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The Netherlands had hardly invested a penny in armament since the early 1920's. Only some bare essentials, like a few hundred mortars and a few artillery pieces, had been obtained.

The political attention for rearmament first grew during the year 1935. The military leadership was requested to inform the Minister of Defence about the bare essentials necessary in order to get the army on its feet again. The chief of staff [General Reynders] replied with an extensive list of requirements, including light and medium tanks, armoured cars, artillery, AAA and modern AT guns.

Also expansion of the fleet was regarded an important issue. Japan clearly showed interest in the rich resources of the Netherlands East Indies and the Japanese navy was a mighty fleet. The Dutch fleet was built around four light cruisers and a few dozen of destroyers and gun-boats as well as quite a large submarine fleet. Measured against the mighty Japanese navy, a David to Goliath comparison.

As off 1936, extensive plans were issued to modernise the army and expand the arsenal of heavy and modern weapons. The airforce had to be equipped with a state-of-the-art mono-wing fighter, fast reconnaissance planes and modern assault planes. The ground-to-air defences urgently required modern guns too. The fleet required two or three battlecruisers as well as some additional light-cruisers and more modern destroyers.

A massive investment flow started in 1936. It was initiated to close a backlog that was so large that it would take miracles to achieve anything that would substantiate in the end. Eventually the Dutch were given four years to compensate for almost 20 years of utter negligence.

Dutch weapon industry

The Dutch had no large-size indigenous defence industry. The aeronautical industry was however rather well represented [Fokker, Koolhoven, de Schelde], and also the heavy metal industry and yards were available to construct small and medium navy units. Eventually it proved to be possible to built even large navy surface units on Dutch yards.

Regarding both aeronautical and maritime products the Dutch had extensive design capacities that were able to design and develop products that could meet the state of the art. Essential components however - such as guns, machineguns and engines - could not be produced indigenously and had to be imported. The same applied to basically all heavy army equipment such as artillery, AAA, armoured cars and tanks. Infantry weapons, light field artillery and anti-tank guns could be produced on licenses, and ammunitions for virtually all weapons were produced locally too.

The only capable industry for this type of equipment was found in the ever expanding Artillerie Inrichtingen [literally: Artillery Factories]. It made use of about 150 local sub-contractors, but it had a limited production capacity. The dramatic increase of orders - for all kinds of arms and ammunition types - created a work-load that could not be borne by this company alone. Also the lack of raw material played a vital role. All steels and alloys had to be imported, and that proved to be a huge challenge whilst the whole world was rapidly re-arming.


Next to indigenous production a much extended series of orders was placed abroad. Producers like Oerlikon [Swiss], Solothurn [Swiss based Rheinmetall subsidiary], Böhler [Austria], Scotti [Italy], Bofors [Sweden], Skoda [Czech], Rheinmetall [Germany] and Krupp [Germany] received orders for all kinds of guns and weapons.

Peculiarly enough the Dutch placed some considerable orders at German factories for medium field howitzers [10,5 cm] and medium AAA [3,7 cm] as well as minor equipment like artillery shells and helmets. Obviously the impression that Germany would not deliver a potential opponent was not entirely conceived by the defence purchasers, although they were aware that Germany was a last resort for defence purchase.

Also aircraft machineguns and engines were procured abroad. Fabric National [Belgium] received the orders for machineguns but had great difficulty delivering, although they proved a reliable source. Engines for the new fighters and fighter-cruisers were hard to become. As such the Dutch had to settle for medium quality engines from Rolls Royce, Hispano Suiza or Bristol. Some producers were capable of producing better engines but served the indigenous market above foreign requirements. When the occupation of Austria became a fact the international tension rose even more, and soon markets started to close [Böhler, Steyr]. The occupation of the Czech Republic meant the elimination of Skoda as a producer, the invasion of Poland closed also the Polish market. Sweden had shut its doors upon the Finnish-Russo war. Production from Switzerland was hard to get into Holland due to the extensive import and export rules that many countries had set in place. Italy was an ally to Germany and gradually closed its market. In the end all deliveries stopped and it was all up to the national industry to produce whatever remained possible. Raw materials were hardly available anymore - these were all requisitioned by the bigger nations.


