During Operation Amherst, French parachutists were dropped in Drenthe. The goal of this operation was to support the Canadian Army in liberating the northern part of the Netherlands. The Syrian Ibrahim Asem was part of these French troops and landed in Drenthe on the night of 7 to 8 April 1945.
Ibrahim Asem was born on 7 January 1924 in Damascus in Syria, which was a protectorate of France at that moment. After France capitulated in 1940, Vichy France took control over Syria. This changed in July 1941, when the British Army and the Free French Forces took over the area.
It was under these circumstances that Asem joined the Free French Forces in September 1942, after which he became part of the British Special Air Service (SAS) in 1943. On the night of 7 to 8 April 1945, he was dropped in Drenthe for Operation Amherst together with 701 other French parachutists. The mission of these parachutists was to make contact with the resistance, secure bridges and above all cause confusion and unrest among the German Army. This to make sure the Canadian troops could liberate the northern part of the Netherlands quickly.
In different small groups the parachutists were dropped all over Drenthe. However, the group of Asem ended up in the wrong place and broke up on their way to the right destination. In order to escape from the sight of German troops, Asem and six other soldiers hid in a barn.
The next day Asem and his group were discovered by German soldiers and a fire fight broke out. The straw roofing of the barn was shot on fire and collapsed. Three French soldiers were burned alive because of this. Three other parachutists, including Asem, were shot dead behind the barn. Just one Frenchman managed to escape.
Monument French paratroopers
The commemorative monument for French paratroopers can be found in Assen, Drenthe in the Netherlands. The monument was built in memory of Operation Amherst, the dropping of paratroopers from the 2nd and 3rd Régiment de Chasseurs on 7 April 1945.