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De Fatale Patrouille Naar Fort Sint Andries

De fatale patrouille naar Fort Sint Andries

Op 26 oktober 1944 loopt een Engelse patrouille in een Duitse hinderlaag op het Fort Sint Andries. Het gaat meteen vreselijk fout: vier mannen worden gedood, bijna alle anderen worden gevangen genomen door de Duitsers. Slechts drie mannen lukt het om te ontsnappen.

De slachtoffers
De troopers John Raymond Hadwin en Reginald Stopher werden meteen dodelijk getroffen en later in het fort begraven. Nadat het fort in april 1945 bij een aanval van de Royal Marines werd opgeblazen door de Duitsers, verdwenen hun graven onder meters puin. Tot op de dag van vandaag zijn ze niet terug gevonden. De twee andere gesneuvelden – John William Walker en Rowland Merrit – overleden in de dagen na de aanval aan hun verwondingen.

Hun gevangen genomen kameraden werden per trein getransporteerd naar Duitsland waar ze tot het einde van de oorlog in kamp Fallingbostel bleven.

Exact 55 jaar later (op 26 oktober 1999) werd op de Waaldijk een monument onthuld ter nagedachtenis aan de gesneuvelde soldaten. Het kunstwerk is van de hand van kunstenaar Martin van den Houdt uit Dreumel. Elk jaar vindt er bij het monument een herdenking plaats, op 4 mei om 14.00 uur.

Eén van de initiatiefnemers van het monument was Ray Surrey, één van de drie soldaten die op de fatale dag in 1944 konden ontsnappen. Met hulp van Frank Thompson , Fred Sylvester, Jos van Koolwijk (leraar in Dreumel) en niet te vergeten Prins Bernhard is het monument er gekomen.

In de memoires van Ray Surrey staat het als volgt te lezen:

“In 1998 Frank and I were in Holland for the Market Garden Pilgrimage, we arranged to meet Jos in our Hotel for a meeting and update. Jos said that things were at a standstill, he was being passed from pillar to post, because there were three different to negotiate with. We told him that because of our ages we could not wait another three years, and told him we must do something about it. On returning to England, Frank, Fred and I met to discuss the position, We decided to write to Prince Bernhard and ask for his help. Fred as secretary did this. Two days later Annie Fred’s wife received a telephone call from the secretary of Prince Bernhard and asked to speak to Fred, unfortunately Fred was out so the secretary hold the line, The next voice was Prince Bernhard who said thank Mr. Sylvester for the letter and said that he would be glad to help and would attend to it.”

ray1“A few days before the ceremony Jos received a phone call from Prince Bernhard to say he was sorry he could not attend as he had recently had an operation on his throat, However he would like to see the close relatives and the veterans in the Palace. Margret Hadwin the sister of one of those killed said she would be unable to attend as she had to get home to attend her mother, (her mother was 99 years old and had been left in the care of her sister who was 86 years old, } Jos told her he would arrange a taxi to get her to the Airport on time and persuaded her to attend. Jos had a private telephone number to the palace, phoned and explained what was happening, and could Prince Bernhard see her first. Prince Bernhard immediately said cancel the Taxi I will supply transport and see that they get to the Airport on time. We spent over an hour talking to the Prince, when we left the Aide asked for the two ladies for the Airport and took them outside to a Merc with a Chauffeur who sped off with them. That evening Margret phoned to say they had been travelling along the motorway at great speed until they hit the traffic jam near the Airport which opened up for them like magic. Onto the Airport where the Chauffeur got a trolley for their luggage, said follow me took them straight through passed the waiting queues and onto the plane. They were very impressed.”

Ray Surrey overleed in december 2014, als waarschijnlijk laatst overlevende van de patrouille naar het fort.

(Met dank aan Olaf voor het beschikbaar stellen van de tekst.)

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