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Valkenburg

Introduction

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Map of the German invasion (may 1940)

Part IV was introduced with the outline of the German plan to take the city of the Hague by surprise and force the Government and GHQ into capitulation. In order to achieve that highly ambitious plan, large airlandings had been planned around the Hague, namely at Ypenburg AFB (SE of the Hague) and Ockenburg auxilary base (WSW of the Hague) as well as a landing at Valkenburg AFB, near Leiden (NE of the Hague). The latter was intended to cut off the Dutch communication and supply lines to Amsterdam and the north.

This chapter will elaborate on the landing at Valkenburg AFB (Leiden) and the follow-up events on the day of the German invasion.

The airbase

Valkenburg AFB(1) - between the cities of Leiden and Katwijk - was designated to become one of the new main Dutch airforce bases. It was situated close to the village of Valkenburg that lay in between the two large cities the Hague and Leiden.

The construction of the airfield had only been started shortly before the war, in April 1939. The area in the west of the Netherlands - which finds itself entirely under sea-level - requires ground-water levels to be relatively high for agricultural processes and dike preservation. The down-side of that was that new airfields without metalled runways needed to be mechanically drained and subsequently 'dry out' for an extended period before they could be considered fit for the operational use by larger airplanes. Valkenburg AFB - eventually planned to be utilised by the heavier airplanes of the Dutch air force - was however still much too swampy in May 1940. As a consequence of that, not a single airplane was to be found at the base yet. This was an important detail that had apparently remained unnoticed by the German intelligence, although it is certain that quite extensive ground and air reconnaissance had been done in the last months before the invasion. Probably the Germans fell into the trap of not being used to living under sea level and the obvious challenges that went along with that, causing them not to consider the option that the airfield might well be too wet to use, particularly by heavy transport planes. Moreover. the reports clearly showed Dutch military presence. The intel about the poor state of the terrain had - so much is certain - not been processed or at least not reached the desks of the applicable Luftwaffe planners. Otherwise the Luftwaffe would not have planned such a large scale air landing at this location.

(1) Valkenburg Airforce Base would hardly be used by the Germans ["Fliegerhorst Katwijk"] during the occupation, considering it too close to the shore. It would become an active AFB for the aft-war Royal Netherlands Airforce though, shortly after followed by the Royal Netherlands Navy Air Service (MLD). The latter would use it for its fixed wing maritime patrol fleet until the AFB was closed in 2006.

The AFB was not the only item of interest to the Germans. To the southeast of the base lay the main motorway between Amsterdam and the Hague, currently known as the A.44 national road. In those days a strategic communication line between the northern coastal area and the Hague. The Germans were aware of the strong formations of the 1st Army Corps to the north of the Hague. Since the motorway crossed the Oude Rijn [Old Rhine] river between Leiden and Valkenburg at a strong bridge at the location called 'Haagse Schouw', actually a larger Inn, airborne troops would be instructed to take this bridge and turn it into a blocking position, thus keeping reinforcements from the Hague. The follow up airlanding forces would need to take over and make this a strong block position with defences to all sides.

The defences

The airforce base had only shorthly before the invasion - on 20th of April 1940 - received its protective infantry force, which was a Dutch response learnt from operation Weserübung in Norway. Two companies and a platoon of heavy machineguns had been stationed on and in the direct vicinity of the airfield. It were units of III./4.RI [3rd battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment], a regiment containing young and (to Dutch standard) quite well trained men, most of them drafted from the region they happened to be stationed (Leiden - Katwijk region). The two companies [1st and 3rd Coy] - about 350 men in total - had been divided into three groups that ran a rolling scheme of two shifts on, one shift off duty; just like the schedule at Ypenburg. Two groups were in ready-state, whereas the third one rested. As a consequence one group of about 120 men defended the airfield itself, another group the surroundings, whilst the third group was in rest in the main hangar on the field. Ground-to-air defences had not yet been placed around the still unused base.

