The Netherlands / Landmark
Similar to Noorbeek and Mheer, the village of Mesch to the south-east of Eijsden laid claim to the title of 'first liberated place in the Netherlands'. It is a fact that at the end of the morning of Tuesday 12 September 1944, American units crossed the Dutch border here and liberated the whole of Mesch in the course of the afternoon. One farm, a bit further down the road, had probably already been paid a visit earlier.
Around half past eleven in the morning, the first armoured cars of the C troop of the 113th Cavalry Group crossed the border at the hamlet of Laag-Caestert, south of Eijsden. They went by the name of Red Horse and were part of the 30th US Infantry Division (Old Hickory), a part of the 1st Army.
Alarmed by the swelling roar of American artillery bombarding the German defences, the Smeets family of De Muggehof farmhouse at Schansweg had been in the cellar since the previous evening.
An acquaintance then arrived at the shelter with the news that the wait was over. De Muggehof farm had been liberated. That was at around half past eleven. The flag could not be raised yet, because danger still lurked. The area had to be cleared of the last remaining German soldiers first. As soon as they were driven out, the cameras came out. Posing together with the liberators, who wouldn't want that?
It is not certain whether the Americans first crossed the Dutch border at Laag-Caestert or further on at Mesch. Apart from the thoroughfares or a few border posts, the border line was not clearly marked anywhere. It passed through fields, meadows, and orchards. Many of the liberators were therefore hardly aware of the moment when they took their first steps on Dutch soil and where exactly that was.
Schansweg 2, Eijsden