#Story - Belgium

A long awaited liberation

During September 1944, nervousness increased in Turnhout. Both residents and German soldiers knew that the Allies were gaining ground in Belgium. The Germans were preparing for a possible military confrontation. They set up a field hospital in the Heilig Grafinstituut and had the eastern part of the city completely evacuated.

On September 23, the Allies approached Turnhout from Geel. They had just fought a heavy battle at Ten Aard, on the Bocholt-Herentals Canal. All the German soldiers gathered on the Grote Markt. Fortunately for the inhabitants of Turnhout, they decided to avoid the battle. They retreated behind the Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten Canal and blew up the bridges. On September 24, British troops drove into the town. The population received them exuberantly.

While the inhabitants in the centre celebrated the liberation, there was heavy fighting along the canal. Fighting continued there until October 4. Several members of the resistance and soldiers died, including Lieutenant Thomas Salmon. When the latter was buried on September 26, the people of Turnhout overwhelmingly paid their last respects to him.