The Netherlands / Audiospot


BombingFightingVictory and defeat




On 17 September 1944, the Sunday rest had already been disrupted by air raid alarms twice. These both proved to be false, so people decided to go to church as usual when suddenly there was another air-raid alarm. The churchgoers were unaware of the things that were about to happen that day. Shortly afterwards the German barracks in Arnhem were bombed. The bombing also resulted in civilian casualties.

On 17th September 1944, 10,000 British parachutists landed near Arnhem to try and secure the bridge over the River Rhine. Prior to this airborne operation, the Allies bombed German positions and barracks in the area, including the Willemskazerne barracks in Arnhem. These were situated in the middle of the town, but bombs also hit the surrounding buildings. The Restaurant Royal, the HBS on Willemsplein square, the barracks of the Wehrmacht on Bloemstraat street, the Menno van Coehorn barracks on the Hoflaan lane, the warehouses on the Beekstraat street, the Vijverlaan lane, Sint Catharina's hospital and the theatre were all hit.

A lot of German soldiers were killed in the Willemskazerne barracks. Civilians were also killed or injured when bombs hit the Klarendal district. They were taken to a number of different hospitals in Arnhem, but the ones that were taken to the St Elisabeth hospital on the Utrechtseweg road, found themselves stuck in the middle of another serious battle just a few days later. This was when the Airborne reinforcements attempted to reach their fellow units at the bridge over the Rhine. It seemed like the liberation of Arnhem was underway, but it would, in fact, take until May 1945 for the population to return home to the torn and tattered town.

Willemsplein, Arnhem