VVAM Newsletter 63 – 1996
Newsletter No. 63, August 1996
From the editors
You may have noticed that the previous Newsletter dropped onto your doormat much later in the season than is normally the case. One of the reasons; shortly before Number 62 was due to be printed, thieves broke into the printers’ premises and removed all the computer equipment. This seriously hampered production, including that of our Newsletter. We apologise for the delay on behalf of the printers.
Without doubt you will also have noticed that not all photos were provided with the correct captions; in the Dutch edition some sentences appeared in the wrong places. This bungling was entirely due to the woeful lack of attention-to-detail on our part, for which we also apologise.
Exhibition about The Glider Pilot Regiment
Friday 7 June 1996 saw the opening in the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ of the exhibition ‘No Engines, gliders and glider pilots before and during the Battle of Arnhem’. The official opening ceremony was carried out by Brigadier M.D.K. Dauncey DSO, a section commander in ‘G’ Squadron The Glider Pilot Regiment in September 1944.
The exhibition provides a summary of the history of the British Glider Pilot Regiment, the training of pilots, the various types of glider, the airborne operations in which gliders were used and the fate of the gliders after they were no longer used for operations.
There is a huge collection of photographs to be seen as well as a beautiful model of a Hamilcar glider, personal possessions from various glider pilots, uniforms and pieces of equipment.
Some 600 Horsa, Hamilcar and Waco gliders landed at Arnhem in September 1944 and, sadly, not a single example has survived. For the most part they were set on fire by the Germans both during and following the Battle of Arnhem. After landing the glider pilots were also useable as infantry, and during the battle were to be found everywhere, engaged in the fighting. Because of tills the Glider Pilot Regiment paid a very heavy price. Approximately 1300 men from the regiment landed at Arnhem. Of these 229 lost their lives.
Friends’ Society member Luuk Buist from Oosterbeek has provided many of the items in the exhibition. Luuk began collecting material about the Glider Pilot Regiment 20 years ago and has become an expert on the subject.
The ‘No Engines’ exhibition continues in the Airborne Museum until 3 November 1996.
Friday 7 June 1996, Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ in Oosterbeek. Brigadier Dauncey and his wife view the ‘No Engines’ exhibition under the approving eye of Luuk Buist
(photo: Berry de Reus)
Before, during and after the Battle of Arnhem, British and American reconnaissance aircraft took hundreds of aerial photographs of the battle area. These photographs were taken perpendicularly and care was taken to ensure that each photo overlapped the next in the sequence by about 60%. This was necessary for viewing the photos stereoscopically later on. Slides have recently been made from 21 stereo sets and these can now be viewed using a special cabinet-mounted stereo viewer. The equipment was built by Mr H. de Wijs from Vianen. The cabinet and viewer were financed by the Friends’ Society and were officially handed over to the Airborne Museum Trust on 26 July 1996. Amsterdam stereo photographer W. van Keulen, who produced the reproductions from selected stereo photographs, was present at the ceremony and gave an introduction into this unusual form of photography.
Powell gives his ‘smock’ to the Airborne Museum
Geoffrey Powell, commander of ‘C’ Company, 156 Parachute Battalion in September 1944, has presented the Airborne Museum with his original parachutists’ jacket, the ‘Denison smock’. At the same time he handed over a letter written to himself by Brigadier Hackett from the latter’s underground address in Ede. The letter contained news of officers left behind after the battle and asked Powell to take care of recommendations for decorations. It was smuggled back across the Rhine to allied lines during Operation Pegasus 1. Major Powell was the only 156 Parachute Battalion company commander to escape across the Rhine during the night of 25/26 September 1944.
Obituary: Hans Deerenberg
Hans Deerenberg, one of the Airborne Museum volunteers who assisted behind the cash-desk for more than twelve years, passed away on 26 May 1996 following a serious illness. He was absolutely correct and unflappable. Under circumstances in which others would resort to panic – power failures, false fire alarms, the arrival of four unexpected coachloads of visitors (always Brits) – Hans would remain controlled and calm.
His cremation service was attended by many, many mourners, a wonderful tribute. We shall never forget him and will always be grateful to him.
