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Memory Route World War ll Trooper Barracks Destroyed Rijen

In the Municipality of Gilze and Rijen is a memory route created in memory of the Second World War.
In a number of places there is a sign with a description of what happened at that place in the Second World War.


Mad Tuesday is the designation for Tuesday September 5, 1944.
On that day, emotional scenes took place all over the Netherlands, following reports that the country could now be liberated from the German occupation at any time. The Allies had rapidly gained ground in the previous days. Brussels was liberated on Sunday 3 September and Antwerp was captured from the Germans on Monday 4 September.
The optimistic Dutch calculated this pace: on September 5 one could be in Rotterdam, on September 6 in Utrecht and Amsterdam, and the rest "would follow soon". In the south of the Netherlands, the roar of the cannons could have been heard. Rumors were thrown up, and the myth quickly spread that certain places in the south of the Netherlands had already been liberated.
In Rotterdam it was claimed that the Allies were at Moerdijk, and in Amsterdam it was claimed that they would be in Rotterdam and The Hague. This was accentuated by a British radio message that reported that Breda would indeed be liberated. Many Dutch people prepared the next day to greet their liberators. Flags and orange banners were brought out, and companies emptied because personnel wanted to meet the Allies on the street. Panic broke out among Germans and NSB members; administrations were hastily destroyed and many fled. This was also clearly noticeable in our environment.

The situation in Gilze and Rijen
In the course of Monday 4 September, German troops will continue to withdraw on the larger roads in our municipality, coming from the direction of Alphen and Chaam. Larger columns move along the Breda-Tilburg highway from west to east. Half-track vehicles are included. A few Allied scouts fly overhead. Gunfire can be heard in the south and southwest almost all day long. Around 4 p.m. one of the 7.5 cm guns of the Flak battery (anti-aircraft guns) on the Bavelseweg drives from the Biestraat towards Gilze. What seemed impossible at first is going to happen: after a long roar of test runs, the first Dornier 217 aircraft takes off in the direction of Rijen around 7 p.m. and then set a low flying course in the east-northeast! A total of 31 Dorniers will follow, a larger number than anyone had suspected.

Immediately after the departure of the aircraft, the evacuation of the Flak Propositions begins in a hurry. The own transport capacity of these units is nowhere near prepared for the sudden unforeseen departure order. Despite the rigorous progress of horse carts with feeders at the last minute with neighboring farmers (including Verhoven and Biestraat), large quantities of ammunition and all kinds of other materials have to be left behind.

The Luftwaffe is also on the run in Rijen. Several buildings such as schools and factory spaces have been requisitioned here since February 1944 or before by the Luftwaffe to accommodate soldiers, the housing of services or the storage of all kinds of material.

A large number of factories and other buildings are set on fire by the retreating Germans: the chrome leather factory of Gebr. Smeekens on the Laagstraat, in the Tuinstraat the leather factory of the company v. Dongen-Verheijden. Also in the Tuinstraat are burning: the shoe factory of the Wijs, the Bewaarschool (kindergarten), the Girls patronage and the Boys patronage, in the Hoofdstraat the R.K. Rectory. That night on the Hoofdstraat opposite the church, the fire rages in the Gebr. Theeuwes (the 'GT'), the R.K. Boys' school on the other side of the Hoofdstraat also burn down completely. At the Burg. Sweensplein the shoe factory of Klerks.

On that evening / night of 4 September, the building of the Boerenbond on Hoeksestraat, the café 'Het Haasje' and the M.P. barracks on Rijksweg also went up in flames due to the occupying forces. All in all a great material damage in Rijen but fortunately no injuries or deaths (yet). . .

This barracks have never been rebuilt. For a long time the fence was still around the complex, now it is a lawn and the rest has largely gone back to nature. In the seventies, a new military barracks were built in a residential area in Rijen-west.

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  • Text: TracesOfWar
  • Photos: Peter van Hoek (1), Heemkring Molenheide (2), (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • www.heemkringmolenheide.nl