Lith – Villa V1
By the start of 1945, Brabant had largely been liberated but was not yet safe. V-1 flying bombs were regularly flown over Brabant from the occupied area to strategic Allied targets, such as the port in Antwerp, but the V1s did not always hit their targets.
Lambertus Huismans, born in 1888 and a headmaster in Lith, was very active in his Brabant village and in addition to his work at the school, organised and sang in the church choir. He was also an enthusiastic beekeeper, gave lessons in farming, was a member of the Boerenbond farmers union and director of the farmers lending bank. The Huismans family lived in a teacher’s house, an extension of the Openbare Teekenschool. The reformed church, boys’ school and house in which the Huismans lived were positioned with their fronts facing one another. Between the buildings was a play area with views over the River Maas and the floodplains. Headmaster Huismans would enjoy the views from his house every evening after finishing all of his activities. Together, the buildings formed an idyllic area of Lith.
The grandson of Lambertus Huismans explains how his grandfather worried a great deal about others during the war, particularly his children. His daughter Riek was an active member of the local commando group in Lith and his eldest son Martien distributed illegal publications.
On 14 January 1945, he was sitting with the commander of the Canadian tank unit who had been billeted with the family, at the administration of the Red Cross National Assistance Action. It was at that moment that the flying German bomb landed in the heart of Lith. Lambertus Huismans and his wife, eldest daughter Leen and son Martien were seriously injured and taken to the nearby hospital. The commander also suffered injuries, albeit minor. The reformed church, schools, other buildings and the Huismans’ family home were completely destroyed. Luckily, the headmaster was able to move into a former synagogue, while the children were accommodated elsewhere. The clean-up began and it was not long before the rubble was cleared away and those whose homes had been destroyed were found temporary accommodation. One of Lambertus’ nephews fitted a rather apt sign to the front of the Huismans’ temporary home bearing the words ‘Villa V-1’.
After the war, the headmaster continued with his work but, as he explained to his youngest son some time later, the V1 drama left him somewhat traumatised. A park was subsequently built next to the new protestant church and retirement homes and dedicated to the memory of Lambertus Huismans: Huismanspark.
Lambertus Huismans with his family. The sign ‘Villa V1’ is visible above the door.
(Image: private ownership, Huismans family, undated)