Pays-Bas / Audiospot

The Devastated Corner




The area around the current roundabout in Hoogerheide was the scene of fierce street fighting between Canadian soldiers and German paratroopers in October 1944. There was no roundabout then, but an intersection of Scheldeweg, Raadhuisstraat and Nieuweweg. The street fighting resulted in heavy damage to the houses around this intersection. They caught fire or were destroyed. Not surprisingly, after the liberation, the population called this part of Hoogerheide the ‘Devastated Corner'.

After the vanguard of the Canadian 2nd Canadian Infantry Division reached the crossroads on 8 October 1944, German resistance rapidly increased in intensity. The final objective for the day was the slightly northern hamlet of Korteven. After all, whoever controlled Korteven controlled access to Zeeland.

Realising this, the German army command sent reinforcements to Hoogerheide and the surrounding area at lightning speed. The Canadians therefore failed to reach Korteven on the first day. The resistance was 'extremely heavy' and the front Canadian positions along the Antwerpsestraatweg were even lost. The German troops drove the Canadians back to the mentioned crossroads on the north side of Hoogerheide. Both sides dug in, waiting to see what would happen next. The next day, fighting erupted again around the crossroads. Both sides deployed all available resources. Young German paratroopers even drove the Canadians back to the beginning of Raadhuisstraat, the south side of village, on Monday 9 October.

But the next day, the Canadians in turn, with support from tanks and artillery, drove the Germans back towards the crossroads. A new German counterattack followed. There was literally fighting around every house even in cellars the battle continued. The street fighting had unprecedented ferocity by Dutch standards. Dozens of soldiers on both sides died in what the German army command described as "bitter house fights in Hoogerheide".

By the fourth day, Wednesday 11 October, the fighting subsided; both sides were exhausted. But at least the Canadians had the ‘Devastated Corner' back in their hands. For almost two weeks the situation here did not change. Only on 23 October was Hoogerheide really safe when the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division launched a major operation and also took Korteven. More than two weeks later than intended.

 Audio story ‘My Canadian Liberator’

Thirteen year-old Janus Pul was sheltering with his parents and sister on the Antwerpsestraatweg in the basement of Dr. Van de Kar. He experienced the fighting from close by and heard it moving back and forward in waves. And it was in that basement that he caught a glimpse of his Canadian liberator.

Rotonde Scheldeweg, Hoogerheide