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The Windmill of Eerde

The Windmill of Eerde was destroyed on 24 September 1944 during the battle for the sand dunes. On the mill is a plaque with the names of the fallen soldiers.

In this windmill, Sergeant Jacob H. Wingard (Pennsylvania, 501 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) was shot dead by the Germans on Monday 18 September 1944 at eleven in the morning when he gave fire control from the mill. He is buried on the American Military Cemetery Margraten.

On September 24 the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment was in and around Eerde, just above the corridor between St. Oedenrode and Veghel. At the time, there were a large number of sand dunes on the southwest side of Eerde, including a number close to the Eerdse Molen.

The Germans had planned several attempts to break the corridor for that day. It was the men from Kampfgruppe Chill who reached the sand dunes at 9:00 am. From there they had an overview of the Americans in Eerde and could be shot at with artillery and mortars. Four Jagdpanthers from Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559 supported the attack.

The defense of Eerde became primarily the responsibility of the 1st Battalion. But soon support from British tanks was requested. These came in the form of A Squadron, 44th Royal Tank Regiment from Veghel. They reported seeing a first Panther tank [sic] at 9:40 am. Shortly after 11:00 a short time in succession three tanks of A Squadron were taken out by the Germans. American sources then indicate that the British tanks withdrew and left the fight to the Americans. The British themselves indicate that they will retire to Eerde at 11:15 am and then plan a new joint attack at 1:43 pm with the entire 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. However, this attack does not start until later in the afternoon.

Company A of 1st Battalion then managed to chase the Germans out of the Dunes by attacking the dunes from the south: "I saw them, in twos and threes, jump into machine-gun nests. It was courage such as I'd never imagined possible – almost foolish courage – and I doubt if any group of men could have held their ground against it." After heavy hand-to-hand fighting, the Germans were driven out of the dunes and Eerde was secured.

On 17 September 2014, a small museum was opened in the mill. Next to the mill is also a monument for the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.

For current visiting hours, please visit the website of the museum.

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