Jump to content


Dutch Tank History and the War

war tank ft-17 waterline history dutch

  • Please log in to reply
21 replies to this topic

Tomah4wk #1 Posted 25 September 2015 - 03:52 PM

    Staff Sergeant

  • Player
  • 33229 battles
  • 375
  • [ARNIE] ARNIE
  • Member since:
    04-16-2011

*
POPULAR

Hi fellow tankers,
My writing fingers were itching, so I wanted to share a little history with you. Hope you enjoy the read and feel free to drop a comment!
 
The Dutch might not be known for their extensive combat and resistance against the German invaders in May 1940. I would like to give a little insight in the background of why the Dutch army was far from ready when Germany invaded.
 

Introduction

1914-1918
The Dutch as a Nation have always valued good diplomatic relations with other countries since it benefits the trade and economy. Therefore it was decided to stay neutral in World War 1. Much pain and suffering was spared to the Dutch people as barely any lives were lost and no resources were spent in fighting the war as practically the country was left alone. Countries like Belgium that were affected by the war paid the price. Many casualties, destroyed infrastructure and the countryside was forever changed. The Dutch believed in neutrality.
 
However, the countries that did fight the First World War learned great military lessons. Tanks were able to withstand fire and were able to smash through trash infested fields. The future was in mobility and swift combat rather than entrenching and shoot artillery barrages at each other. This is how the concept of the modern tank was born in the form of the Renault FT-17.
 
Pre-war Years
Pressure was rising in Europe as the European economies suffered badly from the crash in 1929. Germany was hit hard and the right wing NSDAP gained a lot of popularity. We all know what happened. Germany started investing in an army. Tanks were being built, a navy was started and formerly de-militarized zones were re-occupied by military troops (Rheinland). 
 
Since Germany started to violate the Versailles Treaty, especially the Brits and French were on their toes and their armies were also restocked with modern equipment. Old equipment (like artillery from 1897) was sold off to countries like The Netherlands.
 
The Netherlands was also suffering in economic terms as the government refused to let the currency exchange rates float freely and stuck to the "Gold Standard". Dutch goods were extremely expensive for other countries to buy. The Dutch therefore had little money to spend and were going for "Neutrality" anyways in case of war. Therfore they bought old equipment, "we don't need anything else". 
 
However, the Dutch had also seen that countries started investing in armored regiments and did not want to fall behind. Their hypothesis was: Is a Country like The Netherlands even suitable for tanks?
 

Tank Trials - Renault FT-17

The Dutch Defense Ministry had bought a Renault FT-17 for the mainland in Europe to test. The "Device" was tested as can be seen from the following pics.

Last week in Houten an excercise was held with a device, that makes it possible for tanks to operate in the lower lands. You can see the device on the left

"The device takes the ditch without problems. It would have gotten stuck before. Let's hope we never have to use this in practice"

 

The test in the end however was far from successful:

It had gotten stuck in the marshes and almost sunk. The defense ministry took this opportunity to write propaganda to neighboring countries to tell them that Tanks were absolutely useless in this country and it would make no sense to try and force your way into our country.

 

Lessons that were learned:

  • Tanks are useless in our soggy country
  • We can use water to defend ourselves and vanquish tank attacks

 

The Dutch army stuck to Landsverk armored cars from Sweden and let the tank be. The engine was taken out and it was parked in a military base. The Waterline Defense was however born.

 

The Waterline

Yes, we were safe, behind our water. With our armed forces being mobile in armored cars and on bikes. Being as down to earth as it can possibly be...but also extremely ignorant.

Dutch Bicycle Regiment (1937)

 

The concept of the waterline was to inundate the country and protect the most important organs of the country: Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. Bringing any attack to a halt and defending the lines with fortresses and garrisons. This is how it looked:

All defenses were made to withstand any attack at up to 3 months. By then we would probably be helped anyway by the Allies, so little worries here.

 

German Attack

The Germans invaded Holland on May 10, 1940. Starting with an armored train that easily rolled into our country. A plan was made to snatch the Queen from the West of the country by quickly paratrooping a regiment OVER the Waterline, completely bypassing it.

 

Even though the Dutch fought bravely, the defense only held a couple of days (not the promised 3 months). Furthermore the modern concept of paratroops was completely new to the inexperienced Dutch army. A commander is even believed to have said: "This form of war is unfair". Luckily the Queen was quick to escape to England and held a motiviational role throughout the war for the occupied Dutch people; ruling from England.

