Nijmegen is a municipality and a city in the east of the Netherlands, near the German border. It is considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and celebrated its 2000th year of existence in 2005.
Nijmegen in World War IIEdit
In 1940, the Netherlands were invaded by Germany with Nijmegen being the first Dutch city to fall into German hands. On February 22, 1944, Nijmegen was heavily bombed by American planes, causing great damage to the city centre. The American pilots thought they were bombing the German city of Kleve. Alleged by the Germans to have been a deliberate act, the NIOD announced in January 2005 that its study of the incident confirmed that it was an accident caused by poor communications and chaos in the airspace. Over 750 people died in the incident.
During September 1944, the city saw heavy fighting during Operation Market Garden. The objective in Nijmegen was mainly to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges. Capturing the road bridge allowed the British Army XXX Corps to attempt to reach the 1st British Airborne Division in Arnhem. The bridge was heavily defended by over 300 German troops on both the north and south sides with close to 20 anti-tank guns and two anti-aircraft guns, supported with artillery.
The Germans' late attempt to blow the road bridge may well have been foiled by a local Dutch resistance hero, Jan van Hoof, who probably cut the wires to the bridge.
The Germans made repeated attacks on the bridge using bombs attached to driftwood, midget submarines and later resorted to shelling the bridge with 88mm barrages. Troops were positioned on the bridge giving an excellent arc of fire in case of attack. Troops that couldn't fit onto the bridge were positioned in a bombed out house slightly upstream of the bridge. During the shelling, the house was hit, killing six soldiers and wounding one more.
Nijmegen was liberated from German captivity by the British Grenadier Guards of the Guards Armoured Division, as well as elements of the American 82nd Airborne Division in September 1944. This city would later be used as a springboard for Operation Veritable, the invasion across the Rhine River by Allied Troops.