Waalhaven and the Island of Ysselmonde
Waalhaven AFB was one of the larger Dutch airforce bases. It had been a civil airfield that had been militarised in the late thirties, but that would continue to be used for commercial flights until well into the Phoney War period. It was situated south of the Rotterdam-Waalhaven harbour, on the southside of the Nieuwe Maas and on the landslide that was called Ysselmonde. Ysselmonde was in fact an inland-island too, like the other sectors of the Southfront. It was surrounded by water-ways. To its north the Nieuwe Maas, to the west and south the Oude Maas and to its east de Noord. On it lay the southern part of Rotterdam that was - compared to today - a modest piece of the total surface of the city. Nowadays the entire sector where the fighting took place in May 1940 is part of the city or the stretched harbour facilities which are so typical for Rotterdam today. Waalhaven AFB itself has turned into an industrial area and besides a remembrance plate there is not a single trace of the 1940 battle to be found.
Waalhaven AFB was the hinge around which the entire southern component of the German airlanding plan pivoted. Waalhaven was designated to be the logistical epi-centre of the operation, the umbilical of the entire German airlift operation in the southern operation area. The airlanding troops would all have to land on this base, and the same applied for all heavier material and a part of the ammo. Should Waalhaven not be seized or would it be lost during the critical first two days, the entire operation would get jeopardized.
One squadron of the very capable Fokker G-1 [Mercury engines] dual-engine dual-boom fighter-cruisers [3e JaVA] was stationed on Waalhaven AFB. It had been the intention to station another squadron G-1's [Wasp engines] on the base, but these planes were not armed yet [some would be finished during the five days' war]. About a dozen of these G-1 Wasps were lined up outside the base though, along both legs of the neighbouring harbour roads.
Adjacent to the military corner of the base lay a large aeroplane construction yard. It was the Koolhoven factory in use for both military and civil airplane construction. Koolhoven had been active as an airplane designer since the infant years of airplane-aviation. He was a senior designer at Armstrong Whitworth & Co in the UK during WWI and designed the successful FK.8 reconnaissance plane of which about 2,000 had been built for the RAF during the Great War. In 1920 Koolhoven had returned to the Netherlands, like the other protocol son, Anthony Fokker who had worked for the other side. In 1940 Koolhoven had an order in progress for the delivery of two squadrons of single engine FK.58 fighters for the Dutch airforce. These planes - in different stadia of construction - were all parked at the factory, like a number of other orders in progress. Some FK-58's had earlier been procured for the French l'Armee de l'Air. These French FK-58 would see little action apart from some fighter patrol sorties in the south of France during the Battle of France in 1940.
The AAA defences around (and on) the base were as follows: twelve heavy machineguns, four modern 2 cm Scotti guns and two batteries of 7,5 cm Vickers and Skoda guns. On the northern side of the Nieuwe Maas were a couple of other batteries, all with MG's or light anti-aircraft guns. For the things to come, this was a modest defence, particularly bearing in mind that the two heavy batteries were quite unsuitable to fight low flying airplanes, since the Vickers fire-directional systems demanded a minimum target-altitude of 1,000 m.
The army representation consisted of one full battalion from the Jagers Regiment (1), about 750 men altogether. Three infantry companies of about 175 men each and a heavy machinegun company. The heavy machinegun company and one of the infantry companies had positions on the field itself, with direction towards the landing strip. A second company was positioned along the road to Rotterdam in order to counter possible subversive raids by Fifth Columnists (!) and the third company had been positioned on the narrow piece of land that lay between the northern boundary of the field and the harbour. A spicy detail was that, in order to prevent unwelcome visitors from monitoring the military activities on the airfield itself, a huge two meter high fence had been raised along the entire eastern and most of the northern side of the base. This did prevent insight from the city side but it also caused the two companies outside the field to be blindfolded for anything occuring on the field whereas those positioned on the field could not see what was happening beyond the fence either. In other words, an enemy landing outside the field - east or northeast of the fence - could not be seen or responded by three of the companies but the one along the road towards Rotterdam!
