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Balance

Introduction

In this balance sheet we shall recapitulate the losses the belligerents suffered during the battle in Holland in the period 10-18 May, 1940. The figures given are from the most reputed sources and count as the most recent ones available. Figures include executions, accidents, friendly fire incidents, suicides and natural death during combat situations.

For good order sake: this balance incorporates the figures and losses in Zeeland 10-18 May.

The Dutch army

The Dutch army [including airforce and navy] had lost 2,332 men killed in action. Out of a strength of about 280,000, the loss of 2,332 men represents 0,85 %.

Probably around 8,000-9,000 men had been wounded to some degree, of which around 7,000 had to undergo treatment. Of these 5,900 had been lightly wounded. Around 1,100 had suffered severe wounds. Obviously mortally wounded or severly wounded who had eventually succumbed their wounds are included in the KIA number. Quite a considerable number of wounded - even from the large batch of lighly wounded - would remain disabled to some degree. A few hundred were severly disabled, missing one or more limbs.

Many would suffer from lasting effects such life long lasting psycho-shock [extreme PTSS] or traumatic stresses not diagnosed as PTSS. Although in comparison to the casualties that the world war would still demand of the fighting nations a fraction, the figure was relatively high.

The Belgian army - that was almost twice as large as the Dutch army - suffered almost 6,000 men KIA in 18 days of war [exactly 1% of its strength]. Percentage-wise a remarkable match. But they fought more than triple the Dutch period, hence [in comparison] one-third of the Dutch losses.

Another benchmark: the British and Canadian losses after the first sixteen days of the invasion in June 1944 had been 2,006 men KIA.

Dutch citizens

Over 2,000 Dutch citizens had paid the highest price and many thousands had suffered wounds. Nearly half the figure had fallen victim in Rotterdam, during the fighting and especially as a direct or indirect result of the bombardment. Elsewhere civilians had suffered in basically all disputed areas as well as at locations where the tactical Luftwaffe had been extremely active, such as the provinces Brabant and Zeeland.

Over 125,000 Dutch civilians had lost their homes permanently. Especially cities like Rotterdam, Middelburg, Vlissingen and Wageningen had suffered immensely of the war efforts, but also other communities like Scherpenzeel, Barneveld, Den Helder, Valkenburg, Breda, Etten, Zevenbergen, Rhenen, Mill, etc. had seen a lot of destruction. The damage and loss due to inundations also contributed to the high price the Dutch civil sector had paid.

Again the remarkable fact that the Belgian civilians lost 6,000 dead during 18 days of war. Almost exactly the same relative figure in this instance for both countries had about the same number of inhabitants.

Allied losses

About the French losses there are no exact figures, only guestimates related to the ones buried in Dutch soil during or shortly after the German campaign. 

In the province Zeeland, where the most intensive land-battle involving large French formations would rage, 154 registered KIA, including Général de Brigade Deslaurens [commander of 60.DI] and 3 men of the l'Armee de l'Air. In the province Noord-Brabant 62 registered KIA, including four men of the l'Armee de l'Air. In total 216 men.

Casulaties on board French navy ships and possibly on board planes that either crashed on Belgian soil or returned to base (multiple crew planes) are not listed.

The British losses are also not exactly known, although a probably rather complete picture can be given.

Of the largest British land-force in Holland, at Hook of Holland, in total 11 men perished. It were nine Irish Guards and two Welsh Guards. They fell victum to Luftwaffe bombs around the Hook of Holland harbour. Three British sailors (including Commander J.A.C. Hill, HMS Pembroke) died on board the Dutch tug that ran on a magnetic mine while transporting Dutch Gold of the National Reserve.

Blenheim crews lost (at least) 23 KIA in crashes involving multiple planes from 40 squadron, 57 squadron, 235 squadron and 600 squadron on 10 and 11 May 1940.

Two Hurricane pilots were killed from 17 Squadron on 12 May 1940.

Defiant air-men of B-Flight 264 squadron lost 4 men on 13 May 1940.

These RAF losses are most likely incomplete. We are working on optimizing these numbers with confirmed and proven documents.

Losses on board mutiple-crew planes that returned or crashed off-shore or beyond the Dutch borders are not included nor are Royal Navy casualties on board ships, although it is certain that losses were suffered.

The count for British KIA on Dutch soil from the above account, accumulate to a total of 43 men.     

German army 

The Germans lost between 2,000 and 2,250 men KIA in The Netherlands.

Registered German KIA during (or as a result of) their campaign in the Netherlands amount to 2,053 men. German registered losses still continue to be linked to the Dutch theatre as a consequence of contineous research on either side of the border. Basically the registration was quite well organised, but it has become clear that particularly wounded men that were repatriated after or during the battle and that eventually succumbed their wounds were not always registered as died from injuries inflicted during the campaign in the Netherlands.  

Of certain units, like the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler [SSLAH] it's close to certain that more men were lost than actually registered. On the other hand, of the vast majority of the regular Heer units it is almost certain that loss registers are accurate and reliable. There is no reason whatsoever to suggest that German losses were substantially higher than the 2,053 registered KIA, with exception of the SSLAH account that seems to be unrealistically low for the amount of action as well as the character of the actions it got involved in.

