"Remembering the Polish Brigade" Driel Travelogue by Pavlik_NL
Driel Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 48 photos
Of course I know the monument for the Polish Brigade droppings and the evactuation engineers that made the saviour of the remaining forces of the British 1st Brigade, trapped in Oosterbeek after the battle of Arnhem. I have passed this monument places along the dike between Driel and Arnhem many times by bike and car and stopped once and a while to stand still with the dramatic events that took place here in September 1944.
The Polish Brigade was added to the British Airborne Division that landed near Arnhem in Operation Market Garden (see my Arnhem page about the battle). Being the last group to be dropped, even a few days later on scheduel, the Polish jumped straight into hell. The droppingzones were practically all in German hands and therefore the Brigade was jumping over Driel, that was also in German hands. Many of the soldiers were - against the convention of Geneva - already shot in mid air (defenseless position). The remaining soldiers swam across the Rhine and joint the exhausted British in Oosterbeek, to only a day later get their retreating orders.
The most tragical part of the Polish was that they fought for their country as volunteers under the allied forces. Many however never saw their country again, that after the war was occupied by the Russians, that saw the Polish volunteers that fought from the West as traitors! In the West they also did not have a hero's life as being foreigners with nowhere to go. In comparison: General Sosabowski, which was the leader of the Polish Brigade, spend his post war life in the Netherlands as factory worker.
Only in the eighties of the 20st century some Dutch groups started fighting for a hero status of the Polish paratroopers and with success. Commemorations started and driel became the centre for this as being the place where the polish were dropped in Operation Market Garden. Especially the 2004 commemorations were special, 60 years after the real thing and with still some veterans present. The event is always with parachute jumps, Poles and Dutch together.
Ilja, born in the place that lays close to my heart (Arnhem) also will join me in these commemorations and is listening carefully to my stories, catches by the special actions that are during the commemoration events each September. In 2004 we also went to Driel (as the parachute droppings on the Ginkel Heath drew so many people that we couldn't reach it by car (trafficjams all over the place). In Driel however we enjoyed the parachutes and some demonstrations of the Dutch Commando forces, despite the heavy wind that blew over the land.
In 2004 one of the people that came down from above was General Sosabovski's grandson! He did this through a duo-jump and was welcomed by a roaring applause. let's hope that his grandfather also heared it ... somewhere up there in heaven.
From the film "A Bridge Too Far"
"I am thinking about a written order for our part in this operation in case of a massacre" and eventually: "no, you don;t need to write it, because what does it matter after we're all slaughtered"
"it doesn't matter where it went wrong ... it goes wrong when one man says to the other 'let's go to war' ... then we all start dying"
- See All The other church
- For those who stay longer
- See All Crossing the river by bike or foot
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