506. The tragic death of 'auntie'

506. The tragic death of 'auntie'

09-04-1945 - 09-04-1945

Slenke 3 , Den Ham , The Netherlands
Keywords for this historic location
Bombing Destruction Fighting Liberation Memory
Liberation Route Europe

506. The tragic death of 'auntie'

On Friday the 6th of April 1945 Den Ham is liberated. Further north is the Bartels family farm. This no-man's land has not yet been liberated. On Monday the 9th of April, 15 year-old Johan Schot from The Hague witnesses a battle between heavily armed German soldiers and Canadian Manitoba Dragoons. The farm is in the frontline and 'auntie' Wilhemina Bartels Pastink is killed.

War evacuee Johan Schot (1930) was a 'sickly' boy from The Hague who, thanks to the church, spent several summers on the Bartels family farm on the Slenke in Den Ham. He remained there throughout the last years of the war. He witnessed the dramatic events of Monday the 9th of April 1945. Sunday the 8th of April was a memorable day; everyone was celebrating as Den Ham had been liberated two days earlier. Still, it was a strange situation: "We lived a little to the north around 'De Groene Jager’, actually in no-man's land. The Germans were gone, but the Canadians had not yet arrived.

On Monday', 'Uncle' Gait Bartels and Johan were working on the land as usual. The farm stood at a crossroad. Unexpectedly, a great convoy of heavily armed Germans arrives by bicycle at about 11.00 a.m. Suddenly there was also the rumble of tanks driving up the dirt road. Immediately afterwards, there was a fierce battle between the Germans and the Canadian Manitoba Dragoons. ‘Auntie’ Wilhelmina Bartels-Pastink, the wife of Gait Bartels, was hiding in a potato ditch. She wanted to free the frightened cattle, but was hit by a volley in the head and back and died outright. Not long after, the Germans surrendered. On Friday the 13th of April 1945, Wilhelmina Bartels-Pastink was buried in the cemetery in Daarle, the place where she was born 55 years earlier.

Tourist information

Slenke 3, Den Ham - GPS code N 52 28.174, E 6 27.847

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506. The tragic death of 'auntie'

War evacuee Johan Schot (1930) was a 'sickly' boy from The Hague who, thanks to the church, spent several summers on the Bartels family farm on the...

Slenke 3 , Den Ham , The Netherlands

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