Grebbe Line assault - Attack on Holland May 1940

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Andreas
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Grebbe Line assault - Attack on Holland May 1940

Post by Andreas » 26 May 2007 11:03

My grandfather participated in the attack on the Grebbe Line in Holland as a member of Artillery Observation Battalion 30 (Beobachtungsabteilung 30) in a flash-ranging battery. In his papers, we found an article that he wrote about his experience, and I have finally gotten round to scanning and translating it. My guess is that it was written for the unit history after the campaign, or maybe for a unit newspaper during the campaign.

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

Andreas
Last edited by Andreas on 01 Jun 2007 12:19, edited 1 time in total.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 01 Jun 2007 12:18

Came across this which provides a nice bit of context:

http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~broszies/ ... ne_04.html

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 01 Jun 2007 13:58

An OOB of the operation can be found here, in Dutch:

http://www.grebbeberg.nl/bibliotheek/data/art00090.html

All the best

Andreas

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tigre
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Der Kampf um die Grebbe-Linie 1940.

Post by tigre » 03 Jun 2007 14:22

Hello Andreas, thanks for sharing that interesting article; here a little more about that attack........

Der Kampf um die Grebbe-Linie zwischen Wageningen und Rhenen - Mai 1940-

On May 11 1940, Task for Gruppe Keppler (SS Der Fuhrer): was to attack at 09:30 hours towards Wageningen and seize the Grebbe Line’s advance positions in the Grebbe-Berg area.

At 10:30 hours order to AR 207 Commander: Staff AR 207, III./ AR 207 and Lichtseszug of B. Abt 30 was to be attached to SS DF; the Commanding Officer of AR 207 as Arko. (Artillery Commander).

At 13:20 hours. I./ SS LAH at Army disposal against Ijselburg - Anholdt.

At 13:50 hours SS DF situation: Enemy (reconnaissance detachments with motorcycles) were fighting against Renkum towards Wageningen. Wageningen free of enemy. The regiment proceeded as follows:

The 15./ SS DF (reinforced) as advance guard, then I. Battalion right, III. Battalion left along the road Wageningen - Grebbe - Schleuse, II. Battalion northwest Wageningen as regimental reserve; I. SS LAH northwest Renkum.

At 16:00 hours, SS DF reported: attack on Wageningen started at 13:00 hours with I. Battalion right and III. Battalion left of the road; it was carried out well. I. Battalion was halted a little in front of the Grebbe-Berg and was shelled by one 12 cm battery; trying an attack to the left with the II. Battalion.

At 18:50 hours SS DF reported: III. Battalion reached the Grebbe-Berg at Point 53. I. Battalion located some 400 meters from the Grebbe-Berg.

At 20:00 hours Arko reported: Regimental CP on the road Wageningen - Renkum, 1 kilometer east of Wageningen.
I./ SS DF supported by II./ SS AR.
III./ SS DF supported by III./ AR 207
IV./ AR 256 fighting against hostile artillery deployed west of the Grebbe-Berg.
II./ AR 207 and III./ AR 311 in readiness areas at Oesterbeek.

At 20:00 hours SS DF task: the Regiment was to breach the Grebbe-Berg defenses by means of one night-attack and by next morning was to proceed towards Rhenen with its II. Battalion.

However the planned night-attack failed.

Source: 207 ID KTB. http://www.grebbeberg.nl

It follows. Cheers. Tigre.
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Harro
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Post by Harro » 03 Jun 2007 22:05

Very interesting Andreas! Can't be of much help here but could you please post the original German text?

MfG,
Timo :)

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Post by Andreas » 04 Jun 2007 10:06

Thanks a lot for the map and text tigre.

Will do Harro, just need to do some minor editing on it. It'll be embarassing to let you see how poor my translation is however. :)

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Harro » 04 Jun 2007 18:19

Hallo Andreas :)

I posted about this in a Dutch forum and got a reply from Grebbeberg expert Allert Goossen. He wrote (the - probably equally poor - translation to English is mine):
Allert wrote:The described 21cm Mörser unit was the 735th battalion, not the 375th. Probably a typo. Besides that they were regular Heeres artillery and not SS. An error probably based on the ever present Standarte DF including the SS artillery in that same area. On May 12, the 735th was assigned to the 207th ID - two batteries near Renkum, the third battery was assigned to the 227th ID. In the evening of May 13 the complete battalion was assigned to the 227th ID. The Mörser type 18 indeed fired 113 kg grenades and the well known Röchling projectiles. However, as far as we know, at the Grebbe-line the 735th was not deployed against bunkers. The damages these projectiles caused was huge and such damages were not established. It is unclear when exactly the Mörsers were first deployed, but we assume this must have been in the afternoon of May 12 - shortly after the Hoornwerk front was taken.