 

The Dutch concept failed completely as it was set for a fortress war rather than a highly mobile war. Yet, the Germans thought it took too long to break the Dutch resistance and bombed Rotterdam (even though the Dutch had just formally signed their surrender papers). 2000 people perished.

 

The Dutch would eventually be formally freed on the 5th of May1945 by the Allies.

 
 
Disclaimer: This is not a political post, please refrain from political comments
 
Hope you enjoyed this post and wish you all a happy weekend :)

- Tomah4wk
 


TheJumpMaster #2 Posted 25 September 2015 - 03:59 PM

    Major General

  • Moderator
  • 51121 battles
  • 5,647
  • [WJDE] WJDE
  • Member since:
    05-04-2011
Thank you for taking the time to share this. It has given me a nice read.

Kevbar #3 Posted 25 September 2015 - 04:03 PM

    Second Lieutenant

  • Player
  • 20731 battles
  • 1,215
  • Member since:
    01-22-2013

Very interesting, I didn't want it to stop.

 

:great:



Tomah4wk #4 Posted 25 September 2015 - 04:07 PM

    Staff Sergeant

  • Player
  • 33229 battles
  • 375
  • [ARNIE] ARNIE
  • Member since:
    04-16-2011

View PostKevbar, on 25 September 2015 - 04:03 PM, said:

Very interesting, I didn't want it to stop.

 

:great:

 

Thanks ;) I might write an article on the MT-GLS tank that the Dutch wanted to use in the Indies. This thing was briefly in World of Tanks too (super OP!)

Marlekin #5 Posted 25 September 2015 - 05:54 PM

    Brigadier

  • Beta Tester
  • 33934 battles
  • 4,197
  • [BEUKR] BEUKR
  • Member since:
    11-10-2010
The Dutch actually ordered some Landsverk tanks aswell, but none were never delivered in time for the war.

PanzerKFeldherrnhalle #6 Posted 25 September 2015 - 10:36 PM

    Warrant Officer

  • Player
  • 3713 battles
  • 816
  • [TIMES] TIMES
  • Member since:
    09-14-2013
Were Marco van Basten born at the time and he would have kept the docile Dutch safe from the Nazis.

Folau #7 Posted 25 September 2015 - 10:53 PM

    Major

  • Player
  • 16214 battles
  • 2,633
  • [-MM] -MM
  • Member since:
    05-19-2013

A early claim for paratroopers being OP?

 

Srsly though a good read, really enjoyed it.



clixor #8 Posted 26 September 2015 - 03:03 AM

    Lieutenant Сolonel

  • Player
  • 56374 battles
  • 3,232
  • Member since:
    08-07-2011

View PostMarlekin, on 25 September 2015 - 05:54 PM, said:

The Dutch actually ordered some Landsverk tanks aswell, but none were never delivered in time for the war.

 

I doubt they would've been effective. withouth proper training and all. a fortress war as well btw. the belgiums tried that i believe and the germans just bypassed the forts and attacked the others with some commando style operations.

 

For anyone interested in the 'bike' units. The newish danish movie 9 april features them. Maybe a translation thing but they called their bikes motors :D like. well. we know we only have bikes. but let's call them motors anyway.

 

http://www.imdb.com/...8/?ref_=nv_sr_1

 

ow. and btw. large parts of the dutch line are still intact around Amsterdam. You can visit the forts and stuff.


Edited by clixor, 26 September 2015 - 03:07 AM.


Bulldog_Drummond #9 Posted 26 September 2015 - 12:08 PM

    Field Marshal

  • Player
  • 35753 battles
  • 11,894
  • [DRATT] DRATT
  • Member since:
    08-10-2014

Nice post.  I think the Dutch armed forces did as well as could have been expected in 1940, and no worse than the French, British and Belgians.  I can't see that if there had been a tank brigade available it would have made much difference.

 

Bicycle units were not uncommon at the time.  The Germans had some, and I would imagine that the French and Belgians did too.  They made sense at a time when most infantry had to march on foot and supplies and artillery were often horse-drawn.  The BEF was the only fully mechanised force.  The Japanese later made good use of them in Malaya.

 

One option the Dutch command had was to open the dikes and flood much of the country - and it's not surprising that they chose not to do so.  When the Germans did that in 1944 it caused widespread devastation.



WFNecromonger #10 Posted 26 September 2015 - 02:46 PM

    Warrant Officer

  • Player
  • 42546 battles
  • 744
  • [-TTK-] -TTK-
  • Member since:
    02-03-2011
A1   yes thanks for that, very interesting.

