Holandia / Miejsce zainteresowania

Bombings mark the beginning of the Battle of Arnhem




Before the airborne troops land at Arnhem, Nijmegen and Eindhoven and the British 2nd Army advances from the Belgian-Dutch border, the allied air forces carry out bombings to clear the path for the airborne troops. One of their targets is the Willemskazerne, that was situated here in 1944.

Whenever operation Market Garden is mentioned, many people think of the airborne landings at Arnhem, Nijmegen and Eindhoven, and the difficult advance of the British ground troops. But before this all started, the British and American air forces attacked German ground targets in the Netherlands and specifically in the area where the airborne landings would be carried out. The aim was to eliminate the German flak and airports as much as possible and destroy known and suspected concentrations of German troops.

The air raids began in the night of 16-17 September. Hundreds of bombers of the Royal Air Force and the US 8th Air Force attacked German airports in the Netherlands and Germany. In the early morning of the 17th, almost 900 American bombers dropped their bombs on German flak and troop concentrations in the Netherlands to protect the airborne units that would follow. In addition, the aircraft of the British 2nd Tactical Air Force took off to carry out targeted attacks on barracks in Nijmegen, Cleve, Arnhem, and Ede.

One of their targets was the Willemskazerne, that used to be here where the Gele Rijdersplein is located now. During the war, this barracks was used by the Germans, and the Allies felt that it had to be destroyed to eliminate the German troops that were thought to be there. In the morning of 17 September, the barracks was attacked and destroyed. But other buildings and streets in Arnhem also fell victim to these bombings, such as the Menno van Coehoornkazerne in the Klarendal district, the Bloemstraat, the Roermondsplein, and the buildings close to the Stadsschouwburg (now the City Theatre). In the wider environment of the airborne landings at Arnhem, targets in Ede and Wolfheze, among others, were attacked as well. Inevitably, this also entailed civilian casualties, the first of many that fell victim to acts of war during the Battle of Arnhem.