Airstrip B-91, Shown on the records as being KLUIS near NIJMEGEN

--- REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ---

By the end of September 1944 Operation Market Garden had drawn to a close. The plan to bring a rapid end to the war in Europe had failed, despite the great efforts and heroism of the allied forces involved, leaving a salient in the German line centred on Nijmegen. Two of the reasons for the failure had been identified as inadequate flak suppression during the initial airborne landings and the absence of 2nd TAF air support during the bitter fighting that followed. With the conclusion of the German Ardennes offensive in January 1945 the allies could once again plan to cross the Rhine. The overall plan was code-named 'Veritable', the airborne element 'Varsity'. As a result of the lessons learned from the failure of Market Garden it was decided to build a landing strip in the Nijmegen area prior to the attack specifically to provide a base for the Typhoon and Tempest squadrons of 2nd TAF (164, 183, 198, 609, 33, 222 and 274 squadrons) that had been selected to provide flak suppression for operation Varsity. They were later to be joined by a detachment of Gloster Meteor jets of 616 Sqdn for their first continental deployment. A suitable site was selected close to Nijmegen and within a few days the 23 Airfield Construction Group had completed a new landing strip to be known as B-91, Kluis near Nijmegen (B = British).

Those who can provide information about B-91 are requested to contact:
Jaap Been
Schoof 53
6581 SE MALDEN
The Netherlands

My e-mail address is shown below.

emailcover.com - hide your email address

On the next pages,
old photographs taken at B-91,
interviews with Malden inhabitants,
correspondence with Veterans,
and the Operational Diaries of B-91 from 21st March 1945 - 20th April 1945 are given.



Air photograph of Airstrip B-91, Kluis near Nijmegen, taken on 6th April 1945.
Visible are over a hundred Typhoon and Tempest planes and 3 Dakotas parked in the SW part of the airfield.


Air photograph of the remains of airstrip B-91 taken in 1949.
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from the Dutch Topographical Department at Emmen.


Recent air photograph of the village of Malden.
Airstrip B-91 was situated east of the main road to Nijmegen (N271).


The Operations tent area probably at B-91.
RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. 6039-6
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266


Overview probably at B-91.
RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. 6038-6
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266


Tempests at B-91. Visible is the house of Piet Groenen.
RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. 6049-1
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266


Gloster Meteor at B-91.
RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. 6048-4
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266


Gloster Meteors at B-91.
RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. 6048-1
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266


Gloster Meteor of 616 Squadron Mark YQ-P, RAF Museum Photograph, REF No. P100279
Reproduction forbidden without prior consent from photographic section
RAF MUSEUM HENDON LONDON NW9 5LL, Tel No. 020 8205 2266

The above photograph, probably taken at B-91, was found in the RAF yearbook from 1984, page 57. The RAF's first jet fighter squadron was No 616, which began to receive Meteor F Mk 1s at Culmhead on 12th July 1944. Less than a month later it claimed its first "kill" when a V-1 Flying Bomb was tipped out of control by wingtip of one of the squadron's Meteors after the latter's guns jammed. With Meteor IIIs, the squadron was operational in Europe by January 1945.


Spitfire with Lenie and Marietje Polman at B-91.

Airstrip B-91 (Shown on the records as being KLUIS, NIJMEGEN

As a prelude to the opening of the Second Front, the 2nd Tactical Air Force was formed from units of the Royal Air Force Fighter and Bomber Commands. These groups were formed exclusively for work with the ground forces and all had distinctive black and white markings on their wings and fuselage for easy identification from D-day till the end of 1944 and with Red/White/Blue roundels from January 1945 till the end of the war. The aircraft in which you are concerned were part of 84 Group, they operated originally from bases in Southern England over the Beachheads, and when these were extended through France, The Netherlands and ultimately into Germany, the Squadrons moved to various Aerodromes and prepared Airstrips following the Land Forces.

Those Aircraft and Squadrons from 84 Group, which operated from Airstrip B-91, were as follows:

123 Wing:
164 Squadron flying Typhoons Aircraft Mark FJ
183 Squadron flying Typhoons Aircraft Mark HF
198 Squadron flying Typhoons Aircraft Mark TP
609 Squadron flying Typhoons Aircraft Mark PR

135 Wing:
33 Squadron flying Tempests Aircraft Mark 5R
222 Squadron flying Tempests Aircraft Mark ZD
274 Squadron flying Tempests Aircraft Mark JJ

616 Squadron flying Gloster Meteor Aircraft Mark YQ

123 Wing moved to B-91 on 21st March 1945 and much to the disgust of the Personal were housed in tents. According to records they operated at B-91 from 21st March 1945 to 17th April 1945. On 17th April 123 Wing moved to B-103 at Plantlunne.

135 Wing moved to B-91 also in early 1945 and were operational there until 20th April 1945. In fact the two Squadrons 33 and 222 flew the last operational sortie flights in 84 Group, escorting Dakotas to Denmark (not from B-91).

Although no actual Squadrons of Dakotas were based at B-91, they did use the Airstrip and it is a known fact that Dakotas used B-91 Airstrip to transport the wounded and former Prisoners of War back to England.

Extract from a letter from the Dutch Military authority (technical department Airstrips) to the Minister of Public Works, date: 2nd May 1945.

Airstrip Malden near Nijmegen.
Location: North of Malden and east of the road Nijmegen-Gennep
Area: about 160 hectares
Airstrip: one, 1400 meters long, 40 meters broad
Material: steel plate
Construction: The Allied Forces
Buildings: None
Character of the soil: Sand

Numbered airfields and airstrips in Europe used by 2nd T.A.F. squadrons, with locations where known.

B-1 Carpiquet
B-2 Crepon, Bazenville
B-3 Banville
B-4 Beny-sur-Mer, Douvres
B-5 La Fresnoy, Camilly
B-6 Coulombs, between Coulombs and St.Croix-Grand-Tonne
B-7 Martragny
B-8 Sommervieu
B-9 Lantheuil
B-10 Plumetot
B-12 Ellon
B-15 Ryes
B-17 Carpiquet
B-18 Christot
B-21 South Caumont
B-23 Morainville
B-24 St. Andre de Leuvre
B-25 Le Treport
B-26 Illiers L'Eveque
B-27 Boisney
B-28 Evreux
B-29 Bernay
B-30 Creton, Orne
B-31 Fresney Foiny
B-33 Neufeampville
B-34
B-35 Baromesnil, Merville
B-37 Tours-en-Vimeau, Corroy, Abbeville
B-40 Beauvais
B-42 Tille
B-43 Fort Rouge
B-44 Poix
B-48 Glissy, Amiens
B-50 Vitry-en-Artois, Douai
B-51 Vendeville, Merville, Lille
B-52 Douai
B-53 Merville
B-55 Wevelghem, Courtrai
B-56 Evere, Brussels
B-57 Lille-Nord
B-58 Melsbroek, Brussels
B-60 Grimbergen
B-61 St. Denijs Westrem, Ghent
B-64 Diest, Schaffen
B-65 Maldegem
B-66
B-67 Ursel
B-68 Le Culot
B-70 Duerne, Antwerp
B-71 Coxyde
B-77 Gilze-Rijen
B-78 Eindhoven
B-79 Woensdrecht
B-80 Volkel
B-82 Grave
B-83
B-84 Rips
B-85 Schijndel
B-86 Helmond
B-87 Rosieres-en-Santerre
B-88 Heesch
B-89 Mill
B-90 Petit Brogel
B-91 Kluis, Nijmegen
B-100 Goch
B-101 Nordhorn
B-103 Plantlunne
B-105 Drope
B-106 Twente, Enschede
B-108 Rheine
B-109 Quackenbruck
B-110 Achmer
B-111
B-112 Hopsten, Rheine
B-113 Varrelbusch
B-114 Diepholz
B-116 Wunstorf
B-118 Celle
B-120 Lanenburg
B-150 Hustedt-Schweirin, Fassberg
B-152 Fassberg
B-154 Schneverdingen
B-156 Luneberg

A-8
A-12 Balleray
A-15 Maupertus
A-75 Cambrai/Epinoy
A-84 Chievres
Y-32 Asch

123 Wing at B-91, Kluis near Nijmegen

Squadron Leaders at Kluis

Squadron

Aircraft Letters

C/O at Kluis

Period

164

FJ

Sqd Ldr P.L. Bateman-Jones

Jan’45 - ug’45

183

HF

Sqd Ldr J.R. Cullen, DFC

Feb’45 - Oct’45

198

TP

Sqd Ldr N.J. Durrant, DFC

Dec’44 - ept’45

609

PR

Sqd Ldr L.W.F. Stark, DFC, AFC

Mar’45 - ept’45

Squadron losses while at Kluis during March 1945

Squadron

Aircraft No.

