In memory: Welsh soldiers who liberated a crucial Dutch town

Silent tribute paid to our war heroes

By Mike Buckingham

SIX deep the crowd waved and cheered as the pride of Wales marched by.
The veterans did not amble in the menner of the old, though old they have become.
The liberators of 's-Hertogenbosch marched snappily to the bands of the Welsh regiments who carry on their traditions.
Some of the Dutch people - those who could remember the Nazi occupation - cried.
Some ran forward and pressed flowers on the veterans and soldiers of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the Royal Regiment of Wales, Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers and 104 Regiment, Royal Artilllery, many of them from Gwent.
Fifty years before the soldiers of the 53rd (Welsh) Division had advanced to the outskirts of this South-East Dutch town through rain and mug.
On the day of the battle, in the last week of October it brightened as though nature itself were setting the scenes for one of the most notable battles of the war.
Reg Adams of Nantyglo was with the 2nd battalion, the Monmouthshire Regiment as the British force stopped on the outskirts of the city to organise itself for the assault.
"We'd fought and marched all the bloody way from Normandy. Now this looked like being the toughest job we'd had.
"When it started it was a swift battle of fire and movement. We thought it would be over in a day but it took four.
"As we began to enter the city we used flamethrowing tanks which jet out fire with devastating effect."
The terrible logic of war demanded that at virtually any cost, 's-Hertogenbosch must fall.
It is an important town between Newport and Cardiff in size and crucially, commands the north-western approaches to Antwerp.
Since the very first D-day landings early in the summer men and war materials had to be sent up to the advancing Allied armies through invasion ports far to the south.
To gain Antwerp as a port we first had to gain 's-Hertogenbosch.
On October 22 the attack started and by late that day several bridges leading to the city were taken.
In one dashing action Major John Dugdale, of Montgomeryshire, with the support of armour and flamethrowers, led his men across a crucial bridge to overpower a German post on the far side.
Major Dugdale and Mr Andrew Wilson, the tank commander and now a journalist, were among the returning veterans.
Fifty years later, for two minutes soldiers, veterans, Dutch resistance fighters, military and civic officials and the ordinary folk of Holland stood in silent memory.

South Wales Argus, 1 november