War cemeteries in the region
Canadian War Cemetery Groesbeek
Location: Zevenheuvelenweg, Groesbeek
Beautifully situated on a hill in Groesbeek overlooking Germany is the largest war cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Netherlands. From here, visitors gaze out over the landing zone of the 82nd Airborne Division dropped here in 1944 for Operation Market Garden, and towards the German border with the ‘Reichswald’ forest.
The Groesbeek Memorial is located in two L-shaped buildings situated to the left and right behind the entrance. The names of 1.103 soldiers reported missing in action between August 1944 and May 1945 are listed here. Symbolically, the rivers Seine, Schelde, Maas, Rhine and Elbe can also be seen. Most of the missing fell, however, in Operation Market Garden. Among the dead are many paratroopers. Only a few fallen soldiers have been identified since the plaques were mounted; the vast majority of them are still listed as missing in action today.
Most of the 2.617 soldiers buried in the cemetery fell during the fighting on the Lower Rhine between 8 February and 26 March 1945. By nationality, those fallen stem from Canada (2.339), Great Britain (267), Belgium (3), Poland (2), Australia (2), New Zealand (1), Russia (1), Yugoslavia (1) and the Netherlands (1).
The Canadian War Cemetery is near the museum. If you wish to visit the cemetery after your visit to the museum you can rent a bike at our neighbouring campingsite De Oude Molen.
Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (Germany)
Location: In theReichswald Forest near Kleve
Also because of its location in the midst of the Reichswald Forest, this cemetery is an impressive example of the significance of the Lower Rhine for the course of the Second World War. The Reichswald itself was the scene of heavy fighting and major losses between 8 and 15 February 1945 associated with the advance of the 15th Scottish, 53rd Welsh and 51st Highland Infantry Divisions.
Some 7.654 allied soldiers rest in the cemetery. The main entrance features two high posts in Morish style. In the two buildings behind them are the books of remembrance with the names of the soldiers that were killed here.
Viewed from the main entrance, the graves of the Royal Air Force lie to the left. Here some 4.000 fallen airmen rest, who mostly lost their lives between 1940 and 1944. Some gravestones stand closer together. These are the crews of aircraft that could no longer be identified after crashing and for that reason lie in a collective grave.
To the right of the main entrance are the soldiers belonging to other sections of the armed forces. Most of those interred here lost their lives during the battles in February and in Operations ‘Plunder’ and ‘Varsity’ at the end of March 1945.
In terms of surface area, the Reichswald War Cemetery is the largest of the 15 British war cemeteries on German soil. The fallen here come from Great Britain (6.408), Canada (706), Australia (327), New Zealand (127), Poland (73), South Africa (1), the Netherlands (1), Yugoslavia (1) and the US (1). There is also one soldier whose nationality is unknown.
Donsbrüggen War Cemetery (Germany)
Location: Donsbrüggen, accessible from the Heidestrasse
There was so much confusion after the war that it was not possible to situate the central war cemetery for the dead of the former District of Kleve so close to the border. What the territorial claims of the Netherlands might be, for instance, was still unclear and one feared that a nearby cemetery with German soldiers might prove upsetting to the neighbours. Remembering the dead so soon after the end of the war was also very difficult in a region so badly affected by the fighting. At the Donsbrüggerheide, munitions from the Reichswald were first gathered and made harmless. From September 1948 one began re-interring the countless dead that had been buried in separate and mass graves in the district.
The actual remembrance symbol is the high wall at the front of the north-facing cemetery. But the crypt in the middle of the war cemetery is what strikes one most. Here are listed the names of the men and women buried here. To the right of the entrance to the crypt is a carved dedication, which among other things says 'The war was suddenly in the midst of the land we called the Fatherland. With iron feet it ran through our country, it burned and scorched, it demolished and devastated, it struck and murdered, it destroyed and robbed us of everything precious to us'.
At least 2.421 people lie buried at the Donsbrüggerheide cemetery. The precise number cannot be ascertained.
Mook War Cemetery
Location: Groesbeekseweg, Mook
The river Maas flows diagonally through Mook which is why the village - of which archaeological finds prove its existence as far back as the Roman era - twice became a strategically important place during the Second World War.
The Americans took Mook on 17 September 1944. The 505th Parachute Infantry, however, arrived too late and could not prevent the railway bridge over the Maas near Mook being blown up. On 20 September, the Germans attacked the village and managed to take Mook back again at midday. During the evening, however, Mook could be retaken from the Germans with the support of the British XXX Corps. Mook itself was severely damaged in the battle, and eight inhabitants of the village lost their lives.
In this beautifully located war cemetery lie 322 allied soldiers: 297 Britons, 11 Poles, 10 Canadians, 3 Australians and one New Zealander. Some 304 aliies were army, 15 air force and 3 navy. Most of the men buried here lost their lives between September 1944 and March 1945. The rest perished between September and October 1944 in the Betuwe region. The Americans later reburied them in Mook.
Jonkerbos War Cemetery Nijmegen
Location: Winkelsteegseweg, Nijmegen
On the site of today’s cemetery, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment prepared for the crossing of the Waal on 20 September 1944. In addition, a British field hospital, the ‘Number 10 British Central Clearing Station’ stood here.
A number of particular features mark the Jonkerbos War Cemetery. On two gravestones, for instance, is the inscription ‘Known to be buried in this cemetery’ and on 18 other stones stands ‘Buried near this spot’. This indicates that the dead could no longer be precisely located on the original burial ground.
In the cemetery lie 1.642 dead, among them 99 unnamed. Thirteen graves are those of soldiers from countries not belonging to the Commonwealth, including Belgium, Poland and one soldier from the Red Army. On the cemetery is also a column in remembrance of the former cemetery of Mariabos on the Sophiaweg, where a field hospital stood between September and October 1944. The dead that were first buried there were transferred later to Jonkerbos.