Dutch artillery May 1940
In order to shape a clear picture of the state and status of the Dutch artillery in May 1940, we first introduce a brief overview of the general artillery status before we introduce the 10,5 mm field gun/howitzer itself.
The ratio of the number of artillery pieces [excluding AT-guns, 6-veld and 8-staal and excluding coastal and navy guns] versus the strength of the army is an indication of the support capacity of armies. The Dutch army had 1 gun to every 400 men [700 guns, 280,000 men strength]. That was similar to the German and British ratio, slightly better than the Belgian ratio [1:460]. Only the French had a much better ratio with about 1:300.
All armies had a mix of old, older and modern guns. The French superiority was specifically concentrated in the higher component, the guns of over 15 cm calibre. That arsenal was a direct heir of the WWI productions and hardly utilised on the battlefields of WWII. The Dutch, Belgian, British and German arsenals (in Europe) comrpised mainly guns in the light, medium and medium heavy [up to and including 15 cm] spectrum.
The Dutch artillery in May 1940
The Dutch artillery was organised in three divisions. Two of these divisions were totally Field Army dedicated; the third division was created to house all other artillery units.
The divisional artillery [DA] comprised sixteen artillery regiments which were all assigned to a division or a brigade. These units were equipped with 7,5 cm field guns and medium and heavy howitzers [12 cm and 15 cm].
The five army corps artillery [CA] regiments were assigned to the corps artillery commander. It was composed of four regiments with 12 [or 16] of the 10,5 cm Bofors field howitzers [in the Dutch army designated as Field Guns] and one regiment with 32 of the Vickers heavy howitzer of 15,2 cm.
The third and last division was the so called army artillery division, which comprised all other units. Some of these were complete regiments; some were only piece-batteries. Apart from a few modern guns assigned to a number of units, the majority of these regiments and batteries had only old guns at their disposal. Some of the units [12,5 cm guns] were assigned to CA command due to non-delivery of newly ordered guns for field army units.
The below listed table shows an overview of the Dutch artillery in May 1940:
|Regiment||Battl.||Quantity guns||Calibre||Manuf.||Dutch type||Assigned to|
|1 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||7th div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||7th div|
|III||12||120 mm||Bofors||12 hw l 14||8th div|
|2 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||1st div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||1st div|
|III||12||120 mm||Bofors||12 hw l 14||1st div|
|3 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||5th div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||5th div|
|III||8||150 mm||Krupp||15 hw l 17||5th div|
|4 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||2nd div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||2nd div|
|III||12||120 mm||Bofors||12 hw l 14||2nd div|
|5 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||8th div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||8th div|
|III||12||150 mm||Krupp||15 hw l 17||7th div|
|6 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||3rd div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||3rd div|
|III||8||150 mm||Krupp||15 hw l 17||3rd div|
|7 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||6th div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||6th div|
|III||12||120 mm||Bofors||12 hw l 14||6th div|
|8 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||4th div|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||2nd div|
|III||12||150 mm||Krupp||15 hw l 17||4th div|
|9 RA||I||12||105 mm||Bofors||10-veld||4th corps|
|10 RA||I||12||105 mm||Bofors||10-veld||1st corps|
|11 RA||I||12||105 mm||Bofors||10-veld||3rd corps|
|12 RA||I||16||105 mm||Bofors||10-veld||2nd corps|
|13 RA||I||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Merwede|
|II||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Merwede|
|III||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Merwede|
|14 RA||I||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Spui|
|II||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Spui|
|III||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Group Kil|
|15 RA||I||8||152 mm||Vickers||15 hw l 15||2nd corps|
|II||12||152 mm||Vickers||15 hw l 15||2nd corps|
|III||8||152 mm||Vickers||15 hw l 15||4th corps|
|16 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Brigade B|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Brigade B|
|17 RA||I||8||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Group Kil|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Territorial Cmdr Zeeland|
|III||12||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Territorial Cmdr Zeeland|
|18 RA||I||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||4th corps|
|II||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||4th corps|
|III||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||8th div|
|19 RA||I||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||2nd corps|
|II||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||2nd corps|
|III||12||125 mm||Krupp||12 l 24||Brigade A|
