On Saturday October 14, 2017 we took part in Battlefield Tour Pegasus organized by Vrienden van het Airborne Museum and Platform Militaire Historie Ede

Operatie Pegasus consisted of two military operations. (Pegasus 1 and 2) near Renkum in the Dutch province Gelderland in October and November 1944 with the aim of the evacuation of allied soldiers from occupied territories across the Rhine to allied territory. 

After the defeat at Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division had to leave many thousands of soldiers on the north side of the Rhine. Some knew how to hide from the Germans, others were able to escape after they were captured. Many of these soldiers were captured and concealed by the local resistance on and around the Veluwe.
When it became apparent that the British Second Army did not quickly push over the Rhine, a plan was made to evacuate the many hidden soldiers across the Rhine. Lieutenant Colonel David Doby, commander of the first parachute battalion, swam the Rhine several times to coordinate the various activities.

Operation Pegasus 1 in the night of 22 on October 23, 1944 was a success, with more than 100 people being evacuated. In the night of 22-23 October, Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, American 101th Air Landing Division, was commissioned to secure evacuation by sending a strong patrol to the north side of the river. Among the escaped soldiers of Pegasus 1 were, among others, Brigadier General Gerald Lathbury and Lieutenant at Sea Charles Douw van der Krap.
Operation Pegasus 2 in November was a failure, with several casualties on allied sides.

During the tour, we were partially transported into historic military vehicles of the Second World War, the GMC truck, of Army Trucks' t Guild, which further immersed us in the 1944 atmosphere. We also walked sections along the route followed by the large group of British soldiers to come to the Rhine. On 22 and 23 October 1944 a bold plan was made to transfer left-back British soldiers to the Rhine to the liberated area. The Germans themselves offered a cloak because the occupier had ordered that Arnhem and the surrounding area be evacuated after the failure of Operation Market Garden. Large groups of people were on the road. Unobtrusively, the British soldiers could walk in between. It was impossible for the Germans to control everything and everyone. The resistance in Ede and surroundings played an important role in this bold operation. The bad in humans came up in that time, but also the best. Ede residents rescued their lives by helping, accommodating, feeding and dressing these British soldiers. It was a time of heroism, perseverance, love, faithfulness, and sacrifice. It is unimaginable that, under the enemy's eyes, such a huge rescue operation took place to let the British airborne escape into the liberated area.
Handing over a group photo to Legertrucks' t Gilde, thanks for being always ready for Platform Military Historie Ede.
Before we left for the tour from the location of the Platform Military History Ede, I had a conversation with Cedric Moulton whose father (Clifford Moulton) was part of the Canadian Polar Bear Division who liberated Ede on April 17, 1945. Here he is at the showcase who is dedicated to his father. A touching moment.
 
The liberation Ede by the Canadian Polar Bear Division on April 17, 1945.
Operation Market Garden

On the initiative of British General Montgomery, the Market Garden began operation on September 17, 1944. Operation Market Garden was an allied offensive at the end of World War II. It is the largest operation on Dutch territory during World War II. It was largely a failure for the Allies and the Netherlands because a final bridge at Arnhem could not be taken. In part, the west of the Netherlands was not liberated and was affected by the hunger winter.

In the night of 24 September 25, 1944, the remains of the first British Airborne Division were withdrawn over the Rhine and they joined the Allied Liberated Area around Nijmegen. But there were larger and smaller groups of British airborne soldiers behind those who were cut off from their own troops or escaped after they had been arrested or injured in a hospital. They tried to stay out of the hands of the Germans and were increasingly found by local resistance. The resistance gave their food and shelter. But it became an ever-increasing problem to get this food at a time of scarcity and the large groups of soldiers could hardly stay more unobtrusive. Something had to happen. Throughout the resignation, together with the formed British representation, a solution was sought to come into contact with the liberated other side to organize an evacuation from occupied territory. Operation Pegasus.

After the Battle of Arnhem

There are 6000 British airbornes left behind on the northern Rhine after the Battle of Arnhem. Many of them were prisoners of war by the Germans, others were in (emergency) hospitals. Also in Sint Elisabeth's Gasthuis in Arnhem. However, there were soldiers who saw the opportunity to escape from the hospital and swore and smaller and larger groups across the Veluwe. Hundreds of British soldiers hid in Ede and the surrounding area. They were traced and helped by the resistance. One had the hands to take care of them and to take care of them. Many were injured.

