Today in History

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1 month ago

On September 20th, after days of heavy fighting, the surrounded British paras at Arnhem bridge have to finally surrender.
Lack of ammo, heavy losses and no hope of help coming soon makes it impossible to fight on.
Other troops in the surrounding areas are also taking heavy loses and are now retreating behind the rivers.
Getting out as many man as possible is now the priority.

The allies have come far, liberating big pieces of The Netherlands in the proces, but failing to reach Arnhem bridge means the plan has failed.
The hope of crusing Germany before the end of the year is crused itself .
It has become obvious that the expected collaps of german resistance isn't happening, at least for now.

One other consequence of this failed attack is that it's now absolutely neacessary to clear the Westerschelde banks of german troops, an operation that won't be easy.

Planning has allready begun , but the germans have plans of their own. Several polders have been inundated , forcing attackers to cling to the dikes as all other terrain has flooded.
This enabled the german defenders to concentrate their forces on these accespoints.

Altough operation Market-Garden didn't lead to capturing the Arnhem bridge it did lead to big parts of the Netherlands being liberated.
In respect for the sacrifice that the paras made, the ,new, Arnhem bridge that was build after the war is called the John Frost bridge, after the commanding officer of the paras who fought and died in Arnhem.

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1 month ago

The Battle of Arnhem bridge may be lost but big parts of The Netherlands were liberated.
The allies are putting an end to operation Market-Garden and many high ranking officers are looking to put the blame on anyone.
Fact is that the plan was over ambitious and ill prepaired.
However, 1 big plus is that a crossing over the river Meuse was taken and held.

Meanwhile, The Netherlands was virtually cut in half and in the still occupied northern half the situation for the Dutch people is getting worse .
The Dutch gouvernement in exile had ordered a general strike at the railways, which had been runnig fairly well up till now, when Market-Garden started.
In retalliation the Germans blocked the transport of food and coal. This combined with the loss of the Dutch coalmines in the south, led to fuel shortiges.

Reaching furter north into the Netherlands wasn't a priority as it had no real strategic purpose other than cutting of a part of the german army.
The south-west however was a priority as Antwerp harbour was desperatly needed.
Preperations for the attacks are nearing completion.

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1 month ago

In the last couple of weeks the main focus of the allies has shifted from the battle of Arnhem to freeing the Westerschelde from german occupation, thus making the Port of Antwerp usable.

Several actions have been going on , amongst those: bombing the so called " Breskens pocket".
This was the erea around the small , Dutch, fishing port alled Breskens.
This town was of vital
importance, as it garded the acces to the delta.
The german army had made heavy fortifications here and the bombardement was intended to ease up the way for the Canadian forces asigned to taking this pocket.
The airforce attacked the harbour but unfortunately many bombs fell into residential ereas.
This was worsend by the fact that the leaflets, spread earlier, which warned for the attack where dropped elswhere.
This resulted in over 180 deaths, a defastating number in this small community.

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1 month ago

Vox, I'm really enjoying these posts from the Dutch perspective.

Can't wait to see what happens next... will the allies win? Will the Germans launch a counter offensive and send the allies back over the channel. I'm on the edge of my seat. :lol:
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1 month ago

:cool2:

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1 month ago

Canadian troops are still attacking on the northern banks of the Westerschelde river. Progress on the heavely defended, inundated terrain is painfully slow and costely. Today , Oktober 13 th , is a particularly sad day. The Black Watch, a batalion of the Canadian 5th infantry brigade took so much losses it almost cheased to exist and today came to be known as "Black Friday".
However, slowly, but surely, the allies fought their way towards Woensdrecht.
This village was the key to entering the Zuid-Beveland and Walcheren peninsula, which formed the northern bank of the Westerschelde. This also means that the german army has more and more trouble getting suplies to de defending troops.

In the South-Eastern province of Limburg the Allies are also still making progress and, save some of the most Northern parts, the province is almost completely liberated. These last villages will be taken in the coming few days , making Limburg the first province to be completely liberated.

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3 weeks ago

Canadian forces have taken Woensdrecht en Hoogerheide, two villages which guarded the entrence to the Zuid-Beveland peninsula.
During the fighting both villages are virtually destroyed.

The fight for Zuid-Beveland and the Island of Walcheren ( which are connected via a dam) prommises to become a nightmare, even fewer and narrower roads,more water ways, more landmines and heavy fortifications towards the dam will cost the allies many losses.