It is strange that the account is dated May 13. What is described mainly seems to match May 12, which explains why he wrote that the (Dutch) line was penetrated "the next day". This happened on May 13, around 9.00 pm. At that time the Standarte DF found Rhenen abandoned and started a pursuit. The air attack was also remarkable. On the 13th the area was attacked twice, both times by four (Fokker) C-X aircraft of which none was lost. However, on the 12th an attack by two C-V aircraft took place, of which only one dropped its bombs and a second was shot down. A third was forced to land in the Betuwe. The given descripion looks like the attack which took place on the 12th. All in all it seems certain that it is an account of May 12.

On a sidenote: The German artillery did not destroy much of the Dutch artillery, despite a suggestion by the author. A battery of I-16RA was hit by a German artillery barrage on May 13, which destroyed three pieces of 7-veld. Only a handful of the approx. 60 other Dutch artillery pieces were damaged or (temporarily) put out of action by German fire. It is however a fact that the attention of the Dutch artillery shifted from the 3rd to the 2nd and 1st echelon - meaning the direct frontline. Due to this the Dutch artillery fired less shells on the German artillery on May 12 and 13.
Last edited by Harro on 04 Jun 2007 22:09, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Andreas » 04 Jun 2007 18:33

That's excellent stuff! Thanks a lot for that. My guess is that the account was written up afterwards, and that it is simply a memory error on the date.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 05 Jun 2007 12:50

Here is the original German text.

All the best

Andreas
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Post by Ypenburg » 05 Jun 2007 16:39

Well, well, well,
Andreas posting some "could be potential fascho/propaganda material" :wink:

No Rammstein with it? :lol:

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Post by Andreas » 05 Jun 2007 17:17

Will wonders ever cease. ;) Today my grandfather smiles with wry amusements when he hears his words from almost 70 years ago.

It is a (to me, since it is my grandfather who wrote it) interesting historical document. That's all there is to it.

All the best

Andreas

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Der Kampf um die Grebbe-Linie 1940

Post by tigre » 08 Jun 2007 19:24

Hello to all folks, a bit more about this topic.......

On May 12 1940, at 00:00 hours, the night attack preparations were detected by the enemy, which shelled and fired upon the attackers.

Unless the artillery support be strenghtened the assault against the fortified line, especially werk 36 (Grebbe schleuse) could not be resumed.

At 06:45 hours the 207 ID reported to X AK: the division was to proceed its attack against the Grebbe-Berg by means of one strenghtened fire support during the morning.

At 14:00 hours the hard fire preparations were finished and the artillery groups were ready to open up.

Fires planned to support the assault.

14:00 to 14:20 hours, fire support with five artillery groups.

1 artillery group on work 47.
2 artillery groups on work 36.
1 artillery group on height 53.
1 artillery group on work 33 south of Nieder-Rhein.

At 14:20 hours the attack of the SS DF went under way with parts of its III. and II. battalions.

At 15:15 hours the III./ SS DF succeeded in breaching the Grebbe position and seized the fortified work 36 (Grebbe-schleuse). The II./ SS DF was deployed to the south under heavy defensive fire coming from the Grebbe-Berg and the work 33 (south of the Nieder Rhein).

At 16:00 hours the III./ SS DF reached the Grebbe-Berg’s forward edge and was fighting along the road Grebbe-schleuse -Rhenen. The enemy fought skillfully within the wood covered in resistance nests made of logs.

At 17:35 hours enemy counterattack but the II. and III. Battalions held the ground gained. The SS Pi. Kompanie was working on the Grebbe bridge. The flanking movements against the works 47 and 48 could not be accomplished due to heavy machine gun fire on the road Wageningen - Grebbe-schleuse, so it was urgent the assault of the I./ SS DF in that direction.

At 18:00 hours hostile aerial attack with bombs (six Fokkers) towards the ground north of the road Wageningen - Grebbe, which ended with one low level attack on the Grebbe-Berg’s forward line and the Grebbe-schleuse. Little effect.

At 20:00 hours report to the X AK: mixed parts of the II. and III. battalions held the east edge of the Grebbe-Berg; ahead in the fortified position and in the middle of the Grebbe-Berg, the enemy. The Grebbe line northeastwards of the Grebbe-Berg held by the opponent. Heavy flanking fire and artillery fire. I./ SS DF deployed facing northwest. I./ IR 322 attached to the SS DF was moving from Wageningen along the Nieder Rhein to Grebbe-Berg. The bulk of our own artillery firing against the bunker line northeast and north of the Grebbe-Berg.

Source: 207 ID KTB. http://www.grebbeberg.nl

It follows. Cheers. Tigre.
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Der Kampf um die Grebbe-Linie 1940

Post by tigre » 13 Jun 2007 22:52

Hello to all; the story follows........

