The Infanterie-Regiment 47 airborne operation on Valkenburg 1940
- Published: 21 July 2011 21 July 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
The outline of the German plan was to take the city of The Hague by surprise and force the Government and Military supreme command to capitulate. In order to achieve that highly ambitious plan, large airlandings had been planned at Ypenburg AFB and Valkenburg AFB as well as a smaller landing at Ockenburg auxilary AFB hence the city would be encircled.
Valkenburg - close of Leiden - was designated to become one of the new prime Dutch airforce bases. It was near the village of Valkenburg that lay in between the two large cities The Hague and Leiden. The field had only been constructed recently (last year) and the pitch itself - what eventually was planned to be utilised by the heavier airplanes of the Dutch air force - was still too soft and swampy in May 1940.
The airfield had received its protective infantry force only on Apr 20 1940. It comprised two companies (around 300 men) and a section of heavy machineguns on and around the airfield. It were units of III./4RI. That force had been split in three groups: one defended the airfield itself, another the surroundings anf the third was at rest inside the hangars.
The Landing plan foreseen for Valkenburg on May 10 1940:
- 6/FSJR.2 (162 para’s)
- Stb IR 47 with Nachrichtenzug 47 and Aufklarungszug 47; Stab I/II and
III/IR 47 and Companies 1 to 12 and 14 (13 not present) (2502 airborne)
- Stb Aufklaungs Abteilung 22 + 1 platoon HMG’s (40 airborne)
- III and IV platoons Bicyclist Squadron (81 men)
- Pioniere Truppe of the Stb. Pioniere Battalion 22 (22 men)
- 3rd Co Pioniere Bat. 22, minus 1 platoon (132 men)
- Stb. I/AR 22 and 2nd and 3rd battery artillery (241 men)
- 2/Flak 31 (1 battery 20mm AAA) (133 men)
Total: 3313 men
At 04:10 hours had taken off the Ju-52 belonging to the KGzbV 172 carrying the men of 6./ FJR 2 (Oberleutnant Schirmer).
At 05:30 hours, had jumped the men of 3./ 6./ FJR 2 (Leutnant Teusen) landing on the southeast of the airfield; the company’s HQ and one squad of 2. Pl landed in the middle of the airfield and 1./ 6./ FJR 2 (Leutnant v. Plessen) landed north of it. The bulk of the 2./ 6./ FJR 2 (Oberleutnant Gunkelmann) was sent to Waalhaven.
At 04:50 hours took off from Lippstadt 53 Ju-52 of the KG.z.b.v.11, the first wave, with men of IR 47’s HQ, Signal Pl, Recce Pl, HQ of III./ IR 47 (Hauptmann Buhse) and its 9., 10. and 12. Companies under Oberst Heyser.
Already over Dutch soil began the antiaircraft fire and shortly afterwards at 06:20 hours the planes carrying the first wave dive to land on the airfield’s soft ground.
The fallschirmjäger's platoon in the north had made hardly any progress before the first wave of Ju-52 with the 9./IR.47 started to land on the airfield. The unloaded airborne-landing troops, who suffered from Dutch machinegun fire too, joint the parachutists and both forces managed to force a major part of the defences into surrender.
By 07:00 hours the objective had been taken.
At 09:30 hours the Dutch units unleashed a heavy artillery fire on the airfield. However, then Germans could enlarge the aerial bridgehead towards Valkenburg seizing it; there was established the Regimental CP. Later Katwijk was taken also and some bridges were occupied there.
During the artillery barrage [0930 hrs], five Fokker C-V light bombers attacked the German troops and parked Ju-52's with 20 bombs, each of 25 kg . Shortly afterwards [1220 hrs] three Fokker C-X light strike planes strafed the rows of Ju-52 too.
At 11:50 hours, landed the second wave (39 Ju-52) comprising the II./ IR 47 HQ (Maj Timm) and its 5., 6. and 7. Companies; this flight had taken off at 09:38 hours. Around 26 planes landed on the road between Katwijk and Scheveningen.
At 13:45 hours Landed one antiaircraft company (heavy MGs), HQ and the radfahrschwadron (cyclist) of the AA 22.
At 15:56 hours Landed the I./ IR 47 HQ and its 1., 2. and 3. Companies together with the 11./ IR 47.
At 18:15 hours Landed the 8./ IR 47.
All in all around 932 or 982 German troops Landed in Valkenburg out of the planned 3313 men.
After couterattacking without success during the morning, the III./ 4 RI under major Mallinckrodt pressed on again and around 17:00 hours could overcome all the resistence in the area reaching the airfield. It which was taken back by the Dutch around 19:00 hours. The German troops retreated towards Valkenburg (the town)
It was a hard day indeed and due to the heavy fighting some 154 dutch soldiers lost their lives, while 43 German were killed in action.
