Timmermans, Hendrikus Cornelius “Henk”.

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Timmermans, Hendrikus Cornelius “Henk”, born 24-01-1918 in Boxtel. to Hubertus Timmermans, chief conductor NS/National Railways, by profession and his wife Maria van den Boogaard, without profession and who married  07-04-1893 in Weert.  After primary school, Ulo and trade school, he became an office clerk in Arnhem. Henk was called up in 1938 to fulfill his national service with the Regiment Cyclists. ‘Wheel Riders Regiment’ He was assigned to training as a non-commissioned officer. In 1939 he was promoted to sergeant. After his military service a year later, he went on long leave.

Bicycle infantry  are infantry soldiers who maneuver on (or, more often, between) battlefields using military bicycles. The term dates from the late 19th century, when the “safety bicycle” became popular in Europe, the United States, and Australia. Historically, bicycles lessened the need for horses, fuel and vehicle maintenance. Though their use has waned over the years in many armies, they continue to be used in unconventional armies such as militias.

Five months later he was called up again because of the German, Adolf Hitler, threat and general mobilization. Sergeant Timmermans served with 1-II-1 RW (2nd battalion of the 1st Cyclists Regiment). After the airborne landings of German troops on the island of Dordrecht, the regiment was placed across the river Merwede. On 12-05-1940 Henk Timmermans was seriously injured in the fierce street fighting in Dordrecht. The Regiment came under heavy fire from the Germans, under the command of Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Commander of the 227th Infantry Division, Friedrich Rudolf Hermann Zickwolff. The opponent of Hendrikus’s Regiment Cyclists was the SS-Standarten Regiment “Das Reich” , under SS Obergruppenführer Georg Karl Paul “Papa” Hausser, most former Nazi SA streetfighters, and already then these SS soldiers had no mercy with anyone in battle. Many German SS soldiers were drunk during this attack, ”is the story”

One of their victims was the cousin of my mother Ackermans, Florentius Johannes Maria “Jan”.   an old soldier who was ordered for the mobilisation. He, age 32, was also killed by the drunken reckles Germans.

Death and burial ground of Timmermans Hendrikus Cornelius “Henk”

The Regiment was under heavy fire and the wounded Henk had to wait for the necessary medical care. Only when it got dark in the evening, Henk could reach a house where they called an ambulance. Henk was admitted to the R.K hospital in Dordrecht. He had a card delivered to his parents on which he wrote “Don’t worry, come and see me if you can.It never came to that because Henk succumbed to his injuries on 17-05-1940, aged 22.

The “Wielrijders” defended the country in a region called Albasserwaard and around the city of Dordrecht. They lost 77 men and another 74 were severely injured. All names of the fallen can be seen on the monument at Fort Isabella. The Nazis demobilised the Dutch army and after the war ended, in 1945, the two regiments were not reinstated. A fact that was made official by royal decree in 1950. A much regretted fact by most of the men who had been part of one of the two regiments. It would take until 1972 before a first reunion was held. That it was visited by 1500 men proved the regiments were still in their hearts. Reunions would be held until 1993 when the number of men who had served had decreased too much.

During the battle for the Grebbeberg – including the fighting at Achterberg – 424 Dutch soldiers were killed. One man died on May 18 while clearing a minefield for the Germans. Those 425 men killed were one fifth of all Dutch military killed during the May days (approx. 2,300 men). When one considers that that toll was exacted in an arena measuring no more than about two by three kilometers, the magnitude of that loss is probably made sufficiently clear.

Henk was buried in Dordrecht, but reburied in Apeldoorn in July 1940. On 26-10-2012, sergeant Henk Timmermans was reburied with military honors at the Grebberg military cemetery.

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