The Netherlands / Landmark

A Dutch war hero




The place that is now a public garden was still built with houses and gardens during the war. During the Battle of Arnhem, German and British soldiers fought fierce battles here. One of the events that took place here involved the British private Sid Elliot and the German SS Sturmmann Rudolf Trapp. After the war, the buildings here were not rebuilt, but a public garden was created that currently bears the name ‘Jacob Groenewoudplantsoen’, after the only Dutch soldier who fought for the bridge with the British during the Battle of Arnhem and who was posthumously awarded the highest Dutch military distinction.

The place that is now a public garden was still built with houses and gardens during the Second World War. Part of the British airborne forces that had managed to reach the bridge entrenched themselves in the buildings that used to be on this site, mainly on the side of what is now the Oranjewachtstraat. Soon, the British in this area were put under pressure by German soldiers who infiltrated the British defence from the buildings and gardens on the west side.

On Wednesday morning 20 September 1944, another attempt was made. This time, the Germans tried to reach the bridge with an armoured car coming from the Rijnkade and to connect with other German troops who put pressure on the British defence from the east side. At the same time, the British carried out a patrol through the houses and gardens on the road that connects the current Oranjestraat and the Rijnkade. Private Sid Elliot was in charge of this patrol. Arrived in a house at the Rijnkade, they saw the German armoured car approach. They managed to eliminate the vehicle by throwing a well-aimed gammon grenade, which ended up exactly in the open turret. One of the German soldiers who survived, SS Sturmmann Rudolf Trapp, at first took cover in one of the ruins along the quay, but soon had to run towards the Rhine and dive over the embankment and then into the river to escape.

Nothing is left of the buildings that once stood here. After the war, this area was redeveloped as a public garden and nowadays is called the Jacob Groenewoudplantsoen. Groenewoud was a Dutch lieutenant who was part of a so-called Jedburgh team that was attached to the British 1st Airborne Division. Their job was to make contact with local underground groups and ensure coordination of their actions with those of the Allied forces. Groenewoud had also managed to reach the bridge.

On Tuesday 19 September 1944, the medical situation at the bridge had become acute. Groenewoud tried to make contact with the St Elisabeth Hospital to arrange medical aid. Because the telephones at the bridge were no longer working, he and his colleague, lieutenant Todd, tried to break through the German lines and reach the house of a doctor living close by, to make a phone call from there. During this attempt, Groenewoud was killed by a sniper. On 27 July 1945, Groenewoud was posthumously appointed a Knight of the fourth class of the Militaire Willems-Orde, the highest Dutch military decoration, with the following explanation: “Demonstrated extreme courage and skill during the landing at ARNHEM on 17 September 1944, by penetrating, as commander of an infantry section, into a German headquarters and securing very important documents, including the defence plan for the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. After having returned from this mission and being cut off from the main force together with some British troops, volunteered to try and break through the strong lines in order to restore the broken contact. Died in that attempt.”