In the first few weeks after the battle, everyone expected the Allies to resume their attack and that liberation was only a matter of time. Plans were made to merge the military and Dutch National Armed Forces (NBS) into small British / Dutch combat groups. They would then confuse the German lines and commit sabotage. However, despite the sound of bombings and bombings in the direction of Arnhem and the Rhine, the long-awaited attack continued. The war was continued in Zeeland to expel the Germans along the Westerschelde to allow the port of Antwerp to be accessible in allied hands. Then the supply of the allied armies was no longer required to take place entirely from Normandy. That was during the cold and wet months of October and November 1944. The Americans opened the offensive in Hürtgenwald in November and on December 16, 1944, the Germans opened a large counteroffensive in the Ardennes.

 
Evacuation
After the Battle of Arnhem, the people of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Renkum, Heelsum and Wolfheze had to leave their place of residence by the Germans. The area along the Rhine became Sperrgebiet. But it went even further. On 1 October Wageningen was evacuated. On Friday, October 20, 1944, it was unexpectedly announced that the residents of Bennekom had to leave their homes within two days before Sunday, October 22, 1944. As a consequence, many refugees were on their way with everything they could carry on carts, bicycles, pushchairs and in bags on the back and in the hand. They had to figure out where they were going. Officers with white straps walked around. They offered as much help as possible. However, due to this evacuation, the British Airborne Group's citizens did not fall into civilian clothes. They walked in the middle of the evacuas and made sure they went to the agreed point, the English Forest at Nol in 't Bosch. Only then would they attract the British uniforms that had been taken there to go to the Rhine to cross into the liberated area on 22 and 23 October 1944. Operation Pegasus.
Evacuation Arnhem. They are the most women and children that can be seen. The men are hidden, because they can be arrested for the Labor Indictment, the name for the often forced involvement in the German war economy of workers from occupied territories during World War II. In Dutch, the term was literally translated into employment.
In Germany between 1938 and 1945 about 7.7 million workers of non-German origin were engaged in the war economy: in the German arms industry (Rüstungsindustrie) eventually half of all jobs turned out to be occupied by Fremdarbeiter.
 
Germans rob Arnhem
 
Escape?

Because of the absence of an allied attack grew the problem of keeping so many young men in occupied territory hidden. There were a lot of evacuations from Arnhem and the surrounding area, and additional German troops were arrested who were quarried. Often Germans and evacues were under one roof without knowing each other. Strong example was the fanatic German soldier who spent one night in the same room as a Jewish subducer. It was clear that this would not be good anymore. The consequences would be serious for military helpers. They could be sent to a concentration camp, burned their homes, the military in prison. For a long time, there had been a secret escape route through which allied pilots and crew members could be taken from shot-down planes to the liberated south. For example, there was the 'Windmill' route that ran through Maarn, Langbroek, Maurik, Tiel and Wamel to Nijmegen, which is in allied hands. From escape area, these escapees were led by the department of the British military intelligence service MI-9, over which Major Airey Neave was in charge. The Canadian Lieutenant Leo Heaps, classified at the British 1st Airborne Division, made it the first use of. He hit Arnhem in prison, but jumped on September 29 between Stroe and Apeldoorn from a German train, along with glider pilot Sergeant Alan Kettley. They came across secret secretary Gilbert Sadi-Kirschen ('Captain King') near Ede. They did not feel like waiting and hiding and got permission to try to reach their own lines again. They received 'Captain King' spy material for the Allied headquarters in Nijmegen. They had to go by route 'Windmil'. For example, it could be tested whether this route could also be used by other airborns. Heaps and Kettley left on 3 October. On October 6th, Heaps reached Nijmegen. Kettley followed on October 10th. Their arrival was reported to Captain King via the radio. On October 5th, from Ede another six men were put in safety. A German patrol held four British soldiers guided by the resistance men Simon van den Bent, Henk van Egmond and Jaap van den Berg from Ede. Simon van den Bent was shot by the Germans.

