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The Bridges

Subdeacon Joe

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Liberated Arnhem Flower Girl Still Attends To His Grave 75 Years On



Willemien Rieken still remembers the fierce fighting that took place around her home in Arnhem. She was a nine-year-old schoolgirl at the time, and she remembers watching the paratroopers coming down the road where she was playing with other children.

Willemien remembers seeing the Jeeps carrying the soldiers and they drove down the road toward the bridge. A few hours later, she clutched her father’s hand very tightly as she was ushered inside by her parents as the sound of fighting and bombs exploding could be heard.

The family hid in their tiny cellar, beneath her father’s confectionery shop for five long days while the fighting raged above their heads. The family was dragged from the cellar by a German soldier, who interrogated them at gunpoint as he suspected they were harboring Allied soldiers.

Fantastic video here from the BBC with Willemien Rieken

This harsh treatment left a scar on Mrs. Rieken, as did the horrific discovery of the bodies of four British soldiers in their garden.

The family and their neighbors did not forget what the Allies had tried to do for their little community.  After the war, they gathered together to pay tribute to the brave young men that had lost their lives in trying to free the Dutch

All the school children laid flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers, and there is an old black and white photograph of a very young Willemien kneeling on the grave of Trooper Edmond. Her hair was tied up in two plaits, and she holds the cross marking the grave in one hand.


The #Arnhem flower girl still devoted to hero who liberated her village https://buff.ly/2N4pSf5 

View image on Twitter


From a FB friend in the UK:




There are countless anecdotes about the events of 75 years ago this week, about the battles for the bridges. Here is an extract from the book Im currently reading and refers to one of those thousands of anecdotes. I’ve chosen it because it’s not one I’ve encountered before and.....well judge for yourselves:

“The Germans were taking the British wounded to a barracks in Apeldoorn, the Wilhelm III-Kazerne, converted into a makeshift hospital by captured British doctors and orderlies. Hendrika van der Vlist decided that she should go with them to help.

She found herself having to deal with some Dutch SS. ‘I felt ashamed for my compatriots in front of the English, but I have to try to get on with them’. She could do little when the Dutch SS discovered that the British wounded had Dutch currency, with Queen Wilhelmina’s portrait, which was banned in German occupied territory.

The SS started to frisk each man and take the money. The British began to object strongly. ‘Explain to them,
Sister’. We are not taking real money from them,’ the SS men said. ‘This is just junk’.” (“Arnhem,the Battle for the Bridges” Antony Beevor (2019))



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