Wings of Liberation Museum, Best, Netherlands

The Wings of Liberation museum (Historia Park – Museum Bevrijdende Vleugels) is not an ordinary war time museum, it is a museum about liberation. It is located in the woodlands between Best and Son, not only because of the beautiful surroundings but also because of the historic importance of this location. In 1944, thousands of American soldiers were landed here, either as para troopers or in gliders. They were carried over by aircraft – so actually on the Wings of Liberation! Similar operations were carried out in other parts of the South of The Netherlands during Operation Market Garden, and together they marked the beginning of the liberation of The Netherlands from the Second World War.

The Museum Wings of Liberation is a museum in Best. The museum is dedicated to the Second World War and in particular to Operation Market Garden. Liberating Wings has a special collection including tanks, airplanes, dioramas, photographs and weaponry that was actually used during Operation Market Garden.

The museum is located in the area where soldiers of the American 101st Airborne Division landed during the operation. Although the battle at Arnhem eventually failed, operation Market Garden brought hope for the occupied part of the Netherlands, and eventually the war ended within a year. The museum, which is housed in a former MOB complex on the road between Best and Son, shows not only the history of the operation, but also more extensive information about the Second World War in the Netherlands, especially about the occupation, the oppression and the final liberation.

In various dioramas, divided over a number of halls, scenes from the Second World War have been set up, complete with original uniforms, vehicles, airplanes and other objects from the war period. There are also photos and films to view. Guided tours of the museum are regularly organized.

Museum Wings of Liberation originated from a temporary exhibition that was organized in 1984 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Operation Market Garden by Jan Driessen (1921-2010) in Veghel. Because of its great success, the collection of Driessen was housed in a permanent museum in Veghel. By expanding the collection, the space in Veghel became too small and in 1996 the Ministry of Defense made the current location available. In September 1997 the museum was opened at its current location in the presence of Prince Bernhard.

Since 1997, Museum Wings of Liberation has been located at the current location in Best. However, a whole history preceded this!
Museum Wings of Liberation originated from a temporary exhibition, which was organized at the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Operation Market Garden by Mr. Jan Driessen (1921 – 2010) in Veghel. The exhibition was such a great success that it was decided to put his collection in a museum. The museum was located in Veghel from 1984 to 1996
Under the direction of Jan Driessen, the museum was expanded over the years. As a result, the space at Veghel in those days was no longer sufficient and a new location was looked forward to. State Secretary for Defense Gmelich Meiling gave the chair and founder of the museum Jan Driessen the opportunity to establish the museum at the beautiful former mobilization complex at the Sonseweg in Best. In 1996 they started the move. On Wednesday, September 17, 1997, the museum was reopened at the new location in the presence of Prince Bernhard His Royal Highness of the Netherlands.

In 2009 a major renovation of the museum took place. Halls were built and renovated, vehicles were refurbished and the collection expanded. In addition, the entrance and the reception area were radically renewed. The work was largely carried out by volunteers from the Museum Wings of Liberation and has taken several months. In April 2009 the museum was reopened to the public.

Go back to the time of liberation: raving engines of fighter planes, heroic pilots and American paratroopers.

On display are a V1, a Waco CG-4 glider, various American and German military vehicles, anti-aircraft guns and a German searchlight. In a link trainer a simulation flight can be performed in a real Dakota cockpit.

The museum also had a Dakota C-47, but that plane was destroyed during transport to the location of the musical Soldier of Orange. The Dakota came under a viaduct during this transport.

The special thing about the collection of Museum Wings of Liberation is that it consists of vehicles, machines, aircraft and other materials that were used during Operation Market Garden. Some examples of what you can admire are:
Unique aircraft, including the Dakota C-53.
Caterpillar vehicles and tanks, including a Sherman Tank and T-34 tank from the Soviet Army
A crashed glider (Waco), Glider parts and insight into the use of this.
many army vehicles including jeeps, tow trucks, engines and accessories.
Large collection of weaponry, including anti-aircraft guns (including Flak 88), cannons and ammunition.
Extensive exhibition with photo images from WW2 / Market Garden
Truthful dioramas and decors, which you take back in time.

Museum Wings of Liberation
Operation Market Garden is one of the most important military events in Dutch history. In September 1944, the Allied troops with ‘gliders’ troops and material left countries on the spot that now lies right next to Museum Wings of Liberation. Step in the footsteps of the heroes of the 101st Airborne Division and relive the story that would lead to the liberation of the South Netherlands. “Here you are reminded of a time that we should never forget,” says a previous visitor.
“Impressive place packed with important history”
The museum is part of an extensive complex in the middle of the woods. In various halls you will learn about this impressive operation and view unique aircraft, caterpillar vehicles, tanks, gliders, army jeeps, Zündapp engines, anti-aircraft guns, cannons and ammunition that were actually used at the end of WWII. On the large terrace of Brasserie ‘t Boshuys you let everything in on you while you enjoy a tasty lunch, coffee with cake or a delicious dinner. And especially for children: a playground with a real play castle – with drawbridge! – and various playground equipment.
Learn to fly yourself!
Because of the many activities it is also possible – prior to your visit – to compile the outing completely. If you contact the museum in advance, it is even possible to make a tour in a historic army vehicle. Be sure to visit the Paulushoeve, where the gliders landed, and the many other commemorative monuments around the museum. And in the flight simulator room you step into the cockpit of one of the historic planes and you can learn to fly yourself!