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Airforce operations


The Luftwaffe had shifted priorities on the fourth day of the war. It had finally been unleashed to the south of Belgium and the northeast of France. The time of false focus on the operation in northern and central Belgium were over. Practically the entire tactical airforce focussed on the Meuze region, in support of the tank formations gradually appearing out of the Ardennes forests.

Also the Antwerp region was still on the priority list but not Zeeland. The amount of tactical Luftwaffe planes assigned to the Meuze region sucked away the capacity needed elsewhere. Besides, the few left bombers of Luftflotte 2 had been assigned to the operational zones of X.AK and XXIX.AK. As such bombers were scarcely seen during the fourth day but many fighters appeared instead.  

Haamstede AFB

At 0400 hours Haamstede AFB was intensively strafed by about 20 Bf-109 fighters [probably JG26]. This raid lasted for almost an hour. All planes with exception of one C-V were damaged and five were destroyed. The nearby AAA battery had not fired at the low flying enemy because its commander had considered that suicidal. And suicide was against regulations ... ! One man had been killed during the Luftwaffe attack.

In the afternoon the order was received to evacuate the airbase and assign the troops to coastal defence tasks. The field itself was ploughed up. Obstacles in the shape of cars and carts were parked on the landing strips. Haamstede AFB had ceased to exist. Under Dutch control that was.

Flushing AFB

German fighters attacked Flushing AFB again too. But an even bigger threat revealed itself. In the cause of the day panic broke out amongst the men when a rumour spread that German troops had reached the island and where heading for Flushing. People suddenly saw light signals from houses and secret marks were read from laundry that was waving of drying-lines. It wasn't until the evening that these rumours were more or less losing their devastating effect. Officers made overtime to kill the panic.

At Oost-Souburg the 16th AAA battery was frequently confronted with German planes flying overhead. The heavy AA guns [Vickers 7,5 cm] had only a limited supply of ammunition. Due to the fact that any connection overland to the Fortress Holland had been blocked [since the Germans had taken the Moerdijk bridges] no replenishments could take place from the ammunition depots in the north. AA ammo had not been stored in the southwest. Ammunition was therefore rationed.

One German plane, a Bf-110 C2 [5/ZG1], was shot down over Flushing and crashed into the ground near the railway station. The two-men crew - amongst whom Hauptmann Küpers the squadron leader - died in the cockpit.

Increased Allied air activity

The 13th the Luftwaffe was less active over Zeeland, for the reasons stated before. The Allied airforces were on the other hand very active and gladly made use of a temporary void in the German air superiority. Plenty of French and British fighters were seen over the entire south-west of Holland. A considerable effort was made to cover the threatened 7th Army while it was repositioning in the far western corner of Noord-Brabant and around Antwerp. Particularly in the morning the air activity was considerable.

Over Dordrecht a considerable air-battle took place between six Spitfires and six Defiants on one side, and a squadron of Ju-87 Stuka's and two squadrons of Bf-109's on the other side. The very intensive airbattle gradually shifted southwards, when the British planes split-up into two groups. The British lost five Defiants, the Germans two Bf-109's and four Ju-87's. These planes came down all over the area between Papendrecht and West-Brabant.

French Moranes of GC.III/3 - that covered the French troops near Bergen op Zoom - bumped into a flight of Bf-109E's of 1./JG.26 around 0900 hrs. During one of the individual dogfights a Morane and a Messerschmitt collided mid-air over Hoeven [near Roosendaal]. The French Captain (and squadron leader) Trouillard was killed instantly. His opponent, Unteroffizier Speck, was killed too. Another German fighter was shot down by the wing-man of Trouillard, and this plane crashed near Hoeven too.

Only minutes before the previous engagement, Moranes of GC.III/1 and Bf-109E's of JG.26 had clashed nearby Roosendaal. One Morane MS-406 was shot down north of Roosendaal, killing Sergeant Pralon.   

Two He-111's [of 5/KG4] were downed by French Hawk 75 fighters around 0900 hrs in West Brabant, but two of the Hawks were probably destroyed themselves by Bf-109's of 8/JG.3. None of the bomber crew-members was killed, some got wounded. They were all taken prisoner. The fate of the unfortunate French pilots is unknown [to us].

A French Hawk 75 fighter was shot down and crashed near Hulst in the early evening (1845 hrs) and at Oirschot a Potez-63.11 had been downed around 1600 hrs. At Numansdorp a German Bf-109E crashed after a brief airbattle around 1800 hrs, and a Ju-88 crashed burning into the ground near Roosendaal from an unknown cause.

British Blenheims Mark I were seen chasing a number of Bf-110's slightly off the coast of Walcheren. Further specifics of this action are not known.

All in all the accounts show the clearly intense use of the sky over West-Brabant and Zeeland on this day.