After the Arnhem Battle: St Eusebius

After the battle for central Arnhem was over late on Wednesday, 20 September 1944, some of the British prisoners who were captured the following day were held in St Eusebius. The huge redbrick church, also known as the Grote Kerk, was next to the the Grote Markt (Market) which was used as a collection point for the prisoners.

The tower of St Eusebius had been seriously damaged during the fighting; however, the interior had not been greatly harmed and it was here that one of the German captors took a photograph of the men they were holding. A spectacular war trophy, the photograph would be printed in the 1944 Christmas book of the 10th Panzer Division, known as the Frundsberg.

Der Kampf der 10.SS-Division-Frundsberg im Jahre 1944 covered the campaigns of that year in Buczacz, Caen, and Nimwegen (Nijmegen). The photograph taken in St Eusebius shows the British prisoners sitting on wooden church benches in what appears to be a chancel. It is not possible to recognise the faces but it seems very likely that these men would have been the officers, the greatest prizes of all. The group of around sixteen men in the foreground (there are other shadowy figures against the walls) was close to the number of officers caught soon after the battle for the bridge ended. Anthony Cotterell would have been amongst them.

The St Eusebius photograph, published in Buczacz – Caen – Nimwegen: Der Kampf der 10.SS-Division-Frundsberg im Jahre 1944, was identified in a brilliant piece of detective work by David van Buggenum. He realised the similarities between the photograph in the German book with one taken in 1945 after Arnhem was liberated, which showed the same fallen bench lying in exactly the same position in front of the pews on which the prisoners had been sitting. No one had replaced the bench because Arnhem had been cleared of the Dutch population after the battle.

Geoffrey Cotterell, on seeing this photograph, commented of his brother, ‘Well, if Tone is there he will be at the back, because that is what he did’. Anthony, being a born observer and journalist, always preferred to watch events from an unobtrusive position.

Captured members of 3 Para carrying a wounded comrade