Utrechtseweg 232 6862 AZ Oosterbeek The Netherlands
NEWSLETTER No. 54, May 1994
Translated by Cathrien and Peter Clark
Representative in Great Britain: Mr. E.E. Shaw, 298 Totnes Road Paignton – Devon TQ4 7HD Tel. 0803-553616
From the editors
Regular reports are already appearing in the news media, both here and abroad, regarding the forthcoming commemorative events.
After the great remembrances of D-Day around the 6th of June in Normandy, attention will focus on operation Market-Garden.
Thousands of veterans and their family members will be coming to the Netherlands in September. But it is not only the days surrounding the 17th of the month which will be given over to the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem. The period of September 1944 will also be brought to life in the weeks prior to and following the 17th by means of exhibitions, lectures and the publication of new books, to mention but a few.
The next (August) edition of the Newsletter will be enlarged by the addition of a number of extra pages so as to include as much news as possible regarding the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem.
Walking excursion on Saturday 18 June next
This year the Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum’s excursion will, to a large extent, concentrate on the part played by the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment – Royal Artillery, after its three batteries had taken up their positions around the Old Church in Lower Oosterbeek. In addition, attention will be paid to the fighting which occurred in the Paasberg area.
The programme for this walking excursion, which will take place on Saturday 18 June next, is as follows: 10.30-11.30; reception with coffee at the Airborne Museum, a look at the new diorama of the 75mm Pack Howitzer in the museum cellar, followed by the division of the participants into groups.
At 11.30; departure of the groups for a walk to the Lower Village via the Paasberg.
At the Paasberg, Mr. J. Kardol will give a talk on the fighting which took place in this part of Oosterbeek, with emphasis on the role of the 21st Independent Parachute Company. From 12.30 pm;
LUNCH in the Concert Hall in the Lower Village. 13.30 hours; a short lecture about the artillery at Arnhem, given by Mr. W. Boersma.
From 14.00 hours; departure of the groups for a walk to the former positions of Nos. 1,2 and 3 batteries in the area of the Old Church.
An explanatory talk will be given at these positions by the guides, messrs C. van Roekel, H. Duinhoven and R. VoskuiL
From approximately 16.00 hours; the groups will return on foot to the Airborne Museum. Approximately 16.30 hours; conclusion of the excursion.
The total length of the route is about 3.5 km and the walk will go ahead whatever the weather. Adequate rainwear should therefore be taken. Chris van Roekel will lead the excursion and the cost for participating is 27.50 guilders. For this sum you get a cup of coffee on arrival at the Airborne Museum, lunch in the Concert Hall and an excursion guide. The number of participants will be limited to around a hundred with applications to take part being handled on a first come first served basis. Closing date for enrolment is the 4th of June.
On the occasion of the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem, the wine importers Briinning from Bemmel have brought a special ‘Airborne Wine’ onto the market.
Part of the profit from the sale of this wine is destined for the Airborne Museum. When the wine was presented on the 17th of March last, Mr. Briinning handed over the first thousand guilders for the museum renovation.
The wine is available at liquor stores in Arnhem, Oosterbeek and Ede, and at the Airborne Museum. The cost is 8.95 guilders per bottle.
Accommodation sought for veterans
As you know, a record number of veterans wishing to attend the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem is expected here next September. The ‘Lest We Forget’ foundation, which takes care of the reception of the pilgrims, estimates the number to be at least three thousand.
A lot of people have already offered accommodation but many more lodgings are still needed. Should you be able to offer accommodation to veterans and members of their family next September, just ring 08380-19239 or 085-437938.
Exhibition September 1944
From Thursday 8 September up to and including Thursday 27 October 1994, an exhibition will be held in Renkum town hall, Oosterbeek to do with the Battle of Arnhem.
The Renkum Municipal Archives Department, in collaboration with the Arnhem Archives Department and the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’, is putting together an exhibition of photographs taken by civilians in September 1944.
The compilers are looking for photos that were not necessarily taken in Arnhem, Oosterbeek or Driel but, of course, do have a connection with the battle. The photos could be something like; Germans on the way to the battle area, wounded being transported to the hospitals, Airborne soldiers or aircrew from transport or fighter aircraft shot down over the battle zone, who are in hiding or have been taken prisoner. Because it seems that even now, previously unknown photographs often come to light which have been kept somewhere in attics, drawers or wallets, the exhibition compilers make this appeal to the readers of this Newsletter.
