The ranks of veterans and citizens who actually witnessed the events of September 1944 are deminishing. It is our duty that their stories will not disappear with them and that future generations be aware of our freedom and the price these heroes paid for it. There are thousands of stories originating from the days of September 1944, here are a few of them...
On the picture Maria ten Horn is on the right
During the height of the battle of Nijmegen, three Grenadiers, LSgt WFR Draycott, Gdsm J. Newsome and Gdsm GA Richardson were killed when their tank received a direct hit. This was near to the home of Maria ten Horn and Maria and her family buried the Grenadiers in their garden with Maria tending their graves regularly with flowers. However, as the war passed on from Nijmegen, the War Graves Commission eventually moved the graves to the Jonkerbos War Cemetery. For the next 54 years, until her illness, she continued to visit the graves at regular intervals to place flowers on the three Grenadier graves.
During the liberation of Nijmegen, Maria became involved in the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps of the YMGA. She later served as a Captain in the British Army between 1946 and 1948, after which she became the Personal Assistant to the Dutch Consul in Klieve. In that capacity she was involved in the process of repatriating the Dutch then present in Germany. She was also engaged on a special assignment to hear cases of Dutch citizenship.
She later studied English, becoming a teacher and translator. She was the holder of the France and Germany Star and the War Medal. Maria was present during many visits of the Grenadier Guards and through knowing Burton Upon Trent members who were veterans of the battle, she became an Honorary Vice President of the Branch. Each year she was proud to receive the Grenadier Gazette and cards from many of her friends in the Regiment.
She contracted cancer and after many months of illness died on 1st April 1998. It was her last wish that the flowers from her funeral were to be placed on the three Grenadier graves and those of two RAF pilots in Jonkerbos and this was done by her brother Lawrence.
(Grenadier Gazette No22 1999)
It wasn't until days later that I found out what had happened to the men I had left behind at Nijmegen. Both Number 4 Company and the Kings Company had gained their objectives on the approaches to the road bridge, clearing Hunner Park and the Valkhof of German troops and capturing their heavier weapons. The way was now clear for the tanks of the Second Battalion to storm the bridge. Major John Trotter, commanding number 1 Squadron of the 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards, ordered Sergeant Robinson to make the first attempt, but his Sherman was hit twice by anti-tank gun fire and he was forced to pull back for minor repairs. It wasn't until dusk was falling that a second attempt was made. This time sergeant Robinson's troop of four tanks were used. Sergeant Pacey led the attack, with Sergeant Robinson's tank following, and Sergeant Knight together with the 4th Sherman of the troop in the rear. The two rearmost tanks were hit and had to be abandoned , but realizing that his vehicle had not caught fire, Sergeant Knight ordered his crew to remount. They then followed the two leaders who were nearing the northern end of the bridge, which was guarded by an anti-tank gun.
Sergeant Robinson's gunner knocked out this formidable weapon with his second shot, and fearing that the bridge would be blown at any time, the tanks smashed through all other obstacles, until they halted a mile away. Their objective had been achieved and they established a bridgehead, and stayed isolated overnight. Here they were joined by a party of Americans, who had crossed the river some four hours earlier at a point near to the railway bridge, which was about three-quarters of a mile upstream.
Between 16-21 September 1944 the Guards Armored Division lost 130 men al ranks, with the battle for Nijmegen Bridge accounting for the majority of those killed. many of these men were my friends and colleagues and here I was on that same bridge some fifty years later, alone with my thoughts, in reminiscence. Number 4 company, the First Battalion Grenadier Guards. A smile came to my lips as I remembered the slogan for the Company, which came from the letters that were stenciled onto every one of our vehicles:" S.O.B". The "Shit or Bust Company of the "Fighting First "!
Jack Pritchard, No 4 Company
1st Bn Grenadier Guards
Guards Armoured Division 30th Corps
On the picture Peter Robinson is on the right
It isn’t fair to have one regiment in the lead all the time. You all took it in turns to lead. The Irish Guards started off leading first of all…probably Number 1 Squadron. And then somebody else and then it comes to the individual troops. Somebody’s got to be in front there and of course you take that in turn as well and that was where I came unlucky. The bridge wasn’t taken, which was our objective. We reached the far end of the bridge and immediately there was a road block. So the troop sergeant covered me through and then I got to the other side and covered the rest of the troops through.
We were still being engaged, there was a gun in front of the church (Lent) three or four hundred yards in front of us. We knocked him out, we got down the road to the railway bridge, we cruised round there very steady. We were being engaged all the time.
Lord Carrington joined us (at the railway tunnel) about two or three hours after, because he had been sitting on the north end of the bridge protecting that. He came over after a Lieutenant Jones (qc) debugged the bridge. We stopped there until about 4 o ‘clock the following afternoon. The Irish Guards went through us and they came and fetched me back on a scout car to our Headquarters. There was an ‘O’ Group there with all the Generals who wanted to know what had happened. They taped recordings, in those days the recordings were done on records. They sent them off with a DR (Despatch Rider) and the DR was never seen any more.
Sergeant Peter Robinson, commander of the first Guards-tanks to cross the Waal-bridge on the 20th of September 1944, the northern viaduct bears his name.
In Memory of Lance Corporal
DENNIS FREDERICK LADDS
2612986, 2nd Bn., Grenadier Guards
who died age 31 on 13 November 1944
Son of Frederick William Joachim Ladds and Clara Ladds, of Cambridge; husband of Margery Osyth Louise Ladds, of Cambridge.
Remembered with honour
Casualty of War on the road from Gangelt to Geilenkirchen (Germany)
Grave/Memorial reference L.1.
SITTARD WAR CEMETERY
Sittard lies on the main road from Maastricht to Roermond, 19 kilometres north east of Maastricht and 29 kilometres south west of Roermond. From Maastricht the E25 leads north east towards Lindelheuvel. From Lindelheuvel lies the right hand turning towards Sittard (5 kilometres). The cemetery is located approximately 1.5 kilometres from the town centre on a road called Kromstraat, a road leading from the Rijksweg Zuid. The cemetery can also be reached from a road leading from the N276 at the junction of the road running between Sittard and Geleen. At this junction follow the direction towards Sittard itself. Alternatively, approaching from the centre of Sittard follow the road towards Geleen. The cemetery is signposted thereafter.
The burials in the cemetery, apart from a few dating from November 1944, are almost all from the months of January and February 1945. The men buried here belong mostly to the Scottish regiments of the 52nd (Lowland) Division, engaged in the battle in this vicinity from 18th to 24th January 1945, which had as its object the clearing of a salient west of the River Roer which was still held by the Germans. There are now over 230 1939-1945 War casualties commemorated in this site.
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