The men of the ‘Postbrug’

And then the story of the men at the ‘Postbrug’. When the war begins – on 10 May 1940 – the 9th Regiment Infantery is located near Haarlem.

The regiment received orders to proceed via Oegstgeest to Valkenburg where the airfield was under attack from the air. Therefore motor coaches had to be requisitioned because the regiment did not have their own means of transport.

1-I-9 R.I in the snow, near Kraantje Lek, 18 Januari 1940.

Buses arrived from far and wide, assembling on the Dreef in the Haarlemmerhout. The first buses were reserved for the 1st Company; the first in line was No. 10 (an almost new A.S./Beijnes) which belonged to the International Motor Coach Line Leo Kors from Heemstede with the owner’s brother behind the wheel.

The convoy of buses departed in the early afternoon, travelling via Bennebroek, Hillegom and Sassenheim. There they stop at Café ‘De Uiver’ to collect Klaassens and Niemeijer. The men take leave of Hillechien, each in his own way. With the Company now complete, the convoy travels on, turning onto the main highway just beyond the Sikkens Factory. About 500 meters before reaching the Postbrug (where in earlier times horses hitched to post coaches were exchanged) at the border between Sassenheim and Oegstgeest, they pass by the 1st battalion of the 6th Artillery Regiment that will be taking a position at Castle Oud Poelgeest.

Air attack on the transport  

It was about 3 o’clock when the drone of airplane engines was first heard. These airplanes were surely Dutch weren’t they? But as machine guns began rattling, two German airplanes were spotted. Because it was impossible for the men to defend themselves using only small arms or field artillery, they had to run for cover behind the buses, seek shelter under the viaduct, or flee into the meadow. The horses start to panic and a team belonging to the 1st Battery go off at a gallop. When the 21-year-old Sergeant Christiaan Leonard van den Broek from Dordrecht tried to rein in the horses, he was dragged along before falling to the ground and was run over by the wagon. Two days later he was buried in the Groene Kerkje cemetery.

The air attack was over but at the level of Endegeest one airplane turned around and headed back.  The burnt-out bus.

It dropped three bombs on the first bus, the first bomb hitting its target directly. The bus exploded in a fireball and some soldiers were killed immediately by bomb fragments. Others died when the cartridges which they were carrying exploded viciously, sounding like thunder. The flames completed the horrific event. Of the 24 men who died, 17 were killed instantaneously – including the bus driver – while seven men later died as from their wounds.

It proved impossible to identify 11 of the 17 bodies which were buried immediately in a mass grave – the bomb crater that had just been made near the Postbrug. One of these men was the 43-year-old driver Willem Marinus Kors. When the mortal remains of these victims were later transferred for burial in the Military Cemetery Grebbeberg in 1973, Kors would be the only civilian buried there.

Eleven men found a temporary common grave in a bombcrated at the ‘Verlengde Vinkenweg’.

Reburial at various locations

Transport-firm Van der Luyt brings seven wounded men to the Academic Hospital in Leiden, but all die shortly after arrival. Eleven men are buried at the ‘Groene Kerkje’ and two in their hometown Assen.

Later a tombstone was erectde on the common grave.

The mortal remains of nine of the 11 servicemen buried at the Groene Kerkje were transferred in 1970 and 1971 to various locations, in most cases to the Military Cemetery Grebbeberg.

In 1973, the graves at the ‘Postbrug’ are transferred to the Grebbeberg, without making distinction between the men. Bus-driver Kors is the only citizen on that honorary cemetery.

The common grave on a photograph after the war.


Gravestone of the eleven of the ‘Postbrug’, now on the Military Cemetary at the Grebbeberg.