(1) The Dutch had two 'named' regiments, with long traditions. The first was the Regiment Jagers (Riflemen) and the other Grenadiers Regiment (which is the same in English, Grenadeers). Both regiments had contained first class quality soldiers in past era, but in May 1940 nothing of that tradition had been preserved with exception of mildly better officers amongst the ranks. The Germans were under the false impression that these Riflemen still were first class soldiers as opposed to the balance of the Dutch army, which was regarded second class troops at the most.
Two Vickers-Lloyd lightly armoured general purpose carriers or tankettes [brencarrier like vehicles, both armed with a Vickers heavy machinegun] and a number of casemates [of which only one of a reinforced concrete structure] completed the defences.
The standing orders for the AFB, which were to be stand-by at 0315 hrs, were the reason for the readiness of the air- and ground defences before the German bombers would struck. The command structure was odd though. The airforce and army units were under command of a Major of the airforce during peacetime, but if a German landing would occure the army battalion commander [also a Major] would get full authority over the defences.
At 0400 hrs the AFB was scheduled to be attacked by Heinkel He-111 bombers, who had been instructed only to use 50 kg bombs and to pin-point their raid on the AFB defences and facilities. Targetting the field itself was ouf of bounce. That made a lot of sense, since the Germans would need the field themselves.
An hour after the initial air raids had started the four Companies strong 3rd Battalion of Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1 would be dropped around the field in an arc shaped pattern. Only one platoon of the 11th Company [11./FJR.1] would be dropped elsewhere, at the Rotterdam football stadium of Feyenoord. This platoon had been instructed to rush to the Rotterdam bridges to reinforce the landing party that would be flown in at that location at 0445 hrs by a dozen sea-planes.
After the 3rd Battalion had landed it would get half an hour to clear the airfield and the direct surroundings of Dutch defences. After 0530 hrs the first wave of the air lift was scheduled to touch down, containing 9./IR.16 and some pioneers. By then two platoons of III./IR.16 had already landed at the Rotterdam bridges by sea-planes. These two platoons formed the entire 11th Company of IR.16 and had been reinforced by two heavy machineguns squads of the 12th Company and four pioneers for sappeur duties at the Rotterdam bridges. The balance of the battalion - reinforced with three platoons of pioneers - had the assignment to reinforce the bridgehead around the four Rotterdam bridges over the Nieuwe Maas river. They would get support of some infantry guns and AT guns that would land during the morning. Only one AT gun - from the airborne division - had been assigned to land with the first wave.
After this first wave the consecutive waves would lift in the rest of IR.16, about half the 2nd Battalion of the Fallschirmjäger Regiment 2, the divisional troops and staff including three companies of AT guns, a battery of six light AA guns, three batteries of 75 mm mountain howitzers, signal squads, transport squads and two battalions of the IR.72 [of 46.ID] reserve troops. Those consecutive waves were scheduled to land until the afternoon of the second day of the operation.
The battle in the sky
At 0355 twelve He-111 bombers appeared from the west. The bombers had flown in making a huge de-tour overseas via the Waddenzee, north of Holland, shifting course southwestwards at Den Helder, flying along the entire Dutch coastline and then finally shifted direction inland into the direction of Rotterdam. The first three He-111's dropped their bombes on the airbase buildings and Koolhoven factory. The next flights targeted the AA and airfield infantry positions.
The Fokker G-1 fighters had pre-warmed their engines as ordered. Eight G-1's scrambled when the first German bombers started unloading their bombs over the targets. The first Heinkels - also the one with the Geschwader commander on board - were shot down shortly after. But soon shear endless waves of bombers and fighters appeared over the airfield and punished the area for at least one full hour.
The G-1's were largely outnumbered but still managed to shoot down at least 2 transport planes, 8 bombers and 3 fighters [all these were confirmed kills, and another three probables could be added]. Only one of the Dutch planes was actually shot down, another one forced to land after battle damage in the province of Brabant. The first one crashed into the Nieuwe Maas, killing the the pilot who had taken off without air-gunner (which had been killed on the way to the plane). Notwithstanding the fact that other G-1's managed to survive the odd balance in the sky, they would almost all share an ill fate. Five G-1's were lost due to emergency landings. Since all airfields in the west had been seized by the Germans [Waalhaven, Ypenburg, Valkenburg and Ockenburg], the planes couldn't land anywhere with their empty fuel tanks. Only one G-1 landed safely on a Dutch held airfield [de Kooy at Den Helder!]. Three planes landed on the beach in Zeeland, where they were shot up by German planes two days later. Two landed on Waalhaven again and fell in German hands. Another G-1 got engaged in a dog-fight over the Hollands Diep after having shot down at least two German planes before. It was forced to make a ditch in Brabant after it had been badly shot up.