Date

Rank

Name

Circumstances &
Place

HF 183

JP969

1st March

W.O.

D.D. Blair

Tyre Burst, T/OFF Bellyland.
B-17, Gilze Rijen

TP 198

MN354

2nd March

W.O.

W.A. Livesley

S/Down by P51 Mustang NW of Neus. Killed, Burried at Venray

PR 609

EK380

3th March

P.O.

T.H.R. Goblet

Missing Pres, S/Down at Xanten, POW

PR 609

SW447

9th March

Sqd Ldr

R.A. Roberts

Hit by flak, F/Land, SW of Achthuizen

PR 609

PO449

10th March

W.O.

G.M. Reynolds

Engine fail, C/Land at
B-77 Gilze Rijen

PR 609

PD519

18th March

W.O.

G.M. Reynolds

Tyre burst, T/Off, Crash at
B-77 Gilze Rijen

PR 609

JP858

19th March

W.O.

F.S. Hammond

Engine fail, F/Land,
NE of Deventer

HF 183

MN747

24th March

Flt Sgt

N.L. Lancaster

Bellyland at B-91 Kluis

Squadron losses while at Kluis during April 1945

Squadron

Aircraft No.

Date

Rank

Name

Circumstances & Place

HF 183

DN248

1st April

W.O.

D.P. Drummond

S/Down by flak at Hardenberg/Deventer, Killed

HF 183

SW476

1st April

W.O.

S.B. Laing

Missing at Zutphen, POW

HF 183

MN419

1st April

Flt Sgt

T.P. Ward

Battle damaged

TP 198

MN573

2nd April

W.O.

M. Ryan

Engine fail at B-89, Mill

HF 183

MN365

3rd April

Flt Sgt

W.E. Barber

Crash on approach to
B-91, Kluis

TP 198

JR222

7th April

W.O.

A.W. Britton

Tyre burst , T/Off + crash at B-91, Kluis

TP 198

-

8th April

Flt Lieut

N.C. Pye, DFC

Killed, Burried at Nijmegen (Jonkerbos)

FJ 164

SW523

9th April

Sqd Ldr

P.L. Bateman-Jones

Hit by flak, F/Land at
B-88, Heesh, Killed

FJ 164

MN853

10th April

W.O.

D.W. Mc Culloch

Hit by allied , Ackard + Blew-up near Lingen

TP 198

PD605

10th April

Flt Lieut

W.R. Wardle

Caught, Fire starting-up at B-91, Kluis

FJ 164

SW410

11th April

Flt Lieut

Mammond-Hunt

Engine fire during starting-up at B-91, Kluis

TP 198

DN341

11th April

F.O.

F.G. Williams

S/Down by flak, F/Land near Zwolle

PR 609

PD593

12th April

Flt Lieut

J.D. Inches

Hit by flak, B/Out at Friesoythe

PR 609

MN434

13th April

P.O.

H.M. Randall

Collied with RB250 + Crash near Grave

PR 609

RB250

13th April

Flt Sgt

D.E. Blommaet

Collied with MN434 + Crash near Grave

TP 198

PD508

13th April

F.O.

L.J. Bastin

Engine cut, B/Out at Beers

TP 198

RB279

13th April

W.O.

K.R. Goodhew

Hit by flak, B/Out at Kampe

PA 609

JR294

16th April

Sgt

A.R.A. De-Champs

S/Down by flak near Bremen

TP 198

SW472

23rd April

P.O.

R.T. Casey

Hit by flak, B/Out near Nieuwolde/Emden

PR 609

PD572

23rd April

W.O.

S.E. Smith

Hit by flak near Neumunster

FJ 164

JR363

25th April

Flt Lieut

M.E. Jones

Hit by flak,
F/Land near Neumunster

FJ 164

MN896

25th April

F.O.

R.J.M. Wilson

Hit by debris,
F/Land at Neumunster

FJ 164

RB265

26th April

F.O.

W.T. Lawston

Hit by flak, B/Out at Wilhelmshaven

TP 198

SW520

26th April

F.O.

W.G. Ford

O/Shot at landing at Plantlunne

Squadron losses while at Kluis during May 1945

Squadron

Aircraft No.

Date

Rank

Name

Circumstances &
Place

TP 198

PD466

3rd May

P.O.

J.E.N.C. Scoon

Engine fail, F/Land south of Eimke, Kiel Bay

TP 198

PD618

3rd May

Flt Sgt

P.W.W. Millard

Engine fail, F/Land SW of Neustadt, Kiel Bay. (EVADE)

HF 183

SW454

4th May

Sqd Ldr

J.R. Cullen, C/O

Hit by flak, F/Land on
Fehmarn Island

PR 609

SW497

8th May

Flt Sgt

N.F. Dixon

Engine fail,
F/Land NE of Meppen

135 Wing at B-91, Kluis near Nijmegen

Squadron Leaders at Kluis

Squadron

Aircraft Letters

C/O at Kluis

Period

33

5R

Sqd Ldr A.W. Bower, DFC

March'45 - June'45

222

ZD

Sqd Ldr E.B. Lyons, DFC

Jan'45 - May'45

274

JJ

Sqd Ldr W.J. Hibbert

March'44 - April'45

Squadron losses while at Kluis during April 1945

Squadron

Aircraft No.

Date

Rank

Name

Circumstances &
Place

5R 33

 

12th April

Flt Sgt

P.L. Walton

Shot down by FW190, Baled out W of Velzen (evaded capture)

5R 33

 

12th April

Sgt

J. Staines

Shot down by FW190, Baled out W of Velzen (killed)

5R 33

 

12th April

C.T.

E.D. Thomson

Damaged by FW190 over Velzen, plane written off

5R 33

 

19th April

Flt Lieut

R.A. McPhie

Hit by flak, force landed north Freetz (POW)

ZD 222

 

19th April

Flt Lieut

C.G.F. Deck

Shot down by flak at Neumunster airfield (killed)

Squadron claims while at Kluis during April 1945

Squadron

Aircraft No.

Date

Rank

Name

Circumstances and Place

ZD 222

 

11st April

Sqd Ldr

E.B. Lyons

Took off from Fassbull during a strafing attack by 222 Sqn, was seen to climp to 2.000 feet, on fire and pilot baled out - may have been hit

5R 33

 

12th April

Capt

E.D. Thompson

1 FW 190, over Hamburg (1/JG26?)

5R 33

 

12th April

F/O

D.J. ter Beck

1 FW 190, over Hamburg (1/JG26?)

5R 33

 

12th April

Flt Sgt

P.W.C. Watton

1 FW 190, over Hamburg (1/JG26?)

JJ 274

 

17th April

Flt Lieut Sgt

R.L. Stolkburn J. Wilson

1 JU 88 over Schleswig

JJ 222

 

19th April

F/O

G. Walkington-hunt

1 unidentified jet over Hilversum - believed to be He 162 of 1/JG1

Operational Diaries B-91 from 21.3.45 - 20.4.45

On the next pages the Operational Diaries of the squadrons that used B-91 are given. They are hand copied from the microfiches stored at the Public Records Office at Kew by Jonathan Bowd. Each squadron has its own sheet and the information on that sheet is in data order. Where there is a data with an asterisk - such as 21.3.45.* - the entry includes information about B-91. A single word such as ‘Trains’ means trains were the main target that day, a name ‘Apeldoorn’ means that place was the target for that day (houses, strong points, roads, trenches in it or near it). M.T. means ‘motor transport’, A.F.V. means ‘Armoured Fighting Vehicle’ (tank, half-track, armoured car, self-propelled gun), any thing in quote marks (‘ ‘) has been copied directly from the text. Of the 8 squadrons that were at B-91 only one (164) makes no real mention of it and only one (609) has any real complains, 616 greatly enjoyed their stay.

