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The north

Introduction

As we saw on the first day of the invasion, the Dutch had to give up the securing outer defences in the northeast - as planned - after the Germans had managed to penetrate these thin screen-defences at several locations. The next Dutch defence would only be met near the Afsluitdijk in the northwest of Friesland (see map below). The projected (not fysically prepared) defence-lines A, B and C had been skipped by the Dutch territorial command. The troops were to move back to the so called Wons-line, a narrow arc shaped defence in front of the Afsluitdijk [Enclosure Dike] entrance.

As one may remember the German force operating in the north consisted of the slightly reinforced traditional 1st Kavallerie Division. Its fighting regiments, four horse-cavalery regiments (partially on bikes i.s.o. horses though), had mainly made up out of the traditional reconnaisance units of the old Reichsheer. In 1939 these AA units of regular infantry divisions had been stripped of most of their companies, which had been concentrated in so calles 'Reiter Regimenten'. Since the AA units of the infantry had by far not all been refilled with modern recce companies, many German infantry divisions lacked full recce components when the invasion of the west started.

Developments duing the second day

The second day in the north was a day of little activity as it came to fighting. Three of the four German cavalry regiments of the 1st Kavallerie Division [KD] moved into the direction of the Afsluitdijk. The 22nd Regiment however advanced towards the southwest of Friesland, the sector Lemmer - Stavoren.

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Northern provinces

At the end of the second day three regiments had taken positions around the Wonsline, the improvised defence-line around the entrance of the Afsluitdijk. The 1st Cavalry Regiment positioned itself to the south, the 2nd to the north and the 21st Regiment to the east of the line. These regiments had planned to attack the Wonsline overnight.

The regiment that had marched in the direction of the harbours of Lemmer and Stavoren found these harbours blocked and nearly deserted. The Dutch had evacuated almost all shipping to the west-coast. Some ships had been purposely sunk at the harbour entrances and as such these were virtually blocked for in- and outgoing traffic.

The available Kriegsmarine detachment [Marinekommando Stein had been incorporated in the division-organisation for the requisitioning and operation of vessels] was disappointed when it grew aware of the situation. The Germans were furthermore not amused witnessing the Dutch gunboat HrMs Friso cruise some miles outside the coast. If they would have to cross the 15-20 km wide Ysselmeer on board requisitioned civil ships, a gunboat was the last opponent they desired to engage. The Germans gave up their ambitions of crossing the Ysselmeer after they had assessed the situation ... for the time being that was.

Apart from the Hr Ms Friso only some minor units patrolled the extended inner-sea [65 km from north to south, 15-25 km width]. Another gunboat, Hr Ms Brinio, and an old torpedo-boat HrMs Z-3 were the only other bigger surface units present. Eight small boats - only armed with heavy machineguns - patrolled the several harbours on the west and south coast. They would be of little significance once the enemy would undertake a crossing. Nevertheless the three bigger surface units - especially the two gunboats with their four 10,5 cm guns each - posed a large treat to any crossing attempt that would not be substantially supported by flying artillery from the Luftwaffe

The Germans had used up the entire day to get into positions for their main assault on the Afsluitdijk. Here and there some minor skirmishes between trailing Dutch soldiers - who were retreating from the eastern defences - and German spearheads occurred. It was too insignificant to address here.