The Netherlands / Landmark

The battle at Groote Slag




The Canadian troops were looking to cross Drenthe with a sizeable army as quickly as possible, with the aim of liberating Groningen and taking the Eemshaven. This way they could cut off the Germans elsewhere in the Netherlands from their homeland. The Manitoba Dragoons were a reconnaissance unit that went ahead. They also came through Zuidwolde.

The current building at Ommerweg 74 is a farm called ‘Grote Slag’. It is a reconstruction of the original 'Groote Slag’, which was lost in the liberation of Zuidwolde. On Saturday, 7 April 1945, reconnaissance troops from the A Squadron of the Manitoba Dragoons, a Canadian reconnaissance unit, searched the area north of their headquarters in Balkbrug.  

 When the Canadian reconnaissance troops stopped at 'Het Groote Slag' that Saturday to allow the crews to rest, an unpleasant surprise awaited them. On Friday evening, 6 April, a group of about fifteen Germans drove a loaded flat milk wagon with a fat Bels (Belgian) horse in front of it into the courtyard of the farm. The group had decided to spend the night there, uninvited.  

It was the division of Oberfeldwebel Kröhnke, an outpost of Hauptmann Specht's company from Hoogeveen. The Andringa family's farm had had its share of unexpected overnighters, but those had asked nicely if they could stay the night.  

The residents were therefore already prepared for unexpected guests. There were bales of straw on the farm in the straw shed, where the bales were stacked two by two against each other, with bales standing between them to provide some separation between the sleeping areas. An emergency barracks, so to speak, but for a soldier in the field, it would do.  

In the afternoon of Saturday 7 April, somewhere between one o'clock and half past one, a firefight broke out between these Germans and the Manitoba Dragoons. Three Germans were killed, bales of straw caught fire, ammunition exploded, and a bull was torn to shreds. The farm was burnt down.   

As the armoured vehicles rode into Zuidwolde cautiously and prepared for anything, a procession of excited people followed them. This had to be the liberation! This was what everyone had been waiting for.  

All of a sudden, the vehicles drove into Jan Emmink’s yard, which later became known as Hoofdstraat 108. The machine guns started to rattle. The people did not expect this at all and fled in all directions.   

What was happening? They saw some German soldiers cycling from the direction of the cemetery towards Kerkenbosch. Fire was opened on these German cyclists.   

Willem Steenbergen, a retired farmer, lived at Meppelerweg close to the Hoofdstraat. He followed the unfolding skirmishes from the garden in front of his house, only to be fatally hit by a stray bullet. He died at 17:30, at the age of 68. Two Germans were killed in the firefight.