HOSTAGES IN FORESTS OF AMMUNITION
Kaatsheuvel, in the forests, where there is now a monument
On the table in front of Ed Post (81) is an aerial photograph of Kaatsheuvel. He points with his finger to where he grew up. He explains that as a child, he would sometimes play in the forests near Kaatsheuvel, but that during the Second World War, part of the forest was used as a storage area for ammunition, everything from bullets to bombs. On 5 September 1944, it was alleged that Allied forces had liberated Brabant. The day was to become known as ‘Dolle Dinsdag’ or ‘Crazy Tuesday’ since many NSB members and collaborators gave up the fight on that day. The forested area in which Post had grown up was still full of ammunition. After all, the Germans were fleeing and couldn’t take everything with them. Leaving it behind wasn’t an option either, as it would then fall into the hands of the Allies. ‘They blew everything up into the air. There was a huge explosion, so huge that every window in a two-kilometre radius was broken.’
Ed Post’s father had constructed a shelter — a hole dug into the ground and covered with doors and soil. After the explosion, the shelter ceased to be recognisable. ‘Obliterated, it was unimaginable,’ remembers Ed Post.
‘And that was just the beginning,’ he explained. To survive the winter, Ed Post, his father and his sister went into the forest to gather wood. ‘It was a harsh winter, and we had no idea how harsh it would be.’ It was only September. The trio headed into the forest with a wheelbarrow and an axe. ‘All of a sudden, we found ourselves surrounded by German soldiers. We saw the tense faces of three of them appear from behind the trees.’ Using their rifles, they forced Ed, his father and his sister onto a bank at the centre of the forest. ‘We were taken hostage with about twenty other men. I knew exactly where we were,’ explained Post, pointing to the location. ‘We had to stand there for two hours with our hands up.’ Post’s sister had become tired after standing for two hours with her hands in the air. One of the hostages, who spoke a little German, asked if the girl could put her hands down. ‘I’ve replayed the scene over and over,’ explains Post. ‘One of the soldiers hit my sister with a heavy machine gun and yelled “higher, higher”. It was an incredibly frightening experience. There was nothing we could do except stand there and wait. The Germans were in a state of panic of course.’ Post realised that he and his sister experienced the whole thing much differently to the adults. ‘Children experience things like this as an adventure, but it was no adventure’. All it would have taken for one of them to fire a gun would have been for a plane to fly overhead.
Without warning, the whole episode came to an end and the Germans walked away. ‘Suddenly, they had all gone. They didn’t say that we were allowed to leave, but presumably they had spotted enemies and so they fled.’
There was not much talk of the war. Post told his own children about his experiences during the war only several decades later. He made a painting about what happened. Craters are still visible in the landscape at Kaatsheuvel, where the MAST could once be found.
The painting by Ed Post about his memories of the war
(Image: private ownership, Ed Post, undated)