Print this page

Elsewhere in the central sector


In this section we address the events that occurred in the central sector beside the battle of the Grebbeberg. In other words, north, east and south of the Grebbeberg. That includes the area's called 'the Veluwe' [northeast of the Grebbeberg] and 'the Betuwe' [south of the Rhine].

Action by 227.ID and Leibstandarte

The other taskforce that resided under X.Armeekorps, the 227th ID [17,900 men under Generalmajor Zickwolff (1)] and the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler [5,000 men under Gruppenführer Sepp Dietrich], had already experienced major delay on the 10th. This was partially caused by bad decision making by Dietrich [transfer of the SS regiment to Zwolle whilst the bridge there had been destroyed already] and partially by the fact that they had an insufficient stock of bridging material. Later the entire force - with exception of one SS battalion - had to squeeze itself over the constructed bridge at Zutphen that was only finished late in the evening of the 10th. Hereafter this force had to negotiate the next obstacle, the Apeldoornse Kanaal. Since by then all bridging material had been used, new material had to be called forward from the rear. This caused another serious delay. The 227.ID would not succeed crossing the canal before the 12th, with exception of some smaller units.

(1) Recently some clues occurred that this officer may have been ill during the invasion and that he was temporarily replaced by Generalleutnant Friedrich-Karl von Wachter. Careful research proved these suggestions wrong. Zickwolff was actual and acting commander of 227.ID during the May War.

Some motorised units of the Leibstandarte had been sent forward. Units of this regiment took Radio Kootwijk [a powerful long-range radio-transmission station for radio-traffic with the Netherlands East Indies] and later arrived in the vicinity of Barneveld [east of Amersfoort]. Quickly some recon parties had been formed that were sent out in the general direction of Amersfoort. These parties would meet the determined units of the Dutch hussars that guarded the roads on the Veluwe [woody region between Amersfoort and Apeldoorn].

The Dutch hussars had been assigned to guard the Veluwe region. They had a dual objective. First they were the land-based eyes and ears of the Field Army, and so they had to report gathered reconnaissance results to the rear. Secondly they were assigned to blow up numerous bridges and put up barricades and road-blocks. They were also instructed to maintain a brief defence behind these obstacles. Said brief resistance should however not jeopardize the survival of the units for they could hardly be missed.

In the morning of the 11th some Dutch recon squads had been sent out in the direction of the Yssel and the Apeldoornse Kanaal, where they were to monitor the enemy's progress and bridging activities. One platoon of armoured cars [Landsverk, with one 3,7 cm main gun and three MG's] managed to reach Zwolle and returned without spotting the enemy. Another squad - motorised hussars - reached Apeldoorn. It was informed by the civil population that the Germans were constructing a bridge over the Apeldoornse Kanaal just outside of the city, about 5 clicks to the south. This information was verified and was passed on to the Field Army HQ. Peculiar was the fact that an airforce recon flight - overhead at about the same time - did not report the presence of this bridge although the plane hovered over the city and the southern outskirts for quite some time.

In the afternoon the first confrontations between the hussars and the SS were noted. One Dutch team suffered badly from a confrontation with an SS unit at the little hamlet De Mheen. The last available armoured car platoon [the balance had been sent to Fortress Holland] was sent in to assist and found itself engaged with the enemy at Voorthuizen. The three cars positioned themselves on the road, line abreast, and returned the German fire with their six forward firing machineguns and three 3,7 cm main-guns. At least two SS men got killed (2), many others got wounded. The Germans retreated and so did the Dutch. The SS again made up a fantasy story about the event and came up with numerous excuses why they had failed to break through. Later that evening the Germans cautiously approached the crossing where previously the Dutch armoured cars had positioned themselves; they found the place deserted. They then cautiously marched into Barneveld to find it deserted by Dutch troops.

(2) Basically the German losses during the Dutch campaign are quite clear and appear to be well registered. There is but one exception and that is the SS Leibstandarte roll of honour. Although the Leibstandarte would see plenty of action on the Veluwe, at Keizersveer and even around Rotterdam, their official record mentions only 6 men KIA, of which 5 men at Zutphen on the 10th. Another seven men are registered as unknown SS men KIA, of which six would have been killed in Rotterdam on the 14th and 15th of May. It is unlikely that these figures of Hitler's former personal guard unit were accurate.

At the hamlet of Klaarwater a brief engagement between traditional hussars and some German armoured cars was experienced. The hussars were supported by a section of mortars that saved the day. After the combined fire of machineguns and mortars landed on top of the German cars they hastily moved back.

At the forward positions of the genuine Grebbeline around Asschaat and Stoutenburg - just east of Amersfoort - the Germans developed a limited action that could be filed as a clear probing-action of the Dutch defences. Also here combined arms showed them the way back. It was reported back that the Amersfoort region of the Grebbeline seemed well defended.


In the Betuwe - the area between the Rhine and the Waal rivers - the Grebbeline continued into the Betuwe-line (see map). The Dutch Brigade A defended the area. In the actual Betuweline two regiments of infantry, assisted by three battalions of artillery, occupied the trenches. The entire central sector was inundated and only on the extremities accesses had to be defended by forward defences. East of these forward defences a taskforce designated as 'Group Over-Betuwe' manned some casemates and trench positions along a canal that connected the Rhine and Waal. This group comprised two more battalions of infantry, which were designated as border security.

Click here for larger picture
Maas-Waal and Betuweline (may 1940)

The Germans had no significant plans for the Betuwe. Their only intention was to engage the Dutch defences on a binding level, so that the Dutch would not be tempted to move large units from the Betuwe to the nearby Grebbeberg sector. The taskforce that the Germans formed consisted out of a battalion of 374.IR and AA.207 [bicycle reconnaissance detachment], supported by an AT unit, some pioneers and one battery of artillery.

On the 10th only the AA.207 had been instructed to cross the canal between Rhine and Waal and clear the area of Dutch defences. Since the Germans had already broken through at Westervoort (Ysselline east of Arnhem), the Group Over-Betuwe had been ordered to fall back to the main defence with exception of the occupation of the fortress Pannerden. Only some insignificant local skirmishes ocurred on that first day.

The next day the Germans sent over the AT-gun company of the 207.ID [minus one platoon] and a platoon of engineers. These troops had to join up with AA.207 and form the taskforce Betuwe. AA.207 first had to take out the fortress Pannerden, which it did by simply bluffing the Dutch company commander into surrender. After this the AA.207 sent out several reconnaissance squads to the west.

In the southern sector of the Betuweline - at Dodewaard - German troops made contact with Dutch hussars that patrolled the area. Some skirmishes ended with victims on both sides and mutual retreats. The hussars lost four men that were killed in a minefield of the main defence zone.

That day no more action would be seen. Meanwhile the troops of the Dutch 3rd Corps had started to take their new positions along the Waal river, in connection to the troops at Ochten in the Betuweline. After the retreat of the Corps from Brabant it had come into position along the southside of the Fortress Holland, between the Betuweline and the defences near Gorinchem. An important part of the formations took position along the Waal river.