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Part II: The central front

Introduction

In this Part II we shall adress the events in the central sector and also address the minor developments in the northeast of the country.

In order to improve the perception of opposing forces and state of the defences a quite extended elaboration on those topics has been included in this chapter.

The central front

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Map of the Grebbeline and Betuwe line (may 1940)

The original German invasion plan had stipulated that the X.Corps - operating in the central region of the Netherlands with two infantry divisions and two Waffen SS regiments - had to overtake the Dutch defences at the Grebbeline before the end of day one of the invasion. That plan had however been written according to the perception that the Grebbeline was still the forward defence line which it had been in the previous Dutch defence-plan under General Reynders. In the last few months before the war, the line had been fortified and improved. Notwithstanding the altered status of the Grebbeline, the Germans would have never matched the fast schedule of their battle plan anyhow. They had only managed to reach the outskirts of Wageningen in the evening of the 10th. On the other hand, one can say that the original German plan was far from realistic anyway. The fact that the German forces had not managed to achieve their objective cannot and should not be seen as a defensive success. It was the original German battle-plan that had been over-optimistic or even unrealistic.

On the first day the northern taskforce had not managed to negotiate the Yssel crossings yet. The 227.ID and SS Leibstandarte had not managed to take a bridge intact and had to wait for pontoon-bridges to come into place. Moreover, they had to negotiate the next obstacle - the Apeldoornse Kanaal - too. Only one Leibstandarte battalion had been sent southwards to borrow some crossing space in the sector of 207.ID and get across ahead of the main force.

In that southern region, 207.ID and SS Der Führer had enjoyed more progress. In contrast to the northern operation the staff of 207.ID had prepared itself much more determined in the months ahead of the invasion and selected its fixed battle-path already. Regardless of destruction of the Westervoort bridge they would cross the Yssel at that location and were prepared for that in regard to pontoon bridges and a ship bridge that had been tailor made to fit in at Doesburg. As such the units did not have to waste any time on selecting alternative crossing points and managed to get the SS point units into Arnhem before noon. During the rest of the day it were the SS units that had to negotiate the road to Wageningen and take care of the resistance on the way. 207.ID would be spared for the (to be expected) main battle against the Eastfront of Fortress Holland, which lay behind the Grebbeline. The honours to take the Grebbeline were for SS Der Führer. As such 207.ID deployed in the Arnhem - Oosterbeek area in expectance of the things to come. Only one regiment would be brought into the rear of SS Der Führer.

In the early hours of May 11, the first German guns opened up against the Grebbeline at Rhenen. It were the initial acts of a battle that would rage on for three consecutive days at this very location. The battle that was about to start would become the symbol of the Dutch Five Days' War.