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The airforce


After three full days of war the airforce had been reduced to just a handful of capable and airworthy war-planes. Still, this all decisive day, a great burden would lay on the shoulders of the exhausted flying personnel and their very dedicated groundsmen. The ground troops needed all possible support.

Raid on the Moerdijk bridge

The last flying medium bomber [Fokker T-V] was ordered to destroy the traffic bridge crossing the Hollands Diep [Moerdijk bridge]. For this purpose it was loaded with two 300 kg mine bombs. It would only be escorted by two G-1 fighter-cruisers. This was a very modest escort for the last bomber that would also penetrate an airspace that was totally controlled by the very active Luftwaffe. Nevertheless, the flight reached the bridge safely at around 0600 hours without intervention of the enemy. The flight commander [Lieutenant Swagerman; decorated posthumously with the MWO, the highest military medal for valour and loyalty] - a brave young lieutenant - decided that he would make two separate runs in order to be as precise as possible. The first run failed when the first bomb just missed the bridge and detonated in the water. The second run was more successful. The bomb did indeed hit one of the bridge pillars, but ... it did not detonate due to the fact that it only grazed the flat concrete vertical without triggering the initial bomb-charge. The three planes returned for their home-trip, but could not avoid meeting up with a patrol of Messerschmitt fighters. The last medium bomber and one of the G-1's were shot down in the vicinity of Ridderkerk. Both crews perished.

Raids to the Grebbeberg

The remaining D-XXI's fighters would be assigned to a number of escort-flights. Twice they accompanied a flight of four C-X light bombers to the Grebbeberg. Each time 1,600 kg bombs were dropped on the German positions.

The first sorties were executed in the early morning - intended as support for the planned major counter-attack of the Dutch ground forces - and the second mission was flown later, around noon. Both times the flights reached the Grebbeberg without incidents and both times they returned home safely after successfully bombing and strafing the enemy.

The bombers attacked German artillery positions near Wageningen. During the second mission, they bombed German troops and equipment close to the road Wageningen - Rhenen.

Two G-1 fighter-cruisers, which had been sent to the Grebbeberg on a strafing mission, followed shortly after the last bomber mission had been executed. The strafed German troops on the ground. On their way back, these two fighters collided with a patrol of Messerschmitt fighters in the room over the city of Woerden. One Messerschmitt was shot down. Both G-1's had sustained extensive damage due to previous German ground fire at Wageningen. They were shot up so badly that they were determined useless and would be destroyed at the capitulation.

Other facts

Many planes had sustained heavy damage from ground fire and air duels or suffered severely from worn parts and guns. Yet the very dedicated and professional ground crews managed to patch up many of the planes and they would continue to do so until the capitulation of the Netherlands was made public. At the 14th a considerable number of fighters would be ready for service, although many of the pilots had to be laid to rest. Nearly all of them had been active for four full days of war and had seen their beds for only a few hours.

The raids to the Grebbeberg had been quite successful. These two missions on the 13th were actually the only substantial ground support missions that had been executed during the five days war. Obviously the contribution of these missions to the moral of the soldiers on the ground exceeded the operational effect. It was very important for the men in the trenches to spot their own airforce overhead and see the Germans being punished for a change. It were symbolic contributions, performed by brave men.