This interesting route called Liberation Route Polish liberators in 1944 takes you to 12 locations in the villages Hooge and Lage Zwaluwe. At each location is a sign with the text what has happened there during the Second World War.

The route is about 12 kilometres (7,5 miles) long and is easy to follow by bike. The route starts in the hamlet Helkant and ends in the village of Lage Zwaluwe, along the route are plenty of other sights to be found in these typical Dutch towns, including several World War II related sites, is you like, you can search for more places here on our website.

Hooge and Lage Zwaluwe were, like several other villages in the area liberated by the 1st Polish Armoured Division in October 1944.

1st Polish Armoured Division
In 1942 the 1st Polish Armoured Division was composed in England. This division was manned by Polish men an Polish emmigrants from all over the world. The Polish forces started in France. In mid-September they reached Holland, first they liberated Terneuzen, Axel en Hulst. The Polish forces went to Breda, here they liberated several villages at the end of September 1944, the Polish fight went pretty good without big losses. On October 31th this came to an ending, there were big losses north of Breda. The Polish found a way out by going to Oosterhout. Here they received backup from the Prinses Irene Brigade, the American and British forces. With this backup the 1st Polish Armoured Division made a counterattack that liberated the village Made on October 4th. After this liberation a lot of villages in the area were liberated by the Polish forces.

© IWM (KY 44011) 1st Polish Armoured Division in the city Breda, approx. 20 km (12,5 miles) from Hooge Zwaluwe
AStartpuntLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 1
 The 1st Polish Armoured Division came from the city Tilburg, to the villages Made and Wagenberg towards the fortress Moerdijk and arrived near cafe Goverde on November 4, 1944 around 8:30 pm. The German troops had retreated behind the rail road tracks. From café Goverde began the battle of Zwaluwe.

BWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 2
 Teacher Eduard Janssens crosses the German lines to bring a map of the German troops and fortifications to the Poles. When he noticed that the Germans have entrenched behind the rail road tracks, he crosses for a second time to inform the Poles.

CWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 3
 Here is a consolation under the road, which was filled up. In the last year of the war, this excavated and used as a shelter by twenty people, including the families Merkx, van Groezen and Weeland.

DWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 4
 As of September 10, the town hall was left by the municipal officials. On September 12, the ground floor of the town hall was occupied by Red Cross Sister Nelemans and district nurse Moulijn and was set up as an emergency hospital. In the presbytery, the German General Reichert had taken up residence.

EWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 5
 On this embankment are the remains of the concrete piles on which a wooden watchtower was built. On September 5, 1944, this tower was set on fire by the Germans. At the dike near "het Gat van de Ham", two canons set up, the Germans possessed a number of mobile canons as well.

FWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 6
 The meadows were put under water by the Germans and the road was destroyed in many places, making the advance of the Poles complicated. On December 21, 1944 a V1 fell on the Horenhilsedijk.

GWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 7
 On September 13, some hidden ships were attacked by British fighters, two men were injured. End of October 1944 the residents of the Gaete were warned by the Germans to leave the village because of the expected fierce fighting. On November 5, the Germans blown the consolation, which ran beneath the Gaete and under the mill of Rommens. Later, in café Van Vliet, currently Ligthart, the bureau of the O.D. was set up.

HWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 8
 On November 1, the Germans brought on explosives at the Dijkweg and under the tower of the Roman Catholic Church. On November 5 they blown up the tower. The church was severely damaged, it was demolished after the war and was rebuilt. The rectory had sustained much damage. Pastor Gommers reported that the altars were not damaged. The sanctuary was damaged as well. The statue of Mary was hit by shrapnel.

IWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 9
 Here the road was blown up in several places, the Polish tanks where not able to go further due to this. In the basement of the school in the Nieuwstraat, an emergency hospital was set up by Red Cross nurse sister Nelemans and district nurse Moulijn. Due to the absence of the council, sister Nelemans also signed the evacuation documents for the Polish army.

JWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 10
 Hotel Central was from nov.'44 to March '45, 374 times the starting and end point of the Line crossers from liberated to occupied territory, mainly to transfer information, pilots and drugs. They often departed at "De Beurs" in small boats or canoes to the village of Sliedrecht. The first post-war food transport to Dordrecht on May 13, was organized from here as well.

KWaypointLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 11
 In late September the residents of the Flier were warned by the Germans that heavy artillery would be put into action. The Germans put two guns in the Flier and the Vegetas. In the Bakery Den Engelsen, the Germans let their fire control, which operated the guns that were used to fire at the Allies in the local hamlet Blauwe Sluis. Here is also the home of sister Nelemans. On November 2nd, the water locks were opened, making the shelters unusable.

LEindpuntLiberation Route Polish Liberators Item No. 12
 In defense of the fortress Moerdijk, the Germans had set up several roadblocks, concrete blocks, also at the local mill called Schuddebeurs. The Poles shot these blocks to pieces, the mill was severely damaged due to this. The twenty-five Germans in the mill, surrendered finally to the Poles. The adjacent tank trap was dug by forced labors from the near by camp in Moerdijk.

Download the brochure of Heemkundekring Willem Snickerieme.

Text: Paul Moerenhout & text on the signs
Photos: Anneke Moerenhout
SCHIPPER, P. DE, Bij de bevrijding begon de oorlog, Vèrse Hoeven uitgeverij, Raamdonkveer, Nederland, 2005.
Heemkundekring Willem Snickerieme

GPX (beta) | OV2 (beta) | ITN (beta)