One has to realise that the Netherlands was a small country but that the Empire comprised two archipelagos [Netherlands East Indies and Netherlands Antilles] of which the one in Asia was the largest in the world, counting over 3,000 islands. Compared on a scale of sea territory the Dutch were supposed to have the third navy in the world, behind the United Kingdom and the United States. It had the seventh largest navy though. Behind respectively the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Sowjet Union. It lacked heavy cruisers and aircraft-cariers though. The gap between the sixth (Sowjet) and the seventh navy (Dutch) was already considerable. The gap between the fifth and seventh navy enormeous.

The navy had enjoyed some modest expansion or replacement investments over the last decade or so, resulting in the development and construction of some shallow water submarines [K-class],  a few small surface vessels [large destroyers and large mine-layers] and a light cruiser [Hr Ms Tromp]. Since any additional funds failed, the navy had yielded and altered the ambition into a low-budget plan. That included a relatively strong navy air-force and a large submarine fleet. Bigger surface units were out of the question in that scheme.

Only a few years later, the political environment had turned completely. Orders were given for the construction of two full scale [8,500 t] cruisers and two light cruisers. Additionally orders for a new class of destroyers and large mine-sweepers. A series of highly modern submarines too. Also a relatively large flotilla of MTB's and MGB's, of a heavier type than the average British equivalents.

More importantly, early 1940 an order for the construction of three large battle-cruisers had been approved by Parliament. It comprised the construction of three 28,000 BRT ships with a three turret main battery of 9 off 28 cm and a six turret secondary battery of 12 off 12 cm guns. That were surface units that would reinforce the Dutch navy strength considerably, particularly in the NEI region.

Also a large order was issued for new navy air fleet planes. 36 off Consolidated PBY Catalina's [type 4] and 36 off Dornier Do-24 flying boats had been ordered. All were designated for service in the colonies. Mainly for the Dutch waters 36 off Fokker T-VIII-W torpedo bombers had been ordered.

When war broke out the bulk of these new orders was either under construction or - like the battle-cruisers - not even contracted. Two large destroyers and the majority of the submarines had been finished or in a sailable state. Most of the already launched ships would be evacuated to England during the Five Days' War and be finished in the UK.

The Catalina flying boats were eventually all delivered as well as a large share of the Do-24's. Of the Fokker T-VIII-W only ten were delivered in time of which eight would serve with the Royal Navy airfleet during the first year of the war. Most of those would evacuate to the UK and serve in the 320 Dutch squadron. The other 26 off were confiscated by the Germans and used mainly in their Scandinavian navy air fleet. Peculiarly the Fokker T-VIII-W would serve in the Dutch, British and German service during the war.


The Dutch airforce in 1935 was nothing more than a collection of totally obsolete airplanes, amongst which the Fokker C-V was the most modern plane available in any sufficient number. The number of pilots was very low. A fighter forces was almost totally omitted.

It was obvious that the Dutch airforce was in fact a totally neglectable asset in the armed forces. It was virtually not in existance. That changed quite dramatically in the years after 1935.

An ambitious plan was laid-out that would have to result into an airforce with a considerable fighter and fighter-cruiser segment, a large tactical and strategic air reconnaissance segment and a modest strike component. The airforce would be divided into three main branches. The first and biggest one would be the strategic airfleet, the second one the Field Army fleet and the last one the training and schooling fleet.

Unfortunately the lobbyists prevailed over the practical decision-makers. In stead of procuring a fixed number of different types of planes, the so called specialists started developping numerous requirements and special features for the desired plane-types. It resulted in a considerable stalling of decision making and a slow production process because of all the particulars desired. The envelope of requirements was often so complex and expanded that even state of the art designs had to be modified to meet the requirements.

