The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

The Battle for ‘s-Hertogenbosch from the German perspective

Brief overview of the battle

During my research I came upon German documents about the battle for the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the capital city of the province of North-Brabant. The city lies 13.5 miles north of Oisterwijk and it was liberated during ‘Operation Pheasant’, the liberation of southern Holland. The battle took place during four day’s in late October 1944 under codename ‘Alan’. The liberation of ‘s-Hertogenbosch would be that of the 53rd Welsh Division under Major-General R.K. Ross and the 7th Armoured Division under Major-General G.L. Verney, the well known ‘Desert Rats’. Operation Alan started at midnight on 22 October 1944.

 

These German documents cover 22 October to 28 October. The documents were archived as the battle report about the battles of the German 712 Infantry Division east of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The German 712 Infantry Division was commanded by the German commander Lieutenant-General Neumann. The 712 I.D.  together with the German 59 I.D. defended the area around ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The city’s commander of

was Oberst Dewald.

 

On the first day, 22 October, the Welsh 131st Brigade and 22nd Armoured Division liberated the villages Middelrode, Doornhoek and Berlicum while the 158th Brigade, 160th Brigade and the 71st Brigade liberated the villages Nuland and Kruisstraat. On the 2nd day, 23 October, the Welshmen advanced up to the villages Rosmalen, Bruggen and Hintham, one mile east of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

In the night from 23 on 24 October the attack on the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch began at 02.00 hrs. The Welshmen advanced along the rail line and Hinthammerpark thereby taking the commandpost of General Neumann. Neumann, though ready to defend his post, was ordered by Gerneral Reinhard to retreat his post together with his staff which he did. The Welshmen were able to advance onto the canals Dieze and Zuid-Willemsvaart and formed a bridgehead at the edge of the city, on the east side of lock O in the evening of 24 October.

 

On 24 October also the 51st Highland Division attacked the area south of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, advancing from the village of Den Dungen, south of the Zuid-Willemsvaart. The Highlanders advanced until south of ‘s-Hertogenbosch near the village Vught which was still in the hands of the German 59 I.D. The only way out of the city for the Germans would be to the west.

 

On 25 October at 11.00 hrs the attack on the city-centre began with the 160th Brigade together with the 1st and 5th Welsh attacking along the Dieze on to the station square the Wilhelminabridge and Dommelcanal.  The 1st East Lancs attacked along the east on to the Wilhelmina square, Vughter bridge and Willems bridge.

After bitter fighting advance was made until the Dommel canal in the west part of the city liberating the city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

On 26 October the attack on the last part of the city started with the 1st and 5th Welsh attacking over the Wilhelminabridge and the 1st East Lancs attacking the two bridges at the Wilhelmina square. After bitter fighting the East Lancs and the Welsh were able to form up in the evening at the station square occupying the west side of the Dommel canal around the train station and rail lines west of the city-centre. That same day also Vught was liberated by 51st Highland Divisions 154 Brigade. They were able to contact the 53 Welsh Division at the destroyed Vughter bridge. General Neumann had still fighting spirit and wouldn’t give up. He planned a counter attack for the next day of 27 October with the troops he had still left to attack the area around the train station from the west.

 

In the morning of 27 October the Germans attacked but the Welsh were well prepared for a German counter attack and repelled the attack. The German counterattack was a big fiasco resulting in lots of German soldiers being killed and taken prisoner, amongst them the German Major Riedel. The Battle for ‘s-Hertogenbosch was over and the Germans retreated to the west on to the village Vlijmen. 253 civilians were killed during the battle and a further 2100 were wounded of which 800 with severe wounds. 722 buildings were destroyed ore damaged beyond repair. Amongst the Welsh that liberated the town lots of men were either killed ore wounded counting 11 officers and 134 soldiers killed and 705 wounded.

 

The following pages hold the translated German report of the German perspective on, and the outcome of the battle. This report, signed by the German commander of the 712 Infantry Division General-lieutenant Neumann, counts 17 documents.

53th Welsh Division
7th Armoured Division

53rd Welsh Division in the streets of

’s-Hertogenbosch.

 

Rare film footage taken after the Battle for

's-Hertogenbosch. It shows the battle damage in a part of the city's centre and civilians in the streets evacuating their homes. Welshmen are seen entering the city's streets on foot and by carrier. (without sound)

The Battle for 's-Hertogenbosch by Major-General

Henry Woods.

 

Battle account by Major-General Henry Woods, Tank Troop Leader in the Battle for 's-Hertogenbosch. This account is about the actions of 'A' squadron of the 2nd Manchesters starting at Nuland.