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Travel

In the footsteps of the Prinses Irene Brigade

Information
Start Wolverhampton, UK
End The Hague, The Netherlands
Duration 6 Days
Developed By
Name Liberation Route Europe Foundation
Country Netherlands

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This itinerary follows in the footsteps of the Dutch Prinses Irene Brigade, which was formed from Dutch men who fled to England after the collapse of the Netherlands in May 1940.

From England, you will travel to Arromanches in Normandy, where the Irene Brigade landed on 6 August 1944, two months after D-Day. You will continue towards Belgium and the Netherlands to learn about Operation Market Garden in which the Brigade was closely involved.

You will travel across Walcheren and North Beveland in the province of Zeeland where the Irene Brigade spent the winter of 1944-1945. In Gelderland, you will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the Dutch casualties of WWII at Grebbeberg Dutch War Cemetery and Loenen Field of Honour. The tour will come to an end in the city of The Hague, liberated by the Prinses Irene Brigade on 9 May 1945.

In the footsteps of the Prinses Irene Brigade
Day 1

The tour stars in the city of Wolverhampton in central England, where Prinses Irene Brigade was stationed in May 1941 few months after its foundation. At that time, the strength of the Brigade ranged between 1,200 and 3,500 men. In 1943, the Brigade was assigned to the 21st Army Group under the command of General Montgomery. They trained together with British units and were assigned to the coastal defence in Harwich, before being transferred to Normandy.

Day 2

Travel to Arromanches in Normandy, where the Irene Brigade arrived on 6 August 1944, two months after D-Day. On the site of the former artificial harbour of Mulberry, visit the Landing Museum (D-Day Museum) to learn how the artificial port facilities were constructed and used. Continue along the coast, like the Irene Brigade and the 6th Airborne Division during the offensive towards the Seine. Stop by the cities of Ouistreham and Varaville, liberated by Irene Brigade on 20 August 1944. Travel to Brussels in Belgium.

Day 3

After your arrival in Brussels, head towards the village of Diest in the province of Flemish Brabant, where Prinses Irene Brigade went after the crossing of the Seine. Continue to Houthalen-Helchteren and Laak where the Brigade took up position under the command of the British Armoured Guards Division, in expectation of the nearing Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. Cross into the Netherlands.

Day 4

From Helchteren, cross the Schelde-Meuse Canal and follow a road through Eindhoven, Son, Grave and Lunen, where Irene Brigade was charged to guard the bridge across the Meuse. Stop by Best’s Museum Wings of Liberation to learn about Operation Market Garden. The Brigade was then withdrawn from the Grave area and moved to Oerle near Eindhoven, where they contributed to the liberation of the Brabant province. Continue to the city of Tilburg that was liberated on 27 October 1944, and where on 4 November a small parade took place to celebrate the liberation and to thank the Irene Brigade.

Day 5

Via Breda, travel to the province of Zeeland where Prinses Irene Brigade spent the winter of 1944-1945. After the liberation of Walcheren and North Beveland, Irene Brigade was tasked with guard duties under command of the 52nd Lowland Division. After an exploration of the surrounding area, stop by the Zeeland Liberation Museum for a tour along important events of WWII in the region. When Irene Brigade retired from Zeeland, its tasks were transferred to the 1st Belgian Brigade.

Day 6

Travel to the town of Hedel on the River Maas, where in April 1945 Prinses Irene Brigade was involved in heavy fighting. Continue to Wageningen, where the Brigade headed to on 6 May with the intention of being forwarded to The Hague. Continue with a visit to Grebbeberg Dutch War Cemetery and Loenen Field of Honour, where over 3,900 Dutch war victims are buried. Finally, head to The Hague where the Irene Brigade entered on 9 May 1945 as the first Allied unit. There you can check out The Museon, The Hague’s museum dedicated to science and culture, which regularly includes exhibitions related to WWII. End of the tour.