World War II: Liberation of the Netherlands--North of the Rhine Western Provinces (April-May 1945)

Figure 1.-- The First Canadian Army crossed the Rhine and liberated what was left of Arbhem- (April 14). This had been the objective of Market Garden 7 months earlier. Christmas came in April for these Dutch children in Arnham. Notice the happy smiles. They have just been given Red Cross parcels with all kinds of goodies. The major cities of Rotterdan and Amjserdam, however, remained in German hands for another 3 weeks. Source: U.S. National Archives.

As the Allies had crossed the Rhine to the south (March 1945). the liberation of the niorthern Netherlands came from the east. With the pressure from the east, the Germans were no longer to fully man their Rhine defenses that had kept the Allies at bay for 7 months. The First Canaadian Army funally crossed the Rhine and seized Arnhem (April14). Arnhem had been the objective of Market Garden 7 months earlier. The town had been largely destroyed and was a huge pile of rubble. Here we see Dutch children amist the rubble of Arnhem beaming iver their Red Cross packages delivered by the Canadian troops. A Dutch reader writes. "I remember those Red Cross packages. I got one also. Mine was dropped by air. It was just like the ones the children pictured here are holding. I don't recall though what was inside, except for a can of lunch meat like Spam or Hormel. That is something I wouldn't think of buying today, but at that time it was the most delicious food imaginable! It happened in February 1945 so we had to wait till the liberation in May to have something like that again. In the meantime people were dieing of starvation." [Stueck] The Germans in strong defensive positions still held out in the western Dutch provinces, including the major cities. The Germans allowed some flour shipments in from Sweden. This was probably trucked in, but we do not yet have the details. The local German authorities about the time Hitler shot himself (April 30), began allowing air drops of food by the Royal Air Force (Operation Manna) and U.S. Air Force (Operation Chowhound). The Allies by this time had ended the large scake bombardment of German cities. Thus there were plenty of aircraft sitting British auirfiekds which could be used for emergency air drops. The German commander finally surrendered (May 5), 3 days before the final German surrender ending the War. With the surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands (May 5), the Canadians moved into the Western Netherlands, including Rotterdam; the national center of government, The Hague; and the national capital, Amsterdam. The Dutch there had suffered through an unusually harsh winter with little food and fuel. The Allies immediately rushed in relief supplies. The Canadians were every where joyously welcomed. The Dutch refer to it as the 'Canadian summer' The bonds forged between Dutch and Canadian people endure to this day.


Stueck, Rudi. E-mail message (July 15, 2013). This Dutch reader has provided us details on his boyhood which include World War II experiences.


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Created: 9:01 AM 7/15/2013
Last updated: 9:02 PM 7/15/2013