On Saturday 14 June 2015 there was a battlefield tour in the city of Groningen. The Canadians made an outflanking movement when approaching the city and penetrated it on 13 April 1945 from the north of the city through the Noorderplantsoen from Eelde-Paterswolde on the Paterswoldsemeer way they came into the city from the west. They encountered huge resistance.
On the Paterswoldseweg Fred Butterworth was killed in action in his tank of  The Fort Garry Horse. His tank was hit by a German Panzerfaust and smashed into a block of houses that completely burned down. On this location a plaque on the facade of the house and is commemorated yearly, often in the presence of his surviving brother Stanley Butterworth, who also served at the Fort Gerry Horse Regiment. He also was in his tank in Groningen and passed this place a little later on the Paterwoldseweg. On 9 April 2015 I had the honour to meet him at the opening of the exhebition The Battle of Delfzijl and he was also at the re-enactment of the Battle Groningen on the Main Square  .
Bettie Jongejan of War and Resistance Center Groningen (OVCG) hangs a wreath on the front of the house where the tank with Fred Butterworth came to a halt after being hit by a German "Panzerfaust" on 13 April 1945. As the first Canadian soldier, he was killed during the Battle of Groningen.
The firebreak at the Kamerlingh Onnesstraat near Parkbrug. Through this firebreak behind the houses the Canadian soldiers ran to Parkbrug. The used this firebreak so they did not come under fire of the German FLAK which was shooting from Parkweg to the bridge.
On Parkbrug the Canadian soldier Thomas McCormick was killed in action. After 70 years on the bridge a plaque has been unveiled in memory. There were a total of 43 Canadians killed during the Battle of Groningen.
More about the liberation of Groningen...
 
The Battlefield Tour...
Led by our guide JoŽl Stoppels (Battlefield Tours),  we started our tour through Groningen where the Canadians finished on 16 April 1945: on the Main Square (Grote Markt). We followed the route the Canadians took from the west but then in the reverse direction. At various points along the route we heard the story of what had happened there.

On the Main Square, the goal that Canadians reached on April 16, 1945, we began our tour through the city. The situation was then dramatically because the Germans had the east and north of the Grote Markt burned down, while many buildings in the surrounding streets were destroyed by the fighting. At the Market in the dreaded Scholtenhuis, was the headquarters of the Sicherheitzdienst SD. The dreaded SD'ers who had made the north unsafe in the last months and made many victims, fled to fled to Schiermonnikoog meanwhile. This is described in part 3a of Trilogy Het Scholtenhuis

 

This SS- flag fluttered on Scholtenhuis during the war and is now preserved at Center of War and Resistance Groningen.

Scholtenhuis, headquarters of the SD, with 'wrong' typewriter used by theSD with SS-key.

The ruined Scholtenhuis.

The ruined Scholtenhuis, former headquaters of the SD, on the Grote Markt. Shortly before the arrival of the Canadians it was set on fire by the Germans and it burned down just like the other buildings on the eastside.

The buildings on the north side of the Grote Markt were set on fire by the Germans too. Therefore, the destruction was complete. The student association which was established there was completely lost. A plaque on the facade of the building risen after the war reminds us here.

The Wehrmacht at Grote Markt on 16 May 1940.

The Grote Markt at Groningen before the war.

The Grote Markt at Groningen in 1945. On the right the burnt Scholtenhuis. The Martinikerk with tower were remarkably well preserved.

Guardhouse Martini tower before the war

The burnt guardhouse at Martini tower in 1945

The guardhouse has been demolished, maar the building behind it was rebuilt beautifully and today You can enjoy delicious coffee with 'Grunneger Kouk'.

Canadian tanks in the city of Groningen with the barrels aimed at Steenstilbrug.

In the wall of the Martinitoren you can clearly see the traces of the battle. You can still see the impacts of including a German MG-42 machine gun and granates fired by Sherman Firefly tanks that the Canadians used during the fighting in the city.