Eventually the plans would never be fulfilled because so much time had been wasted on adjusting the requirements, battling over tiny details and considerations that the perfect plane had to be available. Perfect against rock bottom prices obviously.

Fokker was the constructor that got the bulk of orders. It received orders for 36 off D-XXI fighters, 36 off G-1 fighter-cruisers, 16 off T-V medium bombers, 21 off C-X strategic recce and light ground support and 36 off T-VIII-w for the navy air-force. All these planes were designated for the strategic air-fleet. The field army fleet had even more stringent requirements to be met. Even foreign planes-types were considered, especially when it came to selecting a suitable fighter. But these foreign products all seemed to fail for some reason, mostly budget related.

In the end - when it finally became clear that the terrible stubborness of purchasing committees and political requirements created nothing but a dangerous delay - concessions were made. In de US 32 off Curtiss CW-21 Interceptors were bought. In Germany 24 off Do-217 strategic recce planes also capable as medium bombers, 18 off Douglas 8A recce and light assault planes too. Besides a shipment ready order at Fokker comprising 26 off G-1's [smaller type than the Dutch G-1, fitted with slightly lighter Wasp engines] was confiscated and assigned to the Field Army strike force, and 36 off Koolhoven FK-58 fighters were bought.

Virtually the entire scope of these late Field Army fleet orders would never be delivered in time. Only the Douglas planes had been uncrated and assembled in time [five were not ready yet at 10 May 1940, one had already crashed], and a handful of G-1 Wasp's had been armed. The Curtiss Interceptors had been in transit when the invasion occurred and had to be re-directed to the Netherlands East Indies, where they would proof their value one and a half years later when Japan invaded the NEI. The Do-217's had been confiscated by the Luftwaffe and some already served there during the May war. The FK-58's had been in several stages of construction and were utterly destroyed by the Luftwaffe raid in Waalhaven in the early morning of May 1940. A tragic fate for the second plan for airforce expansion, almost entirely caused by slow processing of orders. It could have made quite a difference if another 80 modern fighters had been available in the morning of the 10th of May.

Nevertheless the Dutch had managed to build something out of nothing. In May 1940 about 70 modern battle-planes were available and most of these would perform outstanding. The balance of older planes would also show that old and obsolete are relative words if airplanes are flown by determined and brave pilots who know their bit of flying.

The Dutch airforce lacked any experience with war. Amongst the older army officers and NCO's there was some experience in warfare taken from the Netherlands East Indies, but the airforce was totally oblivious. It had never seen war. Not a single pilot had any combat experience, except one or two that had intercepted foreign intruders during the Phoney War period. Pilots were hardly trained in tactical air combat or formation flying. It mattered little, because it would not come to those requirements. Peculiarly enough the liberal practical pilot training would pay off. Active pilots were encouraged to perform aerobatics and get on to competing each other in dog-fights. They not only learnt to know the effects of combat manoeuvring in the air, but they also got to learn the envelopes of their planes. It were exactly these skills that were required when the Luftwaffe presented itself on the 10th of May. The German pilots were quite stunned to learn that the average Dutch pilot proved a very skilled and cunning dog-fighter, whos qualities were in comparison to the fast interceptor Messerschmitt fighter [Bf-109] even elevated by the sharp turn and steep (low altitude) climb abilities of the D-XXI fighter.

The biggest challenge had been to educate an adequate number of navigators, bomb-aimers and air-gunners. Previous to the introduction of the T-V medium bomber the Dutch airforce had only known two-seat bi-planes for the recce and assault role. The rear-flyer was observer, bomb-aimer and tail-gunner. Obviously the new generation of planes required much more flying personnel and more specialisms too. Both the T-V and the future Do-217 required crews of five or six men. These crews had to be trained in a very expeditious manner, but beside the lack of teachers, there was a serious lack of capable training planes too. Should the Do-217 have arrived in time, the Dutch airforce would not even have had the crews available to man these planes.

