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Wartime Occupied Harlingen

Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

     12 Squadron Losses


     Sink the Scharnhorst!

    Runnymede Memorial 


Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directory




Harlingen Town Hall and old British lifeboat 'Lilla Marras' (today a floating hotel room)










A photo of an Focke-Wulf Fw-190A4-U8 on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden; this and other Fw-190-planes were used in daylight operations against the US-formations over Holland / Friesland, after a number of Me-110's were shot down and crashed (and fuel trouble emergency-landings too) in February 1944. Maybe this plane was in use later on, after D-Day, because there is a bomb hanging under the "Wulfie".





Radar-equipped Dornier Do-215 nightfighter on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden  (1942) ; Oblt. Helmut Lent and his crew were flying this plane. This Dornier had extra arms under his nose, a couple of MG FF guns (more fire-power in the same time, in combination with the regular guns in front of the nose).






Flieger Abwehr Kanone" (Flak) - battery near "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden, part of the home defence line around the base (once they were shooting down a defenceless photo-reconnaissance Spitfire over the airfield, who crashed near Jelsum; 13-03-1942, Spitfire IV, AA783, of 1 PRU, P/O McDonald; there must be a photo of the wreckage of that plane somewhere in my archive too).



"Jaws" under the Messerschmitts Bf-110 on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden (anno 1940 ?).





German Flak crew with their 2cm Flak (Anti-aircraft gun) in Harlingen and MRB Twenthe in action from NZHRM-station Harlingen in WW2






Wadden Sea near harbour - German anti-landing-barrier with Pollendam (right) and Marine Flak-geschütz (höhenbereich 8 km.)







Harlingen. On this spot stood houses and a school. Until the people who lived here in the early morning, 5 November 1941, were roughly startled by a heavy bomb. The whole area was wiped out and the damage was extensive. Approx 450 houses were damaged and about 45 were uninhabitable. Also there were lives lost.13 dead and several wounded.


(1)The Schritsen after the bombing. (2) The funeral  of the Küter family. (3) The grave of the Küter children's aunt.



That horrible RAF bombardment of Harlingen, was on Wednesday 5 November 1941, in the street named the Schritsen, on the block of houses etc. situated behind St. Michaël's Roman Catholic Church - a cross basilica in Neo Gothic style, built in 1881 - and near the Jewish Synagogue in the Raamstraat. Both churches and the Catholic school were badly damaged .


The Baalman family and their funeral


During the early morning of that day, a single H.P. Hampden of the RAF (unit unknown) was using for the first time a new "high-capacity-bomb" and not a "regular 250 pounder". The target was probably the "Welgelegen" shipyard and/or ships moored in the Zuiderhaven (Southern Harbour), in front of St. Michaël's Church. Whatever the reason was, the bomb came down too soon, and exploded not in the harbour or the shipyard...



The grave of the Baalman family- mother and 6 children.....

The Küter collective family grave is in the General Cemetery of Harlingen, in the plot next to the Allied war graves. And behind this family grave, you can also see the grave of Dutch soldier Willem Mulder, from Harlingen, killed in action on the Afsluidijk, May 1940.


The Küter family café (pub) in the Schritsen, with the Kuters living upstairs, was complete destroyed! The neighbouring house of the Roman Catholic Boys school - also named St. Michaël - in which the headmaster of the school and his family lived, was at least 50 per cent obliterated. For those two families it was simply the end of the world; with 13 people killed. The schoolmaster lost his wife and most of his children...... He himself was badly wounded, like many others. Only the house on the corner of the Schritsen and the Raamstraat was more or less intact, but with no windows or roof tiles.

Because of the fact that both families were well-known by many people in the city – being owners of a busy pub, and headmaster of the boys school - and because of the dramatic way in which they were all killed, those funeral services were the largest ever held in Harlingen.

As far as I know only one (older) child of this family, living outside of their parents home, survived, as did the wounded father, who died in 1956.


Shipyard 'Welgelegen' and the 'Zuiderhaven' (tower St. Michaël's Church). The target in November 1941



The bombed area today

A Handley Page Hampden bomber could carry four 500lb bombs plus some incendiaries and two 250lb wing bombs. In flight, navigational aids apart from a compass and air speed indicator were virtually non existent. Electrical interference could affect the radio (for which Morse code was the method of communication), icing affected the instruments including the airspeed indicator thus upsetting flying by dead reckoning (the method of navigating in bad visibility by flying on a compass bearing for a fixed time at a fixed speed) and static electricity or lightning affect the accuracy of the compass. Navigation in thick cloud was very much by guess and by God and aircrews were as much at risk from getting lost as from enemy action.

