Visiting the battlefields in 2020 & now in 2021.

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by Owen, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    As you know loads of old history close to all of us.

    North London Battle of Barnet 1471 near me i will visit and take photos of a field and a light industrial unit.If you visit any old property , sure enough King Charles either hid there,slept there.ate there.walked past there etc
    below church with said King Charles plaque near Hatfield House in Hertfordshire

    Biggest problem i have found in the UK is everyone now has a dog. You cant move for ,shitzus,cockerpoos,labradoodles dah de dah de dah

    upload_2021-6-11_20-57-51.png upload_2021-6-11_20-57-51.jpeg

    gash hand, BrianHall1963 and stolpi like this.
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    ... couldn't resist and made my first Battlefield Tour of this year ...

    Crossing of the Rhine by the army of the Sun King, Louis XIV, June 1672

    The Old (Lower) Rhine

    In June 1672 a huge French Army crossed the Lower Rhine at Tolhuys (now-a-days Lobith) near Emmerich. Note that the French forces (about 70,000 men strong) had already crossed the main stream of the Rhine at Wesel and were heading along the right or northern bank of the river towards Holland. Learning of the approaching French Army the Dutch Army, under the leadership of the 21-year-old Prince William III - still under control of the Republican Government (Staten-Generaal), but soon to be elected as Stadhouder - hurriedly installed a defense along the line of the rivers IJssel and Lower Rhine. The Dutch mainly relied on the fortified towns and fortifications situated along both rivers. It also was hoped for that the Dutch garrisons in the fortified towns of the County of Cleves - the towns of Rheinberg, Orsoy, Rees, Emmerich and Wesel -, which had so successfully held the Spanish at bay for decades, would act as a buffer and break up the momentum of the French attack. To the great consternation of the Dutch these towns fell within a week. Afterwards, in return for its alliance in beating the French, these towns were turned over to Brandenburg-Prussia and never returned to the Dutch Republic. Louis XIV then made a feint towards the IJssel, but instead of a frontal attack he decided to outflank the IJssel defense by crossing the Lower Rhine near Tolhuys, an old Dutch Castle where since medieval times a toll was levied from passing ships. The Lower Rhine at the time branched of at the Dutch fortification of the Schenckenschanz hard south of Tolhuys (see map below) and from there continued to Arnhem and beyond. The river, that was a much formidable water barrier than it is now, carried an exceptionally low water level. Due to the warm and dry summer weather the river was fordable at several places. On June 8th it was reported that cows grazing in the floodplains effortlessly waded across the river in various places.

    Tolhuis 1672 situation.jpg
    Situation in 1672 and approach of the French Army under Louis XIV

    At the end of the 17th Century this stretch of the Lower Rhine river, due to problems with silting and shifting of river beds, was taken out of use by the creation of a by-pass further west near the village of Pannerden, the Pannerdens Kanaal. The old river branch of the Lower Rhine fell even further into disuse and is now only a small stream, now known as the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine).

    Oude Rijn.jpg
    The Old Rhine as it appears today: no more than a wide ditch.

    Le Passage du Rhin, June 1672

    Tolhuys Passage du Rhin 1672.jpg
    Famous painting of the 'Rhine Crossing' by Frans van der Meulen depicting how under the watchful eye of the King the French charged across the Lower Rhine.

    Van der Meulen's paintings - there are several copies of it - of the crossing of the Rhine, showing Louis XIV in the foreground commanding the action is a conscious misrepresentation of history for propaganda purposes. The event depicted is the crossing of the Rhine by the French troops during the Franco-Dutch War. The crossing did not involve any large military engagement with the Dutch troops. Nevertheless, this event was described in contemporary French propaganda as a feat equal to those of Alexander the Great and Emperor Constantine the Great. Many writers and visual artists eulogized the French king for this exploit. The various depictions misrepresent, however, the actual history of the event. Louis XIV was in fact not present at the crossing of the Rhine as he was at the time staying with his brother Philip I, Duke of Orleans in the monastery on the nearby Elterberg.

    Tolhuys 1 kleigat.jpg
    The location of the river crossing now, with Tolhuys (now-a-days Lobith) in the background. The water mass is not a river but a modern huge clay hole made in the old river bed.

    Tolhuys 4 Old river bed.jpg
    View of Lobith from the eastern river bank. The river has completely gone, as has the old castle of Tolhuys. The site is now occupied by the Catholic Church. The only remnant of the castle is the Schipperspoortje (or Boatmen's Gate) which gave access to the courtyard and was used by the boatsmen who came to pay the toll.

    Tolhuys 2 Schipperspoort.jpg

    Lobith old river bed.jpg
    Old river course of the Lower Rhine at Lobith/Tolhuys as of 1672 (courtesy Heemkunde Kring Rijnwaarden)

    Lobith Tolhuys Castle 000.jpg
    Old sketch of Tolhuys Castle. The round tower to the left was known as the 'Dikke Toren' (or The Thick Tower). It also features on the painting of the Rhine Crossing. The castle was burned down by the French after the battle and was never rebuild. (courtesy Heemkunde Kring Rijnwaarden)

    The battle of Tolhuys (12 June 1672)

    The Dutch defense of the Lower Rhine was in complete disarray. On June 11th, General De Montbas, commanding the Dutch troops along the Lower Rhine, already extremely nervous by the reports of the rapid fall of the garrisons in the Rhineland, panicked and bolted. He marched his troops, a 3,000-strong force (two regiments of cavalry and two of infantry) garrisoned at the Schenckenschanz, without awaiting permission back to Arnhem. Thus abandoning the fortification of the Schenckenschanz and leaving the Lower Rhine entirely unprotected.

