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Dutch town honouring Scottish soldiers who freed it from Nazis

Gennep was liberated by Allied forces in the dying months of the Second World War.

The Dutch town of Gennep where a bridge has been named after the Scots who liberated them.
STV

A town in the Netherlands is honouring the Scottish soldiers who freed it from the Nazis 70 years ago.

Gennep was liberated in the dying months of the Second World War in 1945.

The people of the city have chosen to name their new bridge The Highlander Bridge as a tribute to the men who fought and died there.

Among the guests of honour at the naming ceremony on Saturday morning are the family of 28-year-old Alexander Kilpatrick who have travelled from Kirkintilloch.

Private Kilpatrick was killed five miles south of Gennep.

His niece, Christine Lukes, said: "When we heard what the Dutch are doing we wanted to come. His picture was always in my Dad’s house with poppies around it year round."

Three veterans from the 51st Highland Division will also be there, including Bill Robertson from Haddington who was among the soldiers who liberated the town.

The 88-year-old remembers fighting in the town, which had been evacuated before the fighting started.

He said: "It was peculiar because everyone had been evacuated, there were no civilians there. All the houses had been fortified and the Germans were hellbent on defending it, which they did.

"Each attack you went into you thought 'am I going to have to do this again?'

"The Dutch are very grateful and they don't forget. They are fine people."

The naming ceremony is taking place after Adriaan de Winter, a former member of the Dutch resistance, pushed for the soldiers to be remembered.

The 88-year-old said: "I first thought of it 20 years ago and I kept asking and asking and finally they said yes.

"The town was evacuated before the liberation so nobody really knew what had happened here. I thought it was important to remember the British soldiers."

By February 1945 Allied forces battling their way through the Netherlands had pushed the Germans back to their own border.

A major offensive was launched to clear the German forces in the Rhineland, freeing the way for the crossing of the Rhine.

The northern part of the offensive was codenamed Operation Veritable and involved mainly British and Canadian troops, among them the 51st (Highland) Division and 15th (Scottish) Division.

Close to the Dutch-German border, Gennep was a key strategic objective in the first phase of the battle which was launched on February 8. The town had been occupied for nearly five years.

Its inhabitants were evacuated in late 1944 after the area was caught up in fierce fighting, but the town remained in German hands.

On the 11th of February the 5th Battaltion the Black Watch was ordered to take Gennep, facing fierce resistance as it fought its way into the town.

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