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604. A bitter-sweet liberation

  • Middendorp, Hooghalen, Nederland

After more than 700 paratroopers jumped out over Drenthe during the night of April 7 to April 8, 1945, the liberation of the northern part of the Netherlands proceeded rapidly. The following days, battles were fought in the area against German troops, who offered heavy resistance at times, but thanks to the air support more and more villages and hamlets were liberated.

On April 12, attacks on Assen were launched from Beilen to break through to Groningen. This task was assigned to the Essex Scottish Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Tanks of the ‘B’ Squadron of the 10th Armoured Regiment, The Fort Garry Horse of the 2nd Independent Canadian Armoured Brigade provided support throughout this campaign. In the early morning, the thunderous roar of the advancing Infantry Brigade’s canons and tanks could be heard from afar in Hooghalen.

A reconnaissance plane circled the village for a long time as well. At half past seven, the first grenades were dropped killing a German motorcyclist. In the pine forest south of the village, the Germans had dug in and offered fierce resistance. After the resistance was eliminated, the battle shifted to the centre of the village. About forty German soldiers had taken up positions in people’s homes and farms. The battle was fierce and there are casualties on both sides. When the Germans finally retreated, they set fire to the farms’ thatched roofs. Fortunately, the local population was spared, but many farms went up in flames. The old characteristic image of the village would never be the same.

604. A bitter-sweet liberation