The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

Attack on the ammunition train on 16 September

On 16 September 1944 a German ammunition train was attacked and destroyed in Oisterwijk.

This ammunition train was parked on a part of the Oisterwijk track that was used by the Germans as their marshalling yard, situated between the Oisterwijk train station and the level crossing at street Heusdensebaan.

Russian soldiers forced to hard labour by the Germans, and later also Oisterwijk citizens, were ordered to load up the entire German ammunition supplies from their depot in the Oisterwijk woods in an attempt to keep it from falling into Allied hands.

The Allied army at that time was already near the Belgian border and became a serious threat to the Germans.  

The Allies who ruled the skies over Holland kept a close eye on the area that had to be over flown for the oncoming operation Market-Garden.

In the days leading up to the operation they patrolled the skies in order to attack every German anti-aircraft battery, enemy troop or trains movement and other important objectives that were worthy of attacking.

 

RAF reconnaisse photo of the ammunition train from 13 September 1944. (click on photo to enlarge)

Aerial photograph of the ammunition train

Only days before 16 September a Typhoon fighter aircraft equipped with four 20mm cannons attempted to attack the German anti-aircraftemplacement at the marshalling yard.

The Typhoon approached his target low over the Oisterwijk centre on to the marshalling yard were train wagons already stood parked and loaded with ammunition.

The pilot gave a short burst with his cannons but after the German anti-aircraft gun came into action the pilot gave full throttle and flew off.

The presence of this Typhoon was most likely the result of earlier RAF reconnaissance sorties over the area, but reports from the underground could have been the reason to.

 

On 16 September, after a few Allied reconnaissance aircraft had circled above Oisterwijk, seven British Typhoon aircraft appeared on the horizon.

These aircraft, each equipped with eight 27 kilogram rockets and four 20mm canons, maneuvered themselves in position to attack the approximately thirty train wagons that stood parked on the marshalling yard loaded with German ammunition, bombs and grenades.

In three attacks the German ammunition train and many surrounding houses were destroyed.

The first attack took place from 11:30 a.m. and the aircraft operated from airfields in liberated Belgium.

Miraculously there were no fatalities amongst the Oisterwijk population, only fifteen civilians were wounded.

About 20 houses and two little factory’s close to the railwaylines were destroyed.

After their attack the Typhoons flew to the nearby village of Udenhout where they again attacked a German ammunition train.

This ammunition train stood parked close to the Udenhout trainstation and was partially destroyed.

However, the following day the remaining train wagons, by then parked on a side track, where again attacked and subsequently destroyed.

The ammunition that was in these wagons originated from the ammunition depots situated near the German airbase Gilze-Rijen and from depots at the city Tilburg.

 

 

These following photos show the devastating effects of the exploding ammunition and grenades on the train wagons and the buildings in the vicinity of the marshalling yard.
Aanval op de munitie trein op 16 September
British Typhoon Fighter aircraft