Battle of Zeeland

The battle in Zeeland is an episode in World War II during the period from 10 to 18 May 1940, in which Dutch and French soldiers fought against the German advance.

The province of Zeeland was a separate command led by the Commander in Zeeland, the Rear-Admiral Hendrik Jan van der City (CZ), directly under the Senior General HG Winkelman.

Present Dutch troops

At the start of World War II the following Dutch troops were present that New Zealand had to defend:



Royal Navy  Scheldt

I Marine Bat.  Walcheren

RI 40 (with the exception of II)  Walcheren, South Beveland

St. I, III – 17 RA  Walcheren, South Beveland

II-38 RI in Breskens, Vlissingen and Terneuzen

3-I-38 RI Walcheren (east of East Souburg)

II-40 RI  Western Zeeland

14 Res. GC Western Zeeland (in Oostburg)

38 Res. GC  Eastern Zeeland

I-38 RI (with the exception of 3-I)  Tholen

3 Comp. Bewakingstr.  Fireplaces

The propositions were to defend the Proposition Bath at Bath on eastern South Beveland, the Zanddijk Theorem between Yerseke and Hans Weert and the western side of the Canal through Zuid-Beveland (between Wemeldinge and Hans Weert). Note that the Sloe then a natural secretion formed between Walcheren and South Beveland.

The beginning of hostilities

On May 10, began preparations for the inundation s and the evacuation of the population of South Beveland east of the Zanddijk Theorem.

In London the Dutch naval attaché opened a sealed envelope containing an instruction to England for support. The minimum was in England requested: a division, flak and aircraft to defend New Zealand. This request was not met.

The first day of war passed off relatively peacefully. The airports of East Souburg and Haamstede were bombed from the air and with machine guns fired and there were fire bombs at the site of the shipyard De Schelde.

French aid

From May 10 revealed several French troops, led by the French Admiral Charles Platon, in Zeeland. In the afternoon of 10 May, the French motorized Groupement Bauchesne Zeeland pulled in and then put in Breskens on the Westerschelde. On 11 May they were in western North Brabant arrived. Additionally landed on 11 May seaborne French infantry with artillery in Flushing and in both western and eastern Zeeland appeared a French infantry division led by General-majors Deslaurens and Beaufrère.

The objective of the French was the security of the estuary and creating connection with the Allied front in Belgium.

Transfer from the Peel

11, but especially on May 13, demoralized troops withdrew from the Peel South Beveland inside. Their effect on the morale of the Dutch troops in Zeeland was disastrous. These newcomers could be transferred to North Beveland, but only on 14 May, the evil was already done.

Dutch departments also came from North Brabant over Belgium in Zeeland Flanders. A portion was transferred to Walcheren.

The Bath Theorem

The Bath Theorem tirailleur was defended by two companies of infantry and one company of heavy weapons. There was no flak. Artillery support would be provided by the Navy. The purpose of the base was gain of time, so a long-lasting defense was excluded.

On 14 May afternoon the Germans appeared to suggest. At about 18:00, the German artillery began to take the position under fire. The artillery support Navy could not change anything. At 19:30 attacked the Germans. Several demoralized Dutch soldiers and NCOs left this contention. This fell holes in the defense, where the Germans soon could break through. The remaining Dutch troops were (if they were not taken prisoner) hastily retreated to behind the Zanddijk Theorem. The Germans went on the night of 14 May 15 on unhindered by the Bath Theorem.

The Zanddijk Theorem

The Zanddijk Theorem was defended by three battalions there classified heavy weapons, two departments artillery: a Section 7 cm and a section 8 steel (steel cannon caliber of 8 cm) and a section of old guns (10 cm long 30), all under command of the Commander of the 40th Infantry Regiment. Again was no flak present.

On May 15, at 07:30, the Germans attacked with armored cars, motorcyclists and cyclists from the air with bombs and machine guns. Because it was not possible to take action against the German air raids, the Dutch troops were demoralized. By evening the Germans had a breakthrough in the statement forced. The Dutch troops were hastily withdrawn again, now on the channel, closely followed by the Germans.

