From the other side.

Frans Janse was a teenager during the war, This is an account of his own experience, in his own words during the liberation of Tilburg.


From 14th October Artillery grenades (shells) hit Tilburg not for 24 hrs, but at intervals, in the beginning one was scared but slowly got used to it, and learnt to listen to the sound of the explosions, and how to find cover quickly, and if possible going out to see the damage, look for casualties and enquire of family and acquaintances. There was always the fear of 'could the next shell hit our house'.

It was very interesting to see how the German soldiers reacted. 26th and 27th October two days before the liberation it was forbidden to go outside. During the night, the last bridge and power station were blown up, vague signs that the Germans were preparing to withdraw from the town. During the day of the 26th Tilburg suffered long periods of artillery shelling .the town and its streets were empty, the windows were covered with wooden shelves and doors, people sheltered in cellars and safe corners of the house.
On the morning of the 27th at around 11am we could hear the sounds of light infantry weapons. For us it was an indication that our liberators were somewhere on the outskirts of the town. I had slept on the floor, under the table, as the shelter dug by the neighbours was crowded. In spite of German orders to stay indoors, I went outside and met a small group of neighbours to discuss the situation.
We lived in the centre of town, in a side street on the road to Breda we didn't realise that this was the road for the German withdrawal, all of a sudden we saw a German Military patrol (2 German soldiers) enter the street. The men run off and shut their doors behind them. I could not get away and had to stand against the wall, hands up, a machine-gun (schmeiszer) pointing at my chest, "where are the men?"they demanded. They hit me in the face with the gun. I learned later that they were covering the German withdrawal, and were looking for defectors. And what saved me ?? Three grenades (shells) landed nearby, the two Germans got down to seek cover, I seized my chance to escape and return to our house.

At 1300hrs the heavy Artillery barrage began. Tilburg underwent an inferno of explosions, when things became quieter I tried to make my way through the backyards to a friends house for medical supplies. Halfway through my journey a late shell landed in a garden further on. Back home we heard rumours that English Soldiers were entering our streets. WE WERE FREE !! The troops soon got lost in the crowds, I joined in the welcome, the first soldier I spoke to, told me he was Irish but had volunteered to join the 15th Scottish Div

A few hours later the Civil Air-Raid Protection Services ordered us to leave the neibourhood and to spend the night in the cellars of a nearby Monastery (later to be 88th field hospital), the cellar was checked for booby traps. My parents, sisters and our neighbours had very little sleep on the hard stone floor of the cellar. At about 3 am my neighbours woke me, outside in the playground soldiers with Bren Carriers needed assistance, but couldn't make themselves understood, I went outside it was cold and foggy. The carriers were to do a recce in the western outskirts of the town, was this a counter-attack? The group needed someone who knew the town well to guide them, and so that was my first recce mission. I was rewarded with a mug of real hot tea, cigarettes, and canned corned beef.