Why did the Dutch perform so badly in 1940?

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Knouterer
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Re: Why did the Dutch perform so badly in 1940?

Postby Knouterer » 28 Jan 2017 09:25

I don't think it's fair to say that the Dutch army performed "so badly". According to German accounts, they put up a tough fight in many places, and they inflicted about 6,000 casualties IIRC. The government and the commander in chief decided to capitulate mainly because of the bombardment of Rotterdam and the fear that the Luftwaffe would raze other Dutch cities to the ground.

Certainly the Dutch were not well prepared for the new German style of warfare. While three of the four airfields attacked by airborne troops on the morning of the 10th were back in Dutch hands by nightfall, a small handful of Fallschirmjäger managed to hold on to both ends of the vital Moerdijk bridges for days, allowing the 9th Panzer Division to cross into Fortress Holland. With hindsight, that shouldn't have happened.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Henri Winkelman
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Re: Why did the Dutch perform so badly in 1940?

Postby Henri Winkelman » 28 Jan 2017 21:14

Juha wrote:Hello Henri.
More to the topic
IMHO the trump card for Germans was the LW. Netherland was good country for attacking planes. Not very good for tanks, at least the southern part of the country as Brits found out in 1944. Too much rivers, brooks, channels and wet ground. But not much cover for defenders against powerful attacking air force or artillery. It is often forgotten that Germans had effective artillery arm. Air attacks had powerful shock effect at first, after a while men learned that they were not as deadly against dug-in men as they appeared to be at the first time.

How you see the combat at the southern end of the Grebbe Line, around was that Grebbeberg?


The Netherlands was indeed a good place for attacks from the air, but the Dutch had great anti-aircraft guns which shot down a lot of German planes.

Image

Dutch performance around the Grebbeberg wasn’t bad, but they were forced to a tactical retreat to the Hollandse Waterlinie. This was the main defensive line of the Netherlands, which was never attacked because of the early surrender. So basically the Dutch ‘Vesting Holland’ (Fortress Holland) was still completely intact on the 14th of May 1940. Which begs the question again, was it really not possible to hold much longer and wait for Allied supplies and a more organized defense?

Knouterer wrote:I don't think it's fair to say that the Dutch army performed "so badly". According to German accounts, they put up a tough fight in many places, and they inflicted about 6,000 casualties IIRC. The government and the commander in chief decided to capitulate mainly because of the bombardment of Rotterdam and the fear that the Luftwaffe would raze other Dutch cities to the ground.


‘So badly’ was not the right expression maybe, I wanted to focus more on Dutch strategy and Dutch command. On the Afsluitdijk, the Grebbeberg and in Rotterdam Dutch infantry fought well. The bombardment of Rotterdam was a justifiable reason to surrender, although Poland didn’t surrender after the bombardment on Warsaw. (and the Dutch had better anti-air guns than the Polish) From a human point of view it was better to surrender than to fight till the last man, but a longer Dutch persistence could have changed the outcome of Fall Blau totally. Maybe it would have been possible to get English supplies by sea, the Northern Sea was still dominated by the allies. An allied bridgehead in Holland could even change the outcome of Fall Blau.

Certainly the Dutch were not well prepared for the new German style of warfare. While three of the four airfields attacked by airborne troops on the morning of the 10th were back in Dutch hands by nightfall, a small handful of Fallschirmjäger managed to hold on to both ends of the vital Moerdijk bridges for days, allowing the 9th Panzer Division to cross into Fortress Holland. With hindsight, that shouldn't have happened.


Well, that last event is the strangest thing about the episode. The Germans came through the Dutch province of Northern-Brabant without any Dutch or French resistance. Dutch and French communications were terrible (there were enough troops in the region) and allied generals were apparently not able to organize any defensive line at all. I don’t know if you know any more about this?

theendisnear
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Re: Why did the Dutch perform so badly in 1940?

Postby theendisnear » 14 Aug 2017 09:09

The dutch didn't do so well at the grebbeberg. A good defensive position lost quickly against light, but determined opposition.

Ypenburg
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Re: Why did the Dutch perform so badly in 1940?

Postby Ypenburg » 13 Sep 2017 19:17

I would advice Henri Winkelman to do some reading here: http://www.zuidfront-holland1940.nl/


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