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During the night of Saturday 7 to Sunday 8 April 1945 the last parachutist operation in The Netherlands started over the (eastern) province of Drenthe. The dropping of 702 French (SAS) paratroopers intended to support the further advances of the Second Canadian Army Corps to the city of Groningen
On Saturday the 7th of April around 21:00, 46 four engined bomber aircraft with two French battalions of the SAS-Brigade (“Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes”) took off from three secret military airfields in the south east of England. This started Operation Amherst in earnest. During their “largage” (dropping), the circumstances for the paras were unfavorable as had been foreseen. The following factors were to be blamed for that: the visibility, the jumping level and the radar operation. Because of the wind speed of 25 km/h the sticks of 15 men were spread over a larger area.
The fighting developed quickly after the landings in the province of Drenthe and a part of south east Friesland. Some sticks were unfortunately landing on a German convoy, after which their regrouping became rather impossible. Other sticks successfully set up ambushes, mainly in the northern woods of Drenthe. And of course the paratroopers started commando actions often successful, others less fortunate.
In Gasselte four sticks attacked successfully the NSKK command post (NSKK = Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrer Korps, which was a transport unit of the German Army often manned with Dutch volunteers). Here 18 Germans, amongst whom two officers, were captured and transmitted to the surrounding woods, and some got wounded. A French para lost his life. In the evening the Germans returned from Borger to Gasselte and locked the whole of the male population inside the church, this because of suspected help to the French troops. The occupying forces consequently started preparations to shoot all hostages. Fortunately this “almost drama” ended well. Sixteen civilians were imprisoned in Assen and liberated by the Canadians on 13 April.
The losses on the French side totaled 34 men (5 officers, 7 warrant officers and 21 corporals/soldiers). 32 of them were killed in Drenthe and 1 in Friesland (Haulerwijk). In total the Germans executed 7 paras and during the landing two drowned, both in the immediate vicinity of Assen. Next to that the parachutists counted 60 seriously wounded (including those that suffered from broken bones) and 69 were carried off to POW camp Wesermünde. They were liberated on 30 April by the British units.
Battlefield Tours offers battlefield tours for both private and mixed groups in the province of Drenthe. Battlefield Tours can provide specific programs for larger groups, schools and scouting groups. The Battlefield Tours in Drenthe require motorized transport because of distance and tour length. Battlefield Tours can provide transport for groups up to 8 persons. But if you feel more comfortable in your own car, you can follow us using your car also. Groups larger than 8 persons will have to provide for (additional) transport themselves. The tour in Drenthe takes a full day.
The tours in the province of Drenthe takes a full day. Combination with other tours into a multiple day tour is possible.
Possible tour days
Our private tours can be booked all year round and all week to availability.
Price, bookings and payment
Different prices for a private tour may apply depending on group size. Prices, terms and conditions can be found here. You can easily book the tour via the booking form on this page, or by contacting us directly. By submitting a booking you agree to our terms and conditions. After receipt of you booking request we will verify availability on the tour date(s) requested. If needed we will contact you to discuss details or other options. Presuming a requested tour date is possible we will sent you a confirmation email containing an invoice stating the total amount due and the deposit amount (if applicable) needed to complete your booking. Full payment is due 10 days prior to the start date of the tour.
Transport and pick up location
This is a bustour. We start the Battlefield Tours from the train station in Meppel. If you arrive by plane, you will probably fly to Schiphol, Amsterdam’s airport. The easiest way to get to Meppel is by train. There is a direct train from Schiphol to Meppel, which leaves every hour. You can plan your train using the journey planner of the Dutch railways. You should select Schiphol as your departure station and Meppel as your destination. Overnight accommodation is as varied as the city and province of Drenthe itself. Book overnight accommodation via this website.
Dutch documentary about Operation Amherst