By Joep Bremmers
During the past weeks on different places in Zeeland they commemorated that a greater part of the province was liberated fifty-five years ago, from four years of German occupation. Each year the commemorations draw a lot of old combatants, not only soldiers that fought on the allied side, also German war-veterans come back to the place where they also passed a determining period of their lives.
Alan Green from Manchester and Rudolf Theisser from Oberhausen were both involved in a battle that made in November 1944 an end to four years of German domination over Walcheren. Fifty-five years afterwards both veterans meet for the first time a former opponent. The meeting takes place in an apartment on the foot of the dunes near Flushing . For the two veterans the situation is of not feeling at home. Alan Green makes the impression of aloofness and sits on a high chair just next to the outer door from which he can overlook the whole room. Rudolf Theisser makes himself comfortable on a couch. Only for the picture they both leave their reserves and sit brotherly next to each other at the table. Afterwards they both go back to their trustworthy positions and Rudolf Theisser starts to talk: “I was a signalman at the staff-company of the division that was encamped at Walcheren 1944. I had to serve an apparatus to give light signals from a bunker on the boulevard. I was encamped in the Strandhotel that at the time served as a Wehrmachtsheim” Theisser was in the 70th infantry division that for a greater part existed of stomach-patients. “We were called the Magenkranken-division” tells Theisser, rattling with his stomach-pills which he still swallows.
In the meantime, Green sits taciturn at the table, waiting for the moment he can also tell his story. Like Theisser, Green, during WW2 was a signalman. As a bearer of the Green Beret he landed on the European continent on June 6 th 1944 in Normandy . The second time Green took part on an amphibian landing was in Westkapelle in the autumn of 1944. Green departed with a landing boat from Oostende to the coast of Westkapelle. “It was the night of October 31st to November 1st”, says the Englishman. “The night of Halloween and I am sure it was gruesome”. Green landed on the beach of Westkapelle, heavily tortured by war-violence, just after the first wave. “I had a leaden radio on my back and had to make the liaisons between the different groups. We landed with an LCI, a Landing Craft Infantry. Out of the boat I stepped up to my neck in the icy cold water. From Westkapelle we marched on in the direction of Domburg”.
While in and around Westkapelle the freedom of Walcheren was gained the allied forces landed in Flushing too. Rudolf Theisser remembers the arrival of the landing fleet very well. “I was making a cable connection on the boulevard for Commander Reinhardt who had his HQ in a bunker near Hotel Brittania. Flushing just had a heavy and long shell from Breskens and from the boulevard we could see the landing crafts coming up”.
Theisser was the signalman in the staff company that was responsible for the defence of Flushing.“First I was in the 4 th company but in the staff company there were a lot of musicians that wanted me to join as an accordion player. The 4th company had many losses near Sloedam. Properly spoken the accordion saved my life”. The German pensioner has now seen Flushing for the first time since 1946. “Then I came from captivity in England . We have been brought with boat to Antwerp and I saw Flushing for the last time. We have been in Zandvoort for many years on holiday but never came back to Flushing . Now I wanted to see if I could recognise things. Tomorrow I am going to see if I can find my bunker on the boulevard.
Alan Green came back to Walcheren for the first time in 1984. Since then he visits the memorial in Westkapelle every year.
He says “I have many friends in Holland and people know me nearly as well as in Manchester”. Green had not met a German veteran during his visits to Walcheren. “I cannot dislike a German, not at that time nor now” says Alan Green. “It is all so long ago and we are all the same type of people, each with his own story. People asked me, if I killed someone. I don't know that and honestly spoken I don't want to know.
[With permission of Mr. Green's daughter Mrs. C. Szpak]