September 1944: Hotel Pension de Langenberg becomes a German command post
As part of preparations for the airborne landings on 17 September 1944 the barracks in Ede were bombed by the Allies. Many bombs also fell in Ede, killing 25 German soldiers and 71 residents of the town.
De Langenberg Barracks (Simon Stevin Barracks) was the base of the German SS Obersturmführer (first lieutenant) Labahn, the local German military commander of Ede. Following the first bombings in the morning, Labahn observed the British airborne landings at Renkum and Wolfheze, but he had no idea what the Allies intended. He ordered the troops still stationed in the Ede garrison (around 400 men) to take up positions along the edge of Ede Heath and Ginkel Heath. But he himself took refuge in De Langenberg Barracks, because he was afraid the Dutch resistance would take revenge on him. This was because he had ordered two resistance men from Barneveld – Adriaan Meijler and Maarten Verkerk – to be shot the day before, without trial in the woods opposite the entrance to the barracks.
In response to the airborne landings, the German high command in the Netherlands immediately sent the 3rd SS Guard Battalion (numbering around 750 men) from Amersfoort to Ede. On 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. Labahn and Helle consulted about what to do. They didn’t know that the British aimed to use Ginkel Heath for airborne landings on Monday, 18 September.
One of the British units that had landed in gliders near Wolfheze was the 7th Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers. This battalion (700 men) moved to Ginkel Heath and took up position there to protect the landing of British paratroopers scheduled for the following day.
The first of Helle’s troops (30 men) arrived in Ede on bicycles: this was a reconnaissance unit (Jagdkommando). He sent them on towards Arnhem to establish where the Allies were and what they intended.
In the meantime, the Scottish troops were positioned in the woods on the other side of Zuid-Ginkel Inn. They let the cycling German troops get close and then opened fire. The entire group was eliminated, but now the Germans knew where the British were.
Many engagements followed in that night, in the course of which the Germans took the greater part of Ginkel Heath. After this, they moved their headquarters from Hotel Pension de Langenberg to Zuid-Ginkel Inn.
Want to experience this story on its original location? Visit the information panel in front of restaurant De Langenberg.