 
The former substation of the Provincial Electricity Electricity Company (PGEM), currently in operation by Liander, on the Knuffelweg in Ede, where we got an explanation of the secret phone line from this building to MI-9 in Nijmegen.
Contact with the Allied Headquarters in Nijmegen

The contacts between the British / Dutch staff and the Allied headquarters in Nijmegen were via the radio of 'Captain King'. On October 16 there was a possibility. In the substation of the Provincial Electricity Electricity Company (PGEM) on the Knuffelweg in Ede a telephone was connected that could directly call a PGEM power station in Nijmegen. There, the telephone line came from a section of the British Military Intelligence Service (MI-9), led by Major Airey Neave and Hugh Fraser. The Germans did not feel bad about this phone connection. The PGEM subway station in Ede was within walking distance of the British submarine Digby Tatham Warter, who served as chief executive of the British / Dutch staff. Through this line, it was discussed in direct contact with Nijmegen how the escape of the Rhine, Pegasus I operation, could be accomplished.

Major Thatham-Warter (second from left) at Wildeboer family in Ede, October 1944.
On the Veluwe, the Germans are everywhere looking for British soldiers. The situation has become very dangerous. In order to convince the British Army's headquarters of the need for action, these issues had to be personally brought to the attention of the British army. For this task, the British Lieutenant Colonel Dobie seemed very suitable. On October 19, 1944, he was able to convince Lieutenant General Dempsey of the need for a mass destruction. By telephone, Dobie reported to Major Tatham Warter that everything would be done to put British airbornes in safety. Winter came in, so it was a matter of bringing all the soldiers in one large group across the Rhine. In consultation with the Allied headquarters in Nijmegen, it was decided that this action would be carried out on Monday, 23rd Monday, October 24th. An exploration had to show which point was most suitable for this crossing. This exploration was performed by Captain Wainwright and Sergeant-Major Grainger. They chose a place east of Wageningen. A piece of forest east of Bennekom could serve as a gathering place. But that did not work because the Germans ordered the evacuation of Bennekom by Sunday, October 22nd. The action was advanced overnight and chaos could be used because the residents left Bennekom in large numbers with their bikes and carts.
In small groups, the soldiers were brought to the gathering point in the woods at Nol in 't Bosch from Saturday morning 21 October 1944. At this gathering point, the British Captain Frank had the lead. As soon as a group arrived, the men returned military uniforms through agent Sadi-Kirschen, who were dropped on a field at Voorthuizen on October 2 at night. This escape also included Dutch resistance men. They did not get uniform. Upon discovery they had to make sure they were gone. Also on Sunday there were still British soldiers at Nol in 't Bosch. The evening of Sunday, October 22, begins the actual escape operation. Under the guidance of the guides Maarten van den Bent and Jan Peelen depart at 21.30 the group of 106 British soldiers, an American, a Polish, 5 American pilots, 7 British pilots (one on their way to search), a Canadian kite, a Russian which disappears on the way) and 18 Dutchmen. The back cover is covered by armed airborns. They arrive at the Beek Valley around 23:00. Here, the British captain Wainwright takes charge of the Dutch guides. Jan Peelen goes back. Maarten van de Bent joins the main power. When the group crossed the road from Wageningen to Renkum, they encountered a German patrol. The British immediately open the fire. One of the Germans is killed, the others flee. There are no boats on the banks of the Rhine. Somewhere later, US soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, who have now been crossed from Betuwe with two boats, are waiting to protect the British. But they do not see Britons ... The misunderstanding is resolved quickly. With 21 canvas boats, carried by genists of the British 43th (Wessex) Infantry Division, the 137 participants of the operation Pegasus transferred to the now-liberated Betuwe side of the Rhine.
Gijsbert Janssen and his wife Jacoba Janssen-Groeneveld stayed in the September / October 1944 English parachutists hidden in the sheep cage behind their farm at the Zecksteeg 12 in Ede.
The sheep cage

At the Janssen family on the Zecksteeg there was a sheep cage in the country. Here, four Dutch SSs were detained. The resistance men who had to guard them had to cycle back and forth to the sheep cage, with the risk of falling off. Six British soldiers who came to the sheep cage later took surveillance.

