File No.: Battle Study # 25

Title: Location of the Battle of Otiesburg

Investigation made at: Sonsche Forest, Son, Municipality of Son & Breugel, The Netherlands
(5130'50.12"N 528'56,54"E)

Period Covered: September 17th, 1944 - January 12th, 2015

Date: JAN 2015

Case Classification: Location of Historic Events

Status of Case: Case Closed

 



 

REASON FOR INVESTIGATION:
On pages 410 and 411 of the December 2001 PhD thesis titled "The MARKET GARDEN Campaign by Roger Cirillo,: Allied Operational Command in Northwest Europe, 1944" on the Airborne invasion of the Netherlands, we read the following passages:

"[...] Taylor's plan concentrated his division for the drop, but it placed no unit near its primary objective for a coup de main. The Zon bridge, the first of the southern bridges, was about 1 to 1.2 miles straight-line distance from the edge of Drop Zone B and was separated from it by a patch of the Zonche woods and the small clump of houses at Otiesburg. The series of small bridges at the southern end of Eindhoven lay about eight miles from the Zon bridge. Valkenswaard was six miles south of Eindhoven and seven miles north of the 30th Corps start line for Club Route 733.
[...]
733 All terrain descriptions are based on 1944 maps and photos. The original road has been overbuilt, Valkenswaard is now essentially a suburb of Eindhoven, the southern bridges are within the town, and Otiesburg is now a small village."

Dr. Roger Cirillo's thesis has since become a document that needs to be studied in order to understand the details of the operation.


SYNOPSIS:
We were not familiar with any residential area near Son (Zon) named Otiesburg.

We have studied "Figure 45" on page 623 of your thesis, period maps such as the Allied GSGS No. 2541 map of Holland 1: 100.000 's-Hertogenbosch and modern online maps to find any geographical reference to Otiesburg, but to no avail. The question remained "Where (on which map reference and / or on which current GPS location) was "Otiesburg" located in connection to the objectives of the US Army's 101st Airborne Division in operation "Market Garden" in 1944, or which geographical reference in the Netherlands was meant by it in Cirillo's 2001 thesis?"

(click to enlarge)

Answer from Dr. Roger Cirillo
Dr. Cirillo was happy to answer this question and submitted a scan of the portion of the map sheet, "OIRSHOT HOLLAND N5127-E517/5X13 1: 25,000" which was the source of the location he referred to as Otiesburg.
 

(click to enlarge)

1 Map section sent to us by Dr. Cirillo                          2 Same map section in full color        

3 Detail in black & white Xerox                                         4 Detail in full color

Roger Cirillo also wrote: "I noted on a different scale map it is spelled differently, apparently the map symbols obliterated the P when the map was enlarged. Thankyou for pointing it out."


Mystery solved
Being familiar with the Dutch language, we found out that the location is actually called "Potjesberg" (literally: Hill of Small Pots, in Dutch) in the Zonsche Forest.
A wider area was apparently named Potjesberg at the time the map was made, but today it is only a small cul-de-sac situated at the West end of Van Gogh Straat (a street named after the famous Dutch painter) crossing Plesman Straat (a street named after a famous Dutch aviator) with a few bungalows in the suburb of Son named "De Gentiaan".
We went there and took some photos.

(click to enlarge)

De Gentiaan suburb was developed in the 1960's and '70's and is larger in surface that the town of Son proper.

We find it very interesting how names on maps end up in historic literature.
Compare this with the Battle of Waterloo which was actually only named after the town where British general the Duke of Wellington had his Headquarters. The actual battle took place near Braine-l'Alleud.

Or how Halte Station became a known location in the defence of Bastogne by the American 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge; whereas there were several "Haltes" (stops in Flemish / Dutch) on the map, along the railway line into Bastogne.
There is a "Halte Wolfswinkel" in the Netherlands North of Son near the Waterhoef Farm, where the initial cemetery of the 101st Airborne Division was set up from September 19th 1944 to May 30th, 1949.

CONCLUSION:
Over the years, this agency has solved several battlefield mysteries by questioning, sometimes seemingly trivial, sections of large publications on strategy and war history. That is what we do best: to give a well-educated critique on the work of other historians. Dr. Cirillo's thesis "The MARKET GARDEN Campaign: Allied Operational Command in Northwest Europe, 1944" has entered the mandatory reading list for understanding Operation "Market Garden" and the Battle of Arnhem and we appreciate his work and research necessary to create it. We also appreciate Dr. Cirillo's willingness to answer our question about Otiesburg. It kept a very mysterious "Battle of Otiesburg" from finding its way into the history books.
 
EXHIBITS:
Battle of Waterloo at Braine l'Alleud, Belgium
(click for enlargements)
123456
From left to right:
 

1&2: The actual battlefield with Lion's Mound Monument in the background
3&4: On top of the Lion's Mound with reference to Braine l'Alleud
5: The town of Braine l'Alleud proper
6: Wellington's HQ in the center of Waterloo     

"Halt Station" North East of Bastogne, Belgium

(click for enlargements)
789101112
From left to right:

7: Map reference to one of the 'haltes" along the railway track
8: Mark Bando's 2007 EuropeanTrigger Time Convention battlefield tour group in front of Halt Station
9 -11: Halt Station from various angles showing disbanded railroad track
12: Halt Station and crossroads with "E" Company / 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in  right foreground

Halte Wolfswinkel, the Netherlands

(click for enlargements)
131415
From left to right:

13: Map reference to the Halte Wolfswinkel at Waterhoef Farm
14 - 15: hand painted signs point to the location where the American cemetery used to be

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