Pays-Bas / Champ de Bataille

The explosion in the Stoeldraaierstraat




On Sunday 15 April around 1:30 PM, a large open truck will head for the Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat. The German army vehicle is loaded with ammunition. Two soldiers get out and walk away.

The Germans use the truck to stop the advance of the South Saskatchewan Regiment through Stoeldraaiersstraat. They're betting that the Canadians are firing on the truck. At 14:00 the truck is fired upon, resulting in a huge explosion. 29 shops are destroyed and the Stoeldraaiersstraat is full of rubble.

The couple Jan and Anny Schrader, who own the Postma chocolate shop on the corner of Akerkhof and Akerkstraat, are very concerned. Jan puts his one-month-old son Koert in a chocolate box that is used as a bed due to lack of cribs. He writes: "The shooting and explosions became more and more violent and large fires broke out in the inner city. We had an appointment with neighbor Horn (cigar warehouse on Akerkstraat) to take shelter in their cellar, but we couldn't cross the street and stayed in the safe. Cooing in a Ringer's Box. A steel base of a crib also in front of the cupboard door for protection. For many it became hell, windows smashed by the hundreds and hundreds, many fires caused great mischief, shell hits wreaked havoc, as did the explosions when several bridges went up and many ships were sunk. The fires drew nearer to us and approached the moment for us to prepare. While lurking in the street, I found that the church (A-Kerk) was already full of Canadians, of whom we had not noticed! 

We were distressed when fifty krauts, heavily armed, came into A-Kerkstraat and rang the doorbell of us and the neighbors. About three of them each entered the house, but without firing a shot the couple disappeared after a while into the A-cemetery and so on on the order: 'Eine Straße weiter nach Osten!' which was the Stoeldraaierstraat. So, when a trip to the air-raid shelter of our office went over, we went with Koert in the car, while the shooting was still going on, to a garage opposite the church and in the meantime mother (grandma van Koert) started packing. It had to be, because the entire Stoeldraaierstraat had become a sea of fire, because an ammunition truck caught fire. A few houses of our block were already burning, soon followed by several buildings up to the Kromme Elleboog. I found a cart and, like the neighbors, started to take things out of the house, also to the garage. Mother filled the boxes, luckily the fire started slowly as the pressure on the water mains increased, making the extinguishing better. Of course, fire brigade equipment from other municipalities also had a positive effect.'