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Valkenburg airbase (may 1940)

There were 24 light machineguns and three heavy machine guns available amongst the troops, most of which (20 off) were positioned along the perimeter of the landing terrain. The defence organisation was a show of amazingly poor tactical planning. The positions of the airfield defences, which took the emphasis of the active defence force, had been divided over all four sides of the landing terrain causing all automatic weapons to be centrically aimed! In case of an assault-force landing on the field itself this pattern of weapon-positions would lead to defenders getting caught in the cross fire of their opposing comrades. Since the inspectors of the air-defence staff had not been able to intervene yet - as off 20 april 1940 much had been altered in the AFB defences - this awkward situation still existed when the going got tough. The large number of machineguns of the airfield defences posed however a significant threat to airlanding formations in particular. In addition a small size force had been positioned on the northwestern border of the base that was situated along the road from Katwijk to Wassenaar. Between the base and the road was a considerable stretch of maddow-land. A dual MG position had been constructed on the most nothern and northwestern angle. Heavy MG's were positioned near the main entrance of the base, next to the hangar section, facing towards the landing pitch.

Nearby the AFB were more Dutch units available. The closest by were the 2nd Coy and balance of the heavy MG Coy of the 3rd Battalion, who were bunking in the village Katwijk aan den Rijn, about a mile from the base. In the city of Leiden [about 80,000 inhabitants], 3 km from the base, were a number of depot battalions, both infantry and artillery. In the nearby village Oegstgeest one could find two battalions of artillery. Last but not least, the remaining two battalions and support troops of 4.RI were stationed in Katwijk aan Zee, at about 4 km from the airfield. In Wassenaar were motorbike hussars for patrol and guard duties related to the main road The Hague - Amsterdam, that ran nearby. Cavalry forces were to be found near Wassenaar and Maaldrift, along the main road from Amsterdam to the Hague, one of the key targets (e.g. projected blocking positions) of the airbornes to be landed. All in all the Dutch military presence in a five-kilometre radius around the AFB could be assessed as substantial.

Unlike the defences on the active AFB's, Valkenburg AFB had not been on the high-alert scheme from the Air Force standard alert that applied for Air Defence units (AAA and flying elements). One could only wonder why the base was not alerted like all other Air Defence units had been. The lower alert status didn't mean that positions were deserted, but they were only occupied with minimum forces. The trenches were therefore only occupied with machineguns crews and there were a few active guard posts near vital points. Only around 0350 hrs, when the first clear signs of war had become obvious, the order came through from the battalion commander to man the trenches in full force. Just in time to be ahead of the Luftwaffe bomber strike and subsequent airborne landings.

The base had no anti aircraft defences besides the evident MG's on the ground that could be adequate against slow flying airplanes in descent or during actual touch down. The absence of the active status of the base had caused it to be left out of the AAA distribution. Nevertheless there were a number of AAA defences in the near surroundings. To the south of the base there was light AAA near Wassenaar and a heavy battery with search lights near Voorschoten. To the north, near Hillegom, another search light supported heavy AAA battery. In a more wider arc from the base, particularly to its south, were even more heavy AAA batteries. The eastern approach from the base was relatively clear of these defences, at least on the final approach run when the Ju-52's had to lower altitude. Their most daring adventure would be the departure (air landing troops) or return flight from the airborne drop, that would definitly bring the planes into defended airspace.

The opponent

The first German assault force was remarkably light and small. This was caused by the shortage of available (trained) airbornes. It consisted of only one company of airbornes, 6./FJR2. It was a Coy that contained all fully trained and jumpschool graduated airbornes of the second battalion of the second parachute regiment. Most of these men had not seen any action sofar. They would receive their baptism of fire in the Netherlands. The bulk of the battalion had not been jumpschooltrained and would be flown into Waalhaven as ordinary airlanding troops. Only the 6th Coy would see actual jump action. It would have to bear the entire load of the first strike assault on Valkenburg AFB.

