A busy day on the World War 2 Memorial Tour. Mostly bus travel again as we follow bridges around Arnhem, Netherlands, which were involved in Operation Market Garden, a complex series of incidents that few of us knew much about.
National Liberation Museum
By fall of 1944 the allies decided they needed a quick road to Berlin that didn’t involve mountainous terrain or forests. The 82nd US Airborne Division, 101st, 1st British Airborne, and one Polish Independent Parachute Brigade were involved in Operation Market Garden, which involved a large geographical area, primarily Arnhem, Groesbeek, and Nijmegen.
Our guide at the National Liberation Museum 1944-45 in Grosbeek was eight years old when the town was liberated and remembers the day well—dancing in the streets, jazz records playing, and being introduced to American bubble gum. The museum leads you through the period preceding the war, experiences of the occupation, and liberation and rebuilding after the war.
A sad side note of the museum documents the Allies’ mistake when a misplaced bomb killed hundreds of citizens and ruined the town. The guides eloquently emphasize their loss. Maybe they are disappointed that the story of the Netherlands campaign seems to have been lost in the larger impressions of the war.
These towns were under Nazi control from 1940 to September 1944. They hid Jews in their midst and had little food. In the early years the Nazis ran things under lax rules, but their methods changed as the war became increasingly worse for Germany, and the SS took control.
On to Arnhem where a large bridge was involved in Operation Market Garden. The title of the popular film about the incident, A Bridge Too Far, is from an unconfirmed warning comment attributed to British Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Army, who told Field Marshall Montgomery that they “…may be going a bridge too far," referring to the intention of seizing the Arnhem bridgehead over the Rhine River.
Food: In Nijmegen, we have a scrumptious lunch on a veranda. The tomato soup is accompanied by a “small apple pancake” the size of a medium pizza.
Along the way…We wonder if the many miniature horses we see in pastures are farm animals or pets.
Next time: Amsterdam
Ann Otto writes fiction based on factual as well as oral history. Her debut novel, Yours in a Hurry, about Ohio siblings relocating to California in the 1910’s, is available on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and at locations listed on her website at www.ann-otto.com. Ann’s academic background is in history, English, and behavioral science, and she has published in academic and professional journals. She loves speaking with groups about all things history, writing, and the events, locations, and characters from Yours in a Hurry. She is currently working on her next novel about Ohio’s Appalachia in the 1920’s, and preparing for future works by blogging about a recent World War 2 European tour. She can be reached through the website, or on Facebook @Annottoauthor or www.Goodreads.com.