The SSLAH supposingly lost a mere seven men during the entire campaign as well as eight men during the mysterious shoot-out in Rotterdam between German troops after the capitulation. This Rotterdam incident obviously took place in front of numerous witnesses. No cover up there. But it is quite unexplainable that the SSLAH lost only seven men in action during its four days (one transit day not included) action in the Netherlands, five of which perished with the blown up bridge at Zutphen. They fought a number of local skirmishes on the first day along the Yssel river, according their journal with the aforementioned loss at Zutphen. The next two days they had a number of serious engagements with Dutch hussars, amongst which one where Dutch armoured cars firmly countered a joint SSLAH / 227.ID action. During that close quarter clash, the 227.ID lost quite a number of KIA and WIA. At the same time the SSLAH men had been illusive, apparently. They had lost none!

The same applied for two other substantial engagements in front of the Grebbeline, where only two unidentified SS members (report Lehmann) had been killed. Unidentified. Basically all German losses during the campaign have been identified with name and rank. These two have not. Even the eight at Rotterdam have not been identified! On the 13th of May the SSLAH deployed a full battalion against the Dutch stronghold at Keizersveer bridge. The Dutch defended themselves in prepared trenches, backed by two heavy concrete bunkers equipped with 5 cm guns and heavy machineguns. The battle lasted for hours and the SS was twice seen deploying an assault through the open fields in front of the Dutch trenches. Both assaults were repelled. But the SSLAH record mentions ... zero casualties. Obviously the SSLAH had something to cover up, being the personal body guard unit of the big boss. Propaganda ruled!   

Basically one could say that the German losses were practically identical to the Dutch losses. That tells a lot about the Germany strategy of attacking the enemy at selected weak spots and concentration of forces at such locations. In ancient times the attacker usually lost factors more than the defender. The entire Westfeldzug showed that the German losses did not exceed their opponents'. On the contrary, they lost considerably less men. The Allies lost 136,000 men KIA (1) against 30,100 German confirmed KIA and 16,560 men MIA. The last figure contained mainly men captured and shipped to the UK or elsewhere beyond German reach.

(1) During Operations Yellow and Red: 123,000 French, 5,000 British, 6,000 Belgian and 2,300 Dutch.

It is not exactly known how many Germans got wounded. Figures of local fights show that the KIA:WIA ratio was about 1:2, but at other local theatres this ratio showed an amazing 1:7. A normal benchmark is 1:3,5 or 1:4. It is therefore likely that the Germans had about 7,000-7,500 men WIA. That figure is about the same as the Dutch figure, but not quite as reliable.

Last but not least, the Germans lost about 1,350 men due to the fact that these were transported to England as POW's during the five days' war. Altogether no more than 10,000-11,000 men added up to the total bill of conquering the Netherlands.

The German sacrifice in men and material in The Netherlands can be considered modest although relatively high on the bigger picture of the entire Westfeldzug. There is one exception: The Luftwaffe.

Lufwaffe losses

We won't elaborate too much (again) on the Luftwaffe losses, since it was already addressed under the section describing the general balances of the airforces.

The Luftwaffe lost about 525 airplanes during the campaign in Holland. Of those 525 about half could be recovered, repaired or used for reassembly of other damaged planes within six months after the Dutch capitulation. The figures about airplanes considered total losses vary between 225 and 275. German sources are inconsistent about this.

The vast majority of this staggering loss was composed from the transport fleet. The German researcher Werner Haupt stated that by the end of the first day about 250 Ju-52 planes had been put out of action. Indeed the massive airlanding operation had demanded an extremely high toll of the German transportfleet, particularly during the first day when they found themselves jammed on the captured airfields in the West of Holland. Many of the sitting ducks were afterwards damaged or destroyed from artillery barrages, aerial bombardments or other means of destruction. After the May War the transportfleet was decimated and had moreover lost numerous precious pilots and instructors, many of which had either been killed or transported to the UK as POW's.

The Luftwaffe had suffered considerable losses during the campaigns in Poland and Scandinavia. During the campaigns in the West they lost about 25% of their striking fleet and about 50% of their transport fleet. Bearing in mind that the Luftwaffe started the campaign with about 4,000 able airplanes, they had lost about 1,500 planes. These losses would be hard felt throughout the entire war because they caused a back-log that was in fact never truly overcome. Von Speidel - in his extended after-war study - confirmed this conclusion. It was first felt during the initial phase of the air-war over the United Kingdom and the Channel later in 1940 and again a year after when the Sovjet Union was invaded. When Germany invaded Crete [May 1941] by means of yet another large scale airborne operation, the recently compensated losses in the transport fleet were yet again lost. Those losses would afterwards never be overcome again. The Stalingrad air-bridge would show how much the transport fleet - that had enjoyed no priority in production anymore - had lost in the first three years of the war.

One could say that the only true losses the Germans suffered during their campaign in the Netherlands, were those related to the transportfleet and its skilled nucleus of air-men out of which small pool a large chunck had been lost for the duration of the war.