The return from the target usually involved all of the crew helping to obtain a pinpoint on crossing the enemy coast and the navigator asking the wireless operator to obtain a fix for a course to steer to base. The radio was neither very powerful nor reliable. In 10/10 cloud with damaged or faulty radio plus the possibility of compass error the above are only some examples of very frequent incidents.

It was therefore not surprising that an aircraft could be many many miles away from where the crew thought it was. The crew of one Hampden (AD768) bailed out over Donegal in Ireland after returning from a raid on Karlsruhe on 2nd October 1941.

There were no satisfactory aids to navigation or target location. If the ground was obscured by cloud, navigation was very much by dead reckoning. Apart from coastal pin-points and wind drifts observed by rear gunners from flares dropped in the sea the navigator had nothing to help him on the way to the target which, at that stage of the war, had no Pathfinder marking to illuminate the target centre. Orders to the squadron, apart from take off time, were far from prescriptive. Precise routes were left to individual crews. If targets could not be identified the crews usually brought their bombs back.



Harbour activities in the 'Nieuwe Willemshaven' (cranes powered by steam engines)





Willem -  16th November 2011


 As I was writing already, my wife, my son and I were visiting last Sunday "Stellung Koehoal", a former German light ack-ack battery on the Wadden Sea dike nearby Harlingen. Maybe interesting enough.....? But please, don't ask me which weapons the Germans were using over there; I'm certainly not an expert in that domain.  








Photo 1 : Panorama-view Wadden Sea on that location. This is what the German soldiers saw, day after day, on their observation post, nothing more, nothing less. Boring and monotonous, I would say ! And they were standing there in rain, wind, snow, fog and..... sunshine too. And in the complete darkness of many nights, when the RAF-sounds were "rolling" over the landscape, like as the beautiful "grums" of the Merlins. And in the meanwhile they were thinking about home..... "Is our house still standing there ? Is my fiancé still alife ? Is mum allright ?" Some German soldiers, it must be said, committed suicide, after "a message" from home (simple, they had the guns).

Under clear weather conditions, you can see Terschelling island on the horizon, and most of the time there are many seabirds, sometimes a seal. And in the evening / night you can see the lights of the lighthouses of Terschelling and Ameland. (During the war they were switched off). 

Photo 2 : Position marker on the Sea dike over there (the whole dike trachea is split up in "vakken" of 100 metres each).





 Photo 3 ; Nowadays situation of the concrete bunker below; in summertime you can visit the building, because some local volunteers are running an exhibition there, and they have an information centre about the warfare in the air. In wartime this "Stellung" had a "hot line" across the Wadden Sea, to Terschelling island, and also to "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden.


Above right  a drawing of reconstruction-architect Piet Timans (31-04-2009); it's showing us the total concept of the reconstruction / restoration of the bunker (maybe next year complete with railing etc.; they are waiting now for new sponsoring money.....). 

This "Stellung" is North of the villages Tzummarum, Oosterbierum and Sexbierum....? You say what ?  Yes, really, a village named "Sex, beer and rum", East of Harlingen city (you can see it via Google maps or earth).







Photo 4 ; Information plate / board (in wintertime, in case the volunteers are gone). No.1 = the bunker left, named the Bunker-west; no. 3 = prison (!); no's 9+14 = roadblocks / checkpoints; no. 12 = position of the ack-ack battery (4 formations).  






Photo 6 : "Mannschaft" of "Stellung Koehoal" on the road / near the checkpoint.


Photo 7 : Germans on the rooftop of the bunker, of the bunker left (there was a small wooden guards-"hauschen" on the corner /giving some protection against the rain etc.)










Photo 8 : The gunnery on top of the "Sédyk" (= sea dike in Frisian), one of the 4 positions (no. 12 on the info-board).


Photo 9 : The "light arms" of the "Stellung Koehoal"; could be deadly enough......






The old light-ship






(1) German search-light at the 'Noorderzeedijk' (near the pulled down old windmill) (2) A German 2,0 cm. FLAK-unit at the 'Noorderpier'






(1) German 2,4 cm. FLAK-unit at the 'Noorderpier' (Northern Jetty)  (2) The old wind mill near the 'Oude Ringmuur', pulled down to make space for German guns on that spot. (3) German MG-nest in the 'Hafenüberwachungsstelle' on the 'Havenplein' (Habour Square)





German search-light and barbed wire and minefield near the 'Noorderpier' (Northern Jetty)







German 2,4 cm. FLAK-unit about halfway on the 'Zuiderpier' (Southern Jetty) 2,4 cm. FLAK-unit near the end on the 'Zuiderpier'






(1) German 8,8 cm. gun-position at the 'Stationweg' (Station Way)      (2) Gun-position at the 'Westerzeedijk' (Western Sea Dike)






German 4,0 cm. guns near the 'Kimswerderweg' (S.E.- entrance to the city) (2) German search-light at the 'Westerzeedijk' (Western Sea Dike)






(1) German 'Schutzbunker' (air raid shelter) near 't'Havenmantsje' (Little Harbour Fellow) (2) Home of the 'Ortskommandantur' (Local Commander) in the 'Midlumerlaan'






Mainly Kriegsmarine personnel outside the barracks (Camp 'Barka') - near 'Noordoostersingel' (2) Storm against the 'Old Ring Wall' - therefore hopefully making the German guns rusty!







