In 1940, the Netherlands were invaded by Germany with Nijmegen being the first Dutch city to fall into German hands. On February 22, 1944, Nijmegen was heavily bombed by American planes, causing great damage to the city centre. The American pilots may have thought they were bombing the German city of Kleve, which was clearly not the case. Alleged to have been a deliberate act by the Allies, the NIOD announced in January 2005 that its study of the incident confirmed that it was an accident caused by poor communications and chaos in the airspace. Over 750 people died in the incident. During 1944, the city saw heavy fighting during Operation Market Garden. The objective in Nijmegen in September 1944 was mainly to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridge. Capturing the bridge allowed the British Army XXX Corps to attempt to reach the British airborne troops in Arnhem. At one time, the bridge held close to 20 25lb anti-tank guns and two anti-aircraft guns. The Germans made repeated attacks on the bridge using bombs attached to driftwood, midget submarines and later resorted to shelling the bridge with 88mm barrages. Troops were positioned on the bridge giving an excellent arc of fire in case of attack. Troops that couldn't fit onto the bridge were positioned in a bombed out house slightly upstream of the bridge. During the shelling, the house was hit, killing 6 soldiers and wounding 1 more.
Nijmegen was liberated from German captivity by the First Canadian Army in November of 1944 for the last time. This city would later be used as a springboard for Operation Veritable, the invasion across the Rhine River by Allied Troops.
Caption ©2007 MFA Productions LLC
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