And Ede was ours
Part of a War diary:
A troop under captain J.W. Rainey of C squadron
the crest, advanced to the factories and punched holes
walls. Wasp flamethrowers followed, sweeping slit
trenches and the interior of buildings. In some cases,
enemy MG’s fired to the last. Some attempted to escape,
were captured or cut down by an A squadron troop under
Lieutenant Maltby who waited for them in the rear. From
this time on, resistance rapidly collapsed. A squadron
entered the south part of town, shot up a barracks, took
the station and cleaned out the southern half of town by
13.10. C squadron entered from the north and Ede was
ours. At 1413 the squadron returned and found a harbour
on the Eastern edge of town. C squadron committed the
error of harbouring in the main square, where hundreds
of ecstatically happy civilians cheered, climbed on the
tanks, which made normal work impossible. These
civilians were happy bur their faces were stamped with
the mark of malnutrition or downright starvation.
The nightmare was over
liberation of Arnhem must have been a perplexing
experience for the allies. The city had been completely
vacated after the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944.
The entire population had been evacuated leaving behind
a ghost town with empty houses, streets and squares.
Only the people who lived in the Geitenkamp district on
a hill far from the town centre were allowed to remain.
Bombarding commenced on April 12th under Canadian
command, heralding the liberation.
Several hundreds of Germans were still spread over the
city. On April 14th, after a few days of combat, the
English 49th West Riding Division under the command of
the 1st Canadian Army Corps, marched into the city.
Arnhem was liberated.
However the entry was not the same as elsewhere in the
Netherlands. No rejoicing people and no
red-white-and-blue flags. Instead, ravaged houses and
desolate, empty city in which practically no house stood
undamaged and whose inhabitants were far away, totally
unaware of the situation at home. There were only the
people of Geitenkamp to give the liberators a warm
They had been in the line of fire and had spent many
frightening hours in air-raid shelters. Now the
nightmare was over and they could resume their normal
The other people of Arnhem gradually returned in the
ensuing months from their evacuation addresses. Five
months passed before all were home.
The city was liberated, but the citizens of Arnhem were
unable to hail their liberators.
“The village of widows and orphans”.
Liberationday in Putten
Len Wech was one of the Canadian liberators of our
village. In 1997, when he was in Putten for the
unveiling of a small monument for his comrades, who were
killed in action at that specific spot, he told me that
nowhere had his platoon such a big fight as with the
liberation of our village. They started their advance in
1943 in Italy.
On April 18th Putten was liberated. This village, where
a Wehrmacht-car was attacked by a resistancegroup, gave
the German occupier a reason to take reprisals against
the municipality of Putten.
601 men were deported to the concentrationcamp
Neuengamme near Hamburg.
After the war Putten received the name: “The village of
widows and orphans”.
The Westminster Regiment wanted to penetrate the German
lines and reach the coastline of the Ysselmeer as soon
as possible, to cut off the flyroute of the German
soldiers to Amsterdam.
What they did not know, was that the German general
Blaskowitz – wellknown of the capitulation in Wageningen
on the 5th of May 1945 – had his temporary headquarters
in Putten. For that reason the opposition of the Germans
was much stronger than the Canadians had expected.
Twelve of the seventeen Canadian tanks were eliminated.
The first tank that arrived at the coastline was the one
of captain Snell. Due to this action the Netherlands
actually were divided into two parts.
Major Hoskin of the Westminster Regiment even put his
big toe in the cold water of the Ysselmeer: “Not because
I needed it, but just for the record”.
After the arrival of the tanks of the 8tth Hussars in
Putten, the inhabitants poured out into the streets.
From the spire of the Old Church the Dutch flag was
hoisted after so many years. Shortly afterwards this
example was followed by many civilians.
Many boys and girls climbed on the Canadian tanks and
embraced their liberators. Some of the people gave
presents to the soldiers. In return they handed out
biscuits, chocolates and cigarettes.
When Robert Ashton’s tank of the 8th Hussars drove into
the Poststraat, a tragic accident happened in this
street. Ashton bowed to reach for more cigarettes.
Accidentally he touched the trigger, which was unlocked.
The machinegun fired. Two women, mrs Bedijn and Akke
Schotanus, a young woman from Friesland, were killed
Robert Ashton regretted this incident severely. Every
year on April 18th he gave the order – and the money –
to lay down a wreath on mrs Bedijn’s grave. (Akke
Schotanus was reburied in Friesland a short time after
Till 1995, 50 years after the liberation of the
Netherlands he showed his compassion with this victim of
the liberation of Putten.
E. H. de Graaf
Alderman in Putten
The long and difficult road to Walcheren
liberation of Goes.
Goes was liberated as part of the allied operations
Vitality I and II, Switch Back and Infatuate, intended
to liberate Walcheren from the German oppression.
Zeeuws-Vlaanderen was liberated in September and October
and the harbour of Antwerp had also fallen undamaged
into the hands of the allies. When Walcheren and
Zuid-Beveland were to be liberated, this harbour could
be used to supply allied goods. Several Canadian
military units, among which the Regiment de Maisonneuve
and the Black Watch, participated in the operations.
They arrived in eastern Zuid-Beveland via Woensdrecht on
October 2nd, 1944. Because of stiff resistance on the
part of the Germans, Rilland could not be liberated
until October 25th, but then things moved quickly,
helped by the landing operation of the allies at
Baarland and Hoedekenskerke in the night of October