The Coy was commanded by Oberleutnant Gerhart Schirmer. He was a former police officer and Luftwaffe pilot, who had joint the airbornes only in 1939, where he was almost immediately put in charge of the 6th Coy (in build-up) end of 1939. He himself and a few of his men saw some action in Poland, but too little to count for anything. He was a reputed fanatic officer demanding much of his men(2). Schirmer would be the only company commander that had worked out a method for his non-com's to keep their submachineguns on their body during battle-jump, which considerably lifted the offensive capacity of a freshly landed unit, that normally would have to survive with the Walther pistol and hand grenades until the point that the containers were retrieved and unpacked, which took at best ten minutes after landing. The fact that the submachineguns on the NCO's would be avaliable from the first instance on largely lifted the initial fire power capacity. One could only assess it as most remarkable that Schirmers example was not instantly followed by others, but possibly the German rigid stance towards manifest instructions may be the explanation for that. Schirmer on his behalf had taken the decision to adapt and overcome. It would make a difference.

(2)Gerhart Schirmer (1913-2004) would survive the May 1940 ordeal, during which his Coy would lose half its strength. He would receive EK1 and EK2 for his efforts. As a commander of II./FJR.2 he received the Iron Cross' Knightscross for his behaviour in Crete in 1941. Fought in Italy as a Major and regimentcommander, was promoted to Oberstleutnant in 1944 and led FJR.16 as such. Was awarded the Oak Leaves (Eichenlaub) addition to his Knightscross for the excerpt command of his regiment in Lithuania end of 1944. Was taken prisoner by British forces, but handed over to the Soviets. Would be forced to hard labour until 1956, when he was finally released. He was commissioned again in the new Bundeswehr and eventually promoted to Oberst (full Colonel), retired in 1971.

The airbornes would be followed by the entire IR.47 (Colonel Heyser), with its three battalions and with its two supporting companies (13th and 14th). Besides its own units IR.47 was supported by around one-third of the airlifted share of the 22.ID division support formations. All in all about 2,600 men were scheduled to put their boots on the ground, airlifted in multiple waves. The first wave (53 Ju-52), comprising the regimental battle staff and troops of III./IR.47, was scheduled to contain troops to the value of two-third of a battalion. Their landing was scheduled to take place 30 minutes after the airbornes had been put to the ground. They would be followed by subsequent waves containing II./IR.47 and eventually I./IR.47. The divisional units would be mixed up with the IR.47 lifts and contain some light field artillery, light AAA guns, recce unit, a field-hospital unit and other support units.

The first objective was obviously to take the airfield defences and secure the surroundings in order to create a safe runway for the air transported troops to land. Next the control of the nearby main road between The Hague and Amsterdam was imperative. It would have to be cut off at the bridge over the Oude Rijn [Old Rhine] at the Haagse Schouw, a location on the northern border of the nearby city of Leiden. The control of the bridge would mean that the Dutch would be unable to bring in reinforcements from the north and east of the country. After IR.47 would have landed in adequate force it would march onto the Hague, although the main objective would remain to block the roads for Dutch interventions into the Hague region.

The airborne landing had been planned to take place at around 04.30-04.45 hrs Dutch time (06.10-06.25 hrs German time), preceded by a small scale Luftwaffe bomber strike, executed by one squadron of II./KG.4 that would fly in from the Rotterdam area. which it would reach accompanied by the balance of the II./KG.4 that had flown all the way from the north, along the coast and subsequently turned inland near Hook of Holland. The one squadron meant for Valkenburg had left the main formation so that it could fly in from the west. The bomb attack was aimed at the base facilities, where Dutch concentrations and logistics were assumed to be. The air strike had to occur around the hour of invasion, being 03.55 hrs Dutch time (5.35 hrs German time).

The landing and preceding raid

The first signs of hostile activity were noted well before the first actual acts of war struck Valkenburg. The peculiar monotonous hum of numerous engines was heard, but due to the still dark higher altitudes nothing was actually seen. Rolling detonations in the distance gave away that at least a gross negligence of the neutral status was ongoing. The general idea - or perhaps we should say 'hope' - was that it was a German offensive towards the UK that caused so many airplanes to fly over. Nevertheless the order for general quarters was given. All that were not yet awake and dressed got ready.

