Unfortunately this is all the material I have, but I would be interested in finding out more about these days.
13 May 1940
For three days now our great offensive has run, the decisive battle in the west has started. The first strong barrier stopping our advance is the Grebbe Line. Combat has been going on here for some days. The heavy concrete bunkers of the defensive line require to be reduced by a sufficient artillery preparation before infantry can attack them. A large group of these heavy weapons is now firing from all tubes. We hear the light sound of the 10,5cm howitzer and inbetween the low, very noisy crash of the 21cm mortars. The sound appears to be out of control and random, but every round is controlled, directed, and corrected by the Beobachtungsabteilung.
It is B-30 (Beobachtungsabteilung 30) which is posted here at this decisive point, our battalion. Yesterday, in the evening hours, we were moved up from our concentration area some kilometres east of Arnhem. We quickly drove through Renkum. The city has been touched lightly by enemy artillery, the population was rushing through the clean streets in a confused manner, running aimlessly to and fro. Some of our Landser talk to them, trying to calm them down, often successfully. Leaving the town behind, we reached our goal after a short drive – Messstelle ROT (Flash ranging OP RED). The commander of the OP, Unteroffz. (Sergeant) Mau looked for a good place to set up. We drove our vehicle into a small forest path, where it was left under guard of driver Otto and our comrade cording. Unteroffz. Plötz and I went ahead with the OP. We passed several farms, some occupied, some not. After a lengthy search we found a good spot, under the roof of a house. Observation from here was goo, so that our 20m high observation tower would not need to be erected. We returned to our vehicle and drove in pitch blackness to the Auswerte (analysis) vehicle, the A.2. In the early morning hours we reached the Auswerte, camouflaged hastily and laid down to sleep.
Sleep did not last long however, since the excitement of the new and unknown keeps the senses alert even in sleep – I raised myself from the hard bedstand. The light grey of the coming day allows me to see the conturs of the Auswerte vehicle, protected from the top by good camouflage. Light is coming out of the attached tent, they are working there. Direction after direction has come in during the night via radio from the OPs BLACK, WHITE, and RED. Now the task is to assemble this multitude of directions by their relationship to each other, and to analyse them. Wachtmeister (Staff Sergeant) Papritz and his men are doing thorough and important work here.
I hear that about 100 metres in front of us a battery of heavy 21cm mortars is placed, a sight to be seen. Soon I can make out the shape of these heavy monsters, well camouflaged in the low brush. They are the 375s, the battalion was in Haltern near Münster during winter. Soon I start to talk with some comrades of this SS formation, they are waiting impatiently for the order to fire.
Suddenly we hear a buzzing noise in the air, which rapidly changes into a load whine – aircraft! We can already make out three planes appearing in low height above the tree tops. Fistsize black spots appear, falling one after the other. Now one must have reached the ground, a strong bang, another one, another one, and again, heavy pressure in our ears – aerial bombs. The AA guns bark like crazy, stop, and commence barking again. As we hear later, one of the planes was shot down, they probably lost appetite after that. 40-50 metres from the first gun was the bomb impact, but they have not caused any damage. I return quickly to my comrades, also there all went well. It is only a few days later that we find the entry and exit holes of a rifle bullet. They are the only memorials of this attack and come from the machine guns of the attacking planes. With the heavy AA gun activity we did hardly notice their MGs firing. Cording was a bit shaken though, the bullet passed one metre above him.
By now it had become day, and with the rising day the front became alive as well. Gun fire which had been almost completely silent during the night now started to become stronger. Soon we could hear the impact of the enemy fire in some distance. This was hardest on our OP WHITE, established in the bell tower of the church in Bennekom. All OPs worked fabulously, they could observe the Dutch muzzle flashes in the Grebbe line. Direction after direction was taken by us and analysed, fire orders went to the batteries. Immediate fire bore witness to the eagerness, the fiery eagerness in the true sense of the word, of our gunners. The fire of our batteries increased more and more, and the answer came more and more rarely. Eventually there were only three batteries that continued with an iron will to steadfastly send us their explosive greetings. They could not be registered by the OPs, and only sound ranging allowed registering them and getting directions. Nevertheless our analysis could make out relatively good solutions with a low error triangle. Again fire orders went out, this time to the mortar batteries of the 375s. Sweating gunners brought their 100kg rounds to the guns – concrete rounds. Short fire orders, a terrifying bang, a whistle, rush, swelling noise like an organ, and then a low crash. They arrive, one after the other, and they were right on target. At our end, where previously the enemy rounds arrived, it turns silent, very silent. And over there in the Grebbe line it also turns silent, terrifyingly silent. Death walks there.
The next day our infantry attacks, reaches the line, and takes it in hard combat. Combat was tough and caused losses. But how would it have gone without the artillery preparation. Our boys would have bled to death in the fire of the Dutch bunker positions. Ascension 1940 in front of the Grebbeline was the first leaf of honour during this campaign in the West, in the history of our Battalion.
F.B. Senior Private 3./Bb.30
All the best