Watertoren in Roosendaal - 29/10/44 - Strafing by 329 Sqn :: Updated

My interest is often piqued watching footage of RAF aircraft in action during WW2. One example was the discovery of the film of the strafing of the B-24 Jolly Duck which I mentioned here and the interesting story that resulted from my curiosity.
It is not often that a tiny piece of France, Belgium or Netherlands can be identified from the black and white, often fuzzy, footage that I watch without referring to squadron Operational Record Books. Sometimes though, a distinct landmark can help narrow down the area that was being flown over...

Today, I happened to be watching film from October 1944 and a distinctive target was being strafed by Spitfires of No. 329 Sqn RAF (GC I/2 'Cigognes'), a Free French squadron operating from B.55 Wevelghem. A water tower, possibly being used as an observation post by enemy troops, was certainly subject to a few attacking runs to try and put it out of action on the morning of 29/10/1944. The design of the tower was different to many that I had seen in previous attacks as the Allies moved into Europe after D-Day. 

A search of "water towers in Europe" soon produced what looked like the one in the grainy 16mm gun camera film. Located in the town of Roosendaal in the Netherlands, just to the north of Antwerp, which would have been about the right area of operations for RAF aircraft involved in ground attack missions to disrupt German activity.

The water tower was built in 1916 after a design by the Dutch architect Hidde Petrus Nicolaas Halbertsma and is of historical-architectural importance due to its design and use of materials.

Image ©IWM

Despite the serious pounding by Spitfires of 329 Squadron, the water tower is still standing today and now features the  Culinicious restaurant in the ground floor. 

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January 10 2023: Maarten Havinga of the B-24 Jolly Duck research group has sent me this eyewitness account written in 2011 by 84-year-old Marinus Deijkers, who witnessed the shelling of the tower during the war.

"On Sunday afternoon, the day before the liberation, I was on my way to Sint Jan with my eldest brother," Deijkers said. "We were walking through the Domineestraat when we saw the planes diving to shoot at the tower. Because I had already rescued people from under the rubble with other volunteers, I walked as quickly as possible to the tower instead of to the church. In the Nearby, a house and the café Van Montfort were in ruins. There were also deaths. However, I could not help because we were chased away by armed German soldiers."

I'd identified the direction of the strafing runs as most likely being from the east, as in a couple of clips the buildings behind the tower could be matched to buildings on Nispensestraat that are still standing today (e.g. "Osaka Japan Restaurant").

Maarten also sent me the following - "In the Nispensestraat a whole family died during the attacks (they talk about 8 British aircraft) father, mother and their 5 children didn't survive the attack."


  1. Makes the job of accessioning all the film that bit more interesting when a 'story' can be added to the few seconds of film...