The lack of pilots and other flying personnel was so substantial, that during the May war fighter pilots had to be worn out to be able to man all the planes [a problem that the RAF would serously face too during the later Battle of Britain]. Bearing in mind that after the first day about half the airforce was out of action, it becomes clear that even if 80 or more additional planes would have been availiable, the air crews to man them would not have been available anyhow. Conclusion: a more effective Dutch material purchase process would not have solved the demand for more operational airplanes.  

Surface-to-Air defences

In the early thirties a rare treasure had been found to procure a number of heavy anti-aircraft artillerie [AAA] batteries. It were the very capable Vickers Armstrong guns of 7,5 cm that were delivered with very effective fire-control sets. To the very point of delivery of those few batteries, the Dutch surface to air defences had only comprised WWI AAA guns and heavy machinegun platoons.

It became obvious that airforces would matter substantially in a future war and that the growing striking capacity of airplanes would have to be met by an adequate response of counter air capacity as well as effective surface-to-air artillery. That obvious conception only landed very late in the Netherlands. As a matter of fact, it was 1938 when the first orders for modern light and medium AAA were finally awarded.

The emphasis of the new purchases laid on the light AAA. Of the many hundred guns [Oerlikon and Scotti 2 cm] ordered less than 200 would eventually arrive in time. Of those, about 50 pieces had been bought with private funding. Large Dutch companies had been given the opportunity to have their premises defended against air assaults by buying 2 cm AA pieces, which would subsequently be procured by the Dutch defence industry and manned by the militarized air defence volunteer corps. A typical example of Dutch ingeniousness as it came to solving a necessity with the less possible (public) costs.

In May 1940 almost 200 light guns [2 cm] and 45 medium guns [3,7 cm] had been delivered. Almost 100 of those went to the Field Army, the remainder was mainly deployed around the military airfields and the larger cities in the west.

Next to the light and medium guns of the newest generation there were 39 guns of 5,7 cm, 7 cm and 9,4 cm of older generations. They were all still in use.

The heavy component was represented by 84 pieces of 7,5 cm, basically Vickers but also incorporating nine almost equivalent Skoda guns. These guns were organised in batteries of three or four guns, with a modern fire directional control set. They were all but one (battery) located in the west of the country.

The light AA component was completed with about 450 Spandau heavy machineguns and some 200 Vickers machineguns. The Spandau machineguns were assigned in AA platoons of four or in combined platoons with 2 cm Oerlikons. Also, the majority of AAA batteries had two Spandau MG's as protection against low flying planes. The Vickers machineguns were in use with the Coastal Defence as well as some in-land river batteries.

These AAA batteries were assisted by 46 search light platoons. In total 160 search lights, an average of about 4 per platoon. A considerable share of these were modern electrical lights, whereas the older lights were usually gas ignited.

Coastal defences

The coastel defences of the Netherlands were quite considerable in strength. The Dutch obviously had quite a history of constructing fortresses and batteries along the shore of the home country and the colonies. In the home country the coastal defences had seen the biggest boost in the Napoleontic era. The French had built plenty of fortresses, reduits and artillery positions during their 18-years occupation.

Although the re-armament would not contribute to expansion of the coastal defences, we would like to address this branch too.

The coastal defences were a combined responsibility of a special (army) artillery regiment [Regiment Kustartillerie] and navy coastal artillery. The regiment coastal artillery had the most formidable of the guns under its wings.

The Coastal artillery had guns of 5 cm, 7,5 cm, 12 cm, 15 cm and 24 cm. Almost all these guns had originated from navy ships. The navy also had the calibre 3,7 cm added to the range. The Coastal artillery had 98 guns which were divided over 33 batteries. More about these batteries in the section about the Coastal Artillery.

These batteries were mainly manned by army artillery personnel, with exception of the batteries indicated as navy guns. There were also some inland batteries.

