September 1944: Airborne landings around the sheep pen
On the afternoon of Sunday, 17 September 1944, the Germans observed the airborne landings at Renkum and Wolfheze. The German high command in the Netherlands immediately sent the 3rd SS Guard Battalion (numbering around 750 men, mostly Dutch soldiers in German military service) from Amersfoort to Ede.
Upon arrival in Ede, the German battalion commander, SS Sturmbannführer (major) Paul Anton Helle, set up his command post in Hotel Pension de Langenberg, and in the course of that evening and night, his troops arrived from Amersfoort.
He sent them on from De Langenberg towards Ginkel Heath. Heavy fighting followed there between the German troops and the British forces that had landed and had now taken up positions at the edges of the woods around the heath. The following morning Helle moved his command post to Zuid-Ginkel Inn.
On the afternoon of Monday, 18 September 1944, Helle was resting in the taproom of the Zuid-Ginkel Inn. During the night, his troops had retaken most of Ginkel Heath from the British and he had positioned his heavy-calibre guns to the east of the inn. There was a lull in the fighting and the Germans were preparing a new attack. At the same time, the British troops were waiting for the landing of the 4th Parachute Brigade, but ground fog in England had delayed take-off.
Shortly before 3 pm, Helle’s adjutant – SS Untersturmführer (2nd lieutenant) Albert Naumann – heard the heavy drone of aircraft. When he saw the impressive sight of the many aeroplanes approaching from the south-west, he realised that rapid action was needed. Almost 1,900 British paratroopers landed right above the SS Guard Battalion. The heavy guns opened fire on the paratroopers who were now approaching Helle’s headquarters – but shortly afterwards, the British were able to knock out these guns.
Helle was rudely awoken and, together with his troops in the inn, he fled out of the back door towards Hindekamp.
Do you want to experience this story on its original location? Visit the information panel at the sheep pen on the Zuid Ginkel.