Cromwell Battle Tank
From the collection of the Overloon War Museum
For more than four years, the village of Overloon in the eastern part of the Dutch province of Brabant went untouched by the Second World War. Of course residents saw German soldiers in their streets, but they were spared the wartime violence. That changed dramatically in the fall of 1944.
From 26 September to 16 October, one of western-Europe’s fiercest battles took place in and around this village. American troops were unable to break through the German defences. This difficult task was left to the British 11th Armoured Division and the British 3rd Infantry Division. On 12 October alone, troops fired more than 100,000 shells at the entrenched Germans. Overloon was in ruins. Wounded German snipers even tied themselves to trees so they could keep on fighting. When the ammunition had run out the Germans attacked the British with only their bayonets. On 14 October, twenty members of an SS-combat unit who had barricaded themselves in the church were overpowered – the last formidable adversaries in the village. By two days later, the rest of the German troops had vanished from Overloon. During a final attack on the village, this British Cromwell Tank took a direct hit from a shell and immobilized.