Practice English Speaking&Listening with: WWII Then & Now: The American Paratrooper Who Liberated Rotterdam

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Allright guys, here we are in the city of Rotterdam.

And we're on our way to take a Then & Now picture.

This is an amazing because the photograph that I have here is about an American jeep

with an American paratrooper in Rotterdam.

You may be asking yourself: Did he miss drop during Operation Market Garden?

Or, did he miss drop during Operation Varsity?

Did his plane crash?

Or, was his plane shot down?

Nope, but there were also no American paratroopers here.

So, how did this guy end up here with his jeep?

Because he is from the 17th Airborne Division.

Well I'm going to tell you the story, but first I'm going to take the Then and Now shot.

The end of World War II in Europe was a special moment for many civilians who lived under

German occupation for five years.

In this video we will visit several places in The Netherlands that are linked to a very

special story.

The Netherlands was officially liberated on May 5, 1945 and each year the country celebrates

Liberation Day on this date.

But even though The Netherlands was liberated on May 5, it wasnt until several days later

that Canadian troops arrived to occupy the cities that hadnt been liberated before.

A young Dutch man, Adrie van Velzen, part of the Dutch resistance was captured by the

Germans during their biggest round-up actions in the Netherlands of World War II.

At least 52.000 men were captured in the Dutch cities of Schiedam and Rotterdam on November

10 and 11, 1944.

On his way to Germany, he Adrie managed to escape and walk right into the hands of the

American troops of the 17th Airborne Division.

He started working as a translator for Lieutenant Peter Scotese, an officer of Company H of

the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

So at the end of April, 1945, Adrie van Velzen started to get more worried about how his

parents in Rotterdam were doing.

He had not been in contact with them since he was captured by the Germans.

So being the translator for Peter Scotese, Peter Scotese decided he would take a furlough

for nine days to go to Paris.

Well the three: Adrie van Velzen, Peter Scotese, and a driver Tommie Mills, they all decided

to go to The Netherlands instead.

Peter Scotese was wounded during Operation Varsity in March 1945.

And when he was wounded, he stayed at the 76th General Hospital in Liege, Belgium.

So what they did was, they went back to the hospital and asked the chaplain of the hospital

of they could take his jeep.

We can all see the words Chaplain on the jeep right here.

The cool story then is that on May 1st, 1945, the three left to go to Rotterdam.

And it took them quite some time, because a big part of the Netherlands was still occupied

by the Germans.

It took them a while to get around all of that.

So on May 5th, the three drive through the city of Nijmegen in the eastern part of The


They pick up another doctor and from there on they make their way towards Rotterdam,

which they reach in the afternoon of May 5, 1945.

And that is the reason why we see the jeep here on the street called the Coolsingel in

Rotterdam, the famous Coolsingel, in front of the town hall.

We can see the tower, we can see the jeep.

This is the location that the guys first saw.

And the funny thing is, they were the first liberators to be here, because the Canadians

had not reached the area yet.

The Americans, guys from Company H, 513th PIR, 17th Airborne Division were the first

liberators to reach Rotterdam.

Sortof making them the first liberators of Rotterdam.

We continue our journey in the tracks of the American jeep to the city of the Hague where

the group went to bring back the doctor, Hans van Swaay, on May 7, 1945.

Hans who can be seen wearing his beret, had not been in contact with his parents since

Operation Market Garden.

On their way they passed through my hometown Schiedam, where another photograph was taken

of the Jeep.

Close to the home of the parents of Hans more pictures were taken.

It is incredible how much evidence there is of the presence of the American jeep to back

up this story.

On their way to The Hague, Den Haag, the guys come across a resistance group from the Westland

area in The Netherlands.

And basicailly, the resistance group had three airmen with them.

They were part of a B-24 bomber aircraft.

They were shot down on September 26, 1944.

And the three airmen, Walter Kasievich, Malcolm Edwardsen and Marvin Charwat, they were with

the resistance group and they were on their way to the coastal town of Scheveningen, not

far from here.

In Scheveningen there was the Oranjehotel, the Orange hotel, a prison facility where

a lot of Dutch resistance members being held captive before most of them were killed and

shot in the dunes.

My great uncle was one of them who was shot there in the dunes by the Germans.

But, they wanted to liberate the resistance leader, Piet Doelman, the resistance leader

of the Westland resistance group.

