's-Hertogenbosch 1986


On 27th October, HE The British Ambassador to the Netherlands opened a Welsh Room in the Town Hall at 's-Hertogenbosch to commemorate the action by the 53rd (Welsh) Division and supporting units in liberating the city in 1944. The idea of having a visual display permanently on view was conceived by Luc van Gent, the authority on the battle and known to many members of the Association. Also in the Welsh Room is a cabinet in which the Burgomaster has housed the gifts he received on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the city, presented by units which took part in the battle; these include our Regimental plaque and the ceremonial plate presented by Captain Boardman. It was a pleasure to be present at the ceremony, which was preceded by a wreath-laying at the Resistance Memorial, and then at the 53rd Division Memorial. Two members of the Association were there: Sydney Sift (ex-Sgt B Squadron), the designer and maker of the ceremonial plate; and myself.
The following day we went down to Limburg to revisit Sittard, Nieuwstadt and Gangelt (in West Germany). We also went over the famous bridge at Susteren, the subject of several illustrations in A Short History of 7th Armoured Division. For the second time in 12 months, we were in Montford and Sint-Odilienberg. Sydney was able to take a long look at the notorious Aanderberg cross-roads and is thinking of making another draft of his painting copied from the Illustrated London News drawing of 1945. Remarkably, through the kind offices of Agnes van Gent, I was able to find two members of a family whose name Broeksteeg I remembered after all these years. Their farm, a few hundred metres south of Geffen, was in No Man's Land, which we patrolled during the period 1st to 21st October 1944, preparatory to the battle. Mevrouw Broeksteeg, now 81, to whom we spoke through an interpreter, recalled the arrival of the Regiment and mentioned two people whom she called "De Dikke" ("The Fat 'Un") ie "Tiny" Wootton, and "De Lange" ("The Thin 'Un"), possibly the author of this article he was thin, tempora mutantur, etc. Her daughter, Sjaan van Rhee, who had previously received us in her flat near Venlo, recalled sitting on the tanks and being given compo sweets and chocolate. She has also provided the accompanying photograph of the Broeksteeg farm as it was shortly after 1944. It will probably conjur up memories for many members of the Association.
A final point of history - Mevrouw Broeksteeg now lives very close to the spot where Tiny Wootton shot the goat which, he alleged, replied in German when he challenged it one dark night while denying the enemy access to the tower of Geffen Church.

5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards Journal, december 1986