Today we are off to The National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek, Holland. My Dad's brother, Roy M. Tuttle was in the 82nd Airborne during WWII, and was killed in action near Groesbeek, Holland on October 9, 1944.
The National Liberation Museum shows the history of the liberation of The Netherlands and Europe during the period of 1944-1945. The museum includes a section called "The Remembrance Dome" which honors the 150,00 Allied Forces killed during Operation Market Garden, a major offensive that took place from September 17, 1944 until Liberation in May of 1945. The 82nd Airborne Division played a key roll in this operation and liberation, and is specially honored with a display of panels with names of the 676 82nd Airborne soldiers killed in action. Roy Tuttle's name is among those listed. Roy would have been 100 years old on April 9th of this year.
It was quite a journey to Groesbeek; we took a taxi to Amsterdam Central Train Station, then a train to Nijmegen, and finally a bus to the area near the museum.
It was a nice train ride through the pretty Dutch countryside, here's some of the scenery along the way:
(Photos taken from the train window--they're a little blurry)
Big canals, little canals--all busy:
Pretty fields with sheep:
Picturesque towns dot the landscape along the way:
There was a pretty flower shop right in the station in Nijmegen. Here's Mom:
The bus ride is about 15 -20 minutes from Nijmegen to Groesbeek, and it winds throughout some beautiful, hilly country. These are the only hills in Holland, and the Dutch actually call them mountains. Ha!!
A pretty country road:
Here's Mom and Dad on our short walk to the Museum. We are very excited for our visit. Notice how pretty is is here--rolling, green hills and farmland:
The street side of the museum:
We walked into the main entrance hall and were immediately greeted by a very friendly lady who spoke excellent English. We paid a small entrance fee for Mom and I, Dad's entrance fee was waived, as he is a WW II veteran. I'd like to think he paid his entrance fee by his service!
We explained why we were here--that Dad's brother Roy M. Tuttle who was in the 82nd Airborne Division, had been killed in action near here. The nice lady took us under her wing, and we were given a personalized tour from the beginning. (Little did we know that the best and most amazing surprise was yet to come!) First she escorted us to a small auditorium, and showed us a 20 minute movie about the beginning of Operation Market Garden. This was quite interesting, as it included much actual footage shot by reporters at the scene. The photo below is of the actual landing of the 82nd Airborne Division on September 17, 1944, filmed by a reporter.
It's amazing to think that my uncle Roy M. Tuttle is probably in this film clip!
Mom and Dad viewing some of the many exhibits:
In the red section there was a small room dedicated to Anne Frank, and I appreciate the fact that they did not place this lovely, heartwarming picture of her on a red wall:
An actual yellow star that the Nazi's required all Jews to wear:
From the red section we moved on to the second and largest area of the museum, the blue section--The Liberation Years. This section was the most interesting, it was all about Operation Market Garden from D Day of September 17th, 1944 thru liberation in May of 1945.
Here are Mom and Dad at the beginning of that section:
Just as the soundtrack was finishing, that nice lady returned to introduce us to Mr. Maarten Dekkers, a long-time volunteer at the museum. She explained that Mr. Dekkers would be taking over for her, as he knew much more detail about the 82nd Airborne. Maarten has lived most of his life right in this area near Groesbeek, specifically in the small town of Mook. He was a child during the German occupation of this area, and during our time with him he shared stories of his childhood. He charmingly called these memories "souvenirs of my mind". His many stories made this sad time "come to life" for us.
Maarten is an absolute expert on Operation Market Garden, and could answer every question we had, and then some! It was fascinating to listen to him as he explained in great detail each of the museum exhibits, and most often there was a personal story to go along with all those details.
Here are a just a few of the exhibits in the Liberation area of the museum.
This is an actual radio used by Allied Forces:
Maarten explained that many local girls fell in love and married soldiers of the Allied Forces. During the very lean war years, fabric for wedding gowns was scarce to non existent, and many brides used parachute material to make their wedding dresses. These very pretty wedding and flower girl dresses were both made from parachute material:
And Dad in front of the panel:
Maarten kindly insisted on bringing his car around to the front, and soon we were on our way in his very comfortable car. He gave us a running history of the area, pointing out interesting sights along our route. His knowledge of that time in history is astounding!
Within a few minutes we were at our first destination. This green field is the "parachute drop zone" where many thousand 82nd Airborne soldiers landed on September 17th, 1944. Maarten remembers, as a young boy, watching the paratroopers float to earth on that day. One of these paratroopers was Roy M. Tuttle:
Along the way to our next stop we drove through a small town, and passed this windmill. Maarten patiently stopped so I could take a picture, and then told us the very interesting history of this exact windmill. During the time of German Occupation in Nijmegen, Groesbeek and Molenhoek, there were many Dutch Underground Resistance fighters. The local citizens were helpful and glad to hide them when the Germans came through on raids. To signal the Resistance fighters that there were German patrols in the area, the owner of this windmill would place the vanes of the windmill in a specific position to alert them. Maarten also explained that there is a special vane position that is used after a death in the family. Interesting information!
This is the original rail bridge over the Rhine River. The Germans didn't get this one, Allied Forces protected and saved it!