Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bergen Op Zoom

This is a little exercise in reconciling old pictures with new ones. Trouble is, often my holiday snaps are rarely taken from the same perspectives as the old ones. Case in point, the pic below. Above are the Canadians who visited in October of 1944. Very pretty little town square. The Canadians had been mauled pretty badly on the trip to get here, this was pretty much all that was left of our armour. Needless to say, we had to hold off a bit, and lick our wounds, we took well over 70% casualties within the last month and had nothing to speak of in the way of serviceable armour. The British called it a "side show".
But the side show opened up the port of Antwerp, allowing everybody to re-arm and get ready to march north through Holland to Nimegan. We were not the only ones to take a lickin' though....the German 7th army, the Adolf Hitler Paratroops, and the German LXXXVIII army (thats the famous 88th army) Corps managed to withdraw in fairly good order, and the Hermann Goring Ersatz regiment proved to not be so ersatz at all. They hung onto Holland through the "Winter of Hunger" (as the Dutch call it) Just to put it all into order, this all was going on while the "Bridge Too Far" was tripping over its long feet, and in a month or two, the Germans will pull a lot of the troops out of Holland and hit the Americans some sixty miles to the South in Bastogne, the famous "Battle of the Bulge". But for now, here, everything is peaceful, mostly because nobody has enough energy to stand up, let alone fight.
The top picture was taken from the bell tower, and here is what the bell tower looked like in June of 2007. Those old stones must have seen the ebb and flow of army after army...they date back almost 900 years. In 1944, they saw the 4th, 6th and 10th infantry brigades from Canada, the 49th and 104 divisions from the US, and the 1st Polish Armed Division drop in for a beer.

The Palais de Justice. The statue is of blind justice with a sword and scales.

This coat of arms even LOOKS old. I have no idea how old.
And I believe you can see the same building in the 1944 print above.

Looks pretty in the sun though.

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