Procrastes #11 Posted 26 September 2015 - 03:06 PM

    Sergeant

  • Player
  • 3570 battles
  • 261
  • Member since:
    07-30-2013

Thanks for an interesting read! Please don't hesitate to write some more!

 

As an observation, I don't really know to what extent Belgium may have believed in neutrality before August 1914. But I'd bet they didn't set much store by it afterwards.



Schepel #12 Posted 26 September 2015 - 03:15 PM

    Colonel

  • Player
  • 67190 battles
  • 3,944
  • Member since:
    05-13-2013

Nice article, but I must correct you on a few points. The Dutch armed forces were not nearly as neglected as common knowledge would have it. We did have a very modern and well equipped airforce. The Fokker planes are believed to be the best of their kind at the time. Sadly, most of them got destroyed on the ground. One may have the hardware, but without a proper military doctrine and proper intelligence, hardware isn't worth much. The same could be said about the French, by the way, but at least France is big enough to allow for some fight after the initial surprise. The Netherlands are too small for any kind of recovery after an effective surprise attack. Anyway, the Netherlands were a bit bigger than just the real estate in Europe. Indonesia was also part of the Dutch kingdom. The colonies were very important and most defense expenses were actually directed to defend those. The Dutch navy was, like the airforce, quite good for the time and actually kept on fighting until its eventual destruction by the Japanese. Little known fact: without the Dutch navy, the Japanese would most likely have captured Australia. After the war, the Dutch sacrafice was mostly ignored, denied even, in order not to sully the heroic American efforts in the Pacific. Truth is, there would not have been any without the Dutch. After Pearl Harbour, there was a desperate shortage of pretty much anything. The Dutch forces were all that stood between the Japanese and the rest of the worlkd for a time. They got largely destroyed, but they were sizeable enough to effect a proper delay.

 

The Dutch ground forces in the Netherlands were bad, but they still managed to fight the German army to a perfect standstill at the Grebbe lines. Also, the Germans lost so many planes dropping paratroopers over the Netherlands, they could not muster the forces for the next step: the invasion of the UK. The fight might have been over very quickly, the German losses were quite significant. Up to a point, the waterlinie did actually work. It just wasn't enough and could never have been, considering the disparity in forces. Pure numbers dictated a German victory, but history has judged the Dutch efforts quite unfairly until recently.

 

This had very much to do with the way the political landscape shifted during the end stages of the war. The Dutch governments completely failed to understand the changes and made political demands, such as cessation of the German Ruhr area, that were so idiotic that the military role of the Netherlands had to be made look very poor indeed so as to deny the Dutch any legitimacy with regards to their post war claims. 



Tomah4wk #13 Posted 26 September 2015 - 04:44 PM

    Staff Sergeant

  • Player
  • 33229 battles
  • 375
  • [ARNIE] ARNIE
  • Member since:
    04-16-2011

View PostSchepel, on 26 September 2015 - 03:15 PM, said:

Nice article, but I must correct you on a few points. The Dutch armed forces were not nearly as neglected as common knowledge would have it. We did have a very modern and well equipped airforce. The Fokker planes are believed to be the best of their kind at the time. Sadly, most of them got destroyed on the ground. One may have the hardware, but without a proper military doctrine and proper intelligence, hardware isn't worth much. The same could be said about the French, by the way, but at least France is big enough to allow for some fight after the initial surprise. The Netherlands are too small for any kind of recovery after an effective surprise attack. Anyway, the Netherlands were a bit bigger than just the real estate in Europe. Indonesia was also part of the Dutch kingdom. The colonies were very important and most defense expenses were actually directed to defend those. The Dutch navy was, like the airforce, quite good for the time and actually kept on fighting until its eventual destruction by the Japanese. Little known fact: without the Dutch navy, the Japanese would most likely have captured Australia. After the war, the Dutch sacrafice was mostly ignored, denied even, in order not to sully the heroic American efforts in the Pacific. Truth is, there would not have been any without the Dutch. After Pearl Harbour, there was a desperate shortage of pretty much anything. The Dutch forces were all that stood between the Japanese and the rest of the worlkd for a time. They got largely destroyed, but they were sizeable enough to effect a proper delay.

 

The Dutch ground forces in the Netherlands were bad, but they still managed to fight the German army to a perfect standstill at the Grebbe lines. Also, the Germans lost so many planes dropping paratroopers over the Netherlands, they could not muster the forces for the next step: the invasion of the UK. The fight might have been over very quickly, the German losses were quite significant. Up to a point, the waterlinie did actually work. It just wasn't enough and could never have been, considering the disparity in forces. Pure numbers dictated a German victory, but history has judged the Dutch efforts quite unfairly until recently.

