A Cold Winter in Heerlen, Holland: 1944/45

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

By late fall 1944, the unit had arrived in Heerlen, Netherlands, just east of Maastricht and practically on the German border. It was a very bad winter. While the officers took over an abandoned house that had belonged to a Dutch Nazi, the rest of the men were billeted in private homes in town. Two of the men who are alive today—Ray Cross and Roger Rickon—told us that they were staying for a while in a glass factory—until someone reminded them that if the building was hit by the Germans, flying glass would be harmful to their health.

Sergeants Hunie and Ottea, Heerlen, Holland, 1945

Sergeants Hueni and Ottea, Heerlen, Holland, 1945

Shop area, Heerlen, 1945

Shop area, Heerlen, 1945

Part of the group, Heerlen, Holland: Tindall, patrick, Bodiford, Mason, Faehling, Dickson, Ottea, and Grady.

Part of the group in Heerlen: Tindall, Patrick, Bodiford, Mason, Faehling, Dickson, Ottea, and Grady.

img043 Part of the small arms crew taken at Heerlen, Holland

Dad and Donald McGowan, bottom row, last two men on right; others unidentified

Doing business in Heerlen; names of men not known

Doing business in Heerlen; names of men not known

Dad wrote on the back of the photo below, “Christmas Eve in Heerlen, Holland, 1944.  Some tree, eh what? Inside small arms repair truck, Sergeants Johnson and Andrews. Last year, darling!” They thought, correctly, that the war was nearing an end.

Dad and John Andrews, and their Christmas tree

Dad and John Andrews, and their Christmas tree

The Battle of the Bulge, at Ardennes–directly south of them in Heerlen–took place in December and January. Wikipedia says, “The surprise attack caught the Allied forces completely off guard and became the costliest battle in terms of casualties for the United States, whose forces bore the brunt of the attack, during all of World War II. It also severely depleted Germany’s war-making resources.”

  1. Brett Stone says:

    My father (Floyd W. Stone) was in Infantry scout who was almost killed by a German Hand grenade on the border just outside Heerlen. His injuries sent him home after spending 6 months in a hosptial in Paris.

  2. hildabene says:

    My father and his family lived in Heerlen at this time. The family name was Luken – Heinrich was my father’s name he was about 15 years old at this time. He had a sister Carolla. If anyone remembers e mail me hlueken50@optonline.net

  3. Peter Pauwels says:

    Hello from Heerlen in The Netherlands!!! I was surprised at seeing the pictures of Heerlen in the winter of 44/45. That was in the street where late my dad lived. He always told me about his friendship and adventures with the American soldiers at the stone factory nearby. The granddad of my wife was working at the LTM-remise. He was always trading Dutch souvenirs that he made himself , for food or equipment. Some of them have survived over 75 years now. So happy I finally found a picture. Peter

  4. Cindy Siano says:

    My mother lived in Heerlen (Heerlerbaan to be precise) and used to tell stories of the war. Her name was Berta Dohmen and she had 6 brothers and 4 sisters. My American father was part of the liberation and amongst the many soldiers that Dutch girls fell in love with. They married in 1945, lived in occupied Germany post war and had twins in 1946. Shortly after, they moved to the US.

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