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Well, the obvious first source for everything — Wikipedia — has a fairly in depth page on Soesterberg Air Force Base. While Wikipedia is not fully reliable, it’s always a nice place to start, and then “fact checking” them is a good way to deepen the process. ANYHOW, the base’s early history is written as thus:

During World War I, the Netherlands was a neutral country and flew border patrol missions from Soesterberg airfield. The Dutch confiscated all foreign aircraft landing inside the borders of their country during the war and added the operational ones to their inventory to be used for pilot training at Soesterberg.

At the beginning of World War II, the Dutch again declared neutrality but the German force’s blitzkrieg overran the country in 5 days and Soesterberg was occupied by the German Luftwaffe on 15 May 1940. A variety of German aircraft was stationed there during the war, flying anti-shipping missions along British convoy routes in the North Sea, bombing missions over England, and fighter defense against Allied bombing missions. Throughout the war, Allied Air Forces caused enormous damage to the airfield and by September 1944 the Luftwaffe acknowledged Soesterberg airfield to be more or less useless.

In May 1945, Canadian forces liberated the airfield. After the War an extensive Dutch construction program was started to build, new hangars, extending the runways and several locations around the base, used as service areas during the War, were upgraded. On 5 August 1951 the RNLAF declared it operational and gave it an air defense mission. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has maintained flying units at Soesterberg since then.

On the base two monuments were erected. The monument for Fallen Aviators (Monument voor Gevallen Vliegers) is the official Royal Netherlands Air Force Memorial and located near the main entrance of the base. On Memorial Day, 4 May the Royal Netherlands Air Force holds a ceremony to remember and commemorate the fallen of World War II.

The other at the base is the monument for Executed Resistance Fighters. It is the symbol for the sacrifice that 33 resistance fighters gave for freedom. Every year on 19 November there is a memorial service. During World War II the German Army (Wehrmacht) executed secretly the 33 resistance fighters in the woods of the base. The resistance fighters were part of several resistance groups and most of them were caught due to betrayal. Although the execution was held in secret there were rumors about it, and after the War the base was minutely searched. The grave, camouflaged by buried trees, was located by Major A. Siedenburg. His son was one of the victims.


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