Suddenly, around 0415 hrs, three German bombers appeared from the west, poorly visible against the dimmed light of the slowly awakening day. The formation was flying on a very low altitude. This Kette bombers flew in a straight line into the direction of the airfield facility complex and released its 250 kg bomb-load on the hangars to the north side of the field. The raid struck home at the very moment that most men of the reserve company were outside in preparation for action. This caused the resting group - that stayed in one of the hangars during off-hours - to be assembled on the square in front of their hangar and obviously extremely exposed when the bombs fell. These bombs and the subsequent MG-strafes performed by the bombers demanded specifcally a significant mental toll amongst the targeted men, who saw their commander getting mortally wounded. How (un)wise had it been to station off-duty troops in prime targets of an agressor?

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Strategic points around Valkenburg AFB (may 1940)

Shortly following the first formation was another group of bombers, joint by a few fighter-planes, which attacked the fleeing men, elevating the panic even more and also pulling some fox hole populations of the active defences along. As a consequence more than half of the defences was dispersed and temporarily put out of action before any German had set foot on the ground. No more than a mere 100 men manning more than 20 MG's remained.

It was around 04.30 hrs that six Ju-52 transporters of 4./KGzbV.172 appeared overhead; three planes had erroneously set course for Ypenburg (2nd platoon of 6./FJ2, minus one squad), another three dropped their airbornes near the road Amsterdam-The Hague. Another Ju-52 had joint the formation mid-air containing a heavy MG squad of 4./FJR.2. These ten Ju-52 dropped around 120 men in total. Of these approx. 80 landed nearby or even next to the field defences, the others near the main road close to Haagse Schouw. We shall see how that unfolded.

Three landing spots were needed to get the airborne company on the ground. Oberleutnant Schirmer and his dozen (command staff troop) and a squad of the 2nd platoon that had not been misdropped landed on the actual airfield itself. 1st Platoon of Lt von Plessen with the heavy MG squad of the 3rd Platoon landed in the nearby dune area directly NW of the base. Finally Lt Teusen's 3rd Platoon landed, obviously without its hevay MG squad, near the road to The Hague, south of the base. The misdropped two squads caused around 24 airbornes to be missing from the already small first strike force, which was only mildly remedied by a heavy MG squad of 4./FJR.2 that had landed in the nearby dunes. An additional platoon, of 3./FJR2, had landed between Wassenaar and Valkenburg. It had been intended for Ockenburg but the transport planes had overshot the target. This formation would later join the Valkenburg forces, but wouldn't be available in the first phase of the battle of Valkenburg.

The two landed airborne platoons suffered considerably from the many light and heavy machineguns on the field that were able to switch front, which was the case for about half the Dutch fire power. It were the German company commander, his about ten men strong staff group and the one reinforced platoon at his direct disposal (about 55 men in total) that confronted the Dutch airfield defences. The other platoon made its way for the undefended bridge at the Haagse Schouw and a small undefended bridge at Maaldrift (near Wassenaar, over a narrow waterworks canal). The platoon divided its three groups over the two bridges and took positions along the main traffic road between the Hague and Amsterdam [nowadays known as the A-44 highway]. The Gruppe at the main-road shot up a car in which Lieutenant-Colonel Kools [Head of Intendance setcion of the staff 'Westfront Fortress Holland'] - on its way to Leiden - was sitting. This senior officer was killed instantly. A Dutch corporal, that was laying on the verge of the road after he had been shot off his motor-bike, was executed in cold blood by one of the airbornes. The wounded corporal was held by a Dutch civilian when one of the airbornes crossed the road, noted that the corporal was still alive and without a blink of an eye shot him through the head, while the citizen was still holding him. The citizen was utterly shocked.

The airbornes of the platoon in the north had made hardly any progress before the first wave of Ju-52 with 9./IR.47 on board started to land on the airfield. The quickly offloaded air-landing troops, who were partially supressed by Dutch machinegun fire too, joint the airbornes and the combined formation managed to force a major part of the defences into surrender. A not very convincing counter action by the 3rd Company of III-4.RI accompanied by heavy machinegun sections was easily repulsed by the Germans.

At around 0600 hrs the Germans controlled the airfield. They had caught about 150 POW's, which were locked up in one of the hangers. A field hospital was hastily built up, where about 75 wounded Dutch and Germans were receiving first aid. The Dutch had lost 29 men KIA during the defence, 40 men had been wounded. The German losses during the first phase are unknown. Their quite considerable total loss on the first day of the battle around Valkenburg will be given later.

