The Wings of Liberation museum commemorates the liberation of the South of The Netherlands in 1944, focusing on Operation Market Garden and the role of the 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles"). It is located near Eindhoven, close to a location of historic importance. In 1944, thousands of American soldiers landed there, either as para troopers or in gliders, so actually on the Wings of Liberation! It marked the start of the liberation of The Netherlands from WWII.  This tour will walk you through some of the events of operation Market Garden, between 17 and 26 September 1944.

Sometimes called the biggest invention of WWII: the Bailey Bridge. This is the view from the Bailey Bridge on the museum grounds, toward the Market Garden Pavilion with a 'Long Tom' gun in front.

The Long Tom was a 155 millimeter caliber field gun, used as heavy field weapon by the United States armed forces during World War II. The gun could fire a 45.36 kg shell to a maximum range of 22 km.

Sunday, 17 September
The airborne landings start at 1.30 p.m. Paratroopers and gliders land at Nijmegen, Arnhem and Son (near Eindhoven). The image shows part of the drop zone at Son. One of the marking points for the pilots is the Paulushoef farm nearby, because the farm's name is painted in big letters on the roof. All the bridges in the area are taken by the 101st Airborne Division, except the one at Son, which is blown up by the Germans.That bridge is crucial, because it is part of the Corridor - better known to the troops as "Hell's Highway" - to Arnhem.

The British 25 Pounder Gun was used to support both infantry and tanks. Prior to the advance of the ground troops, over 240 of these guns were pounding the German troops, but they held their ground.

Over 450 gliders left England towards the drop zone behind this museum. WACO 11A piloted by William McFadden landed here, but his glider was damaged beyond repair.

The medic is Father Francis Sampson, Chaplain of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, helping a wounded soldier. The Simplex Servi-cycle in front was used by him during operation Market Garden.

The Gliders were towed to the drop zone by transport aircraft such as this Dakota. The signing UA designates the 315 Troop Carrier Group (TCC) which operated from Spanhoe Airfield in England

It took 2 weeks to get this Skytrooper from Arizona to Best in 1997. After restoration, it was named Darlin' Dorien after the daughter of Jan Driessen, the founder of the Wings of Liberation museum.

A peak inside the C-53-C Skytrooper, with the typical benches provided to seat 20 Para Troopers with full gear, awaiting transport to the drop zone near Son

While the airborne landings are under way, the British XXXth Army Corp starts its advance from Neerpelt. But opposition is very strong and the Guards Armoured Division does not get past Valkenswaard

Bicycle shop "Kuyper's" in Veghel was the centre of the Veghel Resistance group, with bicycle repairer Ton Kuyper as the driving force. He was awarded the Memorial Cross for his heroism.

Opposition to the German occupation was strong and German propaganda pamplets were defaced with Dutch utterances of frustration and anger. The text in red reads: GERMANY WILL NEVER WIN!

Monday, 18 September
Eindhoven is liberated by the 101st Airborne Division. In the afternoon the Guards Armoured Division arrives there too, advancing from Valkenswaard. Additional paratroopers and 1200 gliders land nearby. Units of the 1st British Airborne Division advance through Oosterbeek to the outskirts of Arnhem where they are stopped by the Germans. The bridge across the Waal is not yet taken.

Another picture of the liberation of Eindhoven, at what is now known as the Wal.

People in the Eindhoven area are elated, but further up Hell's Highway, men at Son are feverishly working to construct a Bailey Bridge to open up the Corridor again.

Tuesday, 19 September
The Bailey Bridge at Son has been finished. The Guards Armoured Division rapidly advances to Nijmegen now, where an unsuccessful attack on the bridge is made. Many gliders crash because of the bad weather. A German attack on the new bridge at Son is repelled. That night, the German air force makes a bombing raid on Eindhoven, killing 200.

At Son, a Flak 36, 88 mm Gun was in position near the Wilhelmina canal. The Gun opened fire at the advancing Parachute Infantry Regiment, causing a delay enabling the Germans to blow up the bridge.

Eventually, the Flak-88 was knocked out. This mini diorama depicts a group of US Infantry men posing in front of the captured gun. It seems to have been inspired by a photograph taken at that time.

