Small Wars Journal

US War Veterans who Reclaimed Dutch Bridge in WWII to Open New Crossing

The Royal Netherlands Embassy
November 11, 2013

Press Release

US War Veterans who Reclaimed Dutch Bridge in WWII to Open New Crossing

American war veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division will soon travel to the Netherlands to open a new city bridge in Nijmegen on Nov. 22.

The bridge is located on the site where these veterans, as young paratroopers, crossed the River Waal in rickety canvas boats on Sept. 20, 1944 as part of Operation Market Garden.

During this life-threatening action, known as De Oversteek (which translates to “The Crossing”), 48 of their fellow soldiers lost their lives. The remaining soldiers succeeded in capturing the Waal Bridge from the Germans and liberating the city of Nijmegen.

In tribute to the liberators of Nijmegen, the new bridge has been named De Oversteek. The battles taking place near Nijmegen en Arnhem were featured in the 1977 film, "A Bridge Too Far."

To commemorate the opening of the bridge, the Dutch regional newspaper De Gelderlander has compiled a book containing portraits of the paratroopers who lost their lives. The book is titled "De Oversteek, Zoektocht naar 48 Amerikaanse oorlogshelden" ("The Crossing: In search of 48 American War Heroes").

In preparing this book, journalist Dorine Steenbergen made several trips to the US to interview the relatives of the fallen soldiers. Who were these men? Where did they come from? What were their dreams for the future, and who was waiting anxiously for their return? A group of about 30 of these relatives will be coming to the Netherlands for the opening of the bridge. The book will be translated into English.

During their visit to the Netherlands, the veterans and relatives will be received by De Gelderlander, Radboud University Nijmegen, and the City of Nijmegen. The program will begin on Nov. 22 with a reception organized by the City of Nijmegen, followed by a boat tour on the River Waal and an event at the offices of De Gelderlander.

On Nov. 24, the day after the opening, visits to the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek and the Margraten Memorial Center have been arranged.

The Bridge:

Naming the bridge De Oversteek is not the only way the city is commemorating the heroic actions of the American soldiers. The 48 men who were killed in the operation will be remembered with a work of lighting art on the bridge. The artwork consists of 48 pairs of lampposts, which will light up two by two, from south to north, every evening at dusk. In this way, the crossing will be symbolically re-enacted every evening.

De Oversteek has a main span of 935 feet, making it the second longest main span in the Netherlands and the largest single-arch bridge in Europe. Including the on-ramps and auxiliary bridges, the new connection between the two river banks in Nijmegen has a length of more than 1.3 miles.

For additional information about the book and the program for veterans and relatives, please contact De Gelderlander, Dorine Steenbergen +31 6-53325286 or d.steenbergen@gelderlander.nl
See also dg.nl/oversteek44.

For additional information about the bridge, the opening ceremonies, and the lighting art, please contact the City of Nijmegen, Freya Stob, at +31 6-46265789 or f.stob@nijmegen.nl or Jack Broeksteeg +31 6-31679262 or j.broeksteeg@nijmegen.nl.

Comments

So much appreciated The Netherlands, what a grand gesture. - Dave D.