The Netherlands / Audiospot
After several exciting first days of war in May 1940, Pingjum endured the occupation peacefully. In April of 1945, the situation changed dramatically. The retreating German Wehrmacht fought the advancing Canadian army, with Pingjum as its battleground.
By the spring of 1945, it became clear that the German occupier was losing, and many members of the German Wehrmacht, the Dutch Landwacht and NSB members fled to the west. In Friesland, a ‘great migration’ began from the eastern side across the Afsluitdijk on 12 April. Three days later, a group of German snipers settled in Pingjum. They were tasked with defending the retreating German troops on the Afsluitdijk against the advancing Canadians.
Witmarsum was liberated by the Canadians on 16 April. In nearby Pingjum, the German soldiers refused to capitulate. In response, the Canadians opened fire, laying a carpet of mortar shells over Pingjum for 24 hours. Most of the population fled to neighbouring Arum, which had already been liberated.
When the Germans ignored a second ultimatum to surrender, another attack followed, and the village was all but razed to the ground. It was not until 17 April, at around half past nine in the evening, that the first groups of the Queens Own Rifles of Canada arrived, liberating the battered Pingjum.
Burenlaan 50-54 8749 GB Pingjum