The Netherlands / Landmark

Highlander Bridge




The river Niers in Gennep presented a difficult natural obstacle at the beginning of the British attack on the Lower Rhine Plain (Operation Veritable) in February 1945. The Niers Bridge in Gennep had been blown up by the Germans shortly before. Nevertheless, heavy equipment had to cross the river that had burst its banks. Engineers from the Scottish 51st Highland Division managed to build a Bailey bridge in spite of continuous mortar fire. They managed to complete the perilous task in a day and a half. Five of them were killed along the way.

Even before the Bailey bridge was ready for use, units of the Highland Division had crossed the river in boats and established a small bridgehead at Milsbeek. From there, they opened the attack on Gennep on 11 February. The German defenders were well entrenched and fierce street fighting ensued, with battles being fought for every house.

A Scotsman wrote in his diary: 'The shop fronts are all destroyed and the roofs of the houses are on the verge of collapse. I stormed into such a house and found three Germans. One cried out in pain, he had a broken thighbone. The soldiers were old and scared and seemed happy to be captured. They carried the injured person outside on a plank. They were not very careful, and the injured leg slid off the plank. A terrible scream followed.‘ The fighting continued until 13 February.

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation in 2015, the bridge was named Highlander Bridge.

Niersweg, Gennep