Sunday, May 17, 2009

Port Information - Arnhem

Welcome to the Province called "Gelderland"

Continuing our Tulip Time River Cruise on AMA Waterways Amalegro we next arrived in Arnhem, the capital of the province called Gelderland. Amsterdam, Volendam, and Edam were all located in the Dutch Province called North Holland.

After Edam, we traveled south again, through the Markermeer, formerly part of the famed Zuiderzee, and we entered the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. This canal is just over 50 years old, and connects Amsterdam to the lower Rhine River, where Arnhem is situated.

The tour, Monday, April 13th, focused on what Arnhem is most remembered for: The Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden. The events of this battle inspired the well known movie known as "A Bridge Too Far".

The battle which took place in Arnhem in September 1944 was a disaster for the Allied troops and was a saddening part of modern Dutch history. On September 17, 1944, 10,000 men from the 1st British Airborne Division were parachuted into Oosterbeek, just west of Arnhem. They were to then march on Arnhem and secure a bridgehead on the Lower Rhine River. Under the direction of John Frost, Commander of the 2nd British Battalion, this bridgehead was to be held until the American and Polish troops could make their way up from the south.

Scheduled to arrive were 20,000 Americans from the 18th, 101st, and 82nd Airborne Divisions, along with 3000 Polish soldiers, but they were delayed by unusually heavy fog. By the time they could arrive it was too late and the Americans destroyed the bridge to prevent Germans from using it. This very bridge became known as "A Bridge too Far", about which the movie was made in 1977. The bridge is now named the "John Frost Bridge".

Our visit to Arnhem began with a bus trip which included a photo stop at the John Frost Bridge followed by a stop at the Groesbeek Canadian Cemetery. After visiting the cemetery we drove to the Liberation Museum in Nijmegen-Groesbeek. The Liberation Museum recreates the period before the war, the occupation during the war, and the liberation during 1944-1945. After the tour we returned to the ship for lunch and enjoyed the remainder of the afternoon on our own. I'll talk about the afternoon in another post.

Here are some pictures from the organized part of our tour in Arnhem:

Our visits to the bridge, cemetery, and museum were very moving. Reliving history, especially that of World War II, has become one of our favorite cruise activities. Perhaps it is because my father served in WWII and survived the D-Day landing and the Battle of the Bulge. This helps us to understand what sacrifices were made by the troops in those days.

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