Thursday, August 12, 2010

Exploring a different side of Holland: The Grebbelinie

After 5 long months of not seeing my family, my Dad has finally arrived!!!!! It's his first time back in Holland since moving to New Zealand after the war - more than 50 years ago. From our home base in Nijmegen, we'll spend the next few weeks visiting various places he remembers around the country and delving into a bit of family history.

Today Dad and I travelled to Grebbeberg. Very close to the town of Rhenen, Grebbeberg forms part of the Grebbelinie - a line of defence the Dutch used during WWII and is known for the Battle of the Grebbeberg. Grebbeberg also has special significance in my family as my Grandfather fought the 4 day long battle here back in May 1940, a battle that killed over 400 of his fellow countrymen.

Today, not much remains except for a few pieces of armoured concrete, a falling apart shelter and the dug out trenches. Dad and I spent the morning wandering around the pretty forest, checking out the trenches, looking for bullet holes in trees and imagining what it must have been like for my Granddad all those years ago. Dad was determined to find a bullet but with no luck unfortunately! Seeing him sifting around brought back memories of our trip around Australia when I was a kid - the time Dad offered us $20 if we could fine an Aboriginal arrowhead.

There was a great museum located at the war cemetery across the road, which had a variety of photos and videos about the battle. The forest was so pretty and peaceful and it was hard to envisage a horrific battle taking place there. Seeing the exhibits in the museum made it all come together and it was really very informative. It was all in Dutch, but I managed to understand a fair bit of it and Dad's Dutch seems to be coming back to him very rapidly - he is my own walking, talking Dutch dictionary / translator / historian for the next few weeks!


Dad searching for possible bullet damage

The only remaining shelter we came across

There were trenches and man made hills built for defence - this one had been modernised and reinforced

Dad reliving his childhood days of pretending to smoke an acorn pipe

Imagine looking at this view and seeing the enemy make their way across: this is where the German forces approached from

The cement pieces are all that's left of the gun armoury

Checking for more bullet damage

Inscription on the memorial

War cemetary

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