Archive for the ‘Cycling Operation Market Garden’ Category

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Fongers Club

Bike Movement

Movement by Cycle

Couple years ago Dutch TV introduced a storyteller going to visit the country of his parents : Indonesia. His father served the Dutch Army, but was a local and his mother was Dutch. Indonesia used to be one of our colonies, all the way back until the days of the VOC.

Believe it or not somewhere halfway the series, he met the guys of the Fongers Owners Club. The biggest fun they had, cycling through the streets of Jakarta. Googling on the topic I found out the Dutch Army used bicycles from 1888 until the day the Germans took all the bicycles to their homeland [der Heimat] and ended our Cycling Infantry Devision.

Legerfietsen in Nederland

Lined Bicycle Squadron

One of our favourite jokes towards Germans ‘My grandpa called me lately, told me to tell you : he wants his bicycle back’

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Bert and Tina

A well known Dutch song is about two friends who went out on their Motorbicycles towards the Motorcross at Hengelo. One rides a Norton and the other a BSA. Since they drunk and drove, nobody heard anything about them anymore … It might be the reason I never wanted a motor on my bicycle.

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Inteligent Design

Let’s not forget the human body is a far more efficient machine, so not the best there is. Can’t beat God’s intelligent design.

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old and new

So at the end of World War 2 the guys from BSA developed a Folding Bicycle, also known as the ParaBike. Although a common error has been made, the ParaBike is not the same as the BSA folding bicycle.

For it is only foldable by scrap press machine. It is the same model, but developed for the civilian market.

It looks a lot like the Dutch ‘Grandma Model’. Invented in the 1890 is it still going strong and very popular among youth. Though the ladies’ version of the roadster largely fell out of fashion in England and many other western nations as the 20th century progressed, it remains popular in the Netherlands; this is why some people refer to bicycles of this design as Dutch bikes. In Dutch the name of these bicycles is Omafiets (“grandma’s bike”) though in Frisia they often call them Widdofyts (Frisian for “widow’s bike”).

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Granny Bike

The classic Omafiets conforms to the traditional ladies’ roadster design and comes with a single-speed gear, 28 x 1½ (ISO 635) wheels, black painted frame and mudguards (with white-blazoning at the back of the rear one), and a rear skirt guard. Modern variants, be they painted in other colours, with aluminium frames, drum-brakes or multiple gear ratios in a hub gearing system, will all conform to the same basic look and dimensions as the classic Omafiets. (The Dutch gentlemen’s equivalent is called the Opafiets (Dutch for “grandpa’s bike”) or Stadsfiets (“city bike”) and generally has the same characteristics but with a “diamond” or “gents'” frame, thereby much the same as the gentleman’s English roadster.)

yellow shirts

still going strong

When I was young, my brother’s casette player produced Dire Straight’s Brothers In Arms. Although my mother tongue isn’t English, the song made an huge impact on me. It took years and years until I understood the full meaning of the lyrics.

We’re fools to make war. On our brothers in arms. 

This week I spoke several guys who had something to do with war trauma. Not of the old war, but the wars of my age: Joegoslavia, Iraq, Algery. Like I said, most guys of the Battle of Armhem found piece at last or at least died fighting. But what about the guys who fought the recent wars and continue to struggle for a reason to life?

One guy still lives his battle everyday, his panic attacks make him a shadow of the man he used to be. His medicine make him fall to sleep. His anxiety attacks block him to face his deepest fear with an expert. He was raised during the stages towards war and wanting to do the right thing: fight for his people. Now he is lost in time

A bottle of whisky and a new set of lies. Blinds on the windows and a pain behind the eyes. Scarred for life – no compensation … [private investigation Dire Straights]

The other guy fought in every war imaginable of the last two decades. He learned to fight and choose to go to battle. When his cruelty took over his social life he started the battle within and finished his worst enemy : himself. He is believed not to be a danger to his environment any more.

The last guy lost his brother who got stabbed by an war traumatized Iraqi. A refugee of war living in our midst.

“Don’t admit this yellow bastard … There’s nothing the matter with him. I won’t have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven’t got the guts to fight”… General George Patton 

Those words echo, but those days are gone. When you’re sick, you need medicine. I believe our body can provide a lot of sanity by doing sports. When extremely sick, do sports extremely seemed to be the cure for Lance Armstrong. To me cycling is a good way to empty ones head and rebuild new energy fromout exhaustion and prostration. Training, coaching and drugs makes one to overcome.

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yellow fellow

A Thousand Apologies

Walking out of the Airborne Museum Oosterbeek, one directly faces this remarkable stone. Wondering why liberation forces would be to blame for the effort they made. Indeed came terror over the citizens of Gelderland, but that didn’t start September 1944.  German oppression and criminality started back in 1940. Since Belgium was liberated in September 1944, Allied forces wanted to move on and secure Antwerpen and bridges towards Germany. Starting up Operation Market Garden.

I’ve spoken with an old guy decades ago, present May 1940 at battlefield Rhenen 10 clicks away from his hometown Renkum. As a prisoner of war he had to work in camps in Germany and later on in Russia, for the Sovjet Army took over all labor and forced them to work in The Gulag Archipelago.  Their road through Hell continued untill November 1950. On the other hand; he wasn’t the only good guy who couldn’t live as a free person. Most soldiers from Poland had to wait another 40 years when pressure was released of their country.

