During WW2, our family lived in a large house in Kerkstraat 14, Hees near Nijmegen, the Netherlands. This is on the west side of Nijmegen, close to the Maas-Waal canal. I can back up the correspondence as follows:
Because we had such a big house, we had British Commonwealth soldiers quartered in our house [in September 1944 when Nijmegen was liberated]: I think there were 23 of them at one stage. They were British, Irish and Scots, and a few Canadians. We slept in the cellar under the house, so they could occupy as many rooms as they liked. The soldiers turned out to be an intelligence unit which helped to get the airborne troops back from Arnhem through no-mans land. They had to cross two big rivers, Rhine and Waal, and they had inflatable canoes to do that, but they found that they were so noisy on the water that the Germans could hear them at night and shoot at them. So then the soldiers acquired all the canoes from a local Dutch canoe club. Those wooden canoes were much quieter on the water so they were successful in bringing back some soldiers from the Battle of Arnhem. After our soldiers left some seven months later, we were left with a big pile of canoes. The police came round and thought that we had stolen them. We said: The English soldiers did it. Please take the canoes away. And they did.
The officers of the soldiers stayed with our neighbours, but we reckoned we had a much better deal, and certainly a lot more fun. Being soldiers from an intelligence unit [I still have to find out exactly which unit it was. Their badge had three witches on it.], they had a big transmitter in what was actually the bedroom of my brother and me. That transmitter was important enough for the Germans to pinpoint its location, so they sent a flying bomb, a V-1 to obliterate it. Fortunately they got the distance sufficiently wrong so that the bomb missed us by about half a kilometre and dropped into the farmland behind our house. It still created a lot of damage: blowing out windows and making the ceilings come down. You might say a bit like a big earthquake. In addition, the soldiers had portable transmitters which had been built into petrol cans, called Jerry cans, because the Germans designed them first. I am sure that they took such transmitters with them when they were dropped behind enemy lines to gather information or sabotage things. They also used the transmitters to listen in on German messages, and with the help of a Dutch woman, they would reply with erroneous messages to lead the Germans up the garden path. When the soldiers sent messages in code to their headquarters, we could not make any sense of the code because it used common words, like sugar and tea. We saw that they had the key code on a piece of cloth so that they could swallow it if they got caught by the Germans. We also had a big tree on the corner of our house, which the soldiers used for practising throwing their knives. That was to kill German sentries.
I have a family photo of my youngest brother standing in a box with one of the 3 witches on it. Thanks to Anne Wickes, of The Second World War Experience Centre, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 4TJ, I have finally found out what the "Three witches" badge stands for. Your information has been invaluable to me; it solved a very old mystery.
I have lived in New Zealand since 1958.