September 7, 2020

Dutch efforts are retrieving the downed RAF BK716 bomber

Filed under: Aviation,History by Orangemaster @ 2:14 pm

After about 12 years of wondering what happened to the missing British Short Stirling Bomber BK716, it was finally found at the bottom of the Markermeer lake, near Amsterdam. In 2020 we’ve also learned that the remains of the seven airmen who went missing aboard this aircraft during World War II are still on board.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary in the United Kingdom said the Bomber Command Museum of Canada had asked it for help tracking down living relatives of Sergeant Charles Armstrong Bell of Langley Park, County Durham, one of the seven airmen. The relatives of the six other crew members have also been found, although their names have not been revealed.

The BK716 was lost when returning from a bombing raid in Germany in 1943, and first discovered in 2008 when a piece of its landing gear latched onto the anchor of a stranded boat. Experts had long believed that the aircraft was another Short Stirling, the BK710, after examining an aluminium panel. Later, however, a cigarette case and a wooden mascot brought on a new investigation that made the BK716 a more likely candidate.

The defence ministry and a private contractor started retrieving the wreckage of the BK716 on 31 August, with an engine part confirming that it is the BK716. After six weeks, the dredging will have been completed and hopefully we’ll hear all the historical details. For context, the Markermeer is a 700 km² lake that is in fact shallow at 3 to 5 m in depth, while the area the plane parts are being found cover 75 m².

(Links: dutchnews.nl, bbc.com, Photo of a different plane, the Short S 31 Half Scale Stirling by, most probably, the Imperial War Museum)

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August 21, 2020

Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium removes misinterpreted statue

Filed under: Art,History,Religion,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

Much in the same way that the swastika went from being a religious symbol to being a Nazi one, the official olympic salute with extended arm stopped being used after WWII because it resembled the ‘Hitler greeting’.

That being said, the statue by The Hague sculptor Gra Hueb at Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium was inaugurated in 1928 for the Olympic Games in Amsterdam and had nothing to do with the Nazis. It was placed in honour of Baron Van Tuyll van Serooskerken, the first chairman of the Dutch Olympic Committee who successfully brought the Games to the Netherlands. The stadium is not too far from 24 Oranges HQ and is still in use.

As a sign of the times – for better or worse – historians and the Olympic Stadium folks decided to remove it and place it somewhere else in the stadium instead of prominently at the entrance.

(Link and photo: parool.nl)

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May 4, 2020

Wartime art: one hundred chairs for one hundred victims

Filed under: Art,History by Orangemaster @ 5:44 pm

At the end of WWII, 140 men were shot by the German occupiers at Rozenoord in Amsterdam South district, many of which were resistance fighters. The history of Rozenoord is particularly painful since the men were shot so close the liberation.

Located in the Amstelpark in Amsterdam South district, the Rozenoord monument saw the light of day thanks to an initiative of local residents. Artist Ram Katzir designed the new monument to give all the victims a worthy memorial place. Instead of one monument for 100 people Katzir gave every person their own monument.

Anchored in cement with names on plaques, one hundred chairs are spread out over a green space as if they were barely sat in and positioned randomly. However, the chairs were actually placed according to information about the way the victims were shot. There’s also plaques for those who could not be identified.

The space between the chairs invites visitors to walk around and see who these people were. They can also be sat on, as the piece is meant to be interactive. By sitting down, one can see the other ‘victims’ around them, turning the visitors into participants.

(Link and photo: monument-rozenoord.nl)

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August 8, 2019

Old bombs found near railroad in Naarden-Bussum

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:41 am

During construction along the railroad in Naarden-Bussum, North Holland workers dug up some bombs, which according to ProRail, are most probably from WWII. I can’t imagine from wat other war they could be from, since the Dutch weren’t really involved in WWI. I say this as someone who recommends reading The Art of Staying Neutral: The Netherlands in the First World War, 1914-1918. When the Dutch mention ‘the war’, they always mean WWII.

The bombs will be exploded somewhere safe, as it is done here when they find bombs, which is quite regularly. It’s not sure whether this will delay the works along the railway or not, which are already planned to go on for three weeks.

Here are some of our past stories related to finding bombs and grenades:

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl, Photo of a 1000-pounder in Bunnik by the Ministry of Defense, some rights reserved)

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July 6, 2018

The French Canadian soldier who freed Zwolle

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 2:40 pm

At lunch, before stepping into a plane back to the Netherlands from Canada, I was told about the story of Léo Major, a French Canadian soldier of the Royal 22nd Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces who single-handedly freed the Dutch city of Zwolle, and other places, with some unbelievable tactics.

Léo Major of Longueuil, Québec was a corporal who refused to move up in rank despite his brilliant moves. He pulled off stuff without consulting his superiors and made bluffs work that nobody else would have come up with. He pretty much freelanced and the army just let him because he was brave and smart.

During WWII, Zwolle, Overijssel was surrounded by German troops and the 22nd Regiment that was trying to recapture it were failing miserably, losing dozens of soldiers every day. Léo Major and his best friend Wilfrid Arseneault volunteered to go and find out where the Germans were positioned to try and improve their situation.

At nightfall the pair went to the farm of the Van Gerner family who tried to explain in Dutch that the forest was full of Germans. Shortly after, Arseneault was shot, his stomach full of bullet holes, as explained by Major himself in the video below. Major, determined to complete the mission left his best friend behind and pressed on.

