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WORLD WAR II PARATROOPERS

The Holland/BastogneTour 2009

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The Holland/BastogneTour 2009
THE 2009 NORMANDY TOUR
THE BOB SLAUGHTER OMAHA BEACH AND BEYOND TOUR
ANGOVILLE AU PLAIN STAINED GLASS WINDOW PROJECT
GORDON YATES H/506 GROUPING
THE CURTIS F. PARSONS GROUP MEDIC
THE JOHN W. GIBSON STORY 506TH MEDIC
THE HARRY D. CLEARWATER GROUP
CAPTAIN FRED O. DRENNAN MEDAL GROUP KIA
HARROLD MUSSER GROUP
EMORY NEWSOM GROUP/ POW
MARKET/GARDEN AFTER ACTION REPORTS FOR THE 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION
STUDENT CLASSROOM VISITS
NORMANDY APRIL 2006
HOLLAND APRIL 2006
NORMANDY APRIL 2004
HOLLAND 2004
BASTOGNE, BELGIUM 2004
PEGASUS BRIDGE 4/28/04
RELICS FROM NORMANDY
SOME OF MY COLLECTION
THE M-42 JUMP SUIT
DRESS UNIFORMS
JUMP WINGS
ARMY JUMPWING MANUFACTURERS LIST
JUMP WING OVALS
OTHER TYPES OF AIRBORNE PATCHES
REENACTORS
FAVORITE LINKS
ABOUT ME
CONTACT ME

In mid September we guided our tour group on a tour of the Airborne battlefields of Holland and Bastogne. We were accompanied by Don Burgett A/506 and Dan McBride F/502. Also with Dan on the tour was his lovely wife Alivia. On this page you will find pictures and details of our amazing trip.
 
 

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Our tour group including Donald R. Burgett A/506th WWII and Dan and Mrs McBride F/502 WWII, landed at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, the morning of 15 September, 2009. Immediately upon our arrival we took the group to the Airborne Museum at the Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek, west of Arnhem, so that became our first visit. The museum has recently been refurbished for the better and recommend a visit to anyone visiting the area.

Sept. 16th-After checking-in to a hotel in Eindhoven, we headed back-up to the Island, to get started. We did the island first instead of last on our Holland segment, because the 16th was the only day when we didn't have commitments in the corridor. We attempted to see Colonel Johnson's first C.P. on the island, but found that not only was the street blocked-off by construction vehicles, the entire facade of the house, including the former wording has been changed. We next headed up the street, to see Col. Sink's former C.P., but were immediately ejected by security from the parking lot and told "no photos allowed". This, because it it now a shelter for children removed from bad environments and there is a concern that their photos might be seen, as their current whereabouts is a secret.

After leaving that place, we stopped at the Linge canal and saw what is left of Talitha Kumi, the former girls' school where the 501 went to rotate off the Neder Rhine Dike; nothing left there but a cornfield now. 

 We led the group west, passing through the hamlets of Hien and Wely, then arriving on the Waal river dike at the limits of Dodewaard. This was the first place of interest to Dan McBride, who had been seriously wounded while patrolling along this dike in October, 1944.

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Dan was returning from a patrol along this dike, carrying a 40 lb M1919-A6 machine-gun on his shoulder, when a German mortar shell exploded beside him, sending both him and the weapon up in the air. Dan came to ground near the bottom of the embankment and the LMG came down muzzle first. The muzzle impacted Dan's lower left leg, breaking the bone in several places. He would be evacuated and his leg set and put in a plaster cast. When alerted for Bastogne, Dan's cast had just been removed and the leg was still weak and unstable. He would receive a long splinter of shrapnel in his right knee at Bastogne. Having also been shot in the arm back in Normandy, Dan ended the war with three Purple Heart Medals.

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September 17th, we spent touring Eindhoven, Son, Best, Sint Oedenrode and assorted places in the corridor. In late afternoon and evening, we went to Eerde, for the ceremonies there. While awaiting the start of ceremonies at Eerde, this young fella whose dad brought him over from the U.K, asked Mr Burgett for an autograph. He was a little shy at first, but Don talked with him and made him feel at ease.