Dutch response

The airborne squad at Maaldrift had little time to get itself prepared for defence. The nearby regiment motorbike hussars (organically a Light Division formation that had been detached from the division) had one squadron of motorised hussars, a platoon of heavy machineguns, a battery of anti-tank guns and a section of two 8 cm mortars at Wassenaar. The squadron received instructions from the regiment commander to search and destroy any German positions between the south edge of the airfield and the main road. Three platoons were sent into three different directions. Soon followed by some heavier support from the regiment.

At both Maaldrift and the bridge over the narrow canal nearby, the two squads of airbornes were forced to retreat. Along the canal the defending Gruppe of airbornes fled its position, but the hussar platoon followed a more northern path in order to clear the situation at the airfield. They ran into fierce German resistance though, and had to leave one KIA, two wounded and some POW's before the balance of the platoon was able to retreat.

The main road was quickly cleared by another platoon of hussars. The airbornes had been pushed out of their most forward positions, but it proved impossible to get them out of the sector east of Maaldrift and south of the airfield, at an estate called Landlust. The airbornes had one or two light mortars and a heavy machinegun positioned in such a way that the Dutch could not make any more progress, not even when two hussar AT guns were applied as well. After some time the hussar platoon was called back, because of a report that a Ju-52 with air-landing troops had landed to their rear, which was true.

Also the German occupation of Haagse Schouw defended itself with determination. The hussar platoon that attacked this position, supported by their two mortars, managed to chase off some airbornes in the first houses they opposed, but around the bridge itself the airbornes had built quite a firm defence. Eventually the hussars pulled out after they had received orders to retreat to Wassenaar.

The airfield under siege

The first wave of airlanding troops had managed to fight the airfield into German hands, assisted by one of the airborne platoons, as was described before. The Ju-52's had not suffered too badly during the landing, due to the absent AA. Only one of the landed planes had been shot up by a nearby positioned Dutch heavy machinegun. Notwithstanding the light defences, almost all Ju-52 eventually turned out to be operational losses, for the swampy ground sucked the wheels of the heavy planes right down, fixing the planes to their positions. Only very few were able to leave again.

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Picture taken by a German soldier during the battle for Valkenburg (may 1940)

The scattered pattern of the landed Ju-52 - of which the pilots had believed that they could soon leave again - hampered the second wave of landings and totally prevented any subsequent landing after the second wave had come in. Even the second batch had to be waved off for a considerable part and were forced to land on the beach between Katwijk and Scheveningen. Some planes even returned home with their loads. These landings in the dunes, also from other squadrons than the ones intended for Valkenburg, involved a mere 400 men, and they would proof to be more of a nuisance than the Dutch had hoped for. The Germans would transfer the entire dune area along the coast between the two harbour-cities into a no-go area for Dutch troops. It would come to many local fights between Dutch units and the Germans, all ending in German favour. Basically the Germans would rule the dune area for the entire five days' battle period. Although this German occupation of the coastal area was a nuisance to the Dutch, on the larger picture the Dutch couldn't care less, except for one or two locations where the Germans appeared to have ambitions beyond the coastal area. But where that happened they were quickly opposed by substantial Dutch resistance blocking the German way inland. Nevertheless the Dutch would lose quite some KIA and POW's to the German 'dune-parties'.

After the airfield had been secured, the German air-landing troops started expanding their bridgehead. Particularly 9./IR.47 soon started to progress in the direction of the village Valkenburg and the nearby village Katwijk aan den Rijn. It came to a number of quite intensive fire-fights with Dutch units that had started to develop into the direction of Valkenburg, coming from Katwijk aan Zee.

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Fokker C-X (may 1940)

Meanwhile [as off 0830 hrs] the Dutch artillery had started pounding the airfield with 12 cm houwitzers. The barrage frustrated the Germans to such an extend that a bold staff officer [Oberleutnant Hohendorn] called the Dutch command post (of 4.RI) in Katwijk - which telephone connection with Valkenburg still existed - and demanded that the shelling was to be ended, because it was 'particularly unhealthy for the 160 Dutch POW's that were sheltered in the hangars'. It goes without saying that the German demand was noted, but that the fire continued. Only shortly after 1200 hrs the artillery was silenced. It had to be relocated. According to German reports more than a dozen Ju-52's had been destroyed due to the shelling.

