's-Hertogenbosch revisited October 1985
Holland Reunion1985 was the 800th Anniversary of the Founding of the City of 's-Hertogenbosch. As part of the celebrations an invitation was sent out to former members of the 53rd Welsh Division, who took part in the Battle for liberation of the city in October 1944, to be guests of the people from 23rd October – 27th October 1985. The 45th Anniversary of the Battle.
The 1st Manchesters were the Machine Gun Battalion of the 53rd Division. About ten former members of the battalion attended. After overnight journeys from various parts of England and Wales we were met by our hosts at the Maasport Centre and conveyed to their homes in various parts of the town where we were made to feel like part of the family. The evening of the 23rd some of us were entertained by the Veteran Legeon Nederland at a pub restaurant in Rosmalen.
The following day, 24th October, was highlighted by a march down the original Battle Route into the city by regular army units and Reunionists, headed by the Regimental Band of the RRW, Royal Highland Fusiliers and 5th Royal Inniskillin DG. The parade was under the direction of WO1 (RSM) T. E. Walters MBE (Welsh Guards). After an inspection in the Town Square the Parade marched past the Town Hall where the Burgomaster Mr. B. Van Zwieten, GOC Wales, Major General P. E. De La Billiere CBE DSO MC and the British Ambassador to the Netherlands took the Salute. The Parade then marched to the Casino where refreshments were served. Gifts from the various Regiments were presented to the Burgomaster and speeches were made, followed by a concert by the South Wales Choir 300 strong.
In the evening we returned to the Casino with our hosts for a Liberation Ball, with a very good Glen Miller Type Orchestra and an 'Oom Paa' Band. A good evening was had by everyone.
On the 25th we were guests of the Dutch Army at the Barracks at Vught just south of the town. There we were treated to displays by the Dutch Green Berets, one of whom we discovered had a mother who came from Liverpool and seemed to know a lot about The King's. After the display we all retired to the dining hall for some beer and a typical Dutch Army meal. Very good too.
Saturday 26th was a day for Remembering. A Service in St. Jans Cathedral, which, in spite of the damage to the rest of the city in 1944, remained unscathed. The Colours of the RWF and RRW were paraded. The South Wales Choir sang the Dutch Anthem and General Sir Charles Harington GCB CBE DSO MC, who was GSOI 53 Welsh Division at the time of the Battle, presented a Cross of Remembrance in Welsh Oak, in memory of those who fell in the Battle, to the Dean of the Cathedral.
After laying wreaths at the Resistance Memorial a Service was held at the Monument to 53 Weish Division. Ray Leeson laid a wreath for the Manchesters.
A coach convoy to the Military Cemetery at Uden, about 15 miles journey, with a Dutch Police and Military Motorcycle escort where Respects were paid to the dead of the Battle. We all feit a bit sad after this day.
Sunday 27th - time to return home. Lots of old friends met and new ones made, hopefully for years to come. Each Reunionist was presented with a Scroll by the city of 's-Hertogenbosch and an Erasmus Medallion by the Dutch Government. A Dutch band played us farewell.
Finally to thank the organisers of this wonderful Reunion which none of us will ever forget, and to the people of this Dutch city for their kindness and fantastic hospitality. Members of the Manchester Regiment who attended were: T. Barton, HQ Coy; R. Leeson, A. Ridley, A Coy; K.C. Davies, B Coy; J. McCabe, S. Crane, T. Rust, D. Williams, C Coy; R. O'Connor, W. Moss, D Coy.
The Kingsman : The Journal of the King's Regiment, 1985