AAA pounded the sky, anxious not to hit their own. The staggering number of German planes overhead presented plenty of targets, also to the light air defences. The batteries around Waalhaven and along the Maas shore in Rotterdam threw masses of led into the sky and scored many hits on the low flying enemy planes. Nevertheless the Luftwaffe seemed not to care less. Their brave pilots kept on stinging down to recognized targets and gradually more and more AA positions were put out of action, although mainly by ground activity by the airbornes.
In the meantime the bombers had created havoc and quite some panic amongst the defenders. Loads of 50 kg bombs were dropped on the trenches and machinegun posts around the field. Particularly the infantry reserve - comprising half a company of men - was hit hard by the bombs, for they had held a stand-by position near the hangars on the field. The buildings on the airfields - including the Koolhoven factory - were set ablaze, much helped by an ammo store that had been smartly allocated in one of the hangars. Many defenders ran for their lives, quite a number had been killed at the northend of the base, but the majority of the defenders on the field that had survived the ordeal stayed and opposed the next challenge ahead ...
The airborne landing
At 0500 hrs the sky quickly filled with about 50 or so Ju-52 transporters that came cruising in from the southeast. Flying on an altitude of about 150 m - in flights of three - they dropped the airbornes over the fields east and northeast of the AFB as well as west of the base. About 525 men came down in one massive wave that tooka bout ten minutes to be completed. The dense air-to-ground defence fire caused the German pilots to get quite unsteady on the sticks though. The airbornes were upset to learn that they had been dropped far away from the airbase and not in the arc shaped pattern but in a number of concentrations, mostly quite far off of their intended drop zones. The initial plan had foreseen that three companies would land on three different angles of the field sothat an encirclement of the defences was more of a logical follow-up. Hence the airbornes had to improvise and overcome this first sat-back, and were much assisted by the fact that they had largely landed in a dead angle of the defence caused by the fences. The airborne companies quickly reorganised and started to move towards the field with emphasis on the southeast- en northeast leg of the defences. Some squads didn't even bother to get their weapons-containers but engaged with their pistols and hand-grenades only.
The Dutch soldiers had been taken by surprise. They had prepared for massive airlandings, but were now confronted with a full scale airborne assault to the rear of the prepared positions. It meant that the airfield companies had the enemy in their blind rear. Nevertheless the troops outside the field, due to the air-raid particularly gathered near the main gate, put up quite a fight against the airbornes that were driving towards the northeastern entrance. At the same time a considerable part of the Dutch company that had its positions northeast of the field along the road to Rotterdam, made a run for it. Their poor commander couldn't control them so that this Company contributed nothing to the defence.
As a consequence of the poor airborne-dropping of most units the distance to cover was considerably more than the Germans had anticipated. This delay caused the airborne battalion-commander to grow worried, since the transport planes were about to arrive and they expected a seized landing strip. Indeed, the first formation of nine transport planes was received by blazing Dutch machineguns and as a consequence quite a number of planes caught fire, during or shortly after landing. Nevertheless, the landed troops could engage into battle right away and contributed to the silencing of the airfield defences. Meanwhile also straw dummies on parachutes were dropped over the northern edge of the field, distracting the defence (and causing many inaccurate after-war reports of burnt airbornes that had been dropped in the inferno of the bombardment).
Many of the infantry positions and machinegun posts had to be taken by close quarter combat. Some furious Dutch defenders managed to put quite some of the very boldly and bravely operating airbornes out of action. A considerable number of defenders got killed as well by the aggressive German assaults on their positions, and for quite some time the entire southeast side of the airfield was one raging inferno of individual squads battling one another.