During the artillery barrage [0830 hrs], five Fokker C-V light bombers attacked the German troops and parked Ju-52's with 20 off 25 kg bombs. A little later [1120 hrs] three Fokker C-X light strike planes raided the rows of Ju-52 too. They dropped eight 50 kg bombs each [although one plane returned with three bombs of which the release had failed] and destroyed another six Ju-52. With these twenty or so destroyed planes, also a considerable material loss was suffered, for many transporters had not been fully unloaded due to the ongoing artillery bombardment.

The German bridgehead under pressure

As said before, the German air-landing troops started expanding their bridgehead quite soon after they had seized the landing place. First they moved towards the nearby village Valkenburg and occupied it and subsequently set up an HQ. The few Dutch soldiers that happened to be in the village managed to kill a few Germans, but they were largely outnumbered and moved back to the river [Oude Rijn].

Next the Germans moved on to Katwijk aan den Rijn [literally: Katwijk on the Rhine] and occupied some of the bridges and the Seminarium. From there onwards they sent out a scouting party to Rijnsburg and took a position near a patrol station along one of the main roads. This moment marked the maximum extend of the German bridgehead around Valkenburg. The landed Germans then occupied a sector that ran from the north of Leiden [Haagse Schouw] to the eastern edges of Wassenaar, and from Leiden to Katwijk aan den Rijn. This zone incorporated the airfield and the village of Valkenburg. They managed that with around 800 men troops (in total about 950 Germans actually landed on or nearby Valkenburg AFB), which was remarkable. From that moment on enough Dutch troops had arrived to contain the German expansion and gradually force the invaders back into Valkenburg village.

In the south of the German occupied sector a Dutch depot-troop lead by a Major, commander of a depot battalion in Leiden, managed to throw the Germans out of their position at the Haagse Schouw bridge. Remarkably enough a squad of the Dutch battalion caught the Germans totally off guard. The surprise attack was undertaken by a mere dozen recruits lead by the Major himself. The Major and an NCO killed two Germans standing in front of the restaurant next to the bridge. The other recruits then started supressing the Germans in the next house by dense rifle fire. Meanwhile the Major stormed the bridge after which the few remaining Germans in the restaurant next to the bridge sneaked out the back and took a stand in buildings nearby. Although the bridge was retaken, the nearby houses would remain in German hands for quite some time. The Major would be awarded the exclusive MWO for this outstandingly brave action. This Dutch action was a text book surprise attack, remarkably enough undertaken by recruits of an artillery battalion! It should be said though that the liable off-guard attitude of the airbornes had contributed largely to this important local success.

Further up-north along the river several German strongholds had been captured; some at the cost of Dutch casualties. Quite a considerable number of invaders were taken prisoner, the bodies of killed Germans were gathered to be buried right away. Plenty of weapons fell into Dutch hands and proved a welcome improvement of the gear of the ill equipped depot troops. As a consequence of this series of successes a Dutch connection between Leiden and Wassenaar was reinstated too. In the evening troops of 1.RI would occupy Wassenaar and Maaldrift with more than a battalion strength. In Wassenaar itself some fierce local fighting had preceded the arrival of these fresh troops. Especially in the small forest - between the estate Duinrel and the airfield - a number of engagements took place that eventually almost all ended into Dutch advantage. The latter obviously much supported by their shear numbers as opposed to the very small numbers of Germans standing the ground on this southern edge of the German pocket.