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Also at Eerde, we met Paul Jackson B/501 WWII, who was traveling with a different tour group. I had never met Paul before, but we talked about his former company commander, Ian Hamilton, who was wounded the same day as Paul, outside Bastogne (11 January, 1945). There was heavy artillery and mortar fire that day. Mr Jackson was wounded, although not as severely as Hamilton. The Captain was lying on a stretcher on a medical jeep, awaiting evacuation for a light wound, when another shell exploded nearby, causing the loss of one of his eyes.   We learned later from Reg Jans, that he had visited Bastogne with Mr Jackson a few days earlier and they had verified the location of B Company's MLR near Neffe, Belgium.

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On the morning of the 18th, our first stop was the woods above the Joe Mann monument at Best. This was the area where Dan McBride's company F/502 PIR saw heavy fighting with German forces on 18-19-20 September, 1944. Dan related how his assistant machine-gunner Al Mazzeo was shot in the chest, fell across Dan's legs and died when his lungs filled-up with blood. Also killed in the same area, by a direct hit in the abdomen from a 20mm cannon shell, was Wilson Lee of the same company. A number of other Fox Co. men were seriously wounded and killed in this area, but they took a high toll of the enemy. Dan posed for this photo with two Mikes(Day and Lloyd), Matt Pellet, Ross and Dudley Cone and Rory from Ireland.

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We visited Ophuesden where Don Burgett told the tale of where he set up his light machinegun and also raced back and forth in an attempt to bring back plasma for a friendlt fire casualty. There used to be a windmill at this exact location and it served as an aid station.

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We also visited the apple orchard where Don and his fellow troopers shot it out with German soldiers as told in his book "The Road to Arnhem". His group had walked past numerous Germans that were staged in the apple orchard.  As they walked past, the German's waved at them appearently mistaking them for POW's!

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While up on the dike, Glen Derber of the 501st took a 700 yard shot a German who was relaxing in the sun on the opposite side of the dike. The German didn't realize that due to the bend the dike makes, he could be seen by the American troops on the opposite side. Derber fired a couple shots with his 1903 Springfield and hit the Kraut on the third shot. Glen was laying about where the white semi truck is in this picture. The German was way down near the white house on the left side.

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We also attended the dedication of the Colonel Robert Cole monument near Best. Col. Cole was shot in the head and killed at this location while placing marker panels just outside the edge of the forest there. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading the bayonet charge at the cabbage patch in Normandy earlier that year.
 
His son Bruce was on hand for the dedication as was a bus full of WWII paratroopers. I was very pleased to provide a WWII Medal of Honor for use in the ceremony and it was a touching moment when it was unveiled by Bruce Cole.
 

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Bruce Cole at the Col. Cole monument.
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On 19 September, before departing the Netherlands for Bastogne, we returned to Sint Oedenrode, saw Captain Hancock's former C.P. which is now an insurance company office, attached to a Chinese restautrant. We also went to the road junction at the former north edge of town, where the road runs to Schijndel. There was a battery of 75mm pack howitzers in the back yard of the original house on the SE corner of that road junction. German bodies were piled-up, awaiting burial on the SW corner, which is now an Esso gas station. This was also the road junction where a speeding vehicle column of Brits, accompanied by some members of the 101st Division Recon Platoon ignored warnings and got ambushed south of Schijndel. Some were killed, others captured and a few escaped, including Elmer Webber of Tuscola. IL who I interviewed many years ago. (Soldiers in that column mistakenly thought they were on the road to Veghel).
We also made a detour over to the other side of town, to visit the Henkenshage castle (pictured above), where General Taylor established the 2nd Netherlands C.P. for the Screaming Eagle Division. Dan McBride recognized the castle, although the neighborhood north of it has changed considerably. Dan set-up his machine-gun to provide security for Division HQ in the front yard of a Dutch house on the north edge of the park surrounding the castle. While there, he met a Dutch couple with a baby and there was a wooden shoe factory behind their house. Like many other 101st troopers, Dan was highly impressed with the Dutch people and their kindness toward Americans, which he will never forget.

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