The Canal through Zuid-Beveland

In the Canal through Zuid-Beveland, the French had rushed a statement “impromptu” raised. Also them was the lack of aircraft and antiaircraft fatal. In confusion and panic pulled the French in the morning of May 16 back to Walcheren. This was South Beveland cases. The Germans marched that day Goes inside and began the battle of the Causeway, the eastern border of Walcheren.

The Commander Zealand was now to Breskens crossed by Queen Wilhelmina and named commander of all Dutch forces. The Germans occupied on 16 May Tholen.

The fall of Walcheren and Surrounds-Duiveland

The defense of the Sloe happened again by French troops, supplemented by Dutch setups. Could be to the Germans little resistance. Again On May 17, the French withdrew from fighting the Causeway back to Flushing. Around 14:00 pm on May 17 was the French Rear-Admiral Platon CZ to report that Walcheren was lost, one could only try to transfer to Zeeland. As many troops

Middelburg, now almost completely abandoned by the people, was bombed by German artillery and Luftwaffe.

On the same day the Germans completed the occupation of Schouwen-Duiveland.

After the departure of the French was the further defense of Walcheren become meaningless. CZ decided to capitulation of Walcheren, including North Beveland. On 18 May the Germans disarmed the remaining Dutch troops there.

Retreat to Dunkirk

Because Belgium also came under heavy pressure, CZ decided to gather in Dunkirk. All Dutch troops Only the French and a small force led by C.II-40 RI remained in Zeeland. It soon became clear that lead to tensions between the Dutch and French, with the French the Dutch often mistaken for Germans. With this kind of misunderstandings were some deaths. At the request of Major General Beaufrère pulled CZ latter Dutch battalion back. On May 19 around 21:00 left C.II RI-40 as one of the last Dutch soldiers the Dutch territory in Europe.

Most (about 2000) of the evacuated soldiers, plus a naval detachment had reached Dunkirk on or before May 20. The French Amiral Nord left the naval detachment transfer to England.

The army soldiers were divided into companies of about 150 men. It was morally by the rapid German invasion of their positions in North Brabant and Zeeland is low. The French wanted therefore as soon as possible of this hotchpotch off. The intention was to use the steamer Pavon to Cherbourg or Le Havre to discharge the soldiers.

Fire on the Pavon

At 20:30 pm on 20 May left the Pavon from Dunkirk 1430 Dutch soldiers on board. One hour later, the ship was hit by a bomb in the middle with soldiers packed well. The bomb fell into the bilge, where the stored there kapokbalen fire flew through the explosion and the hatches between thrashed to the center well. They were several soldiers in the flames in the bilge, an important part of the 70 dead who fell in the ship. In the panic that came on board, jumped about 80 Dutch at sea, only to drown. The captain could still put the burning ship at Calais on the beach.

The fate of CZ

The Commander Zealand was en route to Paris on May 21 morning at Amiens prisoner by the Germans made.


The purpose of continuing the fight in Zeeland was slowing the German advance, so that the French troops could retreat to Belgium and France who succeeded.

That Zealand was not (much) longer defend is due to the following factors:•The Dutch army was forced by the policy of neutrality to perform. An independent defense This was until May 10, 1940 no coordination with Belgium, France and the United Kingdom as possible, with the result that these are not joined to each other and the French lacked the time to throw. New propositions In retrospect, it might have been better to concentrate, so connection with Belgium and France had just not gone. Defending Netherlands in the south

•Associated with the same neutrality was not Zealand in the Fortress Holland and was not designated as a place where a stubborn defense made ​​was going to be. As a result there were fewer defenses available.

•The capitulation it was clear that New Zealand was lost. The only reason to fight by slowing was that the French troops could retire rather than be taken prisoner. Southward the Germans so

•Even more than in the rest of the Netherlands took revenge the lack of ground and aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft.

•The morale among the troops was low. This was caused by the demoralized troops from the Peel-Raamstelling, the capitulation on 15 May and that it was not possible to take action against the German air and artillery superiority.

•The German bombardment of Middelburg shows (as well as that of Rotterdam) that the Germans could change. Pockets of resistance from a safe distance unhindered in a mess

Event in the Netherlands during the Second World War

History of New Zealand

Battle in the Netherlands during the Second World War

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