164 Squadron (Argentine/British Sqn) 21.3.45 - 17.4.45

21.3.45.* 9.15 hrs move to B-91. Attack Zwolle.
22.3.45. Barges @ Zutphen.
23.3.45. H.Q. at Bennekom + Billets at Arnhem.
24.3.45. Operation Varsity - gun positions east of Rhine, artillery at Wesel.
25.3.45. M.T. at Barholt (?).
26.3.45. Barges at Zwartsluis, P.R. of Rhine.
27.3.45. Bad weather, no flying.
28.3.45. Bad weather, no flying.
29.3.45. Bad weather, no flying.
30.3.45. M.T. at Almelo and H.Q. at Enschede.
31.3.45. M.T. and A.F.V.'s. 'Now, on the last evening of the month, the Hun is apparently pulling out of Holland and we are still hitting him as hard as possible as he does so'

1.4.45.* Armed recce - C.O. makes belly landing (tires burst).
2.4.45. Radar station near Amsterdam.
3.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
4.4.45. Gun positions. 'The rate at which the Bomb line moves east is something to marvel at !
5.4.45. Gun positions near Zutphen.
6.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
7.4.45. Attack. 'Strong points marked by red smoke'.
8.4.45. Destroyed a windmill, H.Q. north of Deventer.
9.4.45. Gun positions.
10.4.45. W/O McCullogh seen to explode in mid-air - no parachute seen. M.T., A.F.V.'s, barges + strong points.
11.4.45. Gun positions, bridge at Arnhem, ammo ship at dock at Hilversum.
12.4.45. Guns at Arnhem, Peterschafte (?).
13.4.45. Apeldoorn. 'there is no doubt of our attacks success - our troops went in and took the positions without losing a man'.
14.4.45. Armed recce.
15.4.45. No flying.
16.4.45. Train at Oldenburg, attacked ships at Zuider Zee.
17.4.45. Move to B-103.

183 Squadron 21.3.45 - 17.4.45

20.3.45.* 'Tonight, 'pack up' is ordered for we are moving to B-91 Nijmegen tomorrow morning. Our billets have been very comfortable and the Airfield good here at Gilze, and so I think it is with slight pangs of regret that we leave it for our forward base'.
21.3.45.* 'Early morning found the Wing bustling about in preparation for moving to B-91. The Squadron was second to become airborne and all made good landings at new strip. Although not so wide as the runways at Gilze it is very long, and of the American type. The tracking pulls the aircraft up very quickly. Our aircraft are quite well dispersed and tents have been pitched for Dispersal and a special collapsible parachute room erected. Operations and our tents are next to each other and after a little clearing up the site is quite comfortable although there is a lack of the luscious green grass of the Normandy Orchards. The Aerodrome Construction Unit have done an excellent job in a short time and cleared sites for 'messing' etc. Dust, an old friend of those who were in Normandy has now returned in full force and so all the aircraft are once again fitted with dust filters. Attack on ammunition dump nr. Wezep.
22.3.45. Practice bombing at 's Hertogenbosch.
23.3.45.* Anti-flack for 'Operation Varsity' (Rhine crossing). 99 sorties in 4 hrs, no casualties. Pilots 'liberty run' to Nijmegen (‘Liberty run’ means ‘free time’ - the pilots were ‘at liberty’, i.e. free to do what they wanted and in these cases a trip into the nearest town, Nijmegen).
24.3.45. Dive-bomb V.2 storage nr. Rotterdam.
26.3.45. M.T. and airfield at Hopsten.
27.3.45.* Cut railway line. First film shown in Officers Mess 'great success'.
28.3.45.* 'Bad weather - no flying. Aircraft cleaned & liberty run to Nijmegen.
29.3.45. No flying - 'tour of Germany'.
30.3.45. Attack H.Q.
31.3.45. Armed recce - 3 M.T. destroyed, 14 damaged.

1.4.45. Armed recce - 3 A.F.V.'s destroyed.
2.4.45.* Attack radar station nr. IJmuiden. Pilot injured when plane with engine trouble crashed on end of runway. Pilot lost near IJmuiden.
3.4.45. No flying (bad weather).
4.4.45. No flying (bad weather).
5.4.45. Two pilots die when their Auster crashed off Breda-Tilburg road. Bad weather.
6.4.45. No flying, bad weather.
7.4.45. Mappen. 2 pilots injured in Jeep crash.
8.4.45. Ammo train.
9.4.45. No flying.
10.4.45. Deventer and shipping recce.
11.4.45. Hilversum (shipping) + Arnhem (factory).
12.4.45. Petersdorf + Frussaythe (?) - rockets fired at a building before it was identified as a Hospital - attacks stopped (but back wall blown out in first attack).
13.4.45. Apeldoorn.
14.4.45. Training.
15.4.45. No flying, bad weather.
16.4.45. Prepare for move.

198 Squadron 21.3.45. - 17.4.45.

21.3.45.* 'The squadron moved to their new location at B-91 Kluis in Holland, this was a strip laid with metal sheets and was surprisingly well made. Tents were erected and most of the day was spent settling in'.
22.3.45. Barges.
23.3.45. Petrol dump at Emmen, P.R. of Emmen.
24.3.45. Operation Varsity - Flack patrol, gun pits at Bremen, radar station at Halle.
25.3.45. Halle, Staveren (?) harbour.
26.3.45. Defence post opposite Wageningen, Dutch SS H.Q. at Zuylenstein.
27.3.45. Bad weather, no flying.
28.3.45. Bad weather, no flying.
29.3.45. Bad weather, no flying. Trip to front line to look at results of attacks, Jeep damaged - burst tyre.
30.3.45. Staff car - A.F.V.'s near Nienborg, 30+ Germans pulling hand carts near Apeldoorn, 100 trucks west of Osnabrück.
31.3.45. M.T. - 7 M.T. + 1 staff car destroyed; 11 M.T. , 1 staff car + 1 horse drawn vehicle damaged.

1.4.45.* Bad weather, no flying. 'time was well spent by putting up quarters for our new arrivals, 4 hens, who have already commenced ops. by laying 2 eggs
2.4.45. Radar station at Gastrigum, W/O Ryan force landed north of Volkel.
3.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
4.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
5.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
6.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
7.4.45. Gun pits + M.T. at Deventer. F/L Pye D.F.C. killed in Jeep crash (just awarded the D.F.C.).
8.4.45. Deventer.
9.4.45. Zwolle.
10.4.45. Deventer.
11.4.45. M.T. on Wijhe to Zwolle road, 1 plane lost (pilot safe).
12.4.45. Use of long-range tanks. - A.F.V.'s, M.T., trains + Ju 87 Stuka in Bremen area.
13.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
14.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
15.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
16.4.45. A village south of Lake Zwischenahn (?).
17.4.45. Leave for B-103.

609 Squadron (West Riding sqn.) 21.3.45. - 17.4.45.

21.3.45.* 'Today the pilots were up early and all kit was packed before breakfast ready for the move to B-91 just south of Nijmegen. The Squadron flew-up about 09.00 hrs followed some hour or so later by the kit on the lorries. This time the goat was not left behind - he having travelled with A party. Spare pilots got cracking and by dusk all were settled in their new quarters and not too happy under canvas again
22.3.45. Barges.
23.3.45. Armed recce - Arnhem.
24.3.45. Operation Varsity, anti-flack, attack A.F.V.'s.
25.3.45. H.Q. + gun positions.
26.3.45. Barges, trains, M.T.
27.3.45. Armed recce - Barges.
30.3.45. Arnhem/Apeldoorn.
31.3.45. M.T. north of Twente canal.