Wednesday, 20 September
Wednesday 20 September. There is heavy fighting at Nijmegen and in the vicinity of Mook and Beek. The bridge at Nijmegen is taken in the afternoon, following a crossing of the Waal by American paratroopers using rowing boats. 

The British troops of the 1st Airborne Division have formed a defensive zone at Oosterbeek. In the course of the night, the British troops at Arnhem surrender.

Thursday, 21 September
British tanks resume their advance crossing the Nijmegen bridge, but they don't get far due to a strong German defense line at Elst. A second British division - the 43th Wessex  - now joins in the advance along the Corridor. The Dutch Princess Irene Brigade is part of this Division.

The Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track was an armored fighting vehicle designed to transport the panzergrenadiers of the German mechanized infantry corps into battle. They were commonly referred as "Hanomags".

The British airbornes at Oosterbeek are driven into an ever tighter spot, with the ferry at Driel put out of order. But they can make radio contact with units at Nijmegen to ask for artillery support.

Friday, 22 September
The Germans cut the Corridor between Uden and Veghel, bringing the British advance to a complete standstill. Around Veghel, fierce fighting breaks out, German and British tanks opposing each other. At Oosterbeek, the British get help, as 52 Poles succeed in crossing the Rhine.

The M3 Half-track, was an American armored vehicle used by the United States, the British Empire, and the other Allies during World War II and in the Cold War. About 15,000 M3 were produced.

Saturday, 23 September
Again, attempts are made to re-supply the British at Oosterbeek. There is now a state of emergency there, the "Red Devils" desperately defending themselves. In the morning the Corridor at Veghel is open again and Elst is taken by the Guards Armoured Division. More than 400 gliders land and near Overasselt, the remainder of the Polish Parachute Brigade lands. In the course of the day the Germans announce that all of the inhabitants of Arnhem have to leave their home.

During WWII, black soldiers were deployed mostly as truckers,to provide stocks to the front line.

Thе GMC CCKW is a 'deuce and a half' ton, 6X6 U.S. Army truck that came in many variants, from standard cargo truck to pontoon bolster. Between 1942 and 1945, over 500,000 of them were produced.

This GMC (awaiting restoration) was originally set up as a motorized workshop, including a lathe, hydraulic press, grinder, drilling equipment, all of them powered by an on-board generator.

Sunday, 24 September
The 43rd Wessex Division, having advanced in the tracks of the Guards Armoured Division, reaches the Poles at Driel. The Germans succeed in cutting the Corridor again between St. Oedenrode and Veghel, for over 40 hours! The British decide to withdraw the 1st Airborne across the Rhine. At Arnhem the evacuation of 95.000 inhabitants is gathering momentum. 
Monday, 25 September
More and more inhabitants are leaving Arnhem in search of accommodation somewhere in the Veluwe region. Operation Berlin, the withdrawal from the Oosterbeek perimeter, begins. All day long, the Corridor remains cut off at a point south of Veghel. On either side of the Corridor more and more territory is overrun by the VIII th and XII th British Corps.

The bridges at Grave and Nijmegen are bombed by the German air force, in an attempt to destroy them all. Many civilians are killed as a result.

Tuesday, 26 September
During the night, 2,200 out of the 10,000 British airbornes have managed to cross the Rhine. Of the 8,000 British soldiers who stayed behind, 1485 have died; the rest have been wounded or taken prisoner. Many wounded soldiers are accommodated at military hospitals, and prisoners of war are taken to camps in Germany. What remains consists of is a small area of liberated territory - and large-scale devastation at Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Nijmegen, Schijndel, Veghel and Eindhoven.

This picture was taken after the liberation of Eindhoven, with both locals and soldiers celebrating the moment. For the troops, it did not last, because Victory Day was still months away.

It is the end of Operation Market Garden but the Western Netherlands will continue to suffer until May 1945. In the South however, people start rebuilding their lives, sometimes with one of their liberators.

Historia Park - Museum Bevrijdende Vleugels [The Wings of Liberation Museum
Credits: Story

Most images by Will van Grinsven, Erik van Leeuwen, Daniel Dragicevic and Arthur Korst
For the description of historic events, we acknowledge the writer(s) of the tour guide available at the museum's reception desk.
Thanks also to Wikipedia for background information on WWII vehicles, guns etc.
Please direct any comments, typos and other glitches to wingsofliberation.gci@gmail.com and we will try to deal with them asap

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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