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January 1945

In October 1944, 249 Battery, 63 Anti-Tank Regiment (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), Royal Artillery arrived in France and moved forward into Belgium. The battery’s duties consisted mainly of guarding the flank of advancing troops as they moved into the Noord Brabant region of the Netherlands.

In January 1945 249 Battery established their headquarters in the Dutch village of Heusden. As the first Allied soldiers the villagers had seen they were made to feel very welcome. Barnett and his officers were invited to dinner by the Vorstermann family, “We were given a meal consisting entirely of pig. I think the Dutch family had hidden the pig from the Germans and were waiting for liberation to kill it and eat it.” The Vorstermann’s lived in the teacher’s house and Barnett established his headquarters in the school buildings.

It was at this time the men received their tank suits, according to Barnett “a marvellous garment…a combination all in one piece…(that) kept you marvellously warm in the very cold weather.”

B Troop in their tank suits. Image from Yeomanry Memories

St Antonius School, Heusden, circa 1990   https://www.monumenten.nl/monument/52394

Further Information:

Having visited Heusden it would appear that Mr Vorsterman (the family that provided the meal described above) may not have been the schoolmaster, evidence suggests he was an architect.

There is a road which has the same name and a restaurant, I am trying to find out more!


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