The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market Garden
Attack on the ammunition train on 16 September
On 16 September a German ammunition train was attacked and destroyed in Oisterwijk
by Allied fighter aircraft. The ammunition train was parked on the marshaling yard
between the Oisterwijk train station and the railway crossing at road Heusdensbaan.
Russian soldiers who were forced into hard labor by the Germans, and later on also
Oisterwijk citizens, where assigned to load up the stored German ammunition supplies
in boxcars. These supplies came from the German ammunition depot in the Oisterwijk
woods and were moved by the Germans in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of
The Allied army at that time was nearing the Belgian/Dutch border and where a serious
threat to the Germans. The Allies now ruled the skies over Holland and they kept
a close eye on the area that had to be overflown for the oncoming operation Market-Garden.
In the days leading up to the operation fighter-bomber aircraft patrolled the skies
to clear the area of German anti-aircraft and to attack and bomb enemy troop movements,
trains and other important objectives that were worthy to attack.
A few days before 16 September a Typhoon fighter-bomber equipped with four 20 mm
canons had already attempted to take out the German anti-aircraft gun located near
the marshalling yard. The aircraft had approached the village center and marshalling
yard very low. Once the pilot had its sights on the German anti-aircraft and a couple
of loaded ammunition boxcars he gave a short burst with his cannons. The German anti-aircraft
gun had swung into action at that time causing the typhoon pilot to give full throttle
and he flew off.
The presence of this Typhoon is most likely the result of the earlier made RAF reconnaissance
sorties over the area, but also reports from the local underground could have been
the reason. In any case, on 13 September there already had been RAF photo reconnaissance
aircraft sighted over Oisterwijk. RAF No. 542 Squadron from RAF Benson in the UK
had been active with its Spitfires in the area.
A few days later on 16 September again allied aircraft were spotted over Oisterwijk.
Not long after seven Canadian Typhoons came in low from the northeast approaching
the marshalling yard. They were aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force 438 Squadron
of 143 Wing who had taken off that morning from an airstrip in Brussel. Each aircraft
was equipped with eight 27 kilogram rockets and four 20 mm canons. They maneuvered
themselves in position and attacked the approximately 30 ammunition boxcars parked
on the marshalling yard loaded with ammunition and bombs. In three attacks the German
ammunition train and many surrounding houses were destroyed. The first attack took
place at 11:30 a.m., the second one around 1 p.m. and the last attack took place
around 14.50 hours. As in a miracle there were no fatalities amongst the Oisterwijk
civilians and only 15 people were injured. About 20 houses and two little factories
close to the rail road were destroyed. After this attack the Canadian Typhoons flew
to the village Udenhout were also a German ammunition train was attacked. This train
stood close to the Udenhout train station and was partially destroyed. The following
day however the remaining train wagons, now placed on a side track, were again attacked
and destroyed. The ammunition loaded on this German ammunition train came from the
ammunition depots of the German airfield at Gilze-Rijen and from depots in the city
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.