Obituary: Major-General Eric Mackay
We have received news of the death at the end of December last year of Major-General Eric Mackay at the age of 73. Captain E.M. Mackay commanded ‘A’ Troop 1st Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers in September 1944. He and his men fought in two buildings on the east side of the northern ramp of the Rhine bridge in Arnhem. At the end of the battle he was taken prisoner by the Germans, but escaped after just one day in captivity.
bi front of the De Bilderberg hotel in Oosterbeek Major- Genernl Eric Mackay poses with a copy of his booklet ‘Whoa Mahomet’ during the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem in September 1994.
(photo: Robert Voskuil)
Immediately following his return to allied lines Mackay put his experiences down on paper, as he put it: ‘for my family and for the soldiers with whom I fought’. This story appeared in ‘Blackwoods Magazine’, a Scottish publication, in October 1945 under the title ‘The Battle of Arnhem Bridge’. A Dutch translation was made later and this was published as a booklet in 1947 entitled ‘Whoa Mahomet, De Strijd om de Rijnbrug’.
Eric Mackay was present at the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem in September 1994. One of the Newsletter’s editors took the opportunity of interviewing him then, and the accompanying photo was taken at the same time.
Purchase of material
Financial assistance from the Friends’ Society has enabled the Airborne Museum to purchase a number of pieces of equipment and documents from the collection of veteran and former ‘Airborne Battle Guide’ Henry McAnelly. This material has been on long-term loan to the museum since 1978.
New storage space ready
The new storage space under the museum’s front balcony, which has been the subject of intensive activity over the last few months, is now ready. This increases the museum’s storage area by 70 square metres. The building work and equipping were partially financed by the Friends’ Society.
Background painting added to diorama
A small background painting has been placed in a former window in the signal corps diorama in the cellar of the Hartenstein museum. This creates the impression that one is looking out of the cellar onto the Utrechtseweg. As in the other dioramas, this painting was made by Arnhem artist Huub Milder. Part of the project cost was met by the Friends’ Society.
One of our members, Peter Clark from Deurne, is compiling a guide to the monuments to the Battle of Arnhem in the Renkum/Arnhem area, and in England. He would like to hear from anyone who has any information whatsoever on such monuments, in particular on the instigator(s), the designer, when the unveiling took place, where and by whom. Photographs of the unveilings and other details would also be most welcome.
The address for contact is; /Deltasingel 46, 5751 SM, Deurne, tel. 0493-310502, fax. 0493-321411.
A further excursion to Hamminkeln
On 27 May 1995 the Friends’ Society organised an excursion to the area around Hamminkeln in Germany where the 6th British Airborne Division landed on 24 March 1945 as part of the allied ‘Rhine Crossing’ operations.
Documentation Group ’40 – ’45 is organising another excursion to Hamminkeln, scheduled for Saturday 5 October next. In broad terms the programme will be the same as that for the SFAM’s trip in 1995 (see Newsletter no. 58). As on the previous occasion, Mr Johann Nitrowski will lead the excursion.
Knowing that some people were unable to make last year’s trip, Society members are now being offered the opportunity of joining the Documentation Group’s excursion, assuming that there are places available.
One can apply for a place on the excursion up until the closing date for applications of 16 September. Those whose applications are not accepted due to oversubscription will be informed in good time.
Further information is available from W. Boersma, tel.
Culemborg, 1996 (week 30). Under the supervisory eyes of the chairman and secretary of the Police Sports Association Renkum, P. Vos and H. Boers respectively, and before the camera of Joop Bal, ‘one of the assistants from the very beginning’ Ben van Zanten strikes the first special medal for the coming 50th Airborne Walk.
(photo: Berry de Reus)
‘Gezichten van de Slag I Faces of Arnhem’
An exhibition entitled ‘Gezichten van de Slag / Faces of Arnhem – portraits and personal details of British, Germans and Poles in September 1944′ opened in Oosterbeek town hall on 22 August last. It is in three parts.
1. Philip Reinders and Peter Vrolijk, who together form the Arnhem Battle Research Group, have selected unusual items from their extensive and interesting collection for display. The selection mainly consists of pictures (portraits and photographs) and documents with personal data and experiences of boys and men who fought in the Arnhem/Oosterbeek area some 50 years ago. Pieces of equipment and other objects, some of them extremely rare, are also being exhibited (for the first time).
