Haag (The Hague) - Wassenaar - Hoek van Holland_______________________Locations
The fast-moving Allied advances gave many people in Holland the idea that the war would be over before Christmas of 1944. On September 5, there were many rumors about the approaching Allied armies. But, what the Dutch people did not know was that the Allies had over-reached their supply lines. The advance was about to become a crawl and the suffering for some Dutch citizens was far from over - it was just about to begin.
From their homes in Den Haag (The Hague), Holland, the local residents heard a different kind of sound in the autumn of 1944. Den Haag is located less than 200 miles to the east of London on the Dutch coast. The sun was shining on this day, when a terrible roar rumbled through the streets of the affluent suburb of Wassenaar – just northeast of Den Haag.
Mr. C. van Fliet lived in Wassenaar and in the early evening of September 8; he looked up to see two pointed projectiles, about 10 meters long, rising slowly and majestically above the treetops. A cloud of smoke billowed slowly after reaching a height of about 15 meters. The projectiles gained speed rapidly with a flame emerging at the rear extending to more than half their lengths. At about 300-500 meters a white trail appeared leaving the form of a spiral. The smoke disappeared at about 20000 meters. The projectiles were now accelerating quickly and their trajectory was flattening out somewhat. They finally disappeared traveling at a terrific speed.
The second batterie of the 485 (Motorized) Artillery Battalion launched both rockets simultaneously from Wassenaar. One from the intersection of the streets - Lijsterlaan / Konijnenlaan / Koekoekslaan and one from the intersection of Lijsterlaan / Schouwweg. Mr. van Fliet recalls that ‘the thunder of the rocket engines was tremendous’. The double launching took place at (18.37 hr.) (Dutch time). Only five minutes would pass before the first rocket slammed into England at Staveley Road, Chiswick (West London), traveling at nearly 3000 miles per hour. The other hit Epping (27 km north of London).
Mr. Van Fliet visited the scene of the launching as soon as possible after the event. Both launching sites were in the middle of roadways passing through the wooded neighborhood. At each launching place there was a circular patch from which the road had been melted or burned. The burned patch had a diameter of 9 meters and the road was about 10 meters across at the longest point. In the center of each burned patch was an unburned area in a box form suggesting that some sort of stand had been used. The trees near the edge of the roadway were - very badly burned up to a height of about 1 meter and less badly burned near the treetops. There was also evidence of a violent low blast – the grass was flattened out and all the leaves had strangely vanished from the ground below the trees. The thatched roof of a nearby small house had been lifted and blown off.
No equipment had been left behind and there was no sign of any equipment being used, other than the unburned shape of the launch stands in the middle of the roadways. Mr. Van Fliet learned that about 2 hours before the event, trucks had driven up to the site from different directions. One of them was a long vehicle having 16 wheels and with some sort of lifting apparatus below (Meillerwagen). Another was a tank truck. A radio car had been left about 500 meters away. The crew consisted of about 20 soldiers who at the time of launching were completely clad from head to foot with asbestos helmets and protecting overalls. The projectile was fired using a power cable brought out from a nearby electrical supply point. The Germans had installed a number of these electrical cables, connected to normal mains, that were laid in the neighborhood via Rijksstraatweg and Rust En Vreugdlaan.
No one had been allowed within a half a mile of the site, but several people had heard a pump being worked for about two hours. The tank truck had been filled from a railway wagon in the town. The hoses used at the rail tanker for transferring the liquid were covered with frost and it was concluded that the substance being transferred was liquid oxygen.
Soon after the firings, the German rocket batterie reported to HQ; "The A4 was effective with two rounds against London 9.9.44."
first rocket attacks, English fighter aircraft came to look at Wassenaar.
Soon they discovered the launch site after which, bombardments and strafing
attacks were initiated. A heated battle ensued with German anti-aircraft
batteries. It was not safe anymore in Wassenaar with its beautiful surroundings.
On Sunday, September 10, the government ordered the evacuation of the area,
with the exception of the area behind the Kerkdam. Within three
days, the entire area between the viaduct on the Leidschenstraatweg
and Kerkdam, including the park named Marlot, had to be evacuated.
