jeanette was originally from Leutesdorf, near Koblenz in Germany in 1938 Jeanette, Daniel and their youngest child, Max, and his in laws, the Kaufmann family moved to the Netherlands, initially to Sittard and on June 21,1939 to neighbouring Geleen. The address Jeanette and Daniel moved to was Graaf Huynlaan 5. The picture above is of that address. This is where suddenly the Holocaust comes very near to me again.

Not only passed I by that address a lot, because it was actually in the city centre, I even bought sunglasses a few times in the sunglasses shop right next to the house. It is also in the direct vicinity of the bank, ABN AMRO where I had an account, and in fact still have, but also my favourite restaurant, Akropolis, as the name suggest a Greek restaurant.

graaf

It was also near a bistro, named ‘t Wittebroodje, which served a great French onion soup.

Jeanette and Daniel had 5 children Walter, Rosa, Mathilde, Leo en Max Meyer, and 2 grand children Erich Meyer and Bruno Nathan(picture below)

btuno Walter was killed in WWI during the battle of Verdun. Leo and his wife had emigrated to South America in the 1930’s.

On August 25, 1942 Max and his wife Berta reported to the Market in Geleen, from there they are first deported to Maastricht and then to Poland via Westerbork, where in Poland they ended up isn’t clear. All we know is that they did not survive.

Jeanette’s 2 daughters and grandsons were all killed during the Holocaust.

Jeanette died  on 10 May 1943 in Westerbork transit camp, due to illness and exhaustion and she was cremated on 12 May 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery on field U, row 6, grave nr. 6.

Only Leo survived the war.

The war may have ended 75 year ago and with it also the Holocaust, it is a fact that decades on people like me can still find a connection with it.

REMEMBER ALWAYS

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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SOURCES

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Jeanette-Meyer-Cahn

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/514769/about-jeanette-meyer-cahn

Unclaimed life insurance policy

Hermann

I came across a website which a list of approximately 2,000 unpaid or unclaimed life insurance policies of mainly Dutch  Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It was so profoundly sad to see so many families on that list. So much unfulfilled potential, it was heartbreaking.

I looked for a name I could somehow find a connection with,and I did. Herman Wolff, his last known address was Landweringstraat 15,Sittard,the Netherlands. A street I would have passed by many times when I was working at Philips in Sittard and I actually had a friend who lived  in that same street.

This might sound strange but in a way I was glad to see his name on that list, because he was the only person mentioned for that address, so I presumed that if he had a family they would have survived.

list

But I was wrong, Herman’s whole family was killed.

Herman died in Auschwitz,  on 31 January 1944.His wife Rosette Wolff-Koopman died on September 3,1943 in Auschwitz. His son Isaac Wolff died on the same day as his Rosette, he was aged 14.

Herman and Rosette’s youngest son also died on September 3,1943 he was aged 7.Benjamin was born on August 11, 1936 and in good Dutch tradition his proud parents announced his birth in a local newspaper.

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It was a week before their 9th wedding anniversary.

A whole family wiped out because of some sick and twisted ideology , and to add insult to the suffering there in not even one person left to claim the insurance money owed to the family. After doing some research there doesn’t appear anyone of the Wolff or Koopman family left alive.

Herman was just one name on a list of thousands.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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Sources

https://stichting-sjoa.nl/?lang=en

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123056/herman-wolff

 

You could have been one of my teachers

Nathan

You only lived a few miles down the road from me.

You could have been my teacher.

You could have been my Doctor

You could have been my plumber.

You could have been the father of a girl friend

You could have been the uncle of my best friend.

You could have been a scientist who discovered the cure for cancer or dementia.

You could have been a baker who bakes lovely cakes.

You could have been a waiter in a bistro.

You could have been anything

But you became an object of hate for a sick regime.

They did not see as a human being

They did not see you fit for life.

They killed you in Auschwitz when you were just 3.

You could have been my teacher, in fact you are my teacher.

You have taught me that an innocent life means nothing to those who only seek destruction.

You taught me that there could be someone writing something similar about me, because it was just an accident of being born on a certain time in history. It could have been me.

You became a soul nearly forgotten, but not by me, never by me.

You are Nathan Herman Sassen born on  August 12  1940 in Sittard.

Murdered on September 24 in Auschwitz

 

 

 

Sittard & Geleen during WWII

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To most of you the names of these 2 towns will mean virtually nothing but it is where my roots are. I was born and raised in Geleen.

Sittard-Geleen  is a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It was formed in 2001 from the former municipalities Sittard, Geleen and Born.

The Netherlands was a neutral country, during WWI this neutrality had not been breached, however on the 10th of May 1940 the Germans breached the Dutch neutrality by invading the country.