If you think that you can help in one or other way, by making a temporary loan of photos or perhaps with a relevant tip, please don’t hesitate to contact the Renkum Municipal Archivist, Geert Maassen, PO Box 9100, 6860 HA, Oosterbeek, telephone 085-348303 (during office hours), or 085-340142 (evenings).
A short time ago the biography ‘Urquhart of Arnhem, The Life of Major-General R.E. Urquhart C.B. D.S.O.’, written by John Baynes, appeared in the bookshops.
General Urquhart’s name has become most famous because of his role in the Battle of Arnhem. Seven of the 22 chapters in Baynes’ book deal, therefore, with September 1944. Nevertheless, the other periods of his life also provide historically interesting reading. Urquhart spent 34 years of his life in the army. He began his military career as a young officer in the Highland Light Infantry and thereafter served in India in 1938 and 1939.
During the Second World War, and before being appointed commander of the 1st British Airborne Division, he was among other things a staff officer with the famous 51st Highland Division from the Battle of El Alamein up to the end of the fighting in the North African desert. Following this he commanded a Brigade in Sicily and Italy.
At the beginning of the fifties he played an important part in the battle against Communist terrorists in the then British Malaya. His last function was that of commander of British troops in Austria.
He ended his military service in 1955 and held an important position in the British steel industry up until 1969. Urquhart died on 13 December 1988.
This hardback book, which is in English, comprises 272 pages and is published by Brassey’s, London – New York, ISBN 0-008-041318-8. Because of the extremely high post and package charges the book will not be available for purchase from the Airborne Museum.
Unknown soldier identified
Shortly after the Battle of Arnhem, Mr. AJ. Gieling from Oosterbeek was ordered, along with other civilians, to bury dead British soldiers alongside the Utrecht-Arnhem railway line, to the north of Oosterbeek-Hoog railway station.
Among the dead was an officer. All personal possessions had to be handed over to the SS, but Mr. Gieling took the opportunity of hiding a gold and diamond brooch, photograph and Pay Book, all of which he had found on the officer’s body. In the end only the brooch survived the Second World War, and later Mr. Gieling presented this to the Airborne ‘ Museum.
After the liberation, two soldiers and a lieutenant from the Parachute Regiment could not be identified from this mass grave at the Dreijenseweg. They were interred in the Airborne Cemetery in Plot 6 row B under headstones 18,19 and 20. ‘
Registered as missing on the Groesbeek Memorial is: WATLING Stanley E„ Lieutenant, 301782 BEM 28 years, 19 September 1944,156th Battalion The ” Parachute Regiment. Major R.L.J. Pott, the then commander of A Company of the 156th Battalion,
states that Lt. Watling was mortally wounded to the east of the Dreijenseweg.
In 1992 the brooch was recognised by Lt. Watling’s widow, and on the 31st of October that year I asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission if they would carry out an investigation to see whether the Lieutenant in grave 6.B.19 could be the missing Stanley E. Watling.
It was made known last December that, based on the well founded evidence, everything pointed to this being the case. At the beginning of January it was a great surprise to find that the grave had already been provided with a new headstone bearing the inscription, ‘Believed to be’, at the top.
Mrs. Watling was extremely grateful that the matter had been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. She wrote, ‘It is a great comfort to know that the most precious person in my life now lies at rest among his friends’.
This heartening result was achieved through the close cooperation of the following gentlemen; Mr. AJ. Gieling, Mr. H. Tiemens, Mr. W. Tiemens, Major Pott and Mr. H.L. Roell.
Where was this photo taken? Information requested
Although it is known where most of the photographs of the Battle of Arnhem were taken, there are nevertheless still a few where the location remains a mystery.
The photo published in this Newsletter was taken by the AFPU photographer Smith on 19 September 1944, and shows supplies being dropped from Stirling bombers. Smith probably took the photo in the western part of Oosterbeek.
Special commemorative stamps available
On the occasion of the 50th commemoration of operation Market-Garden, the Dutch ‘Ermnofilie’ Society (a society which specialises in the issue of commemorative stamps, envelopes etc) will be issuing a number of commemorative stamps. These are not postage stamps but real ‘commemorative stamps’. In addition the society will be bringing out a small number of special commemorative envelopes which will be franked and bear the Market-Garden stamp.
