the-netherlands / audiospot

The Bridge to freedom

FightingLiberationVictory and defeat

The lock between Dieren and Spankeren was where the locals celebrated the retreat of the last German soldiers. Bren carriers covered with cheering children rolled over the temporary bridge that the townsmen had been busy building and at last, the road to the Veluwe was reopened. Liberation was only days away.

On 11th April 1945, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division crossed the River IJssel at Wilp. When they reached the Apeldoorn canal on 13th April, the Germans held their ground, pushing the Canadians off in a southerly direction. Meanwhile, the British 49th Infantry Division that had crossed the River IJssel on the 12th in Westervoort to the south, were heading north. The Russian units of the German army that had arrived in Dieren on 15th April, rebelled, killing a number of German soldiers. That night, a member of the resistance in Dieren went to the Canadian headquarters in Brummen to tell them that the Germans had already left Dieren, and that it would be easy for them to take back the town.

On 16th April, the local men started building a temporary bridge across the lock that had been destroyed on the Rijksstraatweg road. The British and Canadian tanks headed for the bridge, as did the people of Dieren. They flooded into the streets to welcome their liberators and the road was soon overflowing with tanks, cars and military vehicles, soldiers and civilians. Before long, the temporary bridge had been finished and the Bren carriers could cross the canal. In the distance, on the road from Arnhem, more British tanks started to appear and with them, came the liberation of Dieren.

Tourist information

Near to the monument by the lock in the Apeldoorn Canal, Zutphensestraatweg (N348), Dieren. GPS code: 52°02’59.92’’N 6°06’48.87’’O