Gradually the airbornes were able to force one position after the other into surrender, assisted by the already landed men of 9./IR16. One by one the entrenchments were surrounded and grenades were thrown into the interior. Sometimes many grenades [the German handgrenades were especially designed to produce a huge blast - not a dense shrapnel cloud] were needed to force the occupations out. Also the AA platoons continued to shoot at German planes and airbornes until their ammunitions stocks were depleted. Only then they surrendered. The last bit of resistance was ceased by the base-commander who, forced by the German battalion commander, instructed his men to lay down their arms, whilst the Major was held at gun point by a few airbornes. The last positions on the airfeld itself reluctantly surrendered at that point.
When inside the fence the fate of the defenders had been sealed, the battle continued outside the airbase. The airbornes now aimed all there attention and efforts on the company that was positioned between the fence and the harbour on the north end of the base. A part of the company was quickly overrun when German airbornes smashed through the fence and surprised some groups in their undefended flank. Other groups were able to withstand the airbornes a bit longer, but this company defended itself not like the two companies on the field had done. The main body of the company including its weak commanding officer surrendered quickly.
An even worse performance was seen from the already mentioned company that had been positioned along the road to Rotterdam. Its commander showed no leadership whatsoever, never noticed that two of his three platoons fled into Rotterdam and when he finally realised how to counter the German presence on the nearby airfield, he could only witness the harrowing emptyness of the positions where his company once had been.
The battalion commander - a career officer - disgraced himself too. The Major had been soly responsible for lacking communication lines between the companies and his HQ. He had considered telephone lines unnecessary since the distances between the companies were only limited! Moreover, when during the past weeks his battalion had been stationed at Waalhaven, he had been more concerned with the barracks of the men and the wellness of his horse than the state of defence trenches and casemates. When the airbornes landed the Major soon considered a prolonged defence pointless and decided to take whatever troops he could find with him to the southern edge of Rotterdam in order to build a new improvised defence there. He took his staff - of which some officers strongly protested - with him and managed to reach Rotterdam. In the end about 100 men from the battalion would join him, most of them of the already mentioned company that had fled the northeastern defences.
At around 0630 hrs the airfield was firmly in German hands. The next challenge was to silence the AAA batteries that were nearby and still pouring out their lethal grenades on to the numerous German airplanes overhead. One battery was positioned at at distance of about 1,5 km on a quay in the harbour. The other was about 4 clicks away to the east.
The battle continues
Meanwhile the planes of the transport wing (KGzbV2) kept on flying in and contineously offloaded the airlifted troops and heavy material. They were by then much less challenged by AAA, although the two heavy AAA batteries were still operating as well as some light AA at the Rotterdam area in the north. On the first day more than a thousand men and considerable supplies and material were flown in. This airlifting operation would continue until the 12th.
The AAA batteries were felt as a great nuisance by the Luftwaffe pilots and the airbornes were ordered to take care of this challenge immediately. The closest battery was situated on one of the harbour quays. It was equipped with capable 7,5 cm Skoda guns. The entrance of the quay was defended by the redundant battery crews [every battery had two full crews in order to be able to operate 24/7], with only two light machineguns and a number of carabines at their disposal. For some time they managed to withstand the German assault, but then treacherous German behaviour settled the matter.
The base commander had been captured shortly after the first airbornes landed. After the German battalion commander Hauptmann Karl-Lothar Schulz (2) had previously abused this officer by forcing him - under gun point - to have the last resistance surrender on the airfield, this 'brave' German officer had another trick up his sleeve. The Dutch Major was forced by him to wave a white flag, seducing the defenders to give up their resistance. The Dutch soldiers - who recognized the Major - stopped firing. The battery commander reluctantly decided to surrender. Just when the Dutch battery-crew stood up from its covered positions, a German Bf-109 - which had been previously instructed to strafe the battery in order to assist the assaulting party - dove down on the battery and hit a number of exposed crew-members including the battery commander. Immense confusion amongst the Dutch caused several men to decide to break out, and two dozen managed to work their way through the airborne lines and reach safety by crossing the Nieuwe Maas some time later. The remaining men were taken prisoner.