2. Hans and Dick Timmerman and David van Buggenum show how their searches of former battlefields with metal detectors are prepared and carried out, plus the results of these searches. The most important and unusual finds of the last two years are on show.
3. The Renkum Municipal Archives are exhibiting previously unpublished German photographs that came to light some time ago in the State Archives in Koblenz. The unknown photographer took pictures of German soldiers in action in the Dreyenseweg area (De Leeren Doedel – Oosterbeek-Hoog station). They bring over aspects of combat in a starkly realistic way. The exhibition is open on workdays from 9 am ’til 5 pm and runs until 24 September 1996.
When the call goes out for volunteers to pack, address and sort the Newsletters we are never disappointed. The photo shows four of these ‘silent workers behind the scenes’ in the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’: (left to right) Willem de Ruyter, Jan Smits, Cees Wichhart and Mieke de Langen. (photo: Chris van Roekel, 23 January 1996)
Pegasus Walk,26 October 1996
The thirteenth Pegasus Walk will be held in Lunteren on Saturday 26 October 1996.
The walk is intended to commemorate Operation Pegasus 1 in the night of 22/23 October 1944 in which 150 allied servicemen, in hiding after the Battle of Arnhem, managed to escape across the Rhine with the aid of the Dutch resistance.
Video documentary of fifty years of Airborne Walks
On Saturday 7 September 1996, the fiftieth Airborne Walk will be held in Oosterbeek.
This jubilee will be marked by the making of a video documentary. The video will provide an impression of the background and history of this, the largest day- walk in Europe, and will include historical film material.
Bal Bedrijfsvideo in Oosterbeek has been working for some time now on the preparations for this film.
One of the many preparations for the fiftieth Airborne Walk was the striking of a special medal in Culemborg, an event which Joop Bal got down on tape.
The film, which will be available for sale at the end of September, will last about 45 minutes and will cost 37.5 guilders including postage and packing. Part of the profits will go to the ‘Lest We Forget’ Trust which assists old campaigners who are financially unable to attend the annual commemoration.
The film can be ordered from Bal Bedrijfsvideo, Rozensteeg 1, 6862 DH, Oosterbeek, tel. 026-3340719.
If you have photographs or films of previous Airborne Walks and would be happy to make them available to the makers of the documentary, please contact them at the above address.
Monument to Baskeyfield VC
Mr Th. Peelen from Rheden informs us that there are plans afoot to erect a monument to Lance-Sergeant Jack Baskeyfield VC in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
Baskeyfield (2nd Bn, The South Staffordshire Regiment) was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his action at the Acacialaan in Oosterbeek on 20 September 1944 during which several German tanks and/or self-propelled guns were destroyed.
It is presumed that he was killed on that day, and his grave has never been found.
A sum of 37,500 pounds will be required for the setting up of this monument in Baskeyfield’s home town and various activities are being undertaken to raise this money.
One of these is the sale of a special commemorative plate depicting Baskeyfield’s action. The plate costs 20 pounds plus 3 pounds postage and packing. For information on ordering from the Netherlands contact our member Alex Junier, Van Hogendorpstraat 76, 2515 NW, Den Haag, tel. 070-3893862.
New museum in Deelen
A small museum was opened in a building on the ‘kop van Deelen’ on Friday 7 June 1996. Its central theme is the air war over the Netherlands during the period 1940-1945. The opening ceremony was performed by Mr R.J.E.M. Zinnick Bergmann, who served as a Typhoon pilot with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War (see Ministory 28, October 1990).
The museum’s exhibits include many interesting pieces of wreckage from allied and German aircraft shot down during the war. Most of this wreckage has been excavated over the years from the Betuwe area by the Dutch Aircraft Examination Group (DAEG), which also cares for the conservation and description of the finds. Besides aircraft parts there is also a large collection of airmen’s personal belongings to be seen. The museum also covers the history of Deelen airfield, which was developed into an important Luftwaffe base following the German invasion in May 1940.
The museum is located in the old NCO’s mess (building 20) in Hoenderloseweg, at the highest point in Deelen incidentally, and is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (tel. 026 3718 320).
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