Print this page

Part IV: the Fortress Holland - North


This Part IV sees upon the events in the northern part of the Fortress Holland, roughly the The Hague area.

The German air-landing operational on the 10th had failed to meet its primary objective: the capture of the Dutch Royal Family, Government and seizure of the military headquarters. The three targetted airforce bases [AFB's] had initially been seized by the Germans but all were recaptured by the Dutch and a considerable part of the landed force had been killed, wounded or caught.

The AFB's

Around Valkenburg AFB - near Leiden - the Germans had withdrawn on the village Valkenburg itself and fortified the area making it into a stronghold, containing about 900 men mainly airlanded troops of III./IR.47.

At Ypenburg the Germans had suffered their greatest losses. Over 100 men had been killed, a few hundred got wounded and around a thousand had been captured by the Dutch. The German force had been scattered all over the place: around The Hague, Delft and even the northern border of Rotterdam.

The landing at Ockenburg - that involved a little less than 1,000 men - had failed too. But with the exception of about 150 men lost due to fatalities or capture, the main force had been able to withdraw to a strategic position in the dune area, where it could defend itself against Dutch assaults.

In the dunes between Katwijk and Hook of Holland lay another challenge to the Dutch. At several locations German Ju-52 had landed on the beaches. As such at least 1,000 men German troops occupied several pockets along the coastline that were difficult to approach.

The Germans had lost hundreds of transport planes, of which at least about 175 were damaged or destroyed beyond recovery. The area around The Hague was packed with Ju-52 that had landed or crashed in meadows, fields, on roads or other open spaces.

Dutch counter measures

The mostly spontaneous Dutch counter measures on the 10th had proven surprisingly successful, but the GHQ realized that considerable German forces were still about, often in large concentrations. They were aware of the potential risk of these formations, but the fear of renewed airlandings dominated the awareness that also the German pockets had to be cleared. As a result the commander Fortress Holland issued probably the most controversial (Dutch) instruction of the May war. He informed his subordinate commanders in the The Hague region that offensive action against the existing German pockets was encouraged, however with the firm restriction of applied forces to a maximum of company-size.

Why the commander Fortress Holland filed this instruction is quite obvious. It was a direct consequence of the ill Dutch command and control structure, that was mainly caused by the total absence of portable communication equipment. On the first day of the war it had become perfectly clear that marching orders for a certain unit resulted into loss of communications during the time of transit from departure to arrival. Although obvious in itself, a war reality was needed to realize this. That awareness had led to various command and control problems. Since this had seriously hampered operation control over the units, the high command feared repetition of these ocurrences of lost contact (and therefore uncontrolled units) in case or renewed landings, which would cause an operational liability that they wanted to prevent at all costs. Unfortunately the order would not be recalled until the 14th, which caused the opposite effect of what was intended: the continued existance of German pockets which would tie the best part of the 1st Corps ...