Even though the rocket attacks had begun, the concerns of the launching crews were far from over. Fuel and supplies, especially the highly volatile liquid oxygen, were being brought in from Germany in frustratingly small amounts. The rockets were another problem. By the time they reached their launching sites, more than half were not fit for firing. Long storage was causing the inner workings of many rockets to corrode. From the time the rockets left the Central Works factory at Nordhausen, they were stockpiled in depots along the northwest German border. There they remained, for weeks at a time. When they were finally brought over to the launching crews many of the V2s were in poor condition. Vital components had corroded away and electrical systems were especially vulnerable.
The Dutch resistance on several occasions was able to get maps and messages to the British detailing the locations and operations of the German rocket troops. Several British and American fighter-bomber attacks were mounted with little success during the German rocket campaign. It took Intelligence quite a while before they found out how mobile the new rockets were. Not only was the rocket impossible to stop after firing, but was also going to be a major headache to stop on the ground. Both the R.A.F. and the U.S. Army Air Force did their best to stop the missiles. The U.S. Eighth Air Force sent more than 100 fighters over Holland to strafe anything that looked like a target. The fighter sweep shot up a lot of vehicles and railway cars, and probably was partly responsible for the shortage of liquid oxygen and other supplies at the launch sites.
The Allied armies were another major worry. American, British, and Canadian troops were already into Belgium and at the German border. Each batterie commander was advised to be ready to move out of their areas within a few hours notice. SS General Hans Kammler, commander of all the rocket units, did not want the rockets to fall into Allied hands. The 485 (Motorized) Artillery Battalion's launching crews waited to see what would happen next. Their orders were to continue firing at London, but the 485 was on alert for a possible withdrawal to the east.
On September 9, the Batt. 2./485 moved launching operations to the estate Beukenhorst in Wassenaar. On September 10, the first batterie of the 485 Batt. joins the other units in Wassenaar for operations. On September 12, between (06.00 hr.) and (21.40 hr.), five V2s were launched. On September 14, two rockets crashed into the North Sea, north of Kijkduin. On Sunday, September 17, about (19.30 hr.), the R.A.F. bombed the surrounding of Raaphorst. They did it thoroughly because in the coming days there were no V2s launched. On September 19, the inhabitants were allowed to return to their houses once again. Several hours after the air attack the rocket troops were forced to leave temporarily because of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem. They left Wassenaar in the night towards the North. They went to Overveen near Haarlem.
On October 3, the Sonderkommando had returned to Den Haag and the first Meillerwagen drove onto Ockenburg in the morning at (09.00 hr.). The Allies' defeat during the Market Garden Operation gave the German rocket troops confidence that the sites in The Hague were secure. The first V2 that day was launched at 23.00 hr., followed by another rocket 45 minutes later. The later rocket exploded at a low height. First rocket from new launch site at Bloemendaal was launched on October 7. An air attack took place at Ockenburg and Bloemendaal on October 18, when six aircraft dropped their bomb loads. At Bloemendaal the bombs caught a rocket on a Meillerwagen unconcealed, out in the open.
On October 21, Batt. 444, after firing from Walcheren, then from Gaasterland, moved to join 485 Batt. units for operations in Den Haag. The launch site at the estate Duindigt was used again on October 22. During the first three weeks of October, usually one or two rockets were launched per day. But now, with the 444 from Gaasterland also firing from Den Haag, no less than six rockets were launched each day. On October 23 there were launch sites at Rijswijkse Bos (de Naald), several meters away from the Monument to Peace of 1697. The ammunition dump at Overvoorde was too close to these launching sites at Rijswijk, so the sites were abandoned on October 27. The area around the race course at Duindigt, where the ground was very solid, was used frequently. At this time, two launch sites were located here. Also in the north, some rockets were launched from the Kerkhoflaan in the Scheveningsche Bosjes, on Zorgvliet and later Willem de Zwijgerlaan / Statenkwartier.
From their homes in Den Haag, residents saw quite a few V2s blast skyward. Watching the tall missiles roar off their firing tables was an awe-inspiring experience for onlookers. But to the launching unit technicians and engineers, preparing a V2 for firing meant hard work and tense nerves. The V2 was such a sophisticated weapon that even the smallest error might cause it to malfunction and crash, or blow up on the ground. Many of the firings took place in the many restricted areas called “The Sperrgebiet”. One of these was a three-kilometer strip of land along the coast where all residents had were forced to exit earlier because of construction undertaken for Hitler's Atlantik Wall.
