The Netherlands / Audiospot
Eerde is the first village to be liberated by American paratroopers on the 17th of September 1944. But the village still suffers substantially. During heavy fighting on the 24th of September, the mill at Eerde and the St. Anthony Church tower are destroyed. They are much sought after observation posts and therefore much sought after targets for the enemy.
Eerde near Veghel was one of the first villages to be liberated During Operation Market Garden. This massive airborne operation began on the 17th of September 1944. Thousands of American, British and Polish paratroopers landed at different drop zones near Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. Their mission was to seize and hold the roads and bridges as quickly as possible, so the XXXth British Corps could advance along the road to Arnhem.
Paratroopers from the US 501st Parachute Regiment Infantry landed here at Eerde. Among other objectives, they captured the windmill and used it as a lookout post. But Operation Market Garden did not go as planned. On the 24th of September, German troops launched a counterattack from the Eerdse Bergen on the narrow strip of land that had been captured, the corridor. This attack proved fatal for the success of Market Garden. What’s more, the windmill was destroyed by German artillery.
The Americans moved their lookout post to the church tower. This was also destroyed by German troops during the fighting. An American paratrooper did succeed in placing the American flag on the remains of the tower. Eerde remained in American hands.