12. ‘Operation Market Garden’ –Early June.

Not wanting to outstay our welcome on the commercial quay, we left Roermond the next morning and cruised through some pretty countryside where sheep and cows grazed along the banks of the Maas. There were several jachthavens along the way, but most were for smaller craft. The town quays were for daytime use only. Fortunately the DBA moorings guide came up trumps and after a longish day we turned off the main river into a commercial port. At the far end, past the silos and industrial quays was the jachthaven of Wanssum with an external wall just perfect for us. A bonus was the proximity of a Jumbo supermarket, adjacent to the port.

Despite a dull start, we cycled to the Second World War Museum in Overloon and were forced to don our ‘Howard and Hilda’ matching rain ponchos en route.

SAM_0653 SAM_0654En route we came across this memorial.

The promised 30 minute cycle (according to our waterways guide) seemed considerably longer in the wind and rain, but we made it eventually and spent an interesting couple of hours in the museum.

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Inside a huge display of military vehicles.

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A German tank which was disabled in the surrounding woods.

This is situated in an attractive park on the site of one of the fiercest tank battles of the war. 2400 men were killed during twenty days of fighting and more than 300 tanks were destroyed. Of particular interest was the huge display of military vehicles and weapons and the moving memorial area in which the names of the dead were recorded on the wall. After a disappointingly stodgy pannekoeken and a thirst quenching beer we headed to the nearby war cemetery to pay our respects before cycling back to Wanssum through a forest in dappled sunshine.

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Beer and something more like a pizza than a pancake!

With our stalwart Micra still in Maastricht over 90 km south, we craned the motorcycle off the barge and headed off. Fortunately, we remained dry and the car was still where we had left it a week before. To my relief we reached a petrol station before the car ran out of petrol and then had a fairly long drive ahead as we had decided to drop the car up towards Nijmegen.

After another 40km, we left the car by Weurt Lock and having spoken to the Lock Keeper, Peter was also able to secure us a mooring between the two adjacent locks for a few days. I donned my motorcycle gear once again and we rode back to the barge. It had been an unexpectedly tiring day and supported my belief that we should leave the car somewhere while cruising during the summer.

The next few days were to reverse that opinion.

Having craned the motorcycle back onboard the next morning, we set off on a longish cruise reaching Lock Weurt late afternoon. The mooring was on a pontoon with a lock each side. We were sheltered from the wind and not affected by too much wash in spite of the size of the commercial barges which passed us.

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Weurt Lock where we are dwarfed by the passing commercials.

We were well placed to explore the area of Operation Market Garden, being close to both Nijmegen and Arnhem. Our car would be very useful, particularly as Peter’s bashed toe was very painful to walk on. We had originally intended to cruise on both the Rivers Waal and Rhine to visit these areas, but the incessant rain in Northern Europe had caused the rivers to flow very fast. In France several of our barging friends were stuck on moorings that were flooded and we felt grateful that we were in a safe place.

Our few days on the mooring were extended to almost a week as we waited in vain for things to calm down. We used the time to visit the Liberation Museum and Canadian Military Cemetery at Groesbeck, the Bridges at Nijmegen and Arnhem, The tower of St Eusebius’ Church in Arnhem, the Airborne Museum and Military Cemerery at Oosterbeeke. This was yet another sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by brave men in the Second World War.

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Inside the Liberation Museum Groesbeck.

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Inside the rebuilt tower of St Eusebius’ Church in Arnhem.

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The remains of the church after the battle.

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View of the rebuilt Arnhem Bridge from the now extended church tower.

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Captured Airbourne in Arnhem, such brave men.

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Nijmegen Bridge which remained in tact.

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Same spot now.

Initially, we were hoping to cruise to Arnhem and then north towards Friesland, and to this end we were eventually able to meet up with Iede, a Dutch barging friend we met last summer in Dinant. He works as a part time havenmeister in Arnhem. We finally met up and enjoyed a drink with him at Rose’s Cafe by the river. We had made this our ‘local’ during our sightseeing in Arnhem enjoying a couple of lunches there.

The Europe wide rain had led to high river levels, the closing of navigation in Paris and breaches in canals in Briare and Meilhan sur Garonne. From our lock mooring we had watched the digital air draft sign decrease from10.70 to 8.70.

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The signs indicating the bridge clearance height after the lock.

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Arnhem Bridge with the flood water nearly over the quay.

Both the Waal at Nijmegen and the Rhine at Arnhem looked very angry and unwelcoming.  We decided to change our cruising plans and head back down the Maas-Waal canal to the Maas and go west instead. We would stay in the south of the Netherlands and leave Friesland for next year.

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