Below are some pictures and stories of the period just before the start of WWII,during and after WWII of the Geleen Sittard regions and its surrounding villages.

Church wedding of a dutch Soldier in 1939 at the St Catharina Church,Grevenbicht. His comrades form a guard of honor.

bernardi03

 

Dutch soldiers on parade on the Market square in Sittard, shortly before the invasion. Dutch troops had been mobilized for the eventuality the Germans would invade

 

10th of May 1940. German occupying troops are taking a toilet break. On the background the Church of Sittard can be seen.

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German occupying forces on the Market square in Sittard, with the City Hall in the background.

German troops on Steenweg in Sittard  heading for the station

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In April 1941 it becomes compulsary for every Dutch citizen age 15 years and older to carry an ID card, as required by the German occupiers.The ID card would include address and finger prints of the ID holder.

This is the ID card of Anna, Barbara Augenbroe from Geleen.

augenbroepers

The Dutch resistance manufactured many false identification papers to save fellow resistance members or Jewish citizens.The papers below are from Viktor Handgriff, alias A.T.J. Boumans , a Jewish immigrant who lived in de Pesch straat in Geleen at the time.As far I am aware he survived the war and passed away in 1977.

 

 

prompen62

Friendly Fire

On October 5 1942 approximately 30 bombers of the RAF carried out a bombing raid between 21:55 and 23:10, killing 83 and severely injuring 22 other. Leaving about 3000 people homeless.

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/01/20/forgotten-history/

 

Warren Kappen.

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T/5 Warren R. Kappen, son of Robert E. and Mildred Patanude
Kappen, who was 24 years of age at the time of his death, was born March 28, 1920, at Unionville. He completed his 8th grade education and at the age of 14 went to Detroit to live. He was employed as a welder with Ceco Steel Co. when
he entered the army Nov. 26, 1941. He trained at battle Creek, at Fort Knox, Ky., and in Carolina before going to the African Theatre in 1942. In 1943 he went to England
and as part of the 67th Armored Regiment(Hell on Wheels), 2nd Armored Division went on to the European mainland with the first invasion.He died in Geleen on the 18th of September during the liberation of the town.

Monday Sept 18, the first American tanks drive in to Geleen and are cheered by an ecstatic crowd , Op de Vey.

After the war some of the German prisoners of War and especially the SS troops were made to work in the coal mine Staatsmijn Maurits in Geleen

These pictures are dared October 1948. They show SS officers on the way back from the mine to the POW camp, Graetheide,just outside Geleen.

Capture

 

graetheide

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/06/11/the-heroes-of-geleen-the-fallen/

 

 

 

 

4th of May-Honoring the Heroes.

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Every 4th of May at 20.00 PM, 2 minutes of silence is observed in the Netherlands to remember those who died in WWII and other military conflicts.

Today I want to honor those who died for my freedom. It is impossible to honor them all for there were so many. The ones I selected are buried only a few miles from where I was born in the War Cemetery of Sittard.

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The Fallen Hero

 

Thank you soldier for setting my country free.

You did not want to die but yet you gave your life.

It was for strangers you sacrificed yourself, who weren’t even family.

Your ambitions were cut short never again did you see your wife.

 

Thank you, young man to liberate my land.

Your youth stolen from you by a violent act of hate.

A picture of a young girl you held in your hand

The blood drenched battlefield sealed both your fate

 

Thank you proud parents for sending us your son.

The pain you feel is something I will never be able to comprehend

But know this your child did not die in vain, his memory will go on

Even if everyone else forgets, I will remember until my end.

Pvt John Bowles

Died Jan 23 1945 -Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), 6th Bn. Age 21

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Dennis Donnini

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Birth: Nov. 17, 1925. County Durham, England. Died Jan. 18, 1945,Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