Most of the 12 cm and 15 cm batteries had quite capable fire controls and were sometimes able to reach quite deeply inland too. The 15 cm guns had a maximum range of about 14-15 km, the 12 cm guns of 12,5 km. The smaller calibres were obviously intended for harbour defences. The old 24 cm batteries had very limited fire-power [10 km range, 1 round per every 4 min.]. The were only in use in the Hook of Holland fortress.

The army  

During the interbellum the armament of the infantry-men had hardly changed. The M.95 Steyr rifle was still the main infantry weapon. It was a very capable weapon. It was very accurate and effective over a long distance. Its only disadvantage was the ammunition type used. The full metal jacket bullet [6,5 mm] was so powerful that it ranges up to 150 yards the object would be fully penetrated and left again by most bullets. Only when bones or vitals were hit, the stopping power of the ammo proved to be efficient within those ranges.

Pistols used in first line and low regiment units were the 7,65 mm or 9 mm FN pistols. Second-line units and many support units often still used the heavy 11 mm revolver type 1873. Stabbing side weapons were in use too. Riflemen had a bayonet, NCO's and officer often carried the klewang sword [slightly curved Indonesian sword] or storm-dagger.

The light machineguns had been introduced shortly after WWI. In 1920 the first Lewis machineguns arrived, applied in calibre 6,5 mm.  In the early years some Madsen light machineguns had been used, but mainly in the Netherlands East Indies. The Lewis had been selected as standard light MG, of the first generation light machineguns. About 8,500 had been purchased. Studies were ongoing to replace the Lewis by slightly lighter and more reliable MG's. Tests with the Brengun had already been ongoing, but the war broke out to soon to materialise on these tests.

Sub-machineguns had not been considered for the Dutch army yet. But the Netherlands East Indies had procured both Thompson and Schmeisser sub-machineguns. Positive feedback from the East Indies was awaited ...

The approximately 2,200 available heavy machineguns Schwarzlose remained the prime heavy machinegun, but the arsenals had been expanded with British surplus Vickers machineguns of which about 800 were in use. Studies to replace the older water cooled machineguns had not resulted in any new purchases yet. The Spandau heavy machineguns were only used by the air-defence units.

In the 1920's the need for mortars had been identified. In several batches 8,1 cm mortars had been procured in France and built on license in the Netherlands too. In May 1940 about 360 mortars were available, a modest number.

Directly after WWI some expansion of the artillery had been considered necessary, especially in the range of howitzers, which were completely omitted during the war. About 130 howitzers of 12 cm and 15 cm had been bought, basically all from obsolete WWI stock abroad.

In the mid 1920's the standard Krupp field artillery guns of 7,5 cm had been modified. They were made suitable for cartridge ammunition types and the undercarriages were widened to get more room for higher elevation. It increased the firing-speed to around 6-7 rounds a minute and improved the maximum range from 6,500 to 10,200 m.

The only investment in modern new artillery pieces was done in the 1920's too. At Bofors 26 off 10,5 cm howitzers-like field-guns had been bought. These guns were capable of rapid fire and had an outstanding maximum range of 16 km. Later another 26 would be procured.

During the 1920's and 1930's many attractive offers were received for batches of surplus artillery that virtually all would have been better performing weapons than the old howitzers that were in use. The offers were all politely declined. It would later proof to have been missed opportunities. In the late thirties when it turned out that new artillery could not be sourced anywhere anymore, the Dutch had to keep the vintage 1880's guns of 12 cm and 15 cm in the active artillery regiments.

Of the 700 artillery pieces in the lines in 1940, about 200 were of obsolete vintage types. The even more obsolete 8,4 cm field guns - not included in the 700 count - that were reintroduced to the artillery-lines in 1940, were a disgrace to the value of the artillery men operating them. No less than 108 of these vintage weapons - of the first generation breach loaded steel guns - were distributed amongst the first line defences in the Maas- and IJssel-lines als well as to the rear of the Peel-Raamline. These obsolete guns were supposed to compensate for the lack of fire power for the units in these outer defences. The men often had to polish the rusty ammo to make the guns of any use at all. Many guns suffered from gross metal fatigue failures or failing gaskets.

