September 1944: Hotel de Langenberg converted into German command
On 17 September 1944, the local German commander Major Laban requested support from a 'Wachtbataljon' from Amersfoort. The 'Wachtbataljon', which was part of the Dutch SS, was led by lieutenant-colonel Helle. He received the order to move his men to Ede that same day.
It was already getting dark by the time they drove through Ede and stopped at De Langeberg. The road to Arnhem was ahead of them. Helle decided to set up his command post in the restaurant and establish communication with Laban. He was staying in de Simon Stevin barracks with the last troops still stationed in Ede. At that moment, there were about 185 Germans left,
but Laban had a guilty conscience; the night before, he had had two boys from Barneveld, Ab and Adri, shot to death in the woods across from the barracks. It was easier than sending them to the Sicherheitsdienst(the intelligence agency of the SS) in Arnhem. Like all Germans, he lived in fear of a general uprising by the oppressed population as soon as they could count on the immediate support of the allied troops. Up until that moment, he had not dared to launch any reconnaissance missions. All he knew was that the ‘Tommies’ had managed to reach the barracks and had peeked through the fence.
Assessing the situation, both men came to the wrong conclusion, that the English apparently had not landed on the Dutch coast, but in the east. Consequently, their plan was to head west. They saw Ginkel Heath before them, and decided to cross the heath during the night and take up the positions in the woods on the other side.
It was right at that moment when the first troops from Amersfoort arrived. They had been ordered to follow the main road to the other side of the heath to track down the enemy. They got on their bicycles and rode off. On the other side of the heath, the glider pilot ‘Tommies’ who had landed that afternoon saw the bicyclists approaching and, when they drew near, opened fire. The initial attack was fended off. Many more battles ensued on the heath that night.