Arnhem is a city and municipality situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located on both banks of the rivers Nederrijn (Lower Rhine) and Sint-Jansbeek, which was the source of the city’s development.
Arnhem was first mentioned as such in 893 as Arneym or Arentheym. In 1233, the city received its charter from Otto II. It joined the Hanseatic League in 1443. As the residence of the dukes of Geldern, it was often attacked by their Burgundian rivals and in 1543 fell to Charles V, who made it the seat of the Council of Gelderland.
It came under the United Netherlands in 1585, and the following year Sir Philip Sidney, the English poet, statesman, son-in-law of Sir Francis Walsingham and soldier, died there after being wounded in the battle of Zutphen.
From 1795 to 1813, it was reoccupied by the French, by both revolutionary and imperial forces.
In the early 19th century, the former fortifications were almost completely dismantled, to give space for town expansion. The Sabelspoort (Sabresgate) is the only remaining part of the medieval walls.
In the 19th century, Arnhem was a quiet town famous for its picturesque beauty. It was known as “het Haagje van het oosten” (The Little Hague of the East), mainly because a number of rich former sugar barons or planters who settled there.
St. Eusebius church also known as the Eusebiuskerk or the Grote Kerk, at 93 metres is the largest church, and the largest building in Arnhem. Built 1452–1560, the church was extensively damaged during Operation Market-Garden.
Following the war the church was restored between 1946 and 1961 under the guidance of Berend Tobia Boeyinga, a Dutch architect noted for his Calvinist church buildings.
In 1315, the chapter of Saint Walburgis from Tiel came to Arnhem. The chapter had been expelled by the inhabitants of Tiel. Count Reinoud I of Gelre permitted the cannons to settle in Arnhem, on condition that he was allowed to stay overnight with them whenever he came to Arnhem.
In the 14th century, the Walburgis church was constructed. After the church was taken over in 1579 by the Protestants, the building served for a time as a military prison and arsenal. Louis Napoleon gave the church back to the Roman Catholics in 1808.
The church was also completely destroyed during Operation Market-Garden, and was completely rebuilt in the decades after the Second World War.
The bridge across the Lower Rhine at Arnhem proved to be a bridge too far. The original bridge was opened in 1935 and was demolished by Dutch troops, in an attempt to stem the German invasion which started on 10 May 1940. It was eventually rebuilt by the Germans in early 1944, before being damaged by American bombers during 6-7 October 1944. After the war the Bridge was rebuilt and opened on 9 May 1950.
After reaching the bridge on the 1st day of the operation (Sunday 17 September 1944), about 500 men of 2nd Parachute Battalion (commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost) took up position on either side of the road that ran across the bridge. They also received some additional troops from C Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion and some Royal Engineers of 1st Parachute Squadron. They occupied the buildings that ran along both sides of the northern side of the bridge. Against numerous attacks by armoured German units the troops held out until Thursday 21 September 1944.
They had held out for 4 days, which was twice as long as they had been expected to hold the bridge.
The Arnhem City Memorial is located outside Eusebius Church, and take the form of a peson fending off the forces of oppression.
Entitled “Man Against Power” the bronze statue was made by Gijs Jacobs van den Hot. It was unveiled in 1953, and forms the location of wreath laying on the annual commemoration day of 4th May.
At the northern end of the bridge is a Memorial dedicated to the 1st Airborne Division. The memorial is formed by a broken pillar from the former Palace of Justice, destroyed in the Market-Garden fighting.
It was unveiled on 17 September 1945 (the 1st anniversary) by the Governor of the Gelderland Province, in the presence of Frost and 200 survivors of the battle. It forms the focal point of wreath-laying on the annual Anniversary Weekend.
At the northern end of the bridge, on the bride itself, is a concrete construction, Inside of which is a plaque, marking the location of a pillbox, which was attacked and subdued by Frost’s troops.
The English text reads
On the 17th of September 1944, the 1st British Airborne Division began to land some eight miles to the west of Arnhem with the object forming a bridgehead north of the Lower Rhine.
The 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, fought its way into Arnhem and occupied the buildings which commanded the site of this bridge. Here it was joined by elements of other units of the division.
For three days and for four nights the bridge was held against far greater numbers of the German 2nd SS Panzer Corps until with all ammunitions expended, with few survivors unwounded and all the buildings destroyed around them they were finally overwhelmed.
The gallant defence of this detachment, cut off by enemy action from the remainder of the division had a marked influence on the conduct of the campaign in Holland, and the delay imposed on German reinforcements moving south to stem the Allied advance enabled the crossings over the rivers at Grave and Nijmegen to be finally secured.
Following the airborne badge on the plaque, the English text reads
To the memory of the heroes of the first British Airborne division who by their sacrifice initiated the liberation of the Netherlands. The Provincial Government of Gelderland on behalf of the grateful inhabitants of the province dedicated this memorial tablet.
On the Northern side of the bridge there is a bronze plaque that explains, in Dutch and English, that troops led by Lieutenant-Colonel Frost gallantly fought here in September 1944.
The English text reads
This is the bridge that John D. Frost fought
leading his soldiers persistent and brave
in an advance where freedom was sought
went a bridge too far which they tried to save
the bridge is now with his name proudly wrought