There had been some studies regarding the procurement of light and medium tanks. Bearing in mind the things said before about the attitude of the Dutch teachers at the staff schools, one shall not be too much surprised that some officers considered the tank an obsolete or marginal battle instrument! They considered the introduction of powerful anti-tank guns the end of the tank-era. Amazing for an army that had not seen anything of modern warfare and that got all of its 'knowledge' from papers or magazines. Although the worlds leading strategic publicists were showing the increasing power and importance of mechanized warfare, the Dutch thought to be way ahead of the developments and predicted that the end of the tank-era had already been seen. One of these silly 'would be' strategists was the Minister of Defence in May 1940, Dyxhoorn. This very conceited officer had served as a staff officer [in the rank of Major] under the Chief of Staff General Reynders. Later he had been assigned as the highest ranking officer at the Department, advising the Minister van Dijk [which he himself would replace end of 1939] on matters of rearmament. When General Reynders filed a demand-list containing the need for light and medium tanks, Lieutenant-Colonel Dyxhoorn added that the need for tanks was overdue. Tanks - so he had learnt from studying strategy - had been overtaken by the fire power of direct-firing artillery and anti-tank guns. He couldn't have been more wrong, but it all resulted in the total lack of tanks available in May 1940. Only a modest amount of 48 armoured cars had been considered necessary.

The necessity for armoured cars had already been acknowledged in 1935. As such the next year the first batch of twelve had been purchased at Landsverk in Sweden. When the first experiences with these cars proved promising another batch was purchased at Landsverk. In 1938 the Dutch company DAF was approached for them to develop an armoured car. The company had been very successful in the development of highly modern military trucks with excellent off the road characteristics. They managed to come with an acceptable prototype that was sort of a modernized copy of the Landsverk, only considerably smaller and with better off the road capacity. In 1939 twelve were purchased, and soon after another twelve followed. All these armoured cars had a very capable main (anti-tank) gun of 3,7 cm Bofors and three Lewis 7,9 mm machineguns. The armour was handgun and shrapnel proof, with a maximum of 9 mm thick sloped armour plate. The armoured cars that served in the May war [about 35 were operational] would excel. Their armament was better than that of a German Pz.III tank and they had good on- and off the road capabilities. Their only significant weakness was their poor armour. Nevertheless none of the armoured cars were put out of action by German counter-measures. Few were damaged though and another few put out of action from Luftwaffe bombs (on Ypenburg AFB). The remainder was gladly adopted by the German army.  

A significant improval of the Dutch infantry support weapons was the procurement of anti-tank guns. The need for tanks may have been dismissed by some stubborn officers, but the need for powerful antitank weapons had been recognized all along. Already in 1935 tests had been done with several available anti-tank guns, amongst which the PAK-35 from Germany. In 1936 the Böhler AT gun of 4,7 cm proved to be the most effective and indeed on the battle-field of May 1940 it proved more effective than any competitor in the field. It could easily penetrate the armour of all German tanks, it had a low profile and it was easy to handle. About 380 pieces would be available in May 1940. Another 60 or so Dutch design AT guns of 4,7 cm was used for bunker embedded use.

Besides the AT guns the need was acknowledged for portable AT rifles for light mobile and reconnaissance units. The Dutch tested a series of rifles, mainly from the German / Swiss Rheinmetall company. In the end the Dutch selected the 2 cm Rheinmetall AT rifle. Orders were placed and two batches were ready for delivery before the war broke out but the main part was hit by several export or transit blockades. Only 36 AT guns made it to Holland with a limited number of rounds. They were distributed amongst the troops in Limburg and Brabant as well as the special guard unit at the General Headquarters in The Hague.

