131. Liberated by two paratroopers
On the 17th of September 1944, thousands of American and British paratroopers jump above their drop zones at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. They have to capture bridges and roads to allow British ground forces free passage to Arnhem. On their way to Groesbeek, two American paratroopers miss their drop zone and land in Cuijk.
On Monday the 18th of September 1944, the village of Cuijk was liberated by only two American paratroopers. This liberation was the result of a strange coincidence of events.
On Sunday the 17th of September, the paratroopers, the Smith brothers, were en route in a Skytrain transport aircraft to their drop zone at Groesbeek. Along with thousands of other American, British and Polish paratroopers, they would be dropped during the largest airborne operation of World War Two, Operation Market Garden. These airborne troops had to capture and hold roads and bridges near Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem, so that the British XXXth Corps could advance via that route to Arnhem, and from there, to Germany.
Because the parachutist in front of them did not jump, perhaps because he was injured, the Smith brothers jumped from the aircraft too late. They therefore missed their drop zone. They drifted in the direction of Cuijk and ended up in a field at the Kalkhofseweg between Cuijk and Haps. There, they were picked up by members of the underground. The next day, they advanced with the resistance fighters to the German position on the River Maas. After a brief firefight, the Germans surrendered.
This brought to an end the occupation of Cuijk and the village was liberated. But Cuijk remained under fire until February 1945.