Security measures along this strip were strict. The Germans wanted no persons to see how their rockets were prepared and launched, but civilians still managed to get close enough for a good look. Some young children were free to go in and out of the restricted area. They would gather firewood for their families, and could go into the Sperrgebiet without being bothered. Once inside the restricted zone, however, some children became acquainted with some of the German soldiers. They would strike up conversations with the uniformed men and found out good information. Some of these children even saw a dangerous V2 launch -up close at times.
A tree-lined street, such as the Rijksstraatweg / Benoordenhoutseweg, which runs north from Den Haag through Wassenaar, was the ideal launching site. It was firm and level, accessible to all launch vehicles, and the tall trees provided natural camouflage for the 46-foot high rockets. The Haagse Bos, a forested park inside Den Haag, was another launching ground. V2s were also launched from the streets - Willem de Zwijgerlaan, Zorgvliet, Kerkhoflaan, and Waalsdorperweg. All traffic would be cleared from the selected roadway just before launch. After the firing, the crews would quickly leave the area. If any Allied fighters arrived, they found nothing at all.
After the failure of Operation Market Garden by Allied troops, air strikes were the only way of stopping, or at least slowing down the rocket attack. But even though American an British fighters where constantly harassing the Dutch road and rail system, the missile launchings kept increasing.
But for most, the abruptness of the V2s arrival was its most terrifying feature. There was no time to do anything. It traveled faster than sound and it was upon a person before they could even think about it. Londoners reported that without question, the V2s were worse than the V1 attacks. The thunderous bang of the explosion, followed by the roar of the rockets descent, which made it seem bigger and more frightening.
The rocket launching units continued their operations, moving to a new site every few days. On October 26, nine rockets were fired, three of them in the space of twenty-five minutes. The next day there were two launch failures near Beukenhorst; one crashed into area of De Kruisvaarder; another crashed into the opposite end of Beukenhorst. The next day was even worse for the Sonderkommando troops at Beukenhorst – at (14.00 hr.) a rocket failure occurred at a height of 90 meters. The rocket fell back onto the launch site destroying equipment and killing twelve German soldiers. This would be the worst accident (pertaining to German losses) during the Den Haag operations. Afterwards, the Beukenhorst launch site was no longer used.
A rocket launched from the Rijswijkse Bos exploded at Huis van de Kruisvaarders / van St. Jan and killed seven boys, five brothers and two others in the afternoon. In the following months there were a lot of failures. In Rijswijk a rocket came down on the Roman Catholic Institute killing almost 20 people. In Voorburg at Koning Wilhelminastraat six houses were destroyed and even a rocket came down on the railway station in Wassenaar.
Even though the missiles were now fresh from the Central Works factory, launching failures continued. Dutch intelligence put the failure rate for launchings at 8%. During October, 83 rockets were launched of which 5 were failures. Some rockets blew up on their launch stands, killing and injuring crew members; some failed to ignite at all. Others hung in the air for a moment, then crashed to earth and blew up or fell into the sea. Whenever civilians heard the roar of a rocket ignition, everyone would begin to count the seconds. After thirty seconds, they were safe; if the engine stopped after thirty seconds or more had gone by, the rocket would either crash into the North Sea or fall on the other side of the city.
When the engine cut out before the thirty second limit, that was the worst time. The missile would slow down and hang in the air for a few seconds before it began to fall back to earth. Rockets were seen blasting wildly over the city, out of control; shooting horizontally only to crash a few kilometers from the firing site. Most exploded on impact; if the warhead did not go off, German specialists would try to defuse it. Many of the failed shots fell on the residents of the city. The detonation of the 2000 LB (1000 kg) warhead, along with the alcohol and liquid oxygen supply, blew up hundreds of houses and caused many civilian casualties.
The ‘air burst’ problem had not been completely solved either. Rockets frequently broke up in the upper atmosphere, high above the North Sea. On November 12, a rocket broke up in the air over London's Victoria Station. Astonished people saw a puff of smoke bloom in the sky, followed a few seconds later by a distant explosion and a hail of metal fragments.
During the first week of November, twelve V2s hit London; during the second week, 35 V2s came down; during the third week, there were 27 V2 incidents. When the first few rockets landed on England in September, they had been little more than a nuisance. But in November, several were hitting every day. On November 12-14, there were about four V2 incidents per day. Under a new system called warme Semmel or 'hot cakes', rockets no longer sat about for weeks before launching. By November 20, about 210 rockets had reached England, with 95 hitting London. Four hundred and fifty-six people had been killed in London alone, with hundreds more injured.
