Bruce James Tedcastle
According to Allied plans, it would be the Canadian troops which would liberate our region. However, on 4 May 1945 when the Germans surrendered not one Canadian could be found on the roads or in the fields. The Germans kept to their posts still armed. In our provinces, there were approximately 120,000 Germans, a substantial number of whom were in Oegstgeest who were mainly older but also a few were members of the SS. Decisions made on May 5th in Wageningen stated that the Dutch BS could not act against them. The NSB Mayor was still walking around a free man while the former mayor removed from his post in 1942 had already been re-instated to office. What a peculiar time it was. The citizenry was ready to celebrate, although the memory of friends and family who had died or concern for the fate of loved ones still missing or the continuous gnawing hunger did put a damper on the festivities. People organized concerts in their homes, tracked down members of the NSB (numbering 63 in Oegstgeest at the war’s end), and continued to distribute food which had become extremely scarce. Some people even attempted to shave the heads of ‘German snols’ while others tried to stop this activity, sometimes while looking down the barrel of a BS stengun. In general, people continued to wait for the Canadians to arrive, which was to be on May 9th from Leiden.
And then, they come! In the early morning, they take down their bivouacs at the Veluwe and drive via Utrecht and Leiden to Oegstgeest. At the end of the afternoon of Tuesday 8 May 1945 they arrive via the Rijnsburgerweg at the Warmonderweg. Marching down the Rijnsburgerweg, their column turned to the right onto the Warmonderweg. The column was led by a truck carrying a member of the BS on top. ‘Clear the road’ he shouted through his loud speaker. Following this truck came the first jeep; people from Oegstgeest had never seen such a vehicle. Captain Robert Ryder, the first Canadian to enter Oegstgeest, was sitting next to the driver.
First Canadian in Oegstgeest: Capt. R.A. Ryder, Adjt CO 1 AT RCA.
Later he would write in his report: ‘Men and women, old and young, were singing The Wilhelmus with tears running down their faces.’ These men were large, well-fed soldiers in clean uniforms, beautifully tanned by the Italian sun. This was quite a different sight than the drab appearance of German soldiers and the scrawny, pale Dutchmen. At the corner of De Kempenaerstraat the column could only proceed slowly. The sight was incredible: there were only a few Canadians on each vehicle but swarms of young boys and girls who had climbed on board. The crowds blocking the road did surely not ‘clear the road’. Adults walked alongside trying to grasp Canadian hands and pass flowers in gratitude. The Canadians handed out cigarettes – no one knew that they were unhealthy back then – as well as big chunks of chocolate. They drove on slowly towards Castle Oud Poelgeest where the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery had set up tents and field kitchens. The amounts of food in it were unbelievable for the citizenry of Oegstgeest.
Canadian soldiers experienced a ‘most moving welcome’.
With citizens of Oegstgeest all around, the first Canadians drive into the terrain of ‘Oud-Poelgeest’.
Guns of the 90th Battery, 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, at ‘Oud-Poelgeest’.
|Death of Tedcastle|
The unmarried Bruce James Tedcastle is ‘gunner’ in the 27th Battery, 1st Anti-Tank Regiment.On 13 May he stands guard at a German petrol depot in Rotterdam. It never became clear what actually happened. Reportedly, he should have been killed with his own weapon. Due to the size of those rifles, it is hard to imagine how this could happen. On a list of casualties, the cause of his death was noted as ‘Not Yet Defined’. However, the War Diary of his regiment notes that he killed himself. On 15 May he is buried alongside the Allied servicemen.
Right: Gravestone of Bruce James Tedcastle.
The War Dairy notes how Bruce James Tedcastle lost his life.