Holandia / Historia

A high price for the liberation of Wilp and the advance towards Twello




After the successful crossing of the IJssel on April 11, 1945, Canadian infantrymen on the west bank encircle the village of Wilp where German troops have positioned themselves. At night, the Germans launch a counterattack. Wilp, De Hoven, Steenenkamer, and Twello eagerly await their liberation. A fierce battle ensues with heavy losses on both sides.

While the village of Wilp is surrounded by the Canadians, the Germans launch a counterattack from the village during the night of April 11-12 at four o'clock, heading north towards the farm 'Yperenberg'. They deploy two hundred infantrymen and three tanks. That same night, more Canadian troops from other regiments have crossed the IJssel. They march to Wilp to assist their comrades. In the early morning of April 12, they join the Canadians who have surrounded the village.

A portion of the Canadian troops, supported by tanks, advance northwards towards De Hoven and Steenenkamer, hamlets on the western bank of the IJssel belonging to Deventer. Around two o'clock in the afternoon, they have approached the hamlet of De Hoven closely. The battalion has suffered considerable losses - since 1943, they have been fighting in Italy against the Germans and since the spring of 1945 in the Netherlands.

The commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Donald Alexander MacKenzie, is concerned about the situation. He orders Major J.R.O. 'Jim' Counsell to move the battalion's headquarters forward and himself, along with a lieutenant, goes on reconnaissance. Upon arrival at a tank platoon, MacKenzie himself becomes a victim of German artillery fire and dies on the spot. MacKenzie is only 30 years old.

The deputy battalion commander, Major Counsell, immediately assumes command. With the support of tanks, the Canadians advance across the open terrain towards De Hoven. By half past five in the afternoon, this hamlet is also cleared of Germans. Steenenkamer is eventually liberated successfully as well. Twelve other Canadians lose their lives in the fighting on this day. Shortly after the capture of both hamlets, the battalion receives a follow-up order: the capture of Twello. The Canadians launch another attack, once again supported by tanks. Advancing westward, the Canadians soon come under German machine gun fire from houses on the northeast side of Twello. The advance is severely hampered here by an anti-tank ditch, while the Canadians advancing on the south side of the railway line between Deventer and Apeldoorn encounter hardly any obstacles.

Commander George decides to directly attack Twello with a group of infantrymen on tanks. He assumes that the sight of three advancing tanks will be sufficient to scare the Germans. The plan works as expected, and the leading tank, used as a battering ram, completely surprises the Germans in the first houses. Subsequently, the defense is broken in a short time. Behind the leading Sherman tank, the other two tanks follow with shouting and shooting Canadians. The ominous war cry 'to Hello with Twello' prompts the enemy to retreat. The Canadians following the tanks on foot have little trouble in clearing the village. On April 12, Twello is also liberated, and the Canadians catch their breath briefly. Apeldoorn awaits the next day.