- Gerard Van Gervenstraat 2, Beveren, Belgique
In the center of the small town of Beveren there is a bust of general Stanislaw Maczek. It reminds the citizens of the commander of the division which liberated their town and made sure it stayed intact.
After crossing the pre-war border of Belgium on September 6, 1944 the 1st Armoured Division of general Maczek liberated several towns. On September 14, the 2nd Armoured Regiment entered Beveren. The German units took up positions in the Kallo fort, which is located only three kilometers from the town. “The fort, after preliminary reconnaissance, turned out to be unconquerable by one regiment without artillery or infantry” – wrote the commander of the unit Stanislaw Koszutski. Polish soldiers bombarded the fort and the German artillery responded, but soon they ceased fire to avoid damage to the town. The fort was blocked for almost a week, until the German units managed to withdraw, leaving heavy equipment and ammunition behind. Polish forces immediately gave chase, but were stopped by water, released from nearby channels by the German troops. Despite the incomplete victory, Beveren was encompassed by immense joy. Polish and Belgian flags waved on the streets. On 17 September a ceremonial mass was held, with the Polish soldiers taking honourable seats. In the evening a dance was organized for British and Polish soldiers.
In 1946, as a sign of gratitude, the town’s community funded a banner for the 2nd Armoured Regiment. In the upper right corner, just as on the special badge of the unit, there is the coat of arms of Beveren. After demobilization, lieutenant colonel Czeslaw Kajpus – a liaison officer of the division – settled in the town. When the fortieth anniversary of liberation approached, he offered the town a bust of his commander, which was ceremonially unveiled on 9 September 1984. A plaque reading „Pro nostra et vestra libertate” – for our freedom and yours – was embedded in the plinth.
The Polish First Armoured Division under command of general Maczek played an important role in the liberation of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The ‘black division’ was feared by its enemies and brought swift liberation to the occupied nations.
This museum has been dedicated to the brave men and women of the 1st Polish Armour Division commanded by General Stanisław Maczek, who have liberated major parts of the Netherlands from the German occupier in 1944 and 1945.