Holandia / Miejsce zainteresowania

Conflagration along Oranje Locks




The route along the Oranje Locks was not the easiest for the Canadian liberators. Close to Halerbrug, Oranje and Hijken, fierce and particularly fierce confrontations occurred with the enemy.


The Germans appeared to have entrenched themselves in the potato flour factory and some houses in Oranje. A patrol of eight Canadian soldiers came through the fields from Brunsting to liberate the village, but it was not without a struggle. The bridge over Oranje Locks had been blown up and all the Germans were on the north side of the canal.

Against all odds, however, some Germans with advanced small boats had crossed the Oranje Locks and headed towards the Canadians. A firefight broke out, during which corn mites caught fire, as well as the factory shed.

The Canadians were forced to retreat. They then set fire to the moorland and under cover of the smoke screen moved to Oranje again. They received support from a heavy tank, which was set up near a farm on Beilervaart. This tank bombarded the factory with shells. The factory caught fire, as did four or five houses.

The firefight ceased at around 17:00. Although the factory had burned down, the terrain was still under German control. The Canadians were still on the south side of the Oranje Locks. At 02:00 on 13 April 1945, it was suddenly over. A long line of German soldiers silently left their positions. The war was suddenly over for Oranje.


The crews of three Canadian combat vehicles encountered 12 Germans at Hijken who took up the defence in earnest with Panzerfausts (handheld anti-tank weapons).

The three combat vehicles were reinforced later in the day by Sherman tanks that drove from the Haler Bridge along the Oranje Locks to Hijken. When they arrived at Hijken, fierce shooting took place for 10 minutes. A flamethrower was also deployed.

Three Germans and one Canadian were killed in the fighting. Another serious matter was the fact that six farms in Hijken went up in flames.


At Zwiggelte, the Canadians used an emergency bridge to move all equipment, including what appeared to be Sherman tanks, across the Oranje Locks. The column was able to advance along the north side of the Oranje Locks towards Halerbrug.

The emergency bridge was moved with them, as more bridges had undoubtedly been blown up on the route north. At Halerbrug, the Canadians faced stiff opposition. Several German soldiers were lying in the ditch banks and behind hedges and shrubs. Major Stiles simply had to step in with his favourite weapon, the Wasp flamethrower. Sergeant Renwick, with the wind at his back, aimed the flamethrower at the German positions. The fire had a range of about 100 metres and the Germans didn’t stand a chance.  One paratrooper was killed in these engagements, while 11 men were wounded.

After the Halerbrug was sufficiently repaired by Engineers, Canadian tanks preceded by infantry were able to clear the area between the Halerbrug and Beilen of German soldiers.