#Story - Belgium

Ten crashes

The days before were exciting. Hundreds of planes passed over the municipality. It was an incredible spectacle. Over 2,000 transport and glider aircraft and 1,500 fighters took part in Operation Market Garden, the Allied plan to liberate the Netherlands, on 17 September. Above Geel, their approach route from Britain towards the Netherlands made a turn to the north. Over Retie and the surrounding area, they then passed over occupied territory.

The planes were heavily loaded and flew low and slow. This made them easy prey for German anti-aircraft fire. Retie residents saw crew members and passengers jumping with parachutes and helped survivors go into hiding. Along with the British Halifax that crashed in 1943, at least 10 aircraft crashed over the village during the war.

Aid station

During the Battle of Geel, the Vlaamse Kruis set up an emergency hospital in the bomb-proof basement of Retie town hall. It cared for civilians from Retie, Dessel and Kasterlee who had fallen victim to Allied shelling of the German defences. After the liberation, the Red Cross took over the aid station.