(2) The well-known German author Franz Kurowski, notorious for his poor historical fact-finding, wrote an epic book on Karl Lothar Schulz, who would be awarded the Knightscross for his actions during the Maywar in the Netherlands. His regiment commander, Oberst Bräuer, was much opposed to his behaviour and had him even reported to Generalleutnant Kurt Student after several Dutch officers had filed formal complaints about Schulz his gross infringements of the international code. Yet higher up it was decided that Schulz qualified for the Knightscross after all. Kurowski deliberately turned affairs around, stating (amongst other things) that the Dutch Major volunteered to convince both the airfield defence and the AAA batteries to surrender, which all other witnesses of the affair could easily file as untrue. The even more treacherous event of louring a Dutch unit into surrender by abusing POW's (of which a number were killed or wounded) would occure on the 11th of May near Dordrecht and was the most important issue put against Schulz by Dutch officers. It was that particular affaire that also upset Oberst Bräuer, particularly after Schulz adjutant had confirmed the issue. That particular event - it surprises not - was gallantly skipped in Kurowski's epos. It is however fair to add that Schulz - who would make Brigadier in 1945 - his behaviour, unworthy of an officer, was unique amongst the airborne officers in those days.
Then the last standing defence position was about to share a bit of the fate of the rest. Three 7,5 cm AA guns about 3 km to the east of the airfield [at Smitshoek] were still operating. When at 0345 hrs the battery was ordered to full alert, the power-supply failed. The power supply was essential for the fire control unit, which in itself was vital for the semi-automatic ranging device of the guns. As a consequence the gun crews were obligated to shoot individually and without the assistance of the automatic guidance system.
An airborne patrol had appeared close to the battery in the course of the morning, after which the battery commander had his men form a defensive screen around his position. A number of patrols were sent out, and one of the patrols engaged the Germans. The Germans did not give way though and at some point the battery position came under fire too. During this exchange of fire the battery commander got wounded and was quickly taken to a hospital in Rotterdam. Soon after the Germans disappeared towards Waalhaven, where their actual task lay.
Some time after the skirmish had ended a G-1 crew - carrying the Browning rear machinegun of their plane with them - arrived. They had made an emergency landing in Brabant after a dogfight with some German fighters, as described before. They had managed to cross the Hollands Diep at Willemsdorp, chartered a car and were soon on their way back to Waalhaven. When they reached Smitshoek, coming from Barendrecht, they were stopped at the battery position. There they were informed about the fact that the base was probably in German hands by then. They decided to stay and the Sergeant-Major (the pilot of the G-1) took command of the road block that the battery crew had put up at the main junction at Smitshoek. The Browning machinegun from the G-1 [1,200 rds/min firing rate] was installed on top of the barricades.
At around 1100 hrs a car approached from the direction of the airfield. Again the Germans had the guts to abuse the caught base commander. This time he had been posted on the side skirt of the car, waving a white flag - notwithstanding the fact that the Major had some time before collapsed from the intense stress of the events! Four airbornes sat in the car, including the Hauptmann commander of the airborne battalion [Hauptmann Karl-Lothar Schulz]. The car was stopped by a signal from the airforce Sergeant-Major. The Major jumped of the side skirt and shouted "don't shoot - they want to negotiate". The SM ordered him to approach. He replied that they would not surrender. The SM ordered his men to open fire on the airbornes, who immediately returned fire. Two Germans were shot, but the Dutch Major too was hit. While the remaining two airbornes drove off with the car, chased after by Dutch bullets, the Dutch recovered the badly wounded Major. Minutes later the Major succumbed to his wounds. Again this particular airborne commander had shown a dark side of battlefield behaviour, and he would do it again the following day.
Upon the previous failure to outbluff the defenders, the Germans sent in no less than two companies of airlanding troops. The XO battery commander had however realised that the rifle ammo stock was almost depleted and had ordered his men to destroy the three AAA guns and retreat towards their own troops in the Hoekse Waard, south of the Oude Maas. Just in time, for the Germans were only a few minutes too late to intercept these men.
No German action was experienced at the large oil-facilities at Pernis, which lay at the NW extreme of the Island. The extended vessel-yard was defended by a company of infantery and four AA machineguns. Mortars, AT guns and infantry guns were not available. The company sat and awaited things to come. A British demo-party did arrive later that day, of which a scouting party visited the Pernis site. The British party - members of the so called XD Operations outfit that were under (British) orders to destroy the oil facilities - were very concerned that the large oil-supply would fall into German hands unharmed and were there to assist when demolition would be opportune. The Dutch company commander was not particularly charmed by the arrival of the British 'assistence'. They were under the perception that the British had already given up on Holland. Rather than sending in assisting battle troops the new ally provided demo parties. A bad sign, so these men thought, and they were probably right.
