WW2 veteran and liberator Kenneth Mayhew will bring the Fire of Liberation at May 5th at 12.00 hours from the 5-May Square to the main stage during the Liberation festival in Wageningen, The Netherlands.
He will give the fire to DJ Sam Feldt who will light the Fire of Liberation on stage. In the Netherlands May 5th is Liberation Day, the day they celebrate the date the German occupation ended. In the city of Wageningen thé Liberation Festival is held as Hotel De Wereld (hotel The World) which played a part in the Liberation of The Netherlands.
Although the German occupier capitulated the day before on the Luneberger Heath on battleground in Germany, the negotiations took place at May 5th at the Hotel in Wageningen. Negotiations is somewhat chosen wrongly, as the Germans did not have any to negotiate and just had to accept the terms. But from that day, May 5th is marked as the end of the second Worldwar for The Netherlands.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 Mayhew was conscripted. In January 1940, he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and following completion of his training became a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
On 6 June 1944 Mayhew commanded a company equipped with 13 armoured infantry carriers that landed at Sword Beach in Normandy, on D-Day. They then fought during the Battle for Caen, and on 28 June were part of Operation Charnwood, fighting a battle at Château de la Londe, which left 161 dead on the British side. His company liberated Flers and moved on towards Belgium and the Netherlands.
The 1st Battalion were supposed to meet airlifted troops at Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden, which failed however. During battles in the Netherlands Mayhew’s company took part in the liberation of Weert (22 September), Venray and Overloon (16–19 October). In Weert, Captain Mayhew was assisted by local resistance fighters. To locate German positions they often had to expose themselves to enemy fire, which resulted in several injuries among the company.
On 16 October 1944, during the Battle of Overloon, Mayhew was injured by shells while creating bridges for tanks across a stream at Venray. He was sent to a hospital in Brussels, but returned to his company, against the orders of his doctors, in fear that his command might be given away to someone else.
On 25 February 1945 he was again injured while advancing towards the Rhine, and was evacuated back to the United Kingdom.
After the Second World War the government of the Netherlands wished to reward foreign soldiers for their services in liberating the country. They requested that foreign governments send recommendations for honours. In October 1945, the United Kingdom recommended Mayhew for the Order of the Bronze Lion or Medal of the Bronze Cross.
The Dutch government however decided that a higher honour should be awarded. On 24 April 1946, by Royal Decree, Mayhew was knighted by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, receiving the Knight fourth class of the Military William Order.
The Order is the highest and oldest military honour of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, bestowed for “performing excellent acts of Bravery, Leadership and Loyalty in battle”
During combat to liberate occupied Dutch territory he [Mayhew] distinguished himself by committing excellent acts of bravery, leadership and loyalty. Moreover he displayed an extraordinary sense of duty and great perseverance, and was in every way, through praiseworthy example, an inspiration to all in those glorious days.
— Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Royal Decree of 24 April 1946