The first few years after WWI the Dutch had procured quite some weapons to bring the Ducth army up to a 1918 level of modern armies. Cheap artillery was for sale everywhere. The bare necessities like modernized artillery and mortars were only met in the mid 1920's. The terrible back-log in machinegun distribution amongst the infantry units was only gradually improved, but up until May 1940 weapons were produced to compensate the large voids in the arsenals. Only the amount of rifles and carabines had been sufficient. Of these [400,000] the far majority had been produced until 1918.

Only in 1936 the Dutch really started to rearm and modernize the armed forces with some state of the art weapons. Very late, too late if it comes to fulfilling the real needs for a modern and powerful army.


Fire weapons and guns matter little without ammunition. The Dutch army had suffered from enormeous ammunition shortages during the early 1930's. Much of the old stock was overdue, and funding for replacement of the war stocks was unavailable. Even more so, the funds for exercise ammo caches were even largely missing.

When the rearmament started in the mid 1930's there was a void in the ammunition arsenals that was echoing. For some weapons there were stocks for less than one day of war. The Dutch artillery works produced virtually all ammo types themselves, including airforce bombs, sea-mines and torpedoes. Literally hundreds of different types and sorts were produced at the Dutch ammo plants. The capacity of those plants was very lmited though, particularly because they had to produces about 150 different types and sorts!

When in 1935 a whole series of new weapons occured in the Dutch inventory, the Artillery Works had once again expanded their machine-parc with new matrices and sample tools. Much of the new weapons had been ordered with some ammo stock too, but these orders had obviously been limited.

The requirements were that ammo would be available for a prolonged war of three months. Not a single ammunition type was available to the amounts of that requirement, not by long. 

The available inventory of February 1940 shows that for every rifle or carabine an ammo stock of 275 rounds was available. That was based on 400,000 weapons. Regarding the fact that about 220,000 men were rifle or carabine operatives, it meant that about 500 rounds for each man were available. That were slightly more than 4 rifle rations [one ration equals 120 rounds for an infantry man]. The stocks allowed every infantry man to be distributed with exactly three handgrenades.

The infantry support weapons had the worst stocks of all. The AT guns had less than 400 rounds per gun, the total stock of mortar rounds was 800 per mortar. The only infantry gun - the old 5,7 cm Krupp light field gun - had a stock of less than 500 rounds per gun.

The artillery stocks were quite dramatic. The standard pieces of rapid firing field guns 7,5 cm had a little over 2,000 rounds per gun, the modern 10,5 cm about 2,500 each. The 150 guns of 12,5 cm had no more than 500 rounds per gun, which were about four gun rations! The howitzers had around 1,500 rounds each. Ammo stocks that were good for two or three days of intensive battles, no more.

The AAA had the worst stock of all. The 2 cm guns had about 2,000 rounds per gun. Bearing in mind that these 2 cm guns were in fact machineguns, these stocks would be burnt up in one single day of war, perhaps two. For the 4 cm guns about 1,200 rounds were available. The 7,5 cm guns had a stock of 1,000 rounds per gun. These figures combined with the upcoming overwhelming Luftwaffe overhead say it all.

The same applied for navy and airforce stocks. Bombs were scarce, machinegun ammo was scarce too. But even spare parts, lubricants, fuels and other essentials were far below any acceptable level.

The ammunition stocks would not suffice to feed an all out war for a full week, let alone thirteen weeks, which had been the anticipated period of prolonged resistance by the Dutch army (by some).


In the end the Dutch had still managed to complete quite a stunning program of expansion and modernisation. The point of departure had however been extremely low. The many modern weapons and overhauls had certainly contributed to some of the urgent needs being fulfilled. In that respect it had been quite an achievement.

On the other hand, troops were hardly prepared and trained with their new weapons. Ammo was so scarce that even during the mobilisation period execises with live ammo were very much choked to the bare minimum. The dream - that some had - that almost twenty years of gross negligence could be largely compensated and recovered in a few years of large scale purchases, would never come out.

The material back-log that the Dutch had grown over the decades was partially repaired by the crisis purchases in the 1936-1940 era, but it was too little, too late. Twenty years of irresponsible negligence had its price.