Major entered Zwolle and attacked German patrols and ran through the streets throwing grenades to convince the enemy that Canadian troops were marching in, and it worked. He captured entire troops of 8-10 Germans who let themselves be delivered to the 22nd Regiment outside the city, believing the city was under attack. Major kept going back to Zwolle to pull the same tactic over and over. He even set fire to Gestapo headquarters.

At dawn, he realised that the last German troops had left the city and that Zwolle was free. After making sure the city knew they were liberated, Major went to pick up the corpse of his friend that he brought to the Van Gerner farm for safe keeping until the burial. Later that morning, Canadian troops marched into the city and the residents of Zwolle finally saw that they were liberated.

Léo Major was given his first medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal of the British Army, the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars. Major went on to pull some more great moves in the Korean War. His friend Wilfrid Arseneault was given a Bronze Lion posthumously in 1970 by Queen Juliana.

This YouTube video features Léo Major himself in English on Zwolle television, with parts translated into Dutch.

(Photos: Wikipedia)

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April 16, 2018

Footage of war time Rotterdam uncovered

Filed under: Architecture,Film,History by Orangemaster @ 10:21 am

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New images of Rotterdam during WWII have surfaced, filmed by a Mr Jurlings. They show places such as the Port of Rotterdam (today’s biggest European port) and the ‘White House’, a beautiful 1989 Art Nouveau building that survived the bombing of the city and also Europe’s first skyscraper at that time. The film will be turned into a documentary by filmmaker Joop de Jong, which will be presented in the Museum Rotterdam in the fall.

Many people are quick to say that Rotterdam isn’t as pretty as Amsterdam, which has an intact city centre, and that will never be a fair comparison. Rotterdam was bombed flat and almost entirely rebuilt with the exception of a handful of buildings. Today, it has many new buildings that have become symbols of the city. There’s also a reason that the unofficial city motto ‘is niet lullen maar poesten’ or ‘geen woorden maar daden’ (‘stop blabbing and start cleaning’ or ‘not words, but deeds’.

(Link: ad.nl, Photo of Rotterdam, van Hogendorpsplein by Unknown, some rights reserved)

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February 19, 2018

Bunker Day to feature two ‘unopened’ bunkers

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 6:54 pm
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On 9 June, two unique WWII bunkers in the small town of Driehuis, North Holland will be open to the public for one day only. According to Ruud Pols of the Bunkermuseum in IJmuiden, North Holland, this will be the first time these bunkers will actually be opened since the end of the war. Both bunkers are part of the Festung IJmuiden, one of the most important strategic defenses of the German Atlantic Wall. In fact, they’ll be open on National Bunker Day (Bunkerdag).

Pols also has no clue what they’ll find. Will it have been frozen in time or did someone already visit it that they don’t know about? No less than 2300 bunkers have been built in and around IJmuiden, a Dutch port city, and when taking a train and looking out the window in that area, you see cows grazing around the bunkers like it’s a normal sight.

(Link: nhnieuws.nl, Photo: cyberbunker in Zeeland)

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July 12, 2017

Rare bee makes comeback in Limburg

Filed under: Nature by Orangemaster @ 11:03 am

Anthophora_bimaculata_-_Jasione_montana_-_Tallinn

Nature lovers, rejoice: the little flower bee (pics) (Anthophora bimaculata) has been spotted in the North of Maastricht for the first time in 44 years. It was last seen in the Netherlands in the run up to the oil crisis of 1973.

On 18 June Kees Goudsmits spotted a female of the species (shown here) and a few days later on 23 June someone spotted a male in places where mines used to be, and they seem to be making their way North to places like Eindhoven.

This bee is so special, it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page in English (hint). Until the end of the 20th century, it was normal enough to see the little flower bee in the Eastern and Southern provinces. After WWII, the bee eventually disappeared, with the last one spotted in 1973 in the town of Tienray, Limburg.

(Link: naturetoday.com, Photo of Anthophora bimaculata by Ivar Leidus, some rights reserved)

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May 5, 2017

Pizza delivery guy goes viral during commemoration

Filed under: Bicycles,Food & Drink,History by Orangemaster @ 3:54 pm
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Yesterday’s Remembrance of the Dead commemorated in the Netherlands on May 4 remembers all kinds of civilians and soldiers who died in WWII, Dutch or foreign, and nowadays also includes the fallen from other wars and major conflicts.

And then there’s this guy, a pizza delivery cyclist who stopped rushing around Groningen and joined in on the traditional, nation-wide two minutes of silence, taken at 20:00 on May 4.

After seeing the picture on Facebook, his boss said of his employee that ‘he did what he thought was normal’. The employer had told the staff of its 220 branches to honour the two minutes of silence, but didn’t expect someone to snap a picture of it.

(Link: www.pzc.nl, Photo of Pizza pie by Adam Kuban, some rights reserved)

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March 29, 2016

Live grenade found in old folks’ home

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:27 am
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World War II grenades pop up on the beach, at flea markets and even in potatoes here in the Netherlands, but this time a grenade was in fact sitting in an old man’s cupboard with its pin out.

A resident of an old folks’ home in Amsterdam East has had a live grenade for years that everybody thought was a fake. Sadly, the man recently passed and when his belongings were collected, the people that found the grenade among his model boats and books had it checked out by the police.

The staff of the home just assumed it was a fake, but once the police checked it out, they realised it was in a fact a live grenade. The bomb squad came and picked it up and had it detonated. All we know is that it was an English grenade that finally came out of the closet, although thankfully not with a bang.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl, Photo of grenade by macspite, some rights reserved)

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