Later, in the evening, suddenly a car arrived at Pernis with a German officer and NCO. These two men demanded the surrender of the Dutch force, but they were captured and shuttled over the water to Rotterdam. They would spend the rest of the war in a Canadian POW camp.
After Generalleutnant Student and his staff had landed around 0900 hrs, the General had himself informed of the status of the operation after which he had given his instructions to the units at his disposal.
The bridges and ferry-points connecting the Island of Ysselmonde all had to be secured. As such companies or smaller taskforces were directed to Ridderkerk and Barendrecht; Spijkenisse was only briefly visitied by a German recce troop but it was countered by Dutch patrols on its way. At the bridges at Spijkenisse and Barendrecht Dutch and German troops would oppose each other without controlling the bridges themselves during the days to come. At Ridderkerk a river ferry service had to be occupied by the German side.
During the day Student and his staff used a command post in a Dutch school in the south of Rotterdam. When it became apparent that the operation in the heart of Rotterdam had run dead on Dutch resistance whereas the reinforcements landing on Waalhaven were way behind on schedule, Student got worried. When also the Dordrecht bridgehead was reported to be frail and consequently challenged by Dutch formations, Student designed a fall back scenario, which would be much opposed by his chief-of-staff Major Trettner and the other operations section officers. The General decided that when the situation would grow even worse - and the bridgehead at Dordrecht would get into serious danger of collapsing combined with a potential Dutch counter offensive in the heart of Rotterdam - that the Rotterdam bridgehead as well as Waalhaven would be evacuated and the entire force would withdraw as far as the village Heerjansdam, about 5 km west of Zwijndrecht. Both bridgeheads at Dordrecht and Moerdijk were not to be jeopardized. As a first measure of safeguarding the Dordrecht bridgehead, the 3rd Battalion of airbornes would be sent to Dordrecht, leaving only a very weak force on the Island of Ysselmonde. The parts of I./IR.16 and II./IR.16 that had landed were assigned the defence of the east and south of the Island. Other smaller formations were held in reserve. The commander of III./IR.16, Oberstleutnant Von Choltitz, who had his HQ on the Noordereiland in the heart of Rotterdam, was instructed to evacuate the city once the Dutch pressure would demand such or instructions would be given so. The Oberstleutnant objected, stating that his forces would hold. That decision was sanctioned by the General, but only under the current circumstances.
In the early evening it was decided that the division staff would be more centralized near Rijsoord, in order to control things from there and in consideration of the potential withdrawal to the east. Sometime during the evening Student received news of a large unknown bridge at Alblasserdam (south of Ridderkerk). The very existance of that bridge had not been established by the German intelligence and as such it did not exist on the German maps of the country. Funny enough Student "blamed" this on the Dutch, when he stated [in his memoirs] that the bridge had not been on the Dutch maps and by that omission it had been overlooked by his staff. Indeed - only the most recent Dutch maps did indicate the new bridge [that had been delivered in November 1939], but the outdated maps - of which plenty were still in use - showed no sign of a bridge at all. Student quickly sent an additional platoon with a 3,7 cm AT gun to the bridge, followed by two more companies and an artillery battery with four pieces of 7,5 cm guns, when they later in the evening heard of the arrival of larger contingents of motorized Dutch troops on the opposite side. An event that shall be addressed later when indeed on the opposite side of the Noord the first units of the Dutch Light Division were in arrival.
At that point in time, during the night, Student had a big row with his staff. The General did however pull rank on them and pursued his plan to reinforce the Dordrecht theatre with the airborne battalion and leave the Noord defences, that were obviously facing strong Dutch field army formations, relatively lightly defended. Student was probably aware of his gamble. But he thought little of the tactical abilities of his opponent and that, combined with his quite opportunistic character (that would demand high losses at Crete in 1941), settled the matter.