    Upon learning of the flight of De Montbas, Prince Willem III who led the Dutch army from Arnhem, not only put the general under arrest, but also immediately directed Marshal Paulus Wirtz with a few Cavalry Regiments to Tolhuys to oppose the imminent French crossing. Part of the De Montbas' infantry, who had not yet reached Arnhem, was turned around and hurried back to Tolhuys. Wirtz' forces arrived at the river by the evening of June 11th. They were too late. The French had arrived on the far bank and were preparing to cross the river. Wirtz had no time to properly deploy his forces and dig positions. He also had no guns.

    Early on June 12th the French started to move across the river some 300 yards downstream of Tolhuys, where a local farmer revealed the existence of a ford to the French. The French had positioned a battery of 12 guns on the river bank and opened up on the Dutch troops visible on the far bank. Under cover of the French gunfire engineers started the construction of a wooden pontoon. At the same time the vanguard of the French Army some 2,000 French Cuirassiers waded through the shallow river. The first units, which crossed in small contingents, got into trouble halfway up the river where the water was deeper. Some horsemen were caught by the current and drowned. The French Cuirassiers who made it to the far bank were charged by Wirtz's cavalry and driven back into the water. Wirtz' cavalry however was kept at bay by the French guns and had to retreat slightly from the bank, allowing the French cavalry to regroup on the water side. Their followed a somewhat desultory musket firefight, but in the end Wirtz' cavalry proved no match for the growing mass of French cavalry. Learning fast, the French cavalry now started to move across in larger groups which made them less liable to be carried away by the current and the number of French cavalry on the far bank soon rose to 6,000, among which the elite cavalry of the Maison du Roi. Outnumbered Wirtz' cavalry was chased off. The unprotected Dutch infantry proved no match and was shattered by a combination of French cavalry charges and French gunfire. Those who were not sabered were captured. Dutch losses were 1,500 men as to 300 French.

    By the end of the day the pontoon bridge was completed and the entire French force crossed the river. Now that French forces could move at will into the Betuwe towards Nijmegen and Arnhem, outflanking the IJssel River, the defensive line along that river had become useless. Willem III therefore decided to abandon it entirely and retreat towards Holland. Leaving behind local garrisons in the IJssel towns, he retired with the remainder of his Army to the west.

    Much to the chagrin of Louis XIV, who observed the battle from the Elterberg, the French commander Louis II of Bourbon-Condé was wounded. Condé wanted to have his moment of glory and led the operation from the front - he crossed the river with a vessel. In the following skirmishes with the Dutch infantry a pistol shot badly injured his wrist and he had to hand over command to Marshal Henry de la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount of Turenne. This change of command however took some time and the French advance was delayed. Condé had been in favor of a vigorous advance and had proposed to sent the entire French cavalry force, in all some 20.000 horsemen, forward into the heart of the defenseless Dutch Republic. His successor, on the other hand, favored a more systematic advance in which the fortified towns in the path of the French Army had to be taken one by one. This gave the Dutch valuable time to prepare the Waterline and organize a close-in defense of Holland. A single pistol shot had thus decided the fate of Holland.

    Sketch of the Schenkenschanz where the Lower Rhine at the time split off from the main stream of the River Rhine. It was abandoned by general De Montbas. The fortification lay on a narrow spit of land and was of strategic importance since it commanded the entrance of these important waterways into the Dutch Republic. Waterways at the time were as important as the motorways now-a-days.

    Schenckenschanz 2.jpg
    The Schenkenschanz still exists but due to changes in the river beds is situated on the south bank of the Rhine and now is a German village.

    Lobith Schenckenschanz old river bed.jpg
    Situation as of 1672 (courtesy Heemkunde Kring Rijnwaarden)

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021 at 7:37 AM
    Sapper D., CL1, slick and 4 others like this.
  3. slick

    slick Junior Member

    Looks to be some good news for those who have been double jabbed. From October 4th there will be no need for a test prior to returning to the UK, which will save having to find a test site in France. And from the end of October, for the 2nd day test after return, a self administered lateral flow test will be acceptable apparently.... New system for international travel
    Chris C likes this.
  4. slick

    slick Junior Member

    Looks like it`s back to square one, a PCR type day 2 test is now needed again for return to the UK, instead of the lateral flow type.
  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    A PCR test has always been required. It is a Day 2 test.

    The change is that, unlike before, you now have to self isolate to await the result of that PCR test.

    Before, you sent it off and did what you liked whilst it was processed in a lab.


  6. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    slick is correct. Antigen test was accepted, but now only PCR is accepted. So, instead of paying 20 quid for an antigen test, you now have to pay more for a PCR test. That is different, as is the quarantine until the result is known.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021 at 5:08 PM
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Still not renewed passport & don't think I'll bother until travel goes back to how it used to be.
    Marco, slick, Chris C and 1 other person like this.
  8. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    I think that's sensible Owen. I personally cannot think why anyone would want to travel abroad until things get back to normal, whenever that is. Just my opinion before anyone has a go at me.
    Marco likes this.
  9. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    I understand your sentiments, but remember that some of us who don't live in the UK have relatives there. My mother has been ill and had to go to hospital on Monday and my stepfather has signs of dementia (probably made worse by being isolated during Covid). I went over to the UK from the Netherlands last week. I'll have to go again soon, but it will just be more expensive and more of a hassle, for no obvious reason in my opinion.
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    In early October of this year I sneaked out of the country for a one-day-visit to Belgium ... more specifically Bure in the Ardennes.


    WW2talk member Vestingjager (B) most kindly showed me around the 6th Airborne Division battlefield. Together we visited Tellin, Bure and Grupont. I hope to post a small thread on the 6th Airborne battle in the Ardennes next Xmas, with the help of Vestingjager.

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021 at 7:38 AM
  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Dont mention the Germans
    I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it

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