War Memorial Batenburg

The Netherlands




In 2003, part of a British aircraft was dredged up from the river Meuse near Batenburg. This turned out to be the landing gear of an aircraft that was shot down in 1944, which has now been processed into a beautiful monument

In September 1944, Operation Market Garden was launched. The aim of the operation was to take the bridges across the rivers Meuse, Waal and Rhine. The bridge at Arnhem proved to be a bridge too far, causing the operation to fail in the end. British soldiers were stuck in Arnhem for several days and had to be provisioned by air. These missions were not only dangerous for the men in combat situations, those who helped them also ran huge risks.

An example of this was the tragedy that unfolded near the village of Batenburg on 21 September 1944. A British Short Stirling of the 190th squadron of the Royal Airforce was on a mission to drop off supplies at Oosterbeek to support the British soldiers fighting the Battle of Arnhem. On the way back, the aircraft was shot at by the occupiers and caught fire. The aircraft started to spiral down on Batenburg, but pilot Charles Allen Anderson managed to make an emergency landing on the river Meuse. In this way, he prevented the aircraft from crashing in the centre of the village, which would have been a veritable disaster. The aircraft crashed on the water of the river with such force that it broke into pieces. Three crew members could be saved. Of a crew of 9, 6 men died that day. In 2003, part of the aircraft was dredged up from the river. Since September 2004, it has been exhibited as a monument.

 In Tweestromenland, the Maas and Waals Journal of Regional History, Janus Koolen writes the following article about the crash:

Circus De Gelder

At the time of the crash, a small circus was performing on the little square in Batenburg. The circus people had ended up in Batenburg with their horse-drawn caravans, fleeing the violence of war. Here they were relatively safe and there was an audience for their performance, so they could earn something. The programme was simple. Acrobatics and stunts, trained pets, clowns and an accordion player. The inhabitants, the ex-detainees, and evacuees, could appreciate the diversion after all they had been through.

Leader and namesake of the circus was Hartog de Gelder, a young man of 23, an acrobat by profession. The son of a Jewish father who had died before the war and an "Aryan" mother, he and his brothers were not directly threatened by the Nazis' racial laws, buthe will still have had to go into hiding for much of the war to escape German forced labour. His longing for liberation must have been great.

When the plane was shot out of the sky after a brief battle of fire, and landed in the Meuse, Hartog did not hesitate for a moment to offer help. He jumped on his horse, rushed to the Maas bank, entered the water and swam to the wreckage. Meanhile, according to eyewitnesses, German fighters were firing. In the wreckage, he used his knife to cut the straps in which the crew were trapped. Eyewitnesses later reported a second swimmer and a small boat that would have brought the airmen ashore, but it was Hartog de Gelder who, through his quick and courageous action, who managed to save three English crew members from drowning.

A few years later, news came that Hartog de Gelder was honoured 'on behalf of His Majesty The King’ (George VI) with the 'Kings Medal for courage in the cause of freedom'. The decorations were awarded to him in The Hague on 8 July 1949. Apparently, Batenburg was already busy with other matters because there is no trace of any reporting in the regional press.


Ringdijk 8.6634 AA Batenburg