11 May 1940
The situation within the village was as follows, the Germans held about 300 Dutch prisoners in the village. These men had been gathered in a church in the centre of the village. In an emergency hospital, located in the school building, about 200 wounded soldiers [mostly Germans] were taken care of by both Dutch and German doctors. The village itself had not been evacuated.
The Dutch forces were assembled in and around Katwijk with some elements located near Leiden and Wassenaar. Two artillery battalions were assigned as support. Lieutenant-Colonel Buurman 4 RI’s Commanding Officer, had received the mission of retaking Valkenburg but he had on hand only a tactical force of a little more than a company, a mere 200 men.
Nevertheless Buurman decided that some offensive action had to be developed. Buurman ordered a company-size force to enter Valkenburg from the north. One battery of 12 cm howitzers unleashed a brief creeping barrage, after which the men went forward reaching the northern outskirts of Valkenburg. When the spearhead had managed to reach the village centre it was suddenly fired upon by the 7,5 cm guns of 6. RA which had opened up totally unaware of the Dutch attack. The infantry men were forced to retreat.
In the late afternoon another assault on the village was planned; this time with the newly arrived 1st Battalion of 9.RI. The 9.RI assault would be directed along the Oude Rijn river, which ran north by northeast from Valkenburg to Katwijk. The attack was supported by three batteries of 12 cm howitzers.
At 1800 hours the artillery opened up. The barrage crept through the northern outskirts of the village to the centre, where it caused plenty of destruction. The church in which the Dutch POW's had been assembled was hit by at least three grenades causing panic amongst the men. Meanwhile the infantry moved forward, but was soon forced to hit the deck for intensive German machinegun fire pinned them down. The attack stalled completely and after sunset the troops moved back to Valkenburg.
The Dutch lost 10 men KIA this day around Valkenburg, of which 6 men were killed as POW's inside the church in the village as a result of the own artillery. Three men of 9.RI had been killed during the action in the morning. The Germans lost 9 KIA in the village.
12 May 1940
At Valkenburg the Dutch kept pounding the village with artillery fire. Especially the centre of the village suffered from this shelling and nearly all houses sustained some degree of damage from this relentless pounding. The fighting was much less intensive than the days before.
13 May 1940
Around 05:00 hours following orders of Colonel Buurman (CO of 4 RI) the III./ 2 RA opened up with its 1st battery under res. Captain Aafjes and 2nd battery under res. Captain Schröder on the hoeve Zonneveld and the little wood nearby of it.
The hoeve was set afire and the Germans there fled towards the Rhijnvliet?. Major Alofs (CO of the 10 Dep. Bat.) reported that German troops moving to Wassenaarse Watering from the direction of hoeve were fired at. However due to this artillery fire some citizens (men, women and children) from Valkenburg, which had escaped to the hoeve Zonneveld and its surroundings, were wounded. Around 11 of them died from their wounds.
14 May 1940
The same afternoon the command in Oegstgeest had also received the order to cease the firing . Because of the German side was firing yet, the reserve major von Hemert, commander of the Cavalry artillery depot quartered at Oegstgeest drove towards the southern entrance of Valkenburg with a white flag attached to the vehicle and requested the German to cease the fire.
Some minutes later he met the wounded German Commander who asked among other things if was possible to transport the German and Dutch heavily wounded, who needed urgent surgical aid. Von Hemert promised he would make such an arrangement. In the hospital laid 115 victims in a miserable condition.
An hour afterwards the victims and the hostages heard about the capitulation. By the afternoon came the red cross cars and the patients was transported to hospitals in Leiden.
That day the German POWs, mostly parachutits and airborne were sent to England.
Awarded with the Knight Cross.
Oberst Heyser - Comandante IR 47
Hauptmann Alvermann – 10./ IR 47
Leutnant v. Bonin – Adj II./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Ass- Arzt Dr Koch – Cdo II./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Leutnant d.R. Lütt – 7./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Leutnant d.R. Krissel – 9./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Leutnant Schünemann – 10./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Oberst Heyser – Kdr IR 47 Valkenburg 15 May 1940.
Oberstabsartz Hornung – Cdo IR 47 Valkenburg 12 May 1940.
Oberleutnant d.R. Knorr – 12./ IR 47 Valkenburg 13 May 1940.
Leutnant Freiherr Heyl zu Herrsheim – 12./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Leutnant Thies – Cdo III./ IR 47 Valkenburg 10 May 1940.
Leutnant d.R. Bier – 13./ IR 47 La Haya 10 May 1940 (wounded).