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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
|Bruce Cole at the Col. Cole monument.
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