World War II Victoria Cross Recipient. He received the award posthumously from British King George VI (presented to his father) at Buckingham Palace in London, England for his actions as a fusilier in the 4th/5th Battalion, Royal Scot Fusiliers, British Army on January 18, 1945 near Stein, Germany during Operation Blackcock in World War II. Born in Easington, Durham, England, his father emigrated from Italy during World war I and owned an ice cream shop and billiards establishment in Easington. During World War II he was placed in an internment camp because of his connection to a country that was at war with England. Shortly after his older brother was killed in combat in May 1944, he enlisted in the Royal Scot Fusiliers and following his training, he was sent to the European Theater of Operations where he was killed in combat at the age of 19 near Stein, Germany. His Victoria Cross citation reads: “In North-West Europe, on 18th January 1945, a Battalion of The Royal Scots Fusiliers supported by tanks was the leading Battalion in the assault of the German positions between the rivers Roer and Maas. This consisted of a broad belt of minefields and wire on the other side of a stream. As the result of a thaw the armour was unable to cross the stream and the infantry had to continue the assault without the support of the tanks. Fusilier Donnini’s platoon was ordered to attack a small village. As they left their trenches the platoon came under concentrated machine gun and rifle fire from the houses and Fusilier Donnini was hit by a bullet in the head. After a few minutes he recovered consciousness, charged down thirty yards of open road and threw a grenade into the nearest window. The enemy fled through the gardens of four houses, closely pursued by Fusilier Donnini and the survivors of his platoon. Under heavy fire at seventy yards range Fusilier Donnini and two companions crossed an open space and reached the cover of a wooden barn, thirty yards from the enemy trenches. Fusilier Donnini, still bleeding profusely from his wound, went into the open under intense close range fire and carried one of his companions, who had been wounded, into the barn. Taking a Bren gun he again went into the open, firing as he went. He was wounded a second time but recovered and went on firing until a third bullet hit a grenade which he was carrying and killed him. The superb gallantry and self-sacrifice of Fusilier Donnini drew the enemy fire away from his companions on to himself. As the result of this, the platoon were able to capture the position, accounting for thirty Germans and two machine guns. Throughout this action, fought from beginning to end at point blank range, the dash, determination and magnificent courage of Fusilier Donnini enabled his comrades to overcome an enemy more than twice their own number.” He was the youngest soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II.

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Major Magnus Vivian Gray

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Died January 22 1945. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

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Trooper Alfred Thomas Heath

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Birth:Dec. 26, 1924, Staffordshire, England. Died Nov. 21, 1944, Germany.Royal Armoured Corps

trooper

 

Gunner Robert R McCOLLESTER

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Birth 1940:Burnley, Died December 20,1944.Royal Horse Artillery.

gunner

Andrew Churchill

 

Birth unknown. Died February 6 1945. Gunner, Royal Artillery, 59 (Newfoundland) Heavy Regt. Age 32..

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Operation Blackcock-The battle of the Roer Triangle

roer_triangle_map

Operation Blackcock was a World War II military operation carried out by the 7th Armoured Division, the 43rd Wessex Division, and the 52nd Lowland Division, from the British 2nd Army, to clear the Roer Triangle formed by the towns of Roermond, Sittard and Heinsberg, near the Roer River, on the border between the Netherlands  and Germany, from January 14 to January 26, 1945.

wit_geschilderde_cromwell_tank_7th_armoured_division_tijdens_operation_blackcock

 

Operation Blackcock was planned and executed along three axis. The left axis, constituted by 7 Armourd Division, captured the bridge across the Roer in Sint Odiliënberg. The centre axis, formed by the 52nd Lowland Division, took Heinsberg. The right axis cleared the area south-east of Dremmen and was conducted by the 43rd Wessex Division. This axis would use the break in the German defense line that was to be created by the Lowland Division.

 

A turning point in Operation Blackcock was the battle for the Dutch village of Sint Joost. After four days of fighting the Germans were well aware that the armored division that was facing them relied heavily on the roads to maneuver their armored vehicles, especially due to poor winter conditions.

roerstjoost

The small village of Sint Joost was on the route of the 7th Armoured Division’s drive north towards Montfort. On January 20 in cold and misty weather infantry and cavalry units of the Desert Rats (7th Armoured Division) launched a vicious attack on two German companies of the 2nd battalion Fallschirmjäger Regiment Hübner in Sint Joost.

 

 

However, they were repelled after fierce fighting. In the end it would take several days and four attack waves to clear the village due to the tenacious defense put up by the German paratroopers. The final attack taking place on Sunday, January 21. In total, sixty Fallschirmjäger were taken prisoner.

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The 9th Durham Light Infantry and 1st Rifle Brigade had suffered heavy losses in Sint Joost. The “Durham’s” suffered 33 casualties, of which 8 were killed in action. The Rifle Brigade counted 34 casualties, of which 3 men from I Company were KIA. More than one hundred German soldiers were killed, most of them lying dead in the houses. Hübner had lost one whole Company and a second had been nearly destroyed.

During Operation Blackcock to clear the Roer Triangle, the Dutch village of Montfort was heavily bombed by Allied aircraft on seven occasions, and was hit by more than 100 bombs. Most of these fell in the center of the village. Nearly all of the 250 houses were damaged. Some houses were no more than ruins, and complete families were killed. The bombing raids that struck Montfort on January 21 and 22 were conducted by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 2nd Tactical Air Force, No. 83 Group, 143rd Wing.

montfort_mass_grave_monument

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