Monument to the Fallen Dutch Soldiers





There is a war monument in Meeswijk, on the Belgian side of the ferry across the river Meuse near Berg aan de Maas. It commemorates five Dutch soldiers who defended the bridge over the Juliana Canal in the early morning of 10 May 1940 and were killed in an exchange of gunfire.

When the German army invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, soldiers of 1-II-37 Infantry Regiment guarded the bridge over the Juliana Canal in Berg aan de Maas. After a German raiding party dressed in Dutch uniforms overpowered the bridge guard, Dutch defenders on the west side of the canal bridge opened fire on the Germans. When stronger German units arrived, the Dutch were forced to retreat and the bridge was captured undamaged by the Germans.

The Dutch, meanwhile, crossed the river Meuse into Belgian territory and ended up in the crossfire between Belgians and the rapidly approaching Germans. Five soldiers, Bram Bogers, Pieter Scheffers, Joannes Rademakers, Jan Dohmen and Louis Rouschop, died during the crossing. It is not known whether they were killed by Belgian or German fire.

There are various interpretations regarding the exact circumstances. One of them is that the group of Dutch soldiers wading through the river Meuse was shot at by the Germans. It is certain, however, that the Dutch machine gun brought back into position on the Belgian bank took out the German machine gun. It is likely that the Belgians mistook the retreating Dutchmen for Germans and opened fire on them from a Belgian casemate located on the western bank of the river Meuse. After all, many Germans wore Dutch uniforms.


Molenveld, Meeswijk