The Netherlands / Story

With women's clothes through the German lines




The Canadians deploy Kangaroo tanks of the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment to storm the Herebrug on Saturday 14 April 1945. These tanks are used to transport soldiers. The tanks storm over the bridge at a speed of 35 kilometers per hour.

The soldiers establish a bridgehead on the other bank. The bridge is damaged by the storming with tanks. The soldiers who had crossed the bridge came under heavy fire. After dropping the infantry, the three Kangaroos take a wrong turn. Driver Carl Atkinston: My commander gave the order, 'Driver to himself', and dove into the tank. I drove on by my own observation, orienting myself by looking up at the overhead wires of the trolleybuses. We raced on to the end of the street and then turned back. One of of us was hit by a Panzerfaust, but the boys were able to get out.”

This third tank had accidentally turned into the Coehoornsingel. Eyewitness Niek Meyer about this: “We lived at 21 Coehoornsingel, opposite the Remonstrant Church. There were many people in the church who had fled there. The people then fled from that church to the Zuiderdiep again, because there was fierce fighting at the Ubbo Emmiussingel. Suddenly a tank turned from the Hereplein into the Coehoornsingel. A terrifying noise, those rattling caterpillars over the cobblestones of the Coehoornsingel. The glass and pottery in the houses shook. The people were terrified. "Don't worry," said one of the German soldiers, "I'll fix that." He took a Panzerfaust and went after that tank. I didn't see the attack, but I did see its consequences. The tank became rudderless and drove straight into the facade of the Cloetingh bookstore. Everything went up in flames.”

The two crew members of the knocked-out Kangaroo, named Phyllis, are able to get to safety in neighboring homes and then sneak from house to house through the still "German Quarter" to the Canadian line. At one point they find themselves in a room where only a door separates them from a room full of German soldiers. They find women's clothing that gives them an idea. The two soldiers dress up as women and return safely to their unit.