 

This had very much to do with the way the political landscape shifted during the end stages of the war. The Dutch governments completely failed to understand the changes and made political demands, such as cessation of the German Ruhr area, that were so idiotic that the military role of the Netherlands had to be made look very poor indeed so as to deny the Dutch any legitimacy with regards to their post war claims. 

 

Thanks for the elaborations on these points :) Hit the nail on the head.

TheJumpMaster #14 Posted 26 September 2015 - 05:04 PM

    Major General

  • Moderator
  • 51121 battles
  • 5,647
  • [WJDE] WJDE
  • Member since:
    05-04-2011
It must not be forgotten that many Dutch men and women put up a valiant and immense struggle in the ranks of the resistance. This must never be forgotten or belittled.

ShinigamiRaven #15 Posted 23 December 2015 - 07:22 PM

    Private

  • Player
  • 4208 battles
  • 4
  • Member since:
    03-09-2012
very informative topic very fun to read this might be an old topic but still fun to read and comment to it

guinty1 #16 Posted 23 December 2015 - 09:07 PM

    Corporal

  • Player
  • 27779 battles
  • 140
  • Member since:
    06-23-2011
Well written piece of history there my friend . The Germans were very cruel to the Netherlands in WW2. They tried to starve them in 1944 as well . Glad my grandfather did his part in the R.A.F. in turning German cities to rubble and ash as payback , never forget the suffering of these smaller European countries. 

clixor #17 Posted 23 December 2015 - 09:17 PM

    Lieutenant Сolonel

  • Player
  • 56374 battles
  • 3,232
  • Member since:
    08-07-2011

View Postguinty1, on 23 December 2015 - 09:07 PM, said:

Well written piece of history there my friend . The Germans were very cruel to the Netherlands in WW2. They tried to starve them in 1944 as well . Glad my grandfather did his part in the R.A.F. in turning German cities to rubble and ash as payback , never forget the suffering of these smaller European countries. 

 

I don't think the Nazis were deliberately trying to starve the dutch (that is the non-liberated part of Holland, actually the part of the netherlands we dutch call Holland). I think, that with one part liberated by the allies, and the other part still formally occupied, all logistics went to hell and there was no way to keep the larger cities supplied. 

Bulldog_Drummond #18 Posted 23 December 2015 - 09:30 PM

    Field Marshal

  • Player
  • 35753 battles
  • 11,894
  • [DRATT] DRATT
  • Member since:
    08-10-2014

View Postclixor, on 23 December 2015 - 08:17 PM, said:

 

I don't think the Nazis were deliberately trying to starve the dutch (that is the non-liberated part of Holland, actually the part of the netherlands we dutch call Holland). I think, that with one part liberated by the allies, and the other part still formally occupied, all logistics went to hell and there was no way to keep the larger cities supplied. 

 

It is not inconceivable that it occurred to the Germans that when they opened the dykes and flooded half of the Netherlands that that might lead to mass starvation.

Richthoffen #19 Posted 23 December 2015 - 09:35 PM

    Major

  • Player
  • 32681 battles
  • 2,828
  • [MS-] MS-
  • Member since:
    12-23-2011

Quote

This had very much to do with the way the political landscape shifted during the end stages of the war. The Dutch governments completely failed to understand the changes and made political demands, such as cessation of the German Ruhr area, that were so idiotic that the military role of the Netherlands had to be made look very poor indeed so as to deny the Dutch any legitimacy with regards to their post war claims. 

well Belgium tried to claim Limburg, a Dutch province at the end of WW1, so its not that strange if you take the time in consideration.

certainly iff you remeber the Netherland where neutral in WW1



CmdRaZorLight #20 Posted 23 December 2015 - 09:41 PM

    Corporal

  • Player
  • 13890 battles
  • 160
  • [SUCKS] SUCKS
  • Member since:
    03-21-2012

Well, the Dutch army is still not great, having almost no bullets to practice and train. They have to yell "pang pang" when they fire shot. And thats no joke!

 

Great read, goed gedaan!

 

Je zou het nog kunnen updaten met meer info over tanks, we hebben er wel meer gehad ;-)

(you could update this piece of info as we had more tanks) (e.g. Leopard 1 on lease from Germany after the war etc!)







Also tagged with war, tank, ft-17, waterline, history, dutch

1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users