1.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
2.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
3.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
4.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
5.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
6.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
7.4.45.* Almelo. In evening a party in Officers Mess. 'Women in few numbers'.
8.4.45. Shipping recce.
9.4.45. Destroyed train at Oldenburg.
10.4.45. Sidings at Visselhövede (?).
11.4.45. Armed recce at Bremen - 3 trains attacked.
12.4.45. Trains and Apeldoorn. Don Inches kit and baled out 'last seen walking towards German lines'. Warned by S/Ldr of 183 Sqn about hospital in target area so it was not attacked.
13.4.45.* 2 planes collide in mid-air soon after take off over Grave. Both pilots killed.
14.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
15.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
16.4.45. Arnhem + Apeldoorn.
17.4.45. Move to B-103.

33 Squadron 7.4.45. - 20.4.45.

7.4.45.* 7.55 hrs 12 airborne - patrol Osnabrück-Minden. Landed B-91 at 10.10 hrs. Echelon arrived in 2 sections. 'Accommodation now canvas. 6 patrols flown from B-91 'a truly magnificent effort considering the circumstances'.
8.4.45. Armed recce.
9.4.45. Armed recce. M.T. destroyed.
10.4.45. 1 loco 'removed', M.T. destroyed. 'Pilots are having great difficulty these days in keeping their maps up to date. The 'bomb line' advances every few hours. Latest rumours say that we are going to Norway !
11.4.45. M.T.
12.4.45. Bounced by 15 Fw 190's while attacking M.T., 1 Fw 190 destroyed, 1 Fw destroyed + 2 damaged by Bech, a Dutch pilot. 2 aircraft 'missing' (one, a new pilot on second operational trip, joined 33 ten days before).
13.4.45. M.T. + strongpoint at Friesoythe.
14.4.45. 2 loco's, inconclusive attack on He 262.
15.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
16.4.45. Trains + M.T. in Bremen - Hamburg area.
17.4.45. A.F.V.'s + M.T.
18.4.45. Trains + M.T. around Hamburg.
19.4.45. Airfield at Nordhorn (?) - destroyed 3 Ju 88's + 1 He III. Leader of Yellow section hit by light flack. 'flew south with coolant streaming from aircraft and landed in field 3 miles north of forward troops - seen to leave aircraft (which caught fire), several civilians observed running towards him !
20.4.45. 10.30 hrs, 16 take off for new base - 'no longer under canvas !

222 Squadron (Natal Sqd.) 7.4.45. - 20.4.45.

7.4.45.* 13.30 hrs, take off Gilze-Rijen, unsuccessful attack on He 262. Land back at Kluis (B-91). 'The Squadron took the return to 'canvas' in its stride, specially pleased - and grateful, to find all the tents already pitched in the sandy forest of B-91 by advance party'.
8.4.45.* Dispersal organised.
9.4.45. M.T. + trains Bremen-Hamburg (one train carrying 15 Tiger tanks).
10.4.45. Trains.
11.4.45. Fassburg aerodrome - 2 Me 262's + 1 Me 163 destroyed.
12.4.45. Armed recce.
13.4.45. Armed recce.
14.4.45. Weather recce.
15.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
16.4.45. Armed recce.
17.4.45. Loco's.
18.4.45. Fighter sweep - Utersen aerodrome, 1 He III destroyed, 2 He III + 1 Fw 190 damaged.
19.4.45. Fighter sweep - Neumünster, Schlisung (?) + Musun (?) aerodrome, 8 aircraft destroyed (He III, Ju 87, Ju 88). Fl/lt Deck missing - last seen attacking Neumünster.
20.4.45. Move to B-109.

274 Squadron 17.4.45. - 20.4.45.

17.4.45. Armed recce - 1 Ju 88, 1 Loco, 5.M.T. destroyed.
18.4.45. Stade airfield - 1 Fw 190 + 2 Do 217 destroyed, 2 He III + 1 Ju 88 damaged.
19.4.45. Airfields - 1 He III destroyed, 3 Ju 88 + 2 He III damaged.
20.4.45. 'Still we have been sleeping in very cramped conditions. Since half the tents went and nobody has grumbled so no doubt we shall manage. Apparently there is built accommodation up there (their next airfield B-109) so all the squeezing + plotting with the tents has been in vain ! One can perhaps forgive this Squadron for their 'Browned-off' view. On 15th a flight of 6 274 Sqd Tempests spotted a group of 40 Fw 190's and promptly attacked them ! Two Tempest were lost, the last message from one being that his cockpit was on fire and that he had 'five on his tail and he could not shake them'.

616 Squadron 13.4.45. - 20.4.45.

13.4.45.* At 10.30 hrs 10 Meteors took off + flew in formation to B-91. At 11.00 hrs the convoy started off. By evening all tents had been pitched in Pine open woods surrounding the airfield. B-91 consisted of one metal strip of 1500 yards !
14.4.45.* 'Everybody working hard to clear spaces for tents'. Dry weather favours squadron settling down to camp life.
15.4.45. Bad weather, no flying.
16.4.45. Operations in Utrecht/Amsterdam/Leiden/Wageningen area.
17.4.45. M.T. in IJmuiden area.
18.4.45. 'Weather continues fine and warm, making life under canvas very pleasant, everybody looking very fit and suntanned'. M.T. attacked in West Holland. Flack bursts reported at same hight as Meteor but always well behind. 'A good thing to see' says the pilot ! B.B.C. news bulletin refers to 'British jets in action in Holland' !
19.4.45. M.T.
20.4.45. Move to B-109.

Extract from ‘Rhineland, the battle to end the war’ by W.D.S. Whitaker:

He (the CRE, Geoffry Walsh), even contrived to construct a large airfield just outside of Nijmegen. ‘I could not start working on it until Veritable was launched’, he remembers. ‘At H-Hour the bulldozers began levelling the field so the Typhoons could land. We had them operational in five days, working day and night, by floodlight too’. Providing a landing strip for the Typhoons was vital. These rocket-carrying fighter-bombers, flown by the RAF and the RCAF, operated in an infantry support role. Each carried eight powerful 60-pound rockets (four under each wing) of devastating striking power, capable of destroying a 56-ton German Tiger tank. In addition, they carried small 20 mm cannons and machine guns for harassment of enemy troops, gun emplacements, or vehicles.

Over 20,000 wounded were evacuated by DUKWs through the flooded polders by Nijmegen during Operation Veritable, reaching a peak of 500 a day during the first week of the Hochwald fighting.

Questioner composed by Jonathan Bowd and directed to Tony Hannam and Seth Roberts, ex pilots from 222 Squadron. They were stationed at B-91 from 7th April - 20th April 1945.

Tony started operations in 1943, was shot down in the same year aged 19, passed through one of the evasion networks back to the U.K., flying in time for D-day and on to the wars end. Then became a flying instructor. He had a claim on one of the Me 262s shot down on 11th April 1945. 'We just got in on the circuit', he said !

1) How were the planes dispersed ?
If it was 'by usual practice', what was usual practice ?
Where they kept in Squadron groups ?
Were they protected, e.g. by blast pins or camouflage netting ?
2) Did the units share facilities, e.g. refuelling bowsers, starters, parachute tentops tent etc. ?
3) Was there an emergency/rescue presence, such as fire tender or ambulance ?
4) How were your tents placed - randomly or in Squadron groups ?
Were they near to the planes ?
Was ground crew accommodation mixed with that of air crew ?
5) Was there an airfield defence, e.g. AA or infantry ?
6) Was there any local presence ?
Were the local civilians still near the airstrip ?

Answers by Tony Hannam, ex pilot 222 Squadron:

Ad1) Planes were dispersed in Squadron groups.
Ad2) Do not know about shared facilities.
Ad3) Cannot be sure, thinks emergency equipment was available if needed.
Ad4) Tents were placed together in Squadron groups.
Ad5) Do not know about the defence.
Ad6) No local presence to my knowledge.

Answers by Seth Roberts, ex pilot 222 Squadron:

Ad1) Planes in Squadron groups, can recall NO blast pens, nets, etc.
Ad2) Mess tent: large, shared with at least 274 Squadron, dirt floor. Waiters locally engaged and unique as they wore immaculate waiter suits (black jackets, white shirts, bow ties).
Not specific regarding parachute tent etc. Refuelling Bowsers/Starters probably assigned to Squadrons.
Ad3) Fire tender and ambulance available.
Ad4) Tents placed in line and by Squadron, not close to aircraft. Were 'protected' by trees. Full camping gear used. Ground crew accommodation not mixed with air crew.
Ad5) Not aware of any airfield defence.
Ad6) Saw no civilians on airstrip - only those connected with mess tent etc. There was a main & busy road parallel and 1/2 mile (1 km) from airstrip.