|20 RA||I||12||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Peel - Schaik|
|II||12||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Peel - Erp|
|III||12||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Peel - Weert|
|21 RA||I||8||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Light Div|
|II||8||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Light Div|
|22 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Brigade A|
|II||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Brigade A|
|23 RA||I||12||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Group Kil|
|II||8||75 mm||Krupp||7-veld||Group Kil|
|24 RA||I||12||150 mm||Krupp||15 l 24||Group Merwede|
|25 RA||I||12||150 mm||Krupp||15 l 24||Group Kil|
|26 RA||I||12||150 mm||Krupp||15 l 24||Group Spui|
|27 RA||I||8||120 mm||Krupp||12 hw l 12||Group Merwede|
|Section||2||105 mm||Krupp||10.5 l 30||Territorial Cmdr Zeeland|
|Section||2||75 mm||Krupp||75 l 35||4th Div [Rhenen]|
|Battery||4||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Delfzijl|
|Section||1||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Den Helder|
|Sections||29||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Overrijssel (35RI - I-43RI - II-43RI)|
|Section||1||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Vak Weert|
|Sections||2||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Vak Erp (15GB)|
|Sections||4||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Vak Bakel (III-26RI - I-41RI)|
|Sections||2||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Vak Asten (2 GB - III-41RI)|
|Sections||3||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Vak Schail (II-26RI)|
|Sections||3||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Brigade A (8GB - III-43RI)|
|Sections||4||84 mm||Krupp||8 staal||Brigade B (I-26RI - 11GB)|
|2 battl||36||150 mm||Krupp||15 l 24||Spare guns Group Kil|
The Dutch had ordered new guns in the period 1937-1940. It all started with endeavours to expand the number of Bofors 10,5 cm field guns. The order for these new guns was however stalled due to Swedish export restrictions which followed the start of the first Finnish-Russo war. The Dutch than decided that German guns from Rheinmetall had to be ordered, and as such 120 off 10,5 cm leichte feldhaubitze FH18 were ordered [the standard light field howitzer of the German army]. Eight of these were delivered in 1939 - but without ammunition. The Germans decided not to deliver any more, which made perfect sense bearing in mind their [near] future plans ...
Due to the fact that new guns were not delivered the Dutch army command decided that old and sometimes obsolete guns had to be reinstalled in the lines, and as such numerous antique weapons were taken out of the arsenals and even from museums. The old 6-veld [1894; 5,7 cm light field gun] was still in service anyway, but the 8-staal [1884; 8,4 cm field gun], the 12-lang-staal [1880; 12,5 cm fortress gun] and 15-lang-staal [1880; 15 cm fortress gun] were reinstalled in active outfits.
These guns were all manned by recruits from the Artillery Depot or older reservists. The majority of these units were assigned to stationary artillery positions along the fixed Fortress Holland south front and the outer defence-lines. The 12,5 cm units however were mainly assigned to the CA since the new field howitzers had not arrived [yet]. The old 8-staal guns were used to compensate for the lack [or shortage] of anti-tank weapons in the outer defence-lines and as replacement for the removed artillery in the south.
Some unique guns, such as two available test guns "10 lang 30", were assigned to smaller units.
All together - including 108 guns 8-staal - the Dutch had little over 800 guns of a calibre of 7,5 cm and higher. This figure does not yet include 210 guns of 5,7 cm [6-veld], 68 casemate guns [kanon van 5, HIH Siderius 5 cm AT gun] and about 380 PAG [47 mm AT guns], nor does it include AAA or navy and coastal artillery.
The ammunition available for each gun was quite limited. The modern artillery was quite well off, but the older guns had only limited supplies available. The Dutch were capable of producing ammunition for virtually all guns; with exception of the German FH18 gun [Dutch designation "10.5 hw 22"]. The availability of ammo for each gun at the eve of war was as follows:
6-veld: 500 rounds
7-veld: 2,000 rounds
10-veld: 2,500 rounds
12 hw l 14: 1,450 rounds
12 l 24: 500 rounds
15 hw l 17: 1,700 rounds
The ammunition stocks for gun types not mentioned are uncertain and therefore not mentioned.
The majority of the artillery-units were still mounted in 1940. The 15 cm howitzers and the 10-veld units as well as the Light Division artillery units were the only units that were fully motorised.
The old artillery units [12,5 cm and 15 cm units] were not supplied with dedicated traction. The units equipped with these almost obsolete weapons which were assigned to the field army had to make use of motorised traction from other units. The units assigned to the defence-lines along the south front of Fortress Holland were simply towed into fixed and prepared positions and left there. For displacement they required motorised traction to be mobilised elsewhere.
The remainder of the artillery was relying on horse traction. That was quite common though in the European armies in 1940.