The Poles of Driel

Type: Hiking route
Distance: 6.0 km

The Poles of Driel

Type: Hiking route
Distance: 6.0 km

This is a hike along important milestones in and around the village of Driel where the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade fought during the Second World War.

Brought to you by: Airborne Region

This is a hike along important milestones in and around the village of Driel where the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade fought during the Second World War. The route goes, amongst others, over the landing sites and past the headquarters of Major General Sosabowski.

This hike passes important milestones in the village of Driel where the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade fought during the Second World War. They were here to support the surrounded British troops near Oosterbeek. To reach the British troops, the Poles had to cross the River Rhine at Driel. The route – of about 6 kilometres – takes you, amongst others, over the landing sites and past the headquarters of Major General Sosabowski. The hike starts and ends at the ‘Information Centre: The Poles of Driel’ which was developed by the Driel Poland Foundation.

The monument in Driel on the Plac Polski (Polenplein)
6.0 km

Sights on this route

Information Centre: The Poles of Driel

‘Bound by Friendship and Gratitude’. The Information Centre: The Poles of Driel provide insights into the battle fought by the Ist Independent Polish Parachute Brigade in the village of Driel during Operation Market Garden.Read more

Landing sites – then fields and orchards

On September 21st 1944, around 17:55, this was the landing area of the Polish troops. Around 1000 paratroopers were dropped here.Read more

Historical and recent images combined: Polish paratroopers near Overasselt in September 1944 along with a present-day photo of Driel
The first clashes: German attacks repelled, losses to be mourned.

The Polish troops took up positions in and around Driel, including at the predecessor of this post-war farm, the Baarskamp. Lieutenant Richard Tice was killed in a first German attack on one of the Polish positions.Read more

Stranded aid: supplies do not reach the British troops in Oosterbeek.

In the evening of Friday September 22nd 1944, parts of the allied ground army – coming from the south of the Netherlands- reached Driel. The amphibious vehicles with supplies for the British troops near Oosterbeek, stranded in the dark.Read more

Aid for the British troops strands when the DUKW with supplies becomes stuck.
German positions behind the railway embankment take Polish troops under fire.

After the landing of the Polish paratroopers, the German commander quickly sent in troops from the east, who took up positions behind the railway embankment.Read more

Aerial photograph of Driel from 1944: (1) The landing zones (2) Route location, (3) The railway bridge and railway dike
Rijndijk and Engineers Monument: the crossing of the Rhine

This location - situated opposite the village of Oosterbeek - played an important role in both the Polish troops' attempts to reach the British in Oosterbeek and during the withdrawal of the British soldiers from Oosterbeek.Read more

Remains of the house on the dike where the Polish soldiers established a company headquarters from which the crossing attempts were coordinated.
The Nevel: Poles take up positions around Driel

Because the Polish troops could not cross the Rhine on the first night, they took up positions around Driel. They also guarded war prisoners here. Among the German prisoners of war were two Poles.Read more

Captured Germans under surveillance of the Poles. Presumably in the Molenstraat area.
The attempt of the Dorsets – doomed to fail

In the night of 24 to 25 September 1944, after two earlier failed attempts by the Poles, a final operation was undertaken to reinforce the British troops in Oosterbeek.Read more

Major General Sosabowski with, on the left, Major Desmond Pascale of The Dorsetshire Regiment in Valburg. Sosabowski's alternative to the Rhine crossing was turned down..
The Driel ferry - disabled for the Germans and unusable for the Poles.

The first objective of the Polish troops was to use the Driel ferry to cross the river and to reach the trapped British troops in Oosterbeek. However, the ferry turned out to be unusable.Read more

The ferry before the war. This ferry, on which cars could cross the river, had been disabled by the ferryman in order to prevent  the German troops from using it. .
Headquarters and bust of Major General Stanisław Sosabowski

The bust of Major General Stanisław Sosabowski looks out over his headquarters, at Molenstraat 12. This house was the residence of miller Beijer in September '44. In the morning of the 22nd, the general established his headquarters there.Read more

The bust of Major General Sosabowski, unveiled in September 2020, was created by artist Martin Abspoel. It overlooks the headquarters.
The Household Cavalry came to reinforce the Polish troops with eight armored cars

Early in the morning on Friday 22 September 1944, units of the Household Cavalry reached the Polish soldiers under cover of a heavy fog. The Poles were reinforced by eight armoured vehicles with cannons, working radios and 20 soldiers.Read more

Armoured car with troops and Polish paratroopers on the Molenstraat. This is at the same location as where you are now.
The emergency hospital in the school - Operating dressed in flak jackets

The medical company of the Polish paratrooper brigade chose the Roman Catholic primary school as its emergency hospital. The medical staff ultimately treated a total of 159 wounded: Polish and British soldiers and Dutch civilians.Read more

The emergency hospital on September 25th 1944. Polish ambulances of the ground army had managed to reach Driel. As a result, 70 patients could be evacuated to Nijmegen.
Fighting around the Dorpstraat on the southern side of Driel

At the T-junction of Dorpstraat-Honingveldsestraat, the Polish troops had taken up positions. When the German troops launched the attack on September 23rd, the Poles had to retreat in a hurry.Read more

The Polish soldier Bier found his first resting place in a field grave on the Dorpstraat. He is possibly the radio operator who was helped by Henk te Dorsthorst, a resident of Driel at the time.
The Roman Catholic parish house set up as a medical post

At the beginning of the Battle of Arnhem, under the leadership of the local female doctor, Dr. A. van den Burg - van der Poel, the Roman Catholic parish house was set up as a modest first aid post for civilians.Read more

The monument at Plac Polski and the annual commemorations in Driel

On September 21st 1946, a sober monument was unveiled to commemorate the events of two years earlier. The efforts of Polish soldiers are commemorated every year here.Read more

The first version of the monument erected by the Driel people in honour of the Poles.
Audiospot: The Poles of Driel

In the battle of Arnhem, General Sosabowski and his Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade acted bravely. The enormous service they performed in the liberation of the Netherlands has only been formally recognized recently.Read more

The Catholic Church: from viewpoint to information centre

On September 24th 1944, Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, commander of the ground army, visited Driel. Together with Major General Sosabowski and three other British officers, he watched the situation across the Rhine from the church tower.Read more

The heavily damaged church in 1945. The church was so damaged that it was decided to rebuild