At this moment, the battle for the german city of Aachen is nearing it's end. Aachen will be the first major German city to fall in allied hands. The fighting in the streets has been fierce but lighter then expected. This gave the , false, impression that the fighting spirit of the german army was deteriorating, an impression that was soon crushed when the allies entered the Hurtgenwald, a extended forrest region South-East of Aachen.
Not only did the natural features of this region heavely favored the defending force , there was also the Siegfried line or Westwall, many fortifications and even more anti tank measures, which severly limited the allied armour.

In Aachen, the allies started with the denazification proces and removed anyone suspected of nazi symphaties from the civil services.
Franz Oppenhof became the new mayor but , as a sign that the nazi terror wasn't over yet , he was murdered by a , so called , Werwolf gruppe, a special ss
commando.
Actions like this fuelled fears of widespread terror attacks and rumors of large numbers of these ss groups lead the western allies to give more priority towards getting to Southeren germany and the Alps as the fear rises that large ammounts of ss forces will build up a massive resistance force which could prolonge the war considerably.
This leads to the Russians getting much faster to Berlin and , in the aftermath of the war , the isolation of West-Berlin.

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2 weeks ago

Since October 24 th, allied troops are attacking across the Zuid-Beveland peninsula. They are approaching the canal which is heavely fortified and promises to be a formidable hurdle.
The decision is made to make two amphibious attacks , further West and bypassing the canal, thus splitting the german forces .
After this attack , german resistance crumbled and the Allies moved relativly quick towards the Sloedam. This dam was the only connection between Zuid-Beveland and the island of Walcheren, the last piece of land along the Westerschelde controlled by the germans.
This would be the hardest nut to crack.
The terrain along the dam was to muddy for landforces but to shallow for amphibious attacks.
Since the beginning of October over the Allied airforces made over 600 sorties in Walcheren to weaken the defences.
This included the bombing of the outher (sea) dikes which sounds weird as it would flood large parts of land and the germans had used this earlier as a defencive measure.
However , on Walcheren , which looks like a saucer in cross section, it made sense as the water would become deep enough to use amphibious equipment.
Unfortunally, flooding the island also meant many civilian casualties.

This decision would also come back to haunt the Netherlands a decade later. After the german defeat the dikes where hastely repeared, but lack of materials and equipment leeds to weeker dikes than normal and lack of money after the war prevents the strenghtening of the dikes.
On a stormy night in Februari 1953 the dikes give way trougout the SouthWestern part of the Netherlands and Walcheren is hit particularly hard.
In total nearly 1900 people will lose their lives and many more their homes and livelyhoods.

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1 week ago

The allies have made several amphibious landings on different parts of Walcheren and are slowly but surely taking ground, in spite of stuborn german resistance.
The defeat is inevetable but german moral is unbroken.

On other places in the Southern parts of the Netherlands village after village is slowly liberated. Not slow because of heavy german resistance but of low priority, man and material are still an issue and will be until the Westerschelde is free.

At this time the American army is tight up in heavy fighting in the Heurtgenforrest near Aachen. Perticulary the fighting near the village of Schmidt is proving brutal.
Heavy artillery and mortar fire are taking heavy casualties, made worse by the terrain. The standard drill under this kind of fire is to get flat on the ground, however, due to the many trees the shells go off higher up and heavy and sharp pieces of wood would add to the schrapnel.
"Hughing the trees" proved the best thing to do.
The 28th Infantery devision took so many losses it became known as
"The Bloody Buckett" .
One of the reasons for the heavy resistance of this , otherwise unimportant ,village is a plan that the germans are preparing which will prove to be a nasty surprise for the allies.

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1 week ago

On the 8th of November the last pockets of resistance are silenced and the complete island of Walcheren is taken by Canadian forces.
This opens the way for allied forces to start cleaning the Westerschelde from obstacles and mines.
It will take some time to complete this but on the 28th the first convoy of ships will bring it's cargo into Antwerp harbour.

This battle is considered by experts to be among the hardest fought by the western allies, due to the terrain and extraordinary german resistance.
Still, the errea around Antwerp gets one last hit from the germans, heavy bombardements with V2 rockets will take many casualty's. In fact, Antwerp was hit with more V2's than any other target in the war, even more than London.

The ending of this battle also concluded the last major battle fought in the Netherlands for a significant time, as mentioned before, the Netherlands weren't a priority as they lay to the north-east of the main route into the german industrial heartland of the Rurh .

Basically , the allies fight on to the North until they hit one of the big rivers and consolidate, leaving the parts of the Netherlands above the great rivers to the germans, at least for now.
1 rectification: earlier I said that Limburg was the first province to be liberated completely, this is not so. A small part in the North-east didn't get liberated for some time. It is the province of North-Brabant that was the first , completly, liberated province.
(North-Brabant is called thus to distinguish it from Brabant, which is now in Belgium . )

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