April 1945: The liberation of Ede
On 16 April 1945, the 'Polar Bear’ division in Arnhem formed an attack column for the liberation of Ede, Bennekom and Wageningen. This infantry unit received support from Canadian tanks. Having conquered five roadblocks, the Allies reached the restaurant ‘Het Planken Wambuis’ around seven o'clock in the evening.
After rounding the bend, the first German shot rang out. It did not go unanswered, and the enemy was silenced. The advance continued slowly, with the tanks using the forest edges next to the road. At Kruisweg, the tanks moved to the road and more shots were fired.
The first casualties were sustained. A British tank ran over an anti-personnel mine. It was getting dark out, and the commander decided to stop the advance. At that moment, some 300 German soldiers were defending Ede. They had taken up positions east of the Simon Sevinkazerne barracks.
As the hours passed, Ede came under British harassing fire and many residents once again spent the night in an air-raid shelter.
On the morning of Tuesday, 17 April, the advance resumed at five o’clock and the first tanks reached the eastern edge of the Ederheide heathland area just before six o’clock. The tanks formed a line under cover of a smoke screen, after which the Shermans sped forward in open formation and without infantry, towards the western edge of the Ederheide forest. Fourteen SS soldiers were captured straightaway.
The Germans had barricaded the Rijksweg national highway near the Simon Stevinkazerne barracks with a roadblock, backed up by gun and machine gun fire. This temporarily halted the allied advance. British artillery shelling followed, after which four Sherman tanks stormed the barracks grounds. They were followed by flame-thrower carriers that drove the Germans from their trenches. The Germans fled and left behind dozens of dead. More than 50 SS soldiers were taken prisoner at the Simon Stevinkazerne barracks.