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Panhard Zevenbergschen Hoek - may 1940

A destroyed French Panhard armoured car at Zevenbergschen Hoek, close to Moerdijk.

On May 11, The Germans had spotted the French extensively preparing for a combined assault together with the Dutch battalion laying around the German bridgehead at Moerdijk. After the French had continously driven around their armoured cars in front of the Germans during numerous recon movements along the thinly occupied German bridgehead, the German airforce had been granted enough time to organise a massive airstrike.

Just about when the French had finally been ready to go in, Luftwaffe dive bombers appeared overhead, and dove down on the easy pray. About 30 civilians and 5 French soldiers were killed during the raid, whereas a large part of the village was destroyed by bombs and the following inferno. After the German raid the French disappeared never to return. Their battle-reports curiously mentioned the Dutch fleeing the spot, after which they (the French) had to follow. But the Dutch battalion had stayed in its positions, with exception of two squads closest to the German positions, that had fled southwards during the raid. When the French had vanished, the Dutch battalion commander decided to withdraw too, seeking connection to French formations near Etten, about ten clicks southwest of Moerdijk.

After this unfortunate event, the German possession of the vital Moerdijk bridges wasnt disputed by Dutch or French forces anymore. The Dutch lacked resources to undertake another attempt and the French didn't fancy to claim back the bridges after the German progress in Belgium saw their Dyle-Breda strategy void. Retaking the Moerdijk bridges and as such facilitating the Dutch to destroy those, would unleash the entire German 26.Corps, including the 9th Tank Division, onto the French 7th Army. That was a matter that the French Generals Georges (commander of the northern French field army) and Giraud (commander of the 7th Army) intended to prevent. That controversy - between the Dutch and French strategy - sealed the Dutch fate on the 11th of May.

Category Gallery / War scenes (127 images)