The Netherlands / Landmark
Strategic planning station, observation point and hiding place: De Zuidmolen flour mill in Groesbeek played numerous roles during the Second World War.
After Operation Market Garden, the village of Groesbeek found itself on the front line in the winter of 1944. The fighting in and around Groesbeek became so bad that the residents had to be evacuated. However, the village was not completely deserted. One structure in particular had many visitors from the end of January 1945: De Zuidmolen flour mill.
On the top floor of this mill in Groesbeek, which was built in 1857, Canadian General Harry Crerar, Lieutenant-General Guy G. Simonds, British Lieutenant-General Brian G. Horrocks and others met to discuss the execution of the Rhineland Offensive – Operation Veritable – which was to start from Nijmegen. Almost five hundred thousand troops, mostly British and Canadians, had to march from Nijmegen through the marshy Ooijpolder area and through the Reichswald forest to Germany to reach, and finally cross, the Rhine. The view the military brass had from high up in the Zuidmolen mill over the Reichswald Forest allowed them to get an idea of German troop movements. From this vantage point they could also decide on the best route for their own troops.
On 8 February 1945 the time had come and the British-Canadian allied troops set out from Nijmegen. Unfortunately, there was one thing they miscalculated in their plans: the weather forecast. When the plans were drawn up in January, it was cold and the ground was frozen; however, in February the thaw set in and the roads became a muddy mire. This change in ground conditions made it difficult for the troops and their heavy vehicles to move, causing a major delay in the advance.
Today, a plaque on the wall of the flour mill and a weather vane in the shape of a small soldier recall the special role this building played during the war.