1 Airborne Recon newsletter No 32 February 1991

The following article was in the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron Newsletter, No 32, February 1991.

Bakkerstraat – Further information by L.O.F. Member Henk Harmsen.

In September 1944 there was a garage next to the Bank and above that an office of a transport business called Van Gend En Loos. During the fighting on the Bridge the Germans set up a Command Post in this building.

On Tuesday morning, 19th September at 08.45 hours a group of 30 British prisoners stood in front of the garage. They were disarmed and marched off by the Germans.

There was also a group of 12 civilians in front of the building, 7 of the civilians were marched off, the other five (Smit brothers, Zwolle, Veldhuizen and Mielenkamp) [My note: see the FREEDOM TRAIL, STAND 28] were pushed into the garage. After a short moment neighbours heard heavy gunfire; the five had been executed.

The bodies lay in the garage until Friday and were later buried in the garden. After the war they were re-buried at the Arnhem Moscowa Cemetery. What was the motive for this horrible drama? We need to go back to Sunday, 17th September 1944.

In the environs of the Bridge, Dutch people were sheltering in a cellar of a school building at Rijnkade. They had moved down into the cellar of the school on Sunday. The families Smit, Veldhuizen and Mr. Mielenkamp, who was a member of the Dutch A.R.P. were also sheltering there. By nightfall two badly wounded para’s were taken down into the cellar. Medical aid was necessary, so one of the people had to call a Doctor. Mr. Zwolle, a well-known family Doctor arrived. He had to operate upon the wounded Arthur Maybury [89th Parachute Field Security Section], together with a British Doctor. Unfortunately Arthur Maybury died a few hours later. Mr. Zwolle was also sheltering in the cellar now and had to assist in caring for the wounded para John Watkinson [Cfmn. J.H.Watkinson, No 3 Light Aid Detachment, R.E.M.E. attached 1st Para Brigade].

The dawn of Tuesday, 19th September put an end to the sheltering of the people in the cellar. The Germans penetrated into the school and asked for the wounded para’s. The women and children left the school immediately, the wounded para was taken out by the five men and then he was taken away by the Germans. What followed was the drama of Bakkerstraat.

There was also another story: There had been some talk of treason! Mr. Zwolle, the family Doctor, had connections with the Resistance. Possibly a list of Dutch collaborators, which he had with him could be the reason for the executions, but during the occupation by the Germans any Dutch person hiding British soldiers or airmen was arrested and shot. So what is the reason for the deaths of the five civilians? We shall never know. But, one thing is clear, though, the hiding of the two para’s and the call for a Doctor who aided in the first night of the Battle gave one of them a chance for recovery.

They deserve to be remembered for it.

Kindly transcribed and supplied by R Hilton

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