Elly on the foot of Martinitoren.

The historical buildings on the south side of the Grote Markt were saved. Here were the Canadians who decided to storm the north side when the Germans refused to surrender.

Former Gold Office.

Gold Office after liberation in 1945

Gold Office and city hall in 1945

Destructions on the Main Square in 1945

The ruined north side of the Main Square seen from  Guldenstraat.

On the rear of the city hall you can see this war damage.

Our guide JoŽl Stoppels tells us about the battle around the city hall strijd rond het stadhuis, causing this damage.

Memorial in Stoeldraaierstraat.

Stoeldraaierstraat after the explosion of a German ammunition truck on Sunday 15 April 1944

70 years later I made this comparison photo.

Radio station 46-set in a Bren Carrier at A-Kerkhof today Cafe de Beurs.

Poelestraat then, with German van, shortly after liberation.

Poelestraat now.

FLAK in the street 1e Drift, close to Ebbinge bridge.

Where that FLAK stood in the street 1e Drift, close to Ebbinge bridge.

Former postal and telegraph office, where the Canadians were using the phone for communication. Because of the problems with their connection in the urban area.

Opposite the former postal and telegraph office.

On many spots in the city you can still see traces of war.

15 April 1945, Zuiderdiep. combat break South Saskatchewan Regiment.

20 mm Flak Vierling on Gedempte Zuiderdiep opposite Ubbo Emmiusstraat.

Gedempte Zuiderdiep where 20 mm Flak Vierling stood opposite Ubbo Emmiusstraat.

Elly is watching photos with someone of our group.

Traces of war on Gedempte Zuiderdiep.

Ubbo Emmiussingel 79 where the Orts- en Wehrmachtkommandantur was established.
Ubbo Emmiussingel 79 where the Orts- en Wehrmachtkommandantur was established.
On this spot was Diaconessenhuis at Praediniussingel during the fightings for Emma bridge.

Explanation at villa Heymans.

View on Central Station, as seen on from villa Heymans.

During the liberion of Groningen two tanks stormed across Emma bridge in the direction of German fire coming from Emma square. On of the tanks drove by Ubbo Emmiussingel to Ubbo Emmiustraat. The Phyllis tank was hit by a Panzerfaust from Zuiderdiep. The tank smashed into the facade of a bookstore on the corner of Coehoornsingel and Ubbo Emmiusstraat.

Tanks drive from Zuiderdiep into Oosterstraat.

I made this comparison photo.

Peperstraat

Verlengde Oosterstraat, Sunday 15 April 1945. Canadians of Les Fusiliers Mont Royal.

Molensraat at Rademarkt, Groningen. Sunday 15 april 1945. Canadians searching the houses.

Monday morning 16 april 1945. Poelestraat. Germans surrender.

Corner Schoolstraat-Poelstraat at Poelebrug.

In the morning of 15 April 1945 the Germans placed to cars full with explosives on  Poelebrug at bait for Canadian fire. The plan did not work. Both the cars and the bridge remained intact.

Finally we arrived at the building of former National Archives. On 16 April 1945 during the heavy fightings the German occupier was forced to surrender by the Canadian army. On the facade and inside the building is a plaque remembering the German surrender.
The German commander had a lack of ammunition and moreover saw that it was useless to fight until the last man. Lieutenant Colonel Dextraze of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal of the sixth brigade thus managed to force the surrender in the headquarters in the former National Archives at St. Jansstraat. The fifth and sixth brigades swept meanwhile the last pockets of resistance, such as the North High Bridge clean. The last to the north and northeast of the city were taken. Then the march was deployed to Delfzijl which ultimately resulted in the liberation of Delfzijl. The battle for Delfzijl lasted from April 23 until May 2nd.
The courage of Lt.Col.Dextraze was rewarded with a DSO (Distinguished Service Order), a high military award.

Fascinated we listen to the story of our guide JoŽl Stoppels about the German surrender in the building of the National Archive.