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The air battles


The Luftwaffe's priorities shifted time and again, usually connected to the odds on the ground. At the 14th of May the positions of the French at the region Sedan had become the centre-point of Luftwaffe operations. Virtually the entire tactically employed airforce was focussed on that theatre.

The German supreme command had in the late evening of the 13th demanded the quickest possible decision in the Dutch theatre. The army units involved were urgently required as operational reserves in the Belgian theatre and the Luftwaffe strongly desired the front-width to be minimized. The loss of about 1,000 planes thusfar stretched their decreasing capacity over an ever deeper and wider front.

In order to facilitate the ground forces in Holland deciding things, KG.30 [Ju-88] and KG.54 [He-111] were dedicated to the Dutch theatre for the 14th. The latter was specifically shifted from the central front in Belgium - and resupplied with replacement Heinkels - to execute the planned decisive air offensive against Rotterdam and possibly other cities. That was a direct consequence of Hitler's Weisung no. 11, which had been prepared on the 13th and was issued in the early morning of the 14th.

Air activity in Zeeland 

The air activity by the Luftwaffe over Zeeland was quite low this fifth day. The Germans pushed the buttons in the areas where it mattered most and beyond the front in Belgium and the North of France, theses sectors of focus only included the area around Rotterdam. Zeeland was not specifically on the menu, but did see some recce sorties as well as return flights from the Rotterdam and Antwerp sectors.

A Ju-88-A1 [reports contradict - some say it was a He-111; both types were in use with this unit] - this time in the recce role and serving with the 1(F)/121 [strategic recce group] was destroyed by a British or French fighter [around 0600 hrs] and crashed into the ground close to Aardenburg [Zeeuws Vlaanderen]. The entire crew was killed.

Around 1400 hours a He-111P from the staff squadron of KG.54 was shot down by French fighters and crashed at Yerseke. This plane had definitely been part of the group of bombers that had bombed Rotterdam 30 minutes before [during which the entire force of KG54 participated]. As we know possibly around 27 bombers of the Rotterdam armada may not have dropped their bombs on the city after they had been waived off by red flares. These (still loaded) bombers had been directed to alternative targets, which were the French troops in Zeeland.

Near Aardenburg in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen crashed a British Blenheim IV [P/O/ D.S.R. Harriman] of 15 Squadron around mid-day. This plane may have been the 'fighter' clashing with the Ju-88 reported shot down (and crashed) near Aardenburg earlier in the morning. Time tables often proof less reliable. The coincidence of both planes crashing on practically the same location, on the same day and with both a notification of air combat as the cause of the crash, is quite convincing.