Valkenswaard was the first village to be liberated on the main line of the British advance into Holland in September 1944. The cemetery, which lies in a pinewood, contains over 220 graves, almost all of them are those of men who fell in the fighting in the woods around Valkenswaard during that month. All the men buried here belonged to the forces of the United Kingdom.
The cemetery lies at the west side of the N69 (between Valkenswaard and Lommel) in Westerhoven in the area of recreationpark 'De Kempervenne'.
Squadron Sergeant Major William Parkes
William John Parkes was 33 when on September 17 he was commander of a Sherman tank on the road to Valkenswaard. At 2:35 pm Lieutenant Heathcote started operation Garden when he ordered his driver to drive. Heathcote led the first troop of the No. 3 Squadron, 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards on. Parkes rode as one of the last Sherman tanks at the end of No. 3 Squadron. In front of him drove Lance-Sergeant Cashon and in front of that Lance-Sergeant Wildman, both in Sherman tanks.
Just beyond the foothills of the Plateaux-Hageven, near the Achterste Brug, Heathcote passed the buried German Fallschirmjäger from Leutnant Vinke's Panzervernichtungs Zug with his first tanks. When Wilman came out of the forest, his tank and the tanks that followed were shot at by the Germans. Nine tanks were immediately switched off and the entire column came to a halt. Wildman, Cashon and Parkes among others died on the spot. One of the infantrymen, Lieutenant Russel, described the German attack: "Suddenly the tanks in front either slewed across the road or burned where they stood. The awful realization dawned on me that the next one to go was the one I was riding on." 91 Typhoon fighter-bombers were summoned to help break through German opposition.
Leutnant Heinz Volz describes it from the German side: "A large number were eliminated by panzerfausts firing from five to ten meters away. For the first time we were able to impose a decisive block because the terrain left and right of the road was not suitable for tanks. "
William Parkes is now buried at the war cemetery in Valkenswaard, grave II. B. 8.
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- Text: Jeroen Koppes
- Photos: Jeroen Koppes
- CWGC, William John Parkes
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