The Netherlands / Audiospot
Bridges are of utmost importance for the allied advance. The Molenhook bridge, as the Americans refer to the old bridge at the lock in Heumen, had to be taken undamaged on 17 September 1944 come what may. The German troops put up fierce resistance and there were many dead and wounded. Bridge number 7 in the American plan of attack was nevertheless taken fully intact.
In times of war, even the smallest of villages can turn out to be vitally important. Suddenly a hill or in the case of the village of Heumen, a bridge, can prove crucial. When the Maas-Waal canal was opened in 1927, bridges were built to allow trains and road traffic across the canal. One of these bridges was a vertical-lift bridge across the lock in Heumen. In the May of 1940, German commandos tried to seize this bridge, and during the occupation, the bridge was reinforced and well defended by the Germans. Then on 17th September 1944, American parachutists landed in Overasselt and Groesbeek. They were well positioned for attacking the bridge from both sides, but the Germans stood their ground until nightfall. The bridge had to remain intact because all of the other bridges over the Maas-Waal canal had been damaged or destroyed. This was the only bridge heavy British vehicles could use to get to Nijmegen.
Kapitein Postmalaan, Heumen