On May 13 1940, Division’s aim during this night, to hold the bridgehead on the other side of the Grebbe and reinforce it. For tomorrow morning, to proceed the attack out of the bridgehead towards Rhenen and northwest of Wageningen (I./ SS DF) against the Grebbe towards Achterberg.

Attack’s objective: the rail embankment located northeastwards and eastwards of Rhenen.

Employments: IR 322 (main effort) towards Rhenen. SS DF, with its I. and II. battalions was to roll up the defensive positions north of the Grebbe-schleuse, in order to widen the bridgehead towards Achterberg, covering the IR 322’s north flank. III./ SS DF was to be relieved.

The night from 12 to 13 May 1940. The awaited counterattack did not take place. The relieve of the III./ SS DF by the I. and III./ IR 322 lasted till dawn. III./ SS DF at disposal in the Grebbe-Berg south part. Elements of the III./ SS DF, among them its Commanding Officer, could reach the railroad embankment eastwards of Rhenen during the night. The embankment, the east edge of Rhenen and the defensive positions were scarcely manned there. Six enemy batteries were firing against the north part of Rhenen. Against the south of the Nieder-Rhein (Opsheusden) MG flanking fire, it was stopped at noon.

Early on May 13 1940; the I./ SS DF, fighting hardly, could conquer the works 47 and 48 during the night. In some places, man against man fights with bajonets ensued and the positions were seized one by one.

Noon: the SS DF fighting in its attack’s stripe towards work 53 broke in the Dijk south part.

IR 322 with its III. Battalion to the left, attacked through the wooded ground south of the road Grebbe-schleuse - Rhenen and by 13:00 hours had reached the railroad embankment south of Rhenen. With its I. Battalion at 13:00 hours, had broken through the wood’s positions organized on the west part of the Grebbe-Berg and could rescue the III./ SS DF Commanding Officer, who was wounded and encircled with 40 of his men east of Rhenen. The IR 322 was heavily counterattacked by the Dutchs during its advance in the morning, in one of them the III./ SS DF Commander had been encircled.

At 13:00 hours hostile aerial attack with bombs on the ground between Wageningen and the Grebbe-Berg.

At 15:00 hours own aerial attack, with Stukas of the Putzier’s Group on the enemy positions located west of the railroad Veenendal - Rhenen; besides against the high ground north of Rhenen and hostile batteries. Good effect, the enemy fled in some parts, so the railroad could be surpassed.

By afternoon the following attack of the II./ IR 322, north of the I. Battalion towards the high ground south of Vreewijk could reach the railroad embankment staying there.

Source: 207 ID KTB. http://www.grebbeberg.nl

It follows. Cheers. Tigre.

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Der Kampf um die Grebbe-Linie 1940

Post by tigre » 18 Jun 2007 14:17

Hello to all; the end.........

At 20:30 hours break-fighting with the III. and I./ IR 322 through the defensive positions, the embankment and Rhenen itself.

At 20:30 hours the SS DF could clear, with its I. Bataillon, the work 58 north of de Dijk; and with its II. Bataillon cleared Achterberg. The foreseen turn of parts of the II./ SS DF against the dispositive at Vreewijk could be carried out only after the IR 322 breakthrough.

At 22:15 hours the west fringe of the city (Rhenen) was reached; the breakthrough had been accomplished. The IR 322 received the orden to proceed thru Elst - Amerungen - Doorn towards Utrecht.

At 23:00 hours the IR 322 organized one recce troop with one scout patrol of SS DF (two armoured cars), parts of the motorcyclist scout Platoon (Kraderk. Zug) and parts of the motorcyclists riflemen (Kradschutzen) under Ustuf. Schneider.

On May 14 1940 at 02:15 hours, after negotiating the railroad line the IR 322’s vehicles surpassed it hence, started the ordered movement.

At 05:00 hours the advanced group Schneider reached Amerungen and cleared it, taken one hostile battery and 800 prisoners.

At 06:30 hours, the SS DF was moving from the line work 58 - Achterberg thru Dikkenberg towards Prattenburg. It took over the task of covering the division’s north flank and was to block the roads heading south from Dwarsweg to Achterberg.

At 07:30 hours, the IR 322’s forward companies reached Amerungen. Parts of the regiment proceeded to Doorn.

The Grebbe-Berg position had been cracked.

Source: 207 ID KTB. http://www.grebbeberg.nl

It all folks. Cheers. Tigre.

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Otto Weidinger's war diary May/July 1940

Post by WEISWEILER » 12 Nov 2007 16:18

This is a link to the Grebbeberg Archives, showing the original extracts of the war diary of SS-Commander Otto Weidinger (Rgt Der Führer), from the 10th of May until the 12th of July 1940, containing a detailled description of the invasion of The Netherlands.

http://www.grebbeberg.nl/bibliotheek/pdf_duits/doc2.pdf

/W

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