Besides causing actual physical damage, the rockets also had a psychological impact. The V2 affliction on London was much more supernatural than the buzz bombs had been earlier in the year. No one could have expected the ‘lightning bolt out of nowhere’. Even though the V2 was generally more feared, it disrupted everyday life less than the V1 flying bomb; because there was no way to prepare for it. One moment you were there and the next moment you were vanished. The V2 impacted at a speed that would bury the missile 30 feet into the earth before the warhead could explode. The blast wave, combined with the speed of impact, would devastate everything within a quarter mile radius.
Since November 9, the Wehrmacht no longer occupied Walcheren. After a sharp nine day battle, the German commander surrendered Walcheren and 10000 German troops to British and Canadian forces. The way to the port of Antwerp was now clear; Allied forces controlled all fifty-four miles of the port’s seaward approaches. But the rocket launchings went on from The Hague and its outskirts. On a clear day in the northern portions of the Antwerp suburbs, soldiers and civilians could see the rockets heading for London in the distance launched from the Dutch coast.
Although the launching batteries in and around Den Haag hit London eighty-two times in November, the crews of 444 and 485 had no real idea where their missiles were impacting. They could only set their gyro mechanisms and hope they were accurate. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to pinpoint the V2 impacts by using radio waves and seismology, but in the end the best reports came from German spies.
Various V2 firing sites now included places such as the road to Waalsdorp across the railway line. The assembly and transfer point for the A4 technical & firing troops was located at Villa “Bella Vista” on Scheveningen Promenade and the “CAP” garage. As many as 14 Meillerwagen trailers were seen. There was also a firing site at Zorgvliet at the intersection of Jacob Catslaan / Johan de Wittlaan.
A new launching site at Ockenburg, was reportedly located in the surroundings of the summerhouses, from Monsterscheweg and from grounds close to the clinic. German Staff Headquarters were seen at van Stolkweg and in this area there was a launching site near the Waterpartij. Further south, there was a 444 batterie firing site in Hoek van Holland on a new concrete road (a few hundred meters east of the station), opposite the car ferry that sailed between Hoek van Holland and Rozenburg. There was also another HvH 444 firing site nearby, next to the sanitorium, on the road to Den Haag.
One site was rumored to be a static bunker at the Hoek van Holland "fruit wharf", where perfect little squares were seen burnt into the new concrete road where the launching tables were standing next to the railway. The site was just opposite from the new ferry landing for vehicles to Rozenburg, a little southeast of the rail station. This firing position was used first by Batt. 444 and later by 1./485.
Britain's Air Ministry decided that bombing liquid oxygen factories might succeed where other attempts to stop the long-range missiles had failed. Experts drew up a list of eighteen factories that manufactured liquid oxygen. Ten factories were inside Germany; eight were in the Netherlands.
Some suppliers in Holland were - the company, “NV Centrale Ammoniak Fabriek” at the Stammersdijk 23 at Weesperkarspel, delivered liquid oxygen exclusively for the German troops. Another company in Amsterdam, “NV Maatschappij tot explotatie der cg Remmenhullersche Koolzuur en Zuurstoffabriek” Kerkstraat 271, also delivered liquid oxygen. The companies, “Gist en Spiritus fabriek” and “De Destilleerderij en Roomgist fabriek” Turfmarkt 17, at Delft, delivered spiritus (alcohol).
The eight plants in Holland, considered to be the most important, and had been built in residential areas. Attacking these factories would require pinpoint accuracy; even the slightest bombing error might result in hundreds of civilian deaths. Because of an agreement with the Dutch government in London regarding such targets in residential districts, only one of the liquid oxygen factories in Holland, Zuurstof fabriek De Alblas, was bombed. On Jaunuary 22, in the mid-morning the plant was attacked by seven Spitfires, then again, around 13.00 hr. and the plant was destroyed. Only two of the German plants were attacked; this had no effect upon the supply of liquid oxygen to the rocket launching crews.
Allied air power also stepped up armed reconnaissance flights over Den Haag. Hundreds of sorties were flown looking for V-weapon targets. Sometimes contacts from the Dutch underground tipped off the always close fighter bombers. Between October and November, the U.S. Army Air Force and