General situational overview
The situation at Waalhaven was considered quite satisfactory by the Germans. They had managed to reach all their goals, but worried over the loss of airplanes and the state of the airfield. A lull in the air-lifting operation had General Student grow even more worried. During the afternoon the homeland command of the air logistics had received such worrying intel on the state of 'all' Dutch airfields, that they decided to suspent the air-lifting operation and recall whatever planes they could still reach. When they found out that these reports did not involve Waalhaven, the ban was lifted. It had however caused a pause of hours, causing a huge backlog on the air-lift operation towards Waalhaven. Moreover the concern about the operation in the centre of Rotterdam grew with the hour.
Dutch artillery [modern 105 mm howitzers] had started shelling the airfield close to noon for the first time. Two bombardments by Dutch planes [by three Fokker T-V medium bombers and previously five Fokker C-X light bombers] as well as air-raids by British Blenheim's had also damaged the runway. Besides the structual damage, about a dozen Ju-52's had been destroyed as well as two AT guns and a German light FLAK gun. In total about thirty planes had either crash-landed on the field or been destroyed. Amongst those one of the two special Ju-52's which contained a long wave radio to establish contact with the Luftwaffe HQ in Germany. This loss caused the Germans to have hardly any working radio traffic with Germany anymore after the morning of the 10th. The space that was left to land the still expected waves of transport planes had decreased dramatically and this jeopardized the entire air-lift operation.
Still - generally speaking - Student could have been a happy man. All vital bridges in the entire theatre had been seized intact and were successfully defended thusfar, the Island Ysselmonde was sealed off from its surrounding approaches and Waalhaven was firmly in his hands too. Worries rose however over the delicate situation in Rotterdam and Dordrecht, as well as the arrival of mysterious [Student knew nothing of course of the retreat of the Light Division from Brabant] fresh and strong Dutch troops at Alblasserdam. Also - but we will refer to that later - he was very much worried about the fate of his troops that had landed around The Hague. News had already reached him that this operation seemed to develop in a troublesome way.
On the Dutch side there was only reason for great concern. GHQ had to coop with direct danger from massive German landings around the Hague. It was well aware of the imminent threat in the south too, where not only the Peel-Raam line was about to crumble, but where the German airborne operation had caused the huge upset of a lost but capacitated airforce base south of Rotterdam as well as the dangerous German seizure of the Moerdijk bridges. The French CIC had contacted the Dutch CIC and assured the latter that the Moerdijk bridges would be pray for the troops of the French 7th Army that were hurrying north. That left the focus of the Dutch on retaking Waalhaven, or at least put it out of action so that further German reinforcements could be denied. Meanwhile it was realized that Rotterdam needed reinforcements from the Field Army, whereas the Light Division was ordered to cross the Noord overnight and retake Waalhaven before dawn. RAF support had been arranged. Around midnight Waalhaven was to be raided by strategic bombers from the RAF, after which the Light Division could go ahead with its offensive operation on the Island of Ysselmonde. Some sort of confidence grew in the Hague that matters could still be turned into Dutch favour.
Balance of a day
The casualty rates on the Dutch side are specifically known. The defence of Waalhaven AFB and surrounding positions had been a costly enterprise. The Dutch had lost 54 military and 3 civilians KIA and about 600 men had become POW. Four men had been killed elsewhere on IJsselmonde.
The German losses are not specifically known. Their casulaty inventory usually lists men as killed at Rotterdam and doesn't often specify locations. Nevertheless, losses were relatively low again. About 14 airbornes were registered as KIA at Waalhaven. About the same losses were suffered by the air-landing troops (analysis of the German losses provides for a maximum of 20 men air landing troops that may have been killed around Waalhaven). These losses are excluding the Luftwaffe airplane and flying personnel losses, that were considerable.
The Dutch had lost 11 out of the 12 available [11 operational] G-1 fighters, of which 3 had not been able to scramble in the first place (plus the 12th one, that was in revision). The causes of these losses were already addressed. One pilot had been killed. Six strike planes had been lost on their way to Waalhaven or on the way back.
The Germans lost at least 13 airplanes around Waalhaven which were shot down. About 30 planes had been seriously damaged or destroyed on the airfield by Dutch infantry- or artillery-fire, Anglo-Dutch air raids and/or crash-landings. The RAF had lost six Blenheims in the morning of the 10th.