Questioner composed by Jaap Been and directed to Tony Hannam and Seth Roberts, ex pilots from 222 Squadron. They were stationed at B-91 from 7th April - 20th April 1945.

1) On the air-photo of B-91 over a hundred airplanes are visible. According to the ORBs only 123 Wing has been arrived at the time, so only four squadrons (10 - 18 airplanes a squadron). Can you explain the difference in number of airplanes ?
2) Did you met civilians ?
3) Did you see the remains of the windmill in front of the runway ?
4) Was there a fence around the airstrip ?
5) Can you recommend books in which B-91 is mentioned ?
6) On the bottom left corner of the air-photo 3 Dakotas are visible. Were they for the transport of wounded soldiers ?
7) Do you remember the fine weather, the dust, the pine trees or the Gloster Meteors of 616 Squadron ?

Answers by Seth Roberts, ex pilot 222 Squadron:

Ad1) Can't account for extra aircraft in photo.
Ad2) Only civilians met were Dutch waiters in mesh tent.
Ad3) He can convince himself he saw remains of windmill but cannot be certain !
Ad4) Cannot remember a fence.
Ad5) Cannot recommend books on B-91 but does suggest 'The Typhoon + Tempest story'.
Ad6) Cannot remember Dakotas, No casualties on B-91 (pilots either dead or POW), no attacks on airfield.
Ad7) Weather, a mixture. Remember walking through mud to the mess tent. Cannot remember fighter aircraft - had no idea Meteors were in Europe (this question was a complete surprise to him).

Answers by Tony Hannam, ex pilot 222 Squadron:

Ad1) Four squadrons with 18/20 aircraft = circa 80 in total. Remainder could all be damaged (Flak damage normal in low level attacks. 'Trains' normally had AA at front, rear and sometimes the middle.
Ad2) A number of civilians always near the field kitchens (food shortage in Holland).
Ad3) Do not remember windmill. ‘Flying operations from dawn till dusk, we didn’t have much time to take in our surroundings’.
Ad4) Cannot remember fence, thinks boundaries defended by RAF regiment.
Ad.) Dakotas to ferry personnel on leave, replacement pilots or urgent supplies. Unlike to be for casualty evacuation.

Questioner composed by Jonathan Bowd directed to N. Hands from 33 Squadron who was stationed at B-91 from 7th April - 17th April 1945.

1) How were the planes dispersed ?
Where they kept in Squadron groups ?
Were they protected, e.g. by blast pins or camouflage netting ?
2) Did the units share facilities, e.g. refuelling bowsers, starters, parachute tentops tent etc. ?
3) Was there an emergency/rescue presence, such as fire tender or ambulance ?
4) How were your tents placed, randomly or in Squadron groups ?
Were they near to the planes ?
Was ground crew accommodation mixed with that of air crew ?
5) Was there an airfield defence, e.g. AA or infantry ?
6) Was there any local presence ?
Were the local civilians still near the airstrip ?
7) An air photo of B-91 shows 100 aircraft.
According to the ORB’s only 48 should have been there.
Can you explain the discrepancy ?
8) The air photo also shows 3 DC-3 Dakotas. Any suggestions as to their use ?
9) Did you see the remains of the Windmill in front of the runway ?
10) According to a local schoolboy (15 in 1945) ‘with every ten Tempests or Typhoons a red nose took off. This was the squadron leader’.
Do you have any recollection of this ?
Was there a policy regarding spinning colours ?

Ad1) At this airstrip the planes were dispersed in squadron groups among the trees.
The was not much protection. I seem to remember the odd RAF regiment Bofors. Each airman had a rifle or sten. There was one bren gun.
Ad2) No, each squadron had their own. No starters required for Tempests.
Ad3) Yes, the blood wagon + fire crew.
I think these were run by the Wing, but we did have an M/O.
Ad4) Tents were placed in squadron groups, not near the planes.
I seem to remember at this strip they were a fair way away.
Ad5) The odd bofors. Until the Battle of the Bulge when we were back in Cornwall being re-equipped from Spitfires to Tempests, I don’t think they were fired in anger. I didn’t hear them fired until the night. In fact we never saw any enemy aircraft until they started giving themselves up at the end of the war.
Ad6) Yes, very few. They were starving.
Ad7) You did not date the photo (6th April 1945; J.B.). According to 84-group booklet published about end 1946 titled ‘From Normandy to Hanover’, 135 Wing left B-91 on 17 April for B-109. Your records made it 20th. It is possible that all squadrons did not leave on the same date. 135 Wing arrived on 21st March and left on 18th April. This Wing consisted of 4 Squadrons of Typhoons. If there was an overlap and each Squadron had say 14 aircraft, this could account for 100 odd planes. Memory is getting vague like my writing and we were only there for 8 - 10 days. I think because of the fast moving bomb line, B-91 was used for transport purposes.
Ad8) Many have been called in to take ground crew of one of the 135 Wings squadrons back to England to be required with Gloster Meteors.
Ad9) No, in fact we were a long way from the runway.
Ad10) I think this practice was not encouraged as it targeted the Squadron leader

Interview with A.P. van der Cruijsen by Jaap Been on 6th January 1996.

During the war Mr van der Cruijsen used to live along the main road to Nijmegen opposite the mill not far from the entrance of B-91. I know Mr van der Cruijsen because of his photographs. He has quite a number of photos, also some of Malden during the war time. Mr van der Cruijsen is eighty and still has a very good memory. This is an extract from an interview and a recording I made.

1) When was the airstrip build and how was it made ?
It was build begin March 1945 only three weeks before it was necessary for the support of operation Varsity (Rhine Crossing). The people living there were given only a one days notice to leave the house and to save their belongings. Most probably they went to family in Malden or in the area. A number of 7 or 8 houses had to be pulled down (20 according to after war reports). To remove these houses, a tank without gun-turret was used. The tank entered the house at the front and came out at the back. This was repeated until the house was destroyed. Then a bulldozer made a pit of approximately 8 meters deep till the ground water level was reached and the remains of the house were pushed into that pit, the pit was filled and made flat. All the black soil at the surface was removed by a big 'cheese-plane' which was pulled by a tank. The black soil was stored at the boundary of the airstrip. These hills can be seen on the air photo between the planes. Finally the white sand was flattened and rolled by a bulldozer.

2) Where was the entrance of the airstrip ?
The entrance of the airstrip was near the mill at the SW side. It was near the place where the Dakotas are visible on the air photo. The Dakotas were used for the transport of wounded soldiers and at the end of the war for the transport of soldiers on leave. It was not possible to enter the airstrip although there was no fence and I cannot remember that there was a guard. One was send back immediately.

3) Were metal strips used ?
Large strips of Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) were used as a surface on top of the white sand. These plates were approximately 5 meters long and nearly 1 meter wide. They were brought by big lorries and clipped to each other to form one big airstrip. The plates did not stop the dust. The dust was terrible especially after the arrival of the Gloster Meteors. We had to tape all our windows to keep the dust outside.

4) Was there a storage for kerosine ?
I remember some Nissen huts near the edge of the wood but don't think they were used for fuel storage. I think the fuel was stored in jerry-cans in the wood. These jerry-cans were found in large quantities afterwards. Everybody seems to have found and used them.

5) Do you remember special occasions ?
I remember the visit of a very large aluminium coloured airplane with high officials. It was quite a modern propeller airplane with I think 8 engines, 4 on each side. I also remember a crash. The crashed airplane landed in the wrong direction viz., from North to South. It crashed on the runway and finished with its tail in the air not far from the Groesbeekseweg.

6) What do you know about the deep pit at the place of the former airstrip ?
I think it was made after the war as white sand was necessary for the extension of new housing-estates in Malden. The pit is used by the Nijmegen shooting club.

