Wales

Dutch children offer WW2 liberation thanks to Wales

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Media captionAfter five days of fighting the battle was won

Children from a Dutch city liberated in World War Two are paying tribute to the Welsh men who died in the battle.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of 's-Hertogenbosch, in which 146 Welsh soldiers died.

As part of the commemorations, 146 children have been invited to attend Wednesday's Netherlands v Wales football friendly.

The Welsh sacrifice will also be marked later this month in Cardiff, on Armed Forces Day.

The Welsh soldiers who died were part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division that spent four days in October 1944 battling to free the city in southern Netherlands.

Image copyright Henk van Esch
Image caption Children from in and around 's-Hertogenbosch are taking part in the remembrance event

Among the forces were members of three battalions of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, soldiers from the Welch Regiment, and also the Monmouthshire Regiment.

The city and surrounding area, known locally as Den Bosch, saw allied forces enter the freed city on 27 October, 1944 after fierce fighting.

Since then, the link between Wales and the city has been marked annually by the October 1944 Foundation.

Ahead of this year's anniversary, the Royal Netherlands Football Association along with the Football Association of Wales (FAW), decided to invite youngsters from the city to Amsterdam to mark the occasion.

They will meet will meet Wales manager Chris Coleman and some senior players, as well as FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford and president Trefor Lloyd Hughes.

Image copyright IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS
Image caption Forces from 53rd (Welsh) Infantry spent four days fighting to liberate 's-Hertogenbosch
Image copyright IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS
Image caption This image in the Imperial War Museums' collections shows an anti-tank gun outside the town.

Coleman said: "This will I am sure be a very humbling experience for all concerned. We are honoured and privileged to be involved in the commemoration.

"As a team and association we are there to play or enjoy a game of football.

"It is difficult to imagine what the Welsh servicemen and millions of others suffered during the Second World War."

However, this year will also see the formal arrangement to commemorate the city's liberation in the Netherlands and Wales come to an end.

The October 1944 Foundation said the move reflected the reality that many of the veterans were no longer alive, and it was only the goodwill of second and third generations in the city and in Wales that kept the link going.

The Foundation said it had been mutually agreed to make this year's events special, with a delegation from the city travelling to Cardiff for Armed Forces Day on 27 June.

The journey will be made from the Netherlands to Wales by cyclists, carrying a torch lit at the Uden War Cemetery.

The liberation of the city and the role of Welsh forces will then be marked for a final time in October in the Netherlands.

From next year, commemorations in 's-Hertogenbosch will concentrate on the country's national remembrance day in March.

Image copyright Henk van Esch
Image caption Ahead of the football friendly, the Den Bosch children held a training day in the city centre
Image copyright Henk van Esch
Image caption Children from in and around 's-Hertogenbosch are taking part in the remembrance event

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