Pays-Bas / Champ de Bataille

Den Heuvel Estate


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In the winter of 1944, Groesbeek was front line territory. The 19th Century Den Heuvel estate on Wylerbaan was one of the places caught in the cross fire and destroyed during the fighting.

For months the Canadian soldiers sat near Groesbeek defending the front line. They spent the whole winter in the foxholes and had to wait until it was possible to advance and invade Germany. Impressive details of life at the front are described in the diary of Lt Donald Pearce, who served with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders of the 3rd Infantry Division: "back to rain, back to a dry day in the week, back to mud up to your ankles". He describes problems that arose in delivering rations, and claims that it was necessary to drive the German soldiers across with infantry. "Grenades", he says, "do not impress them".

On 8 February 1945, the time had finally come and the Rhineland offensive began. The goal of the offensive was to cross the Rhine. From Nijmegen, the route led to Kleve via the Reichswald forest and through the village of Wyler. The Calgary Highlanders of the 15th Scottish Division had the task of clearing the road for the main advance. The first section on the road to Wyler seemed to go well and on schedule, but when they reached the Den Heuvel Estate, where there had already been heavy fighting in September 1944, they realised that a mistake had been made. They were in the middle of a minefield. The mines were hidden in wooden boxes so they could not be traced. Moreover, the explosions alerted the German snipers hidden in Wyler to their presence.

Despite many losses, the Highlanders managed to leave the minefield, eliminate the snipers, and liberate the village, clearing the way to the Reichswald for the big offensive.

Wylerbaan 18 Groesbeek