7) When were the wings of the mill removed ?
After the airstrip was completed on 17th March 1945, test flights were made. After these flights it was decided to remove the wings of the mill as they formed a potential danger for the starting and landing airplanes. The mill was situated in extension of the runway. Also the cap of the mill was removed. Nowadays the mill is still there, without cap and without wings as a quiet memorial of the war time.

8) When was the airstrip removed ?
It took quite a long time before the airstrip was removed. I even think it was 1947 or 1948. The Pierced Steel Plates were used by everybody in the area, I even have a photo of these plates.

Interview with Bart Jansen by Jaap Been (March/April 1996)

During the war Bart Jansen lived at the airstrip between the parked airplanes. As a 15 year old boy he was not obliged to work in Germany like so many other 18 young man. He also did not go to school due to the acts of war and therefore he had sufficient time too watch the airstrip and the landing airplanes. When the Allies crossed the Rhine during operation Varsity on 24th March 1945 the airplanes launched at two minutes intervals. The following interview includes details from a photo album of old Malden from Toon van der Cruijsen.

1) Where did you live in Malden during the war ?
In 1945 there were no streets in Malden like there are now. I used to live at the Heikant number E19A, now de Heiweg 14. E1 was at the sheep-pit, at the time the cesspool of the laundry, now the low white house behind the riding-school at Malden south. The place of the tennis pit is know as ‘the Lier’. The Lier was an orchard during the war. The village of Heumen was numbered A, the village of Molenhoek was numbered B, the main road through Malden (Rijksweg) was numbered C, and the Broekkant in Malden was numbered D.

Our house is visible at the bottom right corner of the air photo from the airstrip. There were 26 Tempests parked behind our house. The sand did not trouble us like it did with the family van der Cruijsen who lived along the Rijksweg number 102 (now 94) opposite the mill at the beginning of the runway. What troubled us was the engine start of the Tempests early in the morning at half past four and resulted the leaves from the newly planted lettuce to blow away. We had special permission to stay and could pass the airstrip via the Heiweg to butchery Bosman (now the insurance firm Peters) and the centre of Malden, this of course when there was no flying.

Behind the butchery Bosman, was the bakery Geutjes (now Jan van der Broek). In addition there was bakery Ebben, bakery Poelen (now the Pizzeria), Willy Nillisen the grocery and a bicycle shop where ‘koel-combi’ is situated now. The mill, which was demolished in June 1996, was built in 1878 by J. Nillisen and was owned by the family Theissen since the war. In front of the mill was a cafe ‘The Mill’ at the place of the present cafe and hall ‘The Mill’. The present-day Town-hall was constructed in 1912 and has been renovated of the years. On the right next to the town-hall - at the place of the present extension - Windjes the carpenter was living.

The ‘cigarhouse’ of Gommers was the former butchers shop of van der Grunt. Next to Gommers, on the lawn in front of the church, lived Nul Gummers at the ‘Tollhouse’. Here one had to pay toll at the beginning of the century as the roads were local property. Directly next to the’ Tollhouse’ was the church which dates from 1100. After many renovations the church was pulled down in 1960 and a new church was built behind the old one. The smithy of Jan Dennissen was situated on the corner of the Broekkant and the Rijksweg and the bicycle shop of H. van Wees next to it. The house, which once was cafe ‘The Kroon’ operated by the family M. van Wees, can still be seen on the other side of the road near the entrance of the ‘Boterdijk’. It also was a petrol station.

The Monastery ‘Jerusalem’ with the ‘Maria school’ (now called ‘the Honk’) was build in 1920 and pulled down in 1968. Before 1920 children went to the old school, now the shed of Piet Sweerts at the Broekkant 2. The only school prior to the war time and which is still used, is the St. Jozef school. The school was built in 1933 and renovated in 1980. The Maas-Waal channel was dug from 1920 to 1926. Construction was partly done by machines and partly by hand. Many people from Malden were employed there.

Before the channel was finished, the Malden bridge at the Taaiedijk (now Blankenbergse road) was built. This bridge was destroyed on 10th may 1940 early in the morning at ten to six by Dutch soldiers in an attempt to stop the German invasion. The bridge was rebuilt in 1942 and blown up again on 17th September 1944, but now by the Americans while capturing the bridge. Although the Germans had took off their heels, they shot one of the mines at the entrance of the bridge meant to blow the bridge by the Germans (information: van der Cruijsen). In 1947 the bridge was rebuilt again and was in use until 1988. The bridge was then replaced by the present one. In total there have been 4 bridges (1926-1940, 1942-1944, 1947-1988 and 1988-now).

2) How many houses where located in Malden ?
There must have been some 300 to 400 houses from the Valk in Molenhoek until the Scheidingsweg in Nijmegen. Malden must have had about 1200 inhabitants.

3) Were there others who lived at the Heikant, the area along the present Heiweg ?
1st house Stef Jansen (now Heiweg 14, altered)
2nd house Jan Wienius (now Heiweg 16, not altered)
3rd house Gerritje Willems (now Heiweg 18, not altered)
4th house Grad Meelis (now Heiweg 20, not altered)
5th house Wim Kersten (now Heiweg 22, altered)

Furthermore there were living:
Fam. Toon Kroes *
Fam. Wim van der Broek *
Fam. Kosman
Fam. Paul Kloosterman
Gebr. Van der Wielen
Fam. Nol Schoock
Fam. Piet Groenen
Fam. Kerkhof
Fam. Dorus Peters *
Fam. Grad van Duijnhoven *
Fam. Cees van Dreumel
Fam. Antoon Theunissen *
Fam. Grad Jochems *
Fam. Gerrit Lamers
Fam. Kos van Dreumel *
Fam. Weduwe Gommers *
Fam. Hannes Willems *
Hannes Arts *
Fam. Piet van Hest
Fam. Wim Brouwer *
Fam. Wim van Loveren *
Dorus Willems (Dorus de Slachter)
Fam. Jan Gommers (groenteboer) *
Jan Gommers (Jan van Juppe Jan)
Fam. Grad Hermse (zoon Henk de autohandelaar)
Fam. Herman Straten (Marinus, Bart, Tinie)
Fam. Grad Nijenhof
Miek Hopman
Piet van Est

4) From where to where stretched the airstrip ?
From de Molenwijk / de Heemtuin until the last goal from the sport field ‘Union’. At the south-east part of the airstrip - at the place of the present Heemtuin, was a water-pit and a gypsy camp near the forest called ‘de Eikelenkamp’.

5) Where was the entrance of the airstrip ?
There was really no one entrance. There was an entrance with barrier that begun at Hogenboom, now the duplex of Piet Thijssen and the widow Arts about 15 meters north of the mill. The road which past ‘the Eikelenkamp’ and came via the Witteweg and Charlemagne at the Rijksweg again. Furthermore the present Heiweg was an entrance. The road was not as passable as today but it was paved. One also could enter the airstrip via the Nissen huts which were placed on several locations along the Rijksweg.

6) How was the airstrip constructed ?
First about one meter of black soil was removed by a bulldozer (1700 x 50 meters). The black soil was stored in the water-pit near the Eikelenkamp, the Heikant, near the sports fields ‘the Kluis’, and finally between the airplanes. This is also visible on the air photo of the airstrip.

Three deep pits were dug for white sand to replace the black soil. These pits were situated near the present Heiweg, north-east of the sports fields and north of the sports fields. They were dug by a caterpillar tractor with a large shovel, resembled the shovel on a dragline. The shovel could turn over and was adjustable in height by means of the wheels (pulley system).

Naughty children sat on the shovel while it made a pit 8 meters deep as far as the ground water level. Later the pits were filled with rubble and rubbish . After the white sand was levelled with a waltz or bulldozer (?) the green Pierced Steel Planking or PSP was laid on top. They were joined with a kind of bayonet connection. They were about 250 x 40 cm in size and were brought by large trucks and laid down by members of the Royal Engineers.

The approximate 10 to 11 houses in the area of the airstrip were pulled down by a tank pulling a cable which was stretched around the house. The remains of the houses were dumped in one of the sand pits. Next to the runway was an extra strip of white sand of 3 to 5 meters which is also visible on the drawing of the airstrip from the Royal Engineers. This strip was made black by means of tar which was applied by a spray gun device. Next to the runway taxi strips were made also from PSP and a dispersal for the airplanes. The dispersal was made of Square Mesh Track (SMT; mates of reinforcement rods from about 8 mm in diameter).