So Malcolm Edwardsen, Walter Kasievich and Marvin Charwat, they ask Peter Scotese and

the other guys in the jeep who are still with them, if they want to come with them to go

to Scheveningen to raid the prison facility.

They accept, but they first decide to take a stop here at the house of the parents of

Hans van Swaay, the doctor.

And we have several photographs of that, including one where we can see the jeep coming from

the road here, turning on to this road and turning into this street right here, where

they park to take a brief rest.

Because I believe this is where the parents of Hans van Swaay, the doctor, are living.

But there are several photographs taken here and I think it's so amazing that they stop

here and that there is physical evidence of what happened.

Then we also have the houses right here.

We can see how many people have gathered in the street.

There are little kids sitting on the jeep.

There's another picture that is from a book about the downed aircraft where the three

American airmen were from.

It's similar to the one where the kids are sitting on the jeep.

They are sitting also on the jeep, it's just a different moment that the picture was taken.

But we can see the air man right here, Malcolm Edwardsen, he is one of the airmen.

Behind him we can see a beret, it's the beret of the doctor, Hans van Swaay.

They believe they are looking over a map, probably planning to raid the prison compound.

And that's so amazing, because the story did not end here just to bring the doctor back.

After they did that, the guys are going to raid a prison facility which is crazy in my


The story itself is wonderful.

And now that we're here in the exact same street where they stood, it's unbelievable


Like The Hague, is just like Rotterdam; there were not supposed to be any American troops

here, but these guys were even here before the Canadians got here.

That's funny.

After the stop in the Hague the whole group continued to the Prison Compound.

Even though it was May 7, the Germans were still controlling the building.

The group of Peter Scotese and the resistance group with the American aircrew managed to

bluff their way inside the prison compound to take Uncle Piet with them.

It was a daring action because the Germans did not really trust the situation and the

German commander, The Kommandant, wanted to shoot them.

Their bluff succeeded.

Uncle Piet was liberated and they also took the car of the German Kommandant.

Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to visit the Prison Compound.

The group that raided the prison, drove to the city of Vlaardingen to bring back Uncle


They all took part in the towns liberation parade the next day.

Allright guys, so here we are in the town of Vlaardingen.

It started to get a little bit chilly, which is why I now have my jacket on.

But I have this amazing photograph here of the celebrations of May 8, after the parade.

They are standing in front of the town hall and as you can see on the picture.

We have Walter Kasievich, one of the airmen.

We have lieutenant Peter Scotese, wearing his airforce jacket, but he is a paratrooper.

Lieutenant Peter Scotese, H Company.

And we have their driver, Tommie Mills, with the rosary and a real bottle of gin.

And behind him you can see the beret of Hans van Swaay, the doctor.

I love this picture and everything is still the same.

It's funny because I grew up here as a kid, in the area.

This is like next to my hometown Schiedam and as a teenager I would come here sometimes

during the weekends, so I know this place and I never knew, like finding this out is


Also look at the crowd, all these people are so happy they are being liberated.

And now we are standing there on the exact same location 76 years after the liberation.

Wow, it's just I have no words and it's great that the location is exactly

the same.

Lieutenant Peter Scotese, driver Tommie Mills and their translator Adrie van Velzen returned

At that point, I realized I was Absent Without Leave, having been gone for more than ten


I asked the underground leader and Hans Swaay to give me a letter explaining what I've been

doing there.

And I also got a letter from a military attache.

Went back to my headquarters in Oberhausen, Germany, where I was confronted by my Company


Who rose from the table and said: 'Lieutenant where have you been for the last ten days?

You know you've been AWOL?'

I said, 'Yes, sir.'

He said, 'You know what that means?'

I said, 'Yes sir, court-martial.'

He said, 'Would you mind explaining what happened?'

And I went through the whole litany of what had happened.

He stood up with his hands on his hips, pointed to me and said, 'next you do that, take me

with you.'


to their unit in Oberhausen, Germany.

They were considered AWOL, Absent without Leave.

But the three had an official signed statement of their rescue mission with the Dutch resistance

and so their superior didnt take any actions again.

After the war, Peter and his dutch translator, Adrie, stayed in contact through letters,

but after a while it watered down.

Adrie passed away in 1985, but Peter Scotese is still alive and kicking at the age of 101.

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