During the morning - and after the first counter-attack had failed - the [4.RI] regiment commander Lieutenant-Colonel Buurman had designed an integral assault plan together with his staff. The company under Major Malinckrodt [Commander of 3rd Battalion; the battalion that had initially formed the airfield defences] had not been incorporated, because it had not returned from the airfield. As such the 2nd Battalion was ordered to attack from the north; the 1st Battalion was directed to attack the airfield via the dune-route from the southwest. When the 1st Battalion encountered firm resistance on its way into the dunes, its far left company was pushed onto the road that ran south of the airfield [Wassenaarseweg], where it bumped into the battered remains of Major Mallinckrodt's battalion, that comprised no more than about a company size. The latter took this newly arrived company under his command and ordered the advance again around 1600 hrs.

The Major followed the spearhead of the assault and although some fierce resistance was met around the outskirts of the airfield, the Dutch managed to overrun the thin German defences by determination and perseverance, mostly contributable to the Major's vivid leadership. The approaches towards the smartly positioned German machinegun nests were hard to negotiate but one after the other was taken out, causing the German defence to collapse. Again it must be said though, that the German numbers were considerably lower those of their opponents.

Around 1730 hrs the entire airfield - by then evacuated by most Germans - was finally retaken. The Dutch witnessed a huge devastation on the base. Everywhere lay Germans and Dutch casualties as well as burning planes and deserted gear and equipment. Of the about 60 landed planes only 14 appeared not to have been damaged. Gear and weapons lay all over the place of which much was gladly re-used by the Dutch.

The Germans who had been taken prisoner were locked in the one remaining intact hangar, where they had to undergo a furious speech from the Dutch Major, who spelled them out what he thought of the Germans attacking a friendly and affiliated nation. It must have been some show to witness, although the Major was dead serious, obviously.

The airfield defences were later reinforced by the other companies that had meanwhile managed to negotiate their separate ways onto the base. The Major had made quite an impression on his men - and on the Germans. After the war he received the highest Dutch decoration for valour and leadership.

The 2nd Battalion - that missed the honorably event of retaking the airfield - had a good reason not to be there. It had met strong opposition of the air-landed troops that had occupied Katwijk aan den Rijn. Heavy fights broke out around the bridges and at the Seminarium. It took the Dutch hours to liberate the village of the Germans. After the last remaining invaders had evacuated the village the 2nd Battalion reorganised and advanced to the airfield. They found the airfield already occupied by their own forces. The 3rd Company then received orders to clear the wider area of German presence. A brick-yard near Valkenburg appeared to have turned into a fortified German stronghold and was only retaken after artillery support had been called in.

Eventually the Germans that escaped being caught by the offensive Dutch formations, concentrated around and in Valkenburg village. It is unclear how many Germans finally ended up being caught in the encirclement, but estimates are around 500-600. The German defence of the village of Valkenburg proved to be too much to handle for the Dutch on this first day, and so the troops moved back a little to get out of the range of small arms fire. They would wait until the next day to again open the offensive against the occupation of the village.

Balance

The day had been very costly, for both sides. In total 154 men had died on this first day of the battle at Valkenburg.

The Dutch had lost 54 men on the airfield and in the village. Another 12 had been killed in Katwijk. In Wassenaar/Maaldrift - during the battle against the airbornes - 16 men had been killed. In Leiden itself one man. All these 83 men had been killed in the battle with the airbornes and air-landing troops that had landed in and around Valkenburg or as a consequence of the Luftwaffe actions around Valkenburg. The men that had been killed in the dunes during several clashes with the air-landing troops that had been destined to land on Valkenburg are not included in those numbers. The account of 83 men killed, was a high loss of life. Additionally a few dozen men were still held in German hands in the village Valkenburg. They would remain so for the days to come.

The registered German losses on the 10th amount to 43 KIA. These losses are only the losses suffered at the airfield and the village of Valkenburg. The other casualties are not known exactly. Confirmed registries add up to 7 KIA in Wassenaar, 7 KIA in Katwijk, 12 men that later succumbed their wounds in Leiden [hospitalized after being WIA at Valkenburg] and 2 KIA in Rijnsburg. Altogether 71 KIA on the first day. Less than the Dutch casualties, but still a considerable toll. The number of Germans that became POW was slightly higher though. The exact numbers are unknown, but it must have been around 100.

The difference in KIA between the belligerents would grow dramatically in the days to come, when the Dutch would endeavour to defeat the German pocket, which would demand much of the Dutch side.