After September 1944 the Betuwe, the area between the Waal and Rhine rivers, became the fluid boundary between Allied and German territory. This half flooded no-man’s-land came to be known as ‘Men’s Island’ since almost all the women and children had been evacuated and the land was surrounded by water.
On 17 September Operation Market Garden was launched. The goal of the operation was to capture bridges over several rivers in the Netherlands in order to ensure a quick advance into Germany. Nine days later the operation failed at Arnhem where the Allies were unable to seize the bridge across the Rhine. This fiasco would have far reaching consequences for the people living between Nijmegen and Arnhem.
This area, known as the Betuwe, became the border between Allied and German territory
The Betuwe, basically the floodplain of the Rhine, was transformed into a half-submerged no-man’s-land after the German forces in the night of 2-3 December blew up a dike along the Rhine, with massive flooding as a result. The Allied command had seen this coming and had supplied its forces with amphibious vehicles. Once the flooding would begin an operation aptly named Operation Noah would go in effect whereby Allied forces would move to higher ground.
The area had been evacuated after the fighting of September but some inhabitants chose to stay and look after their cattle and other possessions. This area between the Waal and Rhine river came to be known as ‘Men’s Island’ since almost all the women and children were gone and the higher ground was surrounded by water. In April 1945 the ‘Island’ was cleared of all remaining German forces by British and Canadian units in Operation Destroyer.