The road east of the airstrip, from the mill via the White Road to Charlemagne, was made from SMT and was named ‘Road of SMT’. After the road was levelled it was provided with a layer of Rubberoit on linen and with SMT which was anchored by means of pins. In some places in the bend of the White Road one can still find this Rubberoit. Also the SMT can be found in several places, e.g. at the height of the nowadays pit along the ‘Bosweg’.

In later years the PSP was often used by farmers for fences etc. In the centre of the airstrip - on the white spot on the air photo from 1949 - was the air traffic control tower. The fuel for the airplanes was brought by a tank-lorry. At the edge of the forest, near the planes, were the tents for the airforce personal.

7) Why was the airstrip called 'De Kluis’ ?
Before the airstrip was constructed there was a large house, the house of the family Hoenselaar. The house was called ‘De Kluis’. Names of the children were: Hanne, Nel en Jan. The old tree in front of the house can still be found near the sports fields ‘De Kluis’ situated between the spruces along the Rijksweg.

8) Were more houses have been pulled down ?
In general, those houses on the airstrip between the taxi lanes. Here lived: Hannes Willems, Jo Arts, Koske van Dreumel, Wim Brouwer, Mrs van Loveren, Kaatje Gommers, Thunissen (nick named ‘the Rus’), Jochems, Jan van Duynhoven, Dores van Gratje Peters, de Kroes and van de Broek.

9) Which houses from the war years are still there ?
The houses from: van Burghout, Jozef Groenen, Schook, Kosman, Jansen, Wienius, Willems, Meelis, Kersten, Herman Straten, J. Gommers, Niek Hopman, Dorus de Slachter, Juppe Jan en Piet van Hest.

10) Which houses are visible in the photos ?
North-east of the airstrip the detached house from Donker van de Broek (he was single and worked as a sound technician with the theatre). The photo of the Tempest shows: the house from Jozef Goonen which is still standing near the tennis court and it visible from the Rijksweg. The house from Jan Gommers on the bottom right. The house from Kees van Dreumel (uncle from Piet van Dreumel).

11) Which roads from the war time are still there ?
The Rijksweg, Witteweg, Bosweg, Heiweg, Lierseweg, Groesbeekseweg (Dorpse Steeg), Broekkant, Droogsestraat, Jufferstraat, Kloosterstraat (Steeg van Anne Rijnen), Boterdijk, Taaiendijk (Blankenbergseweg), Rijlaan.

12) Which special occasions on the airstrip can you still remember ?
First the departure of Montgomery in a Dakota and the departure of Prince Bernard with a small aeroplane flown by himself. It was mid May 1945 when the Prince arrived in a jeep driven by a Sergeant. They stepped in the aeroplane near the traffic control tower in the middle of the airstrip. Present were: Tinie Straten (13), Bart Jansen (15) and our Henk (13). I cannot remember him saying a word. At the end of March a large silver coloured aeroplane landed at B-91, a flying Fortress or Boing B-17. Uncle Grad so beautiful could tell how they like rats crept out of the gun-turrets.

Another special occasion was the arrival of the Gloster Meteor jets. They were that new that the soldiers wondered if it was an American plane and they approached the plane with their guns ready. One day one of the airplanes by accident gave a machine-gun salvo over the runway. Sometimes one of the airplanes crashed like with the ‘Klakkenbos’ or the reconnaissance who thought that the black strip of sand was the runway. The aeroplane fished standing on its nose.

From the 40 Tempests which took of into the direction of Arnhem only 38 returned. Two of them were in trouble one of which ended on fire with its nose in the sand near the Kluis. At the end of the war a defective Spitfire was left at the airstrip for a long time. It was repaired by Wim Kersten. With every ten Tempests or Typhoons a red nose took off. This was the squadron leader. Another special occasion was the removal of the wings of the mill. This happened after the first test flight as the wings were a danger to the airplanes. The direction of the landing was depending on the direction of the wind but primarily the runway was used from south to north. Sometimes it happened that the asphalt came off from the cap of the mill when an aeroplane came over.

13) How could you distinguish between the Tempests and Typhoons ?
The Typhoon had wings which were round at the end with rockets underneath. The Tempest had wings which were flat at the end with bums underneath. Both distiquishes from other aeroplanes like e.g. the Spitfire by their air-inlet underneath the nose (knot).

14) When was the airstrip removed ?
Directly after the war the buildings, the PSP, and the SMT were removed. Only in 1948/1949 did the airstrip became agricultural land again. After the liberation no aeroplane, except the one from Prince Bernard, utilised the airstrip. There are still things that remind us of the airstrip. In some places the PSP and SMT can be found along with discarded ammunition. At the departure of the Allies in April 1945 master Alders from the St. Jozef school and Wim Kersten were asked to join. Master Alders - who could read so beautiful at school - to add lustre, and Wim Kersten - who was cleaver with engines - as a mechanic.

15) What do you remember from the Malden parachutist ?
This applies to the boy from ‘van Alenbeek’. He landed on 10th October at the Heikant with an espionage mission for Market-Garden. Apart from the 5 parachutists an additional 5 containers came down. The parachutes were hidden underneath the dung-hill and the papers underneath the tiled roof of Herman Straten. At a given moment German soldiers came to look for the parachutists. They came from the direction of the mill and continued into the direction of the semaphore of the shooting camp. Unfortunately one of the Germans fall over a string of one of the parachutes which was not very well hidden underneath the dung-hill. The following persons were taken away: Herman Straten, Teetje Straten, Toos Straten, Piet Jacobs, Jan Gommers (Jan Tummel) and Marinus Straten. That afternoon Marinus had said only for fun that he thought that organisation TOD was coming, and no sooner did they had Germans soldiers billeted for a full day and night to keep an eye on them. Mistress Straten could neatly throw a caricature of Hitler in the stove.

16) What do you remember from Operation Market-Garden (17 September 1944) ?
At about half past four in the afternoon of 17th September American soldiers came out of the forest. It was the last of the Germans in the area except for those who became prisoner of war. On the 19th and 20th of September many allied vehicles were parked at the Heiweg and along the Rijksweg.

17) What do you remember from Operation Veritable (8 February 1945) ?
From the approximate 1000 guns which were shelling the German Reichswald in the early morning of 8th February, about 250 guns were in position in Malden. Four very large 250 ponders were in position south of the Eikelenkamp about south-east from the crossing Randwijksingel and Molensingel. They shot rounds a few times an hour and from the Heikant the raising smoke-rings were visible.

18) General
At the end of the Heiweg, on the left along the Witteweg larch trees have been planted. This was done in 1953 as the forest there was cut in 1945 to make room for the airstrip. During our escape in 1940 to Brakkenstein in Nijmegen, the place was still full of trees. One day our Henk installed a telephone line from our house to the house of Jan Wienius. The telephone line was found by the British who did not trust it and seized it. I once got a Lee-Enfield without bolt. After Henk has made a bolt himself we had to hand it in. I also once got a discarded Stengun. By means of a bobbin of beech with a nail in it and a large spring we managed to make it usable again. The tracer bullets from a machine gun we used nearly started a fire in the stable from our neighbour Jan Wienius.

Letter from Arthur J. Wheaver from August 1996

Mr Wheaver served with 609, 198, 183 and 164 Squadrons and was at B-91 begin 1945.
I received Mr Wheaver’s address via Stan Gamble who met Mr Wheaver at the Royal Airforce Association Club at Bognor Regis while on holiday.

Dear Jaap,

Many thanks for all the Nostalgic information you sent me of B-91 airstrip at Malden. It is I suppose all thanks to meeting Stan Gamble of Littlehampton. It was a pleasure to meet him that resulted in this correspondents with you and to help all I can in your interest of B-91. 123 Wing’s stay at Malden was for a short period, as I was not involved in the intelligent side of the unit a lot of the information you have found is unknown to me. Of course our Pilots of Typhoons went into action, some did not return, and so the life of war carried on in the way and in many cases did not stay to long with us. Some we do remember of course and some long forgotten over the years. One never to be forgotten was S/Ldr Durrant, he was a real gentleman. How can I help:

First, the steel strips used on the airstrip was called ‘Sommerfield tracking’ and was especially designed to suit all hazards in all kind of conditions, wet or dry. Those were made strangely enough, at a village Trench part of the Parish where I live.

