The Watchman over the Peel

In early October 1944, fierce battles are raging around the villages of Overloon and Venray. The Germans are using the Venray church tower, the Watchman over the Peel, as a lookout post. They can see the British forces slowly advancing with their tanks and respond with relentless shelling of rocket launchers and artillery. Despite the shelling, the swampy ground and vast minefields, the British continue to advance.

In September-October 1944, persistent heavy fighting is taking place in several areas along the Dutch-German border. Similarly around Overloon and Venray. For days, British forces under General Whistler are involved in a determined fierce battle to initially liberate Overloon.

On October the 14th, the resistance is finally broken and General Whistler‘s tanks and troops can head from Overloon towards Venray. The Germans can still observe Allied troop movements from the Venray church tower, relaying the information on time to their smoke mortar and artillery units. In turn, they continue to fire on the British. The area between the two villages consists of swampy meadows, streams that have burst their banks due to heavy rain and densely forested areas. Not easy terrain for the extremely heavy Sherman and Churchill tanks.


Listen to this story at the audio spot of the Liberation Route Europe near the Big Church in Venray. 

Liberation Route Europe audio spot 202
Grote kerk oorlogsschade

The Germans have blown up the bridges over the Loobeek, on the road from Overloon to Venray and Merselo Venray. Moreover, they have laid countless mines. The vast minefields present a major obstacle that can only be overcome by using so-called flail tanks. With their steel flails, these tanks literally beat a path through the meadows. While every metre is being fought for on the ground, Venray is also hit hard from the air. The St. Petrus Banden Church tower becomes the target of combined attacks by British Typhoon fighter-bombers and field artillery. The tower, known as the Watchman over the Peel, must be put out of action in any way possible. Only on Wednesday October 18th, can the first British tanks enter a heavily damaged Venray. There is little left of the ‘The Watchman over the Peel’.

More pictures with this story

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Routes with this story

Cycling route ‘Venray-Tienray’

Cycling route ‘Venray-Tienray’

This cycling route brings you along 10 locations that are clearly related to war, between Venray and Tienray, which offered a shelter to many people in hiding during the war. 

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Cycling route ‘Venray-Overloon’

Cycling route ‘Venray-Overloon’

Remember the Battle of Venray and Overloon by this cycling route along 10 locations between both places that are clearly related to the war. 

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Cycling route ‘On the other side’

Cycling route ‘On the other side’

This special cycling route (59 km) connects two remarkable places: the German War Cemetery in Ysselsteyn in Limburg and the War Museum in Overloon in Brabant.

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Download the unique app and experience the past

The free Venray Remembers app shows the past as you have never seen it before. Download the app, take the car or bicycle or go on foot and follow a beautiful route in De Peel. Follow the instructions in the app to project an augmented reality video at the indicated locations and become part of the story that happened there.

View the war past from a different perspective and through this unique app. A modern way to let young and old relive the past in a positive way. Let’s keep remembering!

More information

Download de Venray Remembers app