Mike Strachan’s e-mail journal — Entry #30, from Netherlands
Received 22 May 2008
Travels for May 20/08 — Arnhem and Vicinity
When the alarm goes off at 7:30 AM, I awake refreshed — the rocking barge had a soothing effect. The Hertz office is a 10 minute walk away, and I get a small car, a Hyundai I-10. There is a good variety of small cars in Europe that we don't see in Canada.
I'm away by 10:30 for Oosterhout where a squadron of the 1H were on Dec. 24/44, as part of the defence of the Nijmegen Salient. The QOR were on the Waal river flats all winter. The next town the 1H visited was Andelst, and it's easy to find.
The road to Slijk-Ewijk (Sl-ike Ay-vike) is blocked by construction and traffic is diverted along the top of the Waal dike. It's very picturesque and peaceful here, sunny and quiet with barge traffic on the river. Slijk-Ewijk is just a few houses, a large brick building, and an old church. No-one knows the name of the church. The brick building was once a tobacco curing warehouse, and it's now a metal shop. The 1H were billeted here and in the nearby town of Lent starting January 27, 1945 after capturing the town of Zetten. From here they went to the Reichswald in Germany, which I visited several days ago.
The highway from Zetten to Wageningen is cut by a ferry link — it's a small cable ferry with capacity for about six cars plus bikes and hikers. The ticket costs €1.80, and the trip takes about 4 minutes. In Wageningen I find GeneralFoulkesWeg, a street lined with very stately houses, and I follow it to find the Hotel de Wereld.
At the left, the dining room of the Hotel de WereldIt was in this hotel on May 5-6, 1945, that the Canadian generals Foulkes and Kitching received the formal surrender from the German Generals Blaskowitz and Reichelt, with Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in attendance.
Next I go to Oosterbeek, to the Oosterbeek-Arnhem war cemetery which has 1,713 graves, 36 of them Canadian. It is the main cemetery for Operation Market Garden* aimed at the Arnhem Bridge in September/44. The operation did not succeed, and many British, American, and Polish were casualties or captives. In the same town is the Airborne Museum (shown at the right) which tells the whole story of Operation Market Garden with videos, uniformed mannikins, weapons, maps, and photos — very detailed.
Although it's rush hour I get the car back on time, head for supper and an ice cream cone, then back to the barge for a quiet night of reading and watching river traffic.
* Editor’s Note — Operation Market Garden is the subject of an excellent book, A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan and a well-done movie by the same name. It’s a good idea to read the book before seeing the movie, unless you enjoy being hopelessly confused!