Dutch honour Welsh war heroes

By Andy Maguire in 's-Hertogenbosch

TO the people of 's-Hertogenbosch Dan Currie is a hero.
Fifty years ago today, he and hundreds of other Welsh soldiers liberated the Dutch town from the Germans.
Today, the 72-year-old veteran and his comrades were given a hero's welcome by the people of the town in southern Holland.
The six-day struggle to capture 's-Hertogenbosch is often called the last great land battle.
The German garrison at the town was strategically positioned to protect the nearby port of Antwerp and the Allies were desperate to take control of it to open up vital supply lines.
Soldiers from the 53rd Welsh Division combined forces to try to seize it.
Mr Currie, from Abercynon, Mid Glamorgan, who was with the 81st Field Regiment Royal Artillery, was one of the gunners responsible for bombing the town with nearly 90.000 shells in less than a week.
His work done, the foot soldiers then fought hand-to-hand to weed the Germans out of the town.
The enemy, fearing defeat, herded the townspeople of 's-Hertogenbosch into underground cellars and wired them to explosives as soldiers from the 53rd Welsh Division invaded.
Fortunately, the British Army reached the townspeople in time and were able to defuse the bomb - and other bombs planted to destroy the cathedral.
The battle had been a bloody one and 123 men were killed from the 53rd, 270 wounded and 75 were registered as missing.
The battle also claimed 118 civilian lives.
It is not known how many Germans perished, but the British took 1.700 prisoners.
Today, the heroics of the Welsh soldiers were being remembered by the grateful residents. A service was being held this morning at St John's Cathedral, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Allies' memorial.

South Wales Echo, thursday 27 oktober 1994