Two, the airman in general terms did not complain (?), regards to living in tents, we were well trained in the art of living under canvas and were our own mobile village as it were every man knew for role and station and extremely proud to belong to 123 Wing. Our commanding officer was a New-Zealander, Desmond T. Scott DSO OBE DFC Bar. Belgium & Dutch Cruix de Gurre with Palms which I think reflected 123 Wings gallantly as a Unit in the field of war. He was an excellent Pilot dedicated to his command, a leader of man.

Wing commander During DCO DFC, was the Wing commander flying killed in a flying accident in the Ardennes’ offensive and is buried at Breda (or was ?). He was followed by Wing commander Butten DFC who joined at Gilze Rijen and stayed until the end of the war.

Next year our RAFA branch hope to visit Nijmegen on a Veterans visit on the continent. It would be nice to visit the side of B-91 again, so perhaps we may have a change of meeting. I will let you know as we get more information about the trip. I don’t have any photos only in Books I have bought written by D.T. Scott the C/O but very little of B-91.

Please call me Arthur. I will help all I can if possible 52 years is a long time to remember but not forgotten. Kind regards, best wishes to an unknown but new found friend.
A.J. Wheaver.

Letter from Arthur J. Wheaver from November 1996

Dear Jaap,

Thank you for your reply to my letter received in September. I am pleased you are writing a book of such nostalgic interest of B-91 and all units who served on it during the liberation of Europe. Perhaps it is fortunate to you that I can describe how the steel strips were possibly made.
On returning to Chivvy Street after the war I was employed at J. Sankey & Sons, now part of the GKN group in the engineering and manufacture of steel chassis and wheels for the motor industry. It is practical and possible that the steel strips used on B-91 would be blanked out of a sheet of steel, the shape then would have the holes and lugs at the sides punched out on a press tool and then formed in another operation to the shape so they could interlock and held down by steel stakes. Quit simple really and many could have been made in a short period of time in the same way components of cars are made to this day. The rest of the construction of the airstrip you already know about.

The books you enquired about are called ‘One more hour Typhoon Pilot’, published by Arrow Books Ltd., 20 Vauxhall bridge road, London SWIV 25A. Any difficulty in obtaining these books, I will send you mine to read and digest. Of course you will understand those are about his life as a Pilot, his friends and fellow officers and pilots on his story of his life. Units he served on and commanded. Well Jaap you asked me of my contribution on the unit, my modest and quick answer to that is not a lot, but we did of course repair and service these aircraft all by different tradesmen to keep them on active service, all dedicated to their own skills.

Accidents of course where numerous, to many to remember, and all taken in our strides and occupational hazards as one could expect on active service. I must add that we always walked to visit Nijmegen when off duty, it was not far away. We did make a lot of friends their names and places long forgotten. I am afraid we often shared cigarettes, perhaps a beer or coffee. The latter I must say in short supply those days, in reward for washing our clothes to which we were always grateful. I am pleased you have been to England and shared so many moments with the Veterans of Nijmegen and Arnhem and it is nice that friendships can be joined together in this way.

We made many friends from Normandy to Germany during the war who we never will be able to see again, but that is life I suppose. The more I write the memories come back the good times and bad. It is nice to pick up the threads of yesteryear. Perhaps one day we will meet. I would like that. I am glad to be of assistance and you may write in your book anything I have said of interest of you or the people who will read your book. Please let me know if you are unable to get the books mentioned as supply may have dried up by now. Must close now. Glad to be of help. Regards to your family.
Yours Sincerely, Arthur J. Wheaver.

Letter from Ron Withill from July 1999

Dear Jaap,

I can shed you some light on the type of run way shown in your picture. It is P.S.P. Pierced Steel Planking. I worked on two or three of these strips in Germany during my R.A.F. days. the land is first bulldozed and graded into a firm and level area. The strips of planking about 3 meters by .75 Mtrs or there about, and quite heavy were laid and interlocked by teeth like protrusion fastening into locating holes on the planks along side. The jointing was done by the new plank being placed in a vertical position above the one already in place. The teeth were dropped through the locating holes, and the new plank was pushed length ways until it would go no further. the plank was then dropped into position and clipped. and so the run way grew to about 20 or 30 meters wide and as long as the aircraft needed to land and take off.

These were very strong spring clips driven with a large hammer through the locating hole on to the metal tooth protruding from the plank being attached. It was time consuming and heavy work, two men to obtain lay and locate and others driving the clips home. There were several of these teams working a shift rotation, the clippers changing with the layers. With the planks being pierced, the grass grew through in time and tied the whole together. This is a simplified explanation, it is many years since my experience with this form of savage amusement. Memory of the measurements and the exact jointing technique could be over simplified, at the time it was no joke, but if it helps you, I shall be more than pleased. What I remember most is how far the clips flew when not hit properly, I had a tooth knocked out by a miss hit.

Yours Sincerely, Ron Withill

Extract from Johnny Johnson’s book about Varsity and the Typhoon tactics (part of pages 295/296).

For the last time during the war, the group captains and wing leaders were summoned to group headquarters. On this occasion Harry Broadhurst’s briefing dealt with the crossing of the Rhine, Operation Varsity, which would take place in a few days’ time. Our group commander discussed the various tasks of his wings in great detail; these fell under five main headings. Primarily, and most important, the fighter wings were to make sure that the air space over the dropping and landing-zones was kept clear of enemy aircraft. Rocket-firing Typhoons and light bombers would deal with the flak defences, an unenviable and dangerous job. More fighters would provide close escort to the American and British transport aeroplanes. Typhoons would also supply close support to the troops, for which purpose contact cars would be provided in some gliders. Finally, all enemy ground Movement into battle area would be harassed by army reconnaissance operations and bombing of selected communication centres. It was a good plan, and we felt that it could not fail. The day before Varsity we saw some Typhoons in action. Coming out of Germany after a fighter sweep, we crossed the Rhine fast and fairly low. Looking up-river, near Wesel, I spotted three pairs of aircraft some distance away. Turning towards, them, they were soon recognised as six rocket-firing Typhoons. The Typhoons were on an anti-flak patrol and for a few minutes we watched their technique. The three sections were separated by distances of about 1,000 yards; when the flak opened up at the leading pair, the next pair spotted the flashes on the ground and went down in a shallow rocket attack. Sometimes other guns fired at the second pair; these were dealt with by the last section of Typhoons. After an attack, the leader circled his small force to asses the damage and then the procession down the Rhine was resumed. These pilots had plenty of guts, and we admired them. The dawn was driving in from the east when we took-off on our first Varsity mission. As the Merlin engine lifted my Spitfire into the air, with the Canadians streaming behind, the rising curtain of light revealed the flat fields below. On the horizon, silhouetted against the pastel back-cloth of the early sky, a great pall of smoke rose into the air, marking the recent visit of Bomber Command to Wesel. On our second flight of the day we flew over the parallel streams of transport aircraft and gliders when they approached the Rhine. The American force was far greater than our own and took more than two hours to pass a position on the ground. Danny, who was flying alongside me, could not resist the temptation to sing out: "Greycap. You can see Uncle Sam is on the ball today!" Unfortunately, the leading British transports and gliders arrived over their dropping zone ahead of the planned zero hour, before the Typhoons had neutralised all the flak batteries. Weaving between the slow Dakotas, the fighter-bombers pressed home their rocket attacks, even after the first parachutes had spilled open. We were horrified to see several bursts of heavy flak explode among the paratroopers as they swung helplessly from their sinking parachutes. Except for the failure to silence all the flak, Varsity was a complete success. Before we turned in for the night, we heard that the situation on the far bank of the Rhine was well under control. This final thrust, which was to lead to unconditional surrender in six weeks’ time, had got off to a good start.

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