When this man spoke of his war, he started to cry. He was a sweet, gentle man when he came to age. A real sportsman too, he went skiing until his late 70’s. But what was he like in his 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, confronted with stress and raising up his children. Did he cry or did he yell faced with his war trauma and anxiety attacks? A lot of times, he made an exhaused impression.

President Roosevelt

President Roosevelt

Although psychiatrists were advancing in their understanding of war trauma, combat exhaustion was not universally accepted.  General George Patton was notable in his lack of sympathy for the psychological afflictions of soldiers. He is said to have slapped two soldiers who were recuperating in a military hospital while yelling to a medical officer, “Don’t admit this yellow bastard … There’s nothing the matter with him. I won’t have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven’t got the guts to fight”… President Roosevelt received thousands of letters about the incident, most of which indicated support for Patton. “Ultimately, though, Patton was reprimanded, ordered to apologize, and relieved of command of the Seventh Army”  

[from history of PTSD]

Besides Cross Country Cycling through Renkum municipality’s countryside, one can get a glimpse of how it was like back in the days of Operation Market Garden, by playing a videogame called: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway.

Brothers in Arms : Hell's Highway

View on Venlo

The whole Operation could be cut into two pieces; Market: airborne forces had to seize bridges and other terrain, and Garden: ground forces of the Second Army to move north spearheaded.

The ‘Brothers in Arms’ series is developed by Ubisofta company who started their journey in Carentoir – Brittany back in 1986.  Although D-day took place in Normandy, one can imagine guys from Brittany wanting to make a contribution too. Unfortantely the Battle of Arnhem is completely left out of this first person shooter. For a better view we have to watch the series ‘Band of Brothers’ or the film ‘A Bridge to Far’.

Perhaps Ubisoft – Montreal might consider bringing out: Brothers in Arms : Battle of Arnhem, most of the soldiers in 1944 were from Canada. Grazy thing is, the games are rated 18, but I’ve seen graves of guys younger.

Probably the worst battle for myself and my platoon was the battle for Arnhem where most of my platoon were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Of the 10,000 paratroopers, glider troops and glider pilots who entered Holland, only some 2,000 survived the ten days of fighting and came back to England.

I was wounded and became a prisoner of war but luckily survived the battle.

After the war ended I got back to England from the prisoner of war camp and spent four months in hospital recovering from my wounds. These finished my army career and I received a medical discharge, having obtained the rank of Warrant Officer. I was 24 years old.

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Battle of Arnhem

These words came from an old man, who kept his mouth shut all of his life. Finally one of his grantsons asked him to open up…

The BBC published and updated these stories until February 2012; they were good guys …

to the people of Gelderland

to the people of Gelderland

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signpost at Junoplateau

Cycling in Arnhem’s backyard allways confronts one with rememberance of Operation Market Garden.

On several locations ‘en route’ monuments, flags and crosses placed by individuals point out these hills were earned in blood. In Oosterbeek we have an Airborne Museum which explains a lot about the Battle of Arnhem and why it wasn’t succesfull.

The very same forests which surround the Mountainbike track of Oosterbeek containt a lot of enemy soldiers, and strong Panzerdivisions back in 1944. Nearby Mariëndaal Estate the war cemetery is located. Mariëndaal Estate makes one feel in the English landscape. The ‘Wall of Mariëndaal’ is notorious by Cyclists. Remembering all Allied Soldiers, coming into an English atmosphere all of a sudden a climb of 18% makes this allmost an spiritual journey.

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Let me express it this way: imagine an English bloke from the countryside, jumping out of an Airplane or landing by Glider nearby Wolfheze. Trusting your leaders it will be over in a couple of days and then all of a sudden being faced with this complete unexpected heavy resistance ….

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bsa early ab soldier riding

Next year [2014] all will be 70 years ago, so most of these guys from back then will rest in peace by now.

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sign post Juno plateau

After switching my ‘summer tires’ [Schwalbe – Lugano] into its originals [Hutchinson’s Tech Gold Pro] I went out to Oosterbeek’s Mountainbike track. The Cyclocrosser I went with is a Gazelle Folata from the Goldline edition of 2010.  At least, that’s the year in which I bought it. There is lots and lots to say about the surrounding area of Oosterbeek. Its nature, its history and off course the flora and fauna. Since I’d love to ride my bike Offroad, I thought it would be a good idea to tell you something about that specifics as well.

On the other hand, I grew up in that area and every year we went to see ‘the Airborne Dropping‘ at the Ginkel’s Heath remembering Operation Market Garden, back in September 1944. Cycling through the forest as a 10 year old, I recently did it with my 10 year old. Since he was born in Arnhem [Rijnstate Hospital] I told him it might be a good thing to tell his classmates something about the history of his place of birth. Nowadays we live in the Utrecht area, so no one heard of Operation Market Garden overhere.

Cycling, Nature and History are the topics one can find here. Although my mother tongue is Dutch, I do speak several other languages. Besides that; I’d like to call myself a globe trotter. And for that reason I’d like to express myself in English. Otherwise Google Translate can help you out!