Later, 31 British were found who also had a prisoner of war. Before they could be accommodated in the sheep cage, the SSs had to be shot to take place. There was no other possibility. They knew too much of everything and could endanger all stakeholders and the people of Ede. Permission from London came afterwards. The newcomers concerned the group of Lieutenant Donald Olliff. This group of 31 Britons from the 133 Field Hospital missed the dropping zone on the Ginkelse Heide and came down 18 kilometers away at Otterlo. After they had hidden for eight days, they had to appear because of hunger. The resistance helped them. 'Tonny brought them first to a log cabin at the Hindekamp, then to Jagersveld on the Lunterseweg and finally to the sheep cage at the Zecksteeg in Ede.
At the place where these four trees now stand, the sheep cage of the Janssen family at the Zecksteeg was in 1944.
Explanation of the events at the Sheep cage of the Janssen family at the Zecksteeg. At the time when the sheep cage stood, four trees are now visible in the distance.
 
Lunterseweg, a concentration of resistance
Now Oude Lunterseweg, but during the Second World War it was just Lunterseweg. Particularly in the section of numbers 28 to 36 there was a concentration of resistance in the last war year.
Number 28: 'Pax intrantibus. Here lived the Aartsen family. At this address, the staffing center of the Domestic Armed Forces (BS) was located. Here was also major Tony Hibbiert of the 1st Parachute Brigade. He was captured after the fighting at the bridge in Arnhem, but escaped again and brought this address to Ede by the resistance. He sat in the closet under the stairs to the attic. Because Mr Aartsen had tubercelosis, the Germans did not dare to enter. As a result, meetings could take place at this address. Here a large part of operation Pegasus 1 is prepared.
Number 32: Here lived the Wildeboer family. 'Bill' Wildeboer was the leader of the BS in Ede. Major Digby Tatham-Warter was hiding here. Tatham Warter, Hibbert and Brigadier General Lathbury had regular contact with Brigadier Hackett, who was hiding at an address on the Torenstraat in Ede. The house was demolished in 2013.
Nummer 34: Here the Van Eck family lived. For a long time, a Jewish girl was hiding here. The well-known Amsterdam Jewish professor Dr. Presser was here in 1943 and 1944 for some time. A German officer SS'er demanded incorporation in the house for himself. He was not open to the argument that the house was already full and investigated himself. The devious SS'er went to sleep at Dr. Presser in the bedroom. The next day he heard from his superiors hearing that he had to leave the house immediately. He did not realize that he spent the night with a Jew. Very bizarre story.
Nummer 36: Here, adjudant P.A. van Vark lived. He was the deputy section commander of the BS. In early December he was arrested by the SD. After torture in the cellars of Hotel de Wormshoef in Lunteren, where he left no information, he was executed in Heelsum on 21 December 1944. On 12 December 1945, the Mausoleum in Ede was officially taken into use.
Our group during Battlefield Tour Pegasus 1 on the Oude Lunterseweg, where we heard about the concentration of resistance at the Lunterseweg in Ede during the war.
Explanation by Gerard Gijsbertsen and Ed van Seters about the resistance at the Lunterseweg.
 
The Engelse Bosje
The so called 'Engelse bosje' is located on the Hartenseweg near the hotel restaurant Nol in 't Bosch. In this forest the participants of Pegasus 1 were collected. They had civic clothes not to be attacked. They got military uniforms and weapons in the forest again. The Dutch participants did not receive British uniforms. Moch went wrong, they had to get away as soon as possible.
Here we drink thee in the 'Engelse Bosje' around jeep
We walk the route through the forests of Renkum followed by the great group of British and Dutch on their way to the Rhine. They had to be as quiet as possible in the forest to prevent discovery. We also go quietly through the forest to get an idea of how that happened at the time.
We have arrived at the barn of Jan Peelen, where for the British uniforms and weapons were ready for the final route to the Rhine.
I think I still saw war damage at the barn of Jan Peelen.
We finished the last route to the Rhine with the GMC trucks.
Here we arrive on the banks of the Rhine where the crossing into free area in connection with operation Pegasus 1 took place on the night of 22 on 23 October 1944. It involved a group of 140 men who survived with boats that were overtaken from the other shore was transferred. It was an action of the famous 'Band of Brothers' of the 506th Parachute Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
 
End of the tour
When we return to the location of the MHE Platform, this Willys Jeep will come back again. This has partly accompanied us during our trip with two GMC trucks.
My wife Elly has a cozy conversation with the female driver of one of the GMC-trucks during this tour.
The GMC-trucks in front of the building of Platform MHE. The jeep is loaded on the rear truck. That was just as exciting ...