The Netherlands / Audiospot

A bittersweet liberation





After more than 700 paratroopers jump out over Drenthe during the night of April 7 to April 8, 1945, the liberation of the northern part of the Netherlands proceeds rapidly. The following days, battles are fought in the area against German troops, who offer heavy resistance at times, but thanks to the air support more and more villages and hamlets are liberated.

On April 12, attacks on Assen are launched from Beilen to break through to Groningen. This task is assigned to the Essex Scottish Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Tanks of the ‘B’ Squadron of the 10th Armoured Regiment, The Fort Garry Horse of the 2nd Independent Canadian Armoured Brigade provide support throughout this campaign. In the early morning, the thunderous roar of the advancing Infantry Brigade’s canons and tanks can be heard from afar in Hooghalen.

A reconnaissance plane circles the village for a long time as well. At half past seven, the first grenades are dropped killing a German motorcyclist. In the pine forest south of the village, the Germans have dug in and offer fierce resistance. After the resistance is eliminated, the battle shifts to the centre of the village. About forty German soldiers have taken up positions in people’s homes and farms. The battle is fierce and there are casualties on both sides. When the Germans finally retreat, they set fire to the farms’ thatched roofs. Fortunately, the local population is spared, but many farms go up in flames. The old characteristic image of the village will never be the same.