Print this page



The Island Schouwen-Duiveland was situated west of Tholen and north of the Islands Noord-Beveland and Walcheren. The Oosterschelde was the wide water-way in between the aforementioned islands. Schouwen-Duiveland had no strategic significance to the Germans or the Allies. It is part of the province Zeeland though, and since it had a military occupation it was still a potential battle-zone. The Island basically housed two military assets of some value: an AFB and a coastal artillery battery.

Events on the 15th

The northern island of Schouwen-Duiveland - that had only seen some action around its AFB Haamstede in the past few days - had received the French navy Chasseurs 6, 9 and 41 in the evening of the 14th. These ships had moored in the small harbour at Zijpe [village near Bruinisse, northeast corner of the island] after they had executed a few reconnaissance patrols in the Oosterschelde. Most likely these searches were the result of the Général Durand fears of German sea-landings on Walcheren coming from Tholen. Overnight the ships left port again for another series of sweeps of the Oosterschelde and, as addressed before, assisted with their guns when the Germans attacked the Zanddijkline.

The flying personnel as well as the ground-crew [90 men] of AFB Haamstede boarded in Zierikzee [harbour] and left the island to disembark in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, the most southern land slide of Zeeland. They would afterwards march on to Boulogne-sur-Mer [France] and would later evacuate France for a safe passage to England. Many of the members of this group would serve in the RAF Dutch squadrons during the war.

The modest ground-force that was left available to the local commander was ordered to occupy the south-west coast of the island, and defend it - for as far as feasible - against possible German landings. Artillery or guns were totally omitted, with exception of the three 4 cm AA guns [which could be deployed against surface targets too] and the coastal battery which was obviously fixed to its position. Amongst these troops were also 150 men that had been evacuated from the Peel-Raamline and that had reached the Island via Tholen. The few heavy machineguns available were faced towards the Oosterschelde.

In the evening the roaring sounds of artillery and explosions were heard coming from Tholen. Upon this the commander on the island sent a number of ships to Tholen in order to drop demolition parties that had received orders to destroy all available shipping in the harbours.

German troops were spotted at St. Philipsland. It were patrols of the Gruppe Wirtz. St Philipsland was a very small peninsula of Zeeland, just north of Tholen, that was separated from Schouwen-Duiveland by waterway about a sea mile wide [Zijpe]. The peninsula had had no Dutch occupation because of its insignificance.

In the early evening the Dutch mine-laying vessel HrMs Hydra - which was guarding the narrow Zijpe - fired some grenades on acknowledged German patrols with her three 7,5 cm guns. The narrow waterway made it however possible for the Germans to return fire with their 3,7 cm AT guns and soon quite a number of rounds hit the vessel in the side. The boilers were hit, and some considerable leaks under the waterline caused water to flow in. The commander decided that it was best to beach his ship outside the range of the enemy guns and so the crew beached the ship on a sand bank at around 2100 hours. Up to that point no fatalities had been suffered, but over-anxious Dutch coast guards took aim at the dinkies with evacuation crew onboard. Before the misunderstanding was cleared a senior NCO had been killed by friendly fire. The HrMs Hydra would later be salvaged by the Germans and be scrapped. The Germans desperatly needed the steel.

« Tholen