Information regarding these issues and subscription forms can be obtained from the Airborne Museum, telephone 085-337710.
Obituary: Lieutenant Wolters
According to the obituary announcement in the Dutch daily newspaper the NRC/Handelsblad of last April the 8th, Arnoldus Wolters passed away, aged 81, ‘after a trying old-age’.
Wolters fled to Great Britain following the German invasion in 1940.
As a Lieutenant 1st Class in the Royal Netherlands Navy, he landed by glider to the west of Reijerskamp near Wolfheze on the first day of operation Market- Garden. Had the airborne operation succeeded, he was to have been assistant to the town commandant of Arnhem as a Military Commissioner on behalf of the Dutch Military Authorities.
In the end he operated as an interpreter and interrogator of prisoners-of-war. He also established how reliable the civilians were. He accompanied Graeme Warrack, the divisional doctor, to Arnhem to arrange the evacuation of British wounded with the Germans, a perilous task for a Dutchman.
So convinced was he of victory, he took a teddy-bear with him from England as a present for his child, who had remained behind in the Netherlands. When he managed to escape across the Rhine during the night of 25 September 1944, the bear went back with him.
He ended his career as Chief Commissioner of Polite in Rotterdam. Wolters visited the museum at the opening in 1978 as well as on a number of occasions later.
The modest account of his experiences in September 1944 is lodged in the museum’s archives.
The Poles of Driel
An action has been in progress since April 1993 in which the distributers and sellers of the book ‘De Polen van Driel’ (‘The Poles of Driel’) collect money for the renovation of the Airborne Museum. Each copy of the publication sold produces 5 guilders for this worthy aim.
Up to last January 135 copies had been sold, and in view of this success those involved (including the Oosterbeek bookshops Romijn and Meijer & Siegers, and not forgetting our society) have decided provisionally to continue with the action. The book will be for sale at the reduced price of 25 guilders up until the end of this year.
The 152 page book, which contains many photos, mainly tells (in Dutch) the story of the part played by the soldiers of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group in the Battle of Arnhem.
After 1 December 1994 this standard work, which was written by our member George F. Cholewczynski, will cost 30 guilders.
Schools project in a new guise
It goes without saying that the museum renovation also has consequences for the set-up of the schools project, which has been run by the Friends Society on behalf of the museum for many years. During these years, thousands of children have been made aware of the events in 1944 through this project.
The introduction section of the project has been modified and will be offered to the pupils in a new way. The intention is that each class or group will be split up into workgroups, each being given a special assignment. Preparatory work will be done at school with the aid of reading material.
In the museum the groups take the dioramas as the starting point of their visit, since these give the best impression of the reality. Following this, the parts of the collection associated with the subject are visited and steered by means of assignments. The new video films will play a role here. The pupils are then given the time to visit the whole museum.
Back at school the teacher now has at his disposal a number of groups, each with different information. It is then the intention to exchange experiences through mutual discussions. The knowledge thus obtained can then be used for the actual set task.
The Society has a folder available for all participants which includes an exceptional aerial photograph of the Rhine bridge at Arnhem, taken in November 1944. Because so many schools are expected this year the Society has ordered 4,000 such folders.
Thanks to a generous gesture by our printer, Linders- Adremo from Oosterbeek, we have received the photo sheets with photographs of the Battle of Arnhem as a gift!
In the meantime the first groups have already been in touch, most probably including a group of more than 1,000 English schoolchildren who will be here in July. An English version of the project is available for this. At the same time a start will be made this year on the reception of pupils with special learning needs.
Should there be any among you who could offer a helping hand, particularly with the large English group, you would be most welcome. You can contact C. van Roekel, telephone 085-333261.
Human remains unidentified
Lieutenant H. Jongen of the Royal Netherlands Army Burials Unit recently announced that the remains of an unknown British soldier will shortly be re¬interred in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. The remains were found by the Sonnenberglaan in Oosterbeek and exhumed in January 1991, Unfortunately no skull was found, thus making identification difficult. Because of this and other things, it was only possible to ascertain that it concerned a soldier of the Royal Engineers.