The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market Garden
A short while after Pierre Gallay had crash landed his Spitfire a teenage Oisterwijk
boy came along cycling down the road. He was on his way home from high school in
Tilburg. He was probably the first to encounter and approach the Spitfire that was
lying in the middle of the road. This is what he could still remember of that day
in October in 1944.
“I was a boy of 14 years of age in 1944 and lived in Oisterwijk during the Second
World War. During this period I went to high school in Tilburg called the HBS. It
was located at road ringbaan-oost. I remember quit clearly the day of 20 October
1944 when I was following class in Tilburg. During the morning, after school had
started, the air raid sirens had gone on and off almost the entire morning, so that
we were required to take shelter in our school basement every time these sirens went
off. We could clearly hear the aircraft outside flying low over our area. Because
we were required to take shelter in the basement so many times our teacher was not
able to give class in a normal way so instead he send everybody home. Me and my schoolfriend
took our bicycles for a fifteen-minute ride back to Oisterwijk. Together we crossed
the Wilhelminacanal swingbridge at Oisterwijksebaan and cycled our way back by means
of this road leading all the way to Oisterwijk. When we almost reached our village
we surprisingly stumbled on an aircraft that was lying on its belly in the middle
of the road. The aircraft was just lying beyond the road junction at the road Laagheukelomseweg
and was blocking almost the entire Oisterwijksebaan so we had to step of our bicycles.
The pilot of the aircraft presumably chose to land on its belly because of this reasonably
flat dirt road instead off in one of the bumpy fields besides the road that were
also full of ditches. The Oisterwijksebaan consisted those day’s out of a dirt road
with adjacent a sort of bike trail and some farms every now and then.
The aircraft was lying with the nose pointed in to the direction of Oisterwijk and
the tail to Tilburg. The entire aircraft looked reasonably intact to me. Nobody seemed
to be around so we concluded that the crash would have happened only a few minutes
ago. Because we saw no civilians and no Germans around we decided to approach the
aircraft so we stepped of our bicycles. When we walked up to the aircraft the first
thing I noticed was an aluminium shaped plate lying on the road behind the right
wing. When I approach the aircraft closer I noticed the cockpit was open and empty
and I could hear the ticking sound of the still warm aircraft engine. When I got
to the front of the aircraft I noticed the propellers where missing. I also saw two
machine guns from the wings lying on the ground. I could see they had come lose from
the aircrafts wings, presumably by the hard landing and sudden stop of the aircraft.
Now there where big holes were the onboard machine guns where once mounted.
We decided it was for the best to quickly take our bicycles and go home before any
Germans would arrive. But before we left I quickly grabbed the aluminium plate what
appeared to be the wheel cover of the landing gear and strapped it under my rubber
straps on the back of my bicycle. We didn’t dear to take the machine guns thinking
if we were seen by the Germans with that kind of weaponry we would surely end up
in jail. Then we took our bicycles and quickly cycled home.”
This eyewitness also provided me with a sketch that he draw. In this sketch are the
machine guns from the wings and the aluminium wheel cover behind the right wing.