Holandia / Audiospot

Cowardly executions at Spier

FightingOccupationResistanceTerror and extermination




Operation Amherst was the code name for the airborne landings of some 700 French paratroopers. They were part of the British SAS (Special Air Service). They were deployed to create confusion behind enemy lines. They also had to try and organise the local resistance and pass on as much information as possible to the 2nd Canadian Army Corps, which was advancing north from Nijmegen and Arnhem.

The paratroopers were divided into 47 sticks, dropped near Meppel, Beilen, Westerbork, Gieten-Borger, Appelscha and Assen. In the night of 7/8 April 1945, the French were dropped above Drenthe.
The bad weather on the night in question was one of the reasons that the airborne drop of more than 700 French paratroopers was not entirely successful during operation Amherst. One group landed in the Spaarbank woods near Hoogeveen. They gathered at Jan Vos’ farm on the Wijsterseweg. The Germans found out not long after and launched an attack on the farm. Heavy machine-gun fire caused the farm to go up in flames and the French withdrew to Coevorden with several prisoners of war.

The German occupying forces responded immediately with raids. Houses were searched and everyone who might have had anything to do with the French was taken prisoner. Arend Jan Scholing’s family was immediately executed in their own bedroom. Commander Jung of the Order Police (the Orpo) gave the order to execute another 15 civilians. These events took place in Spier while the allied troops could be heard approaching in the distance.

Operation Amherst was the last major air landing of the Second World War and heralded the liberation of the province of Drenthe.