 'Gefechtsstand' (communications bunker) in the 'Éngelsche Tuin' (English Garden) - Ao.2009







Map (after 1945) of the local German mine fields during WW2, surrounding the whole city of Harlingen






The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) almost 200 km in length, follows a route along frozen canals, rivers and lakes visiting the eleven historic Frisian cities: Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum, then returning to Leeuwarden. The tour is only if the ice is, and remains, at least 15 centimetres thick along the entire course as about 15,000 amateur skaters may take part, putting high requirements on the quality of the ice. The last tours were held in 1985, 1986 and 1997. All skaters must be members of the Association of the Eleven Frisian Cities. A starting permit is required. Skaters must collect a stamp in each city, and at three secret check points, and must finish the course before midnight. The finishing point of the Elfstedentocht is a canal near Leeuwarden, called the "Bonkevaart", close to the landmark windmill, De Bullemolen, Lekkum.



Not only were the first two wartime winters heavy and cold - and not just up high in the skies for those poor airmen, but also on the ground the temperatures were sinking, and over a long period. In the third wartime winter the most extreme cold period started on 12 January 1942.

For many days the temperature was not rising above -10° Celsius, and between 18 - 27 January, the day-temperature was averaging -11,3° C. in Holland and about -24,8° C. by night ! Therefore the whole Wadden Sea was frozen after a week, like the IJsselmeer, and of course all the inland lakes, canals and other waterways. For that reason - see photo our below- even the ferries from Vlieland and Terschelling couldn't reach Harlingen habour any more being blocked by the sea ice. Some days later people could walk over the ice to those ships!

But Friesland is Friesland, and will be always Friesland ! Therefore, wartime or not, the heart beat of our whole occupied nation was going faster, because there could be organized again an "Elfstedentocht", a 200 kilometers long ice-marathon for skaters, along all the eleven old cities of Friesland, and starting and finishing in Leeuwarden.

Checkpoint-card for the 'Elfstedentocht' 1942 (for Mr. Ferwerda from Stiens village)


Even many Germans were spectators to this sports happening (although they were trying to use it for their own propaganda too: "Frisians, with blue eyes and blond hair, sportsmen, and powerful like all the old German peoples around in NW - Europe........ bla-bla-bla !!!! "- on the radio and later in the cinemas, between the army films of the reports from the Russian war, the Africa war and the war over and on the Atlantic Ocean, etc.). But, at least for a moment, many people in Holland were forgetting  that horrible conflict.......





German spectators during the 'Elfstedentocht' in 1942 (one of them was a Hitler look-a-like..)




Already from the beginning of the war - as we also know from Ameland - the RAF sometimes attacked the Frisian ferries, to all the islands of course, but also from Lemmer to Amsterdam and from Stavoren to Enkhuizen (the lines where many Allied POW-airmen were transported to Amsterdam, on their way through the Netherlands for the camps in Germany or Poland.)

How could the RAF-crews, still flying their missions, know about that? Therefore it happened, that in October 1942, on the "Lemmerboat" to Amsterdam 3 people were killed by some Mustangs, flying in low over the IJsselmeer waters, and other people were wounded. The ferry turned back, bringing the wounded as soon as possible to the harbour, and the dead bodies were taken to the authorities.

How to react on this ? What was the best for all ? Not by stopping these ferries! (for a lot of people their only life lines). After many discussions, between the Dutch and the Dutch sailors, local people and local authorities, and also later on with the Germans, they decided to ask the Germans at the end for some protection by (light) self defence weapons....... ! (another choice was not there, because the personnel of the ferry companies were not allowed to use weapons of course. A really crazy situation...... and therefore this unique Harlingen picture of a German MG-nest on the wheelhouse of Terschellinger ferry 'Noord-Nederland'  in 1943 .






Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Wartime Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves


Destroy the Scharnhorst!


Leeuwarden area




Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron in World War 2


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron


The Runnymede Memorial




Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Occupied Harlingen


Hampden AE 428, & Koudum


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Willem's War-time photos


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham Airfield


101 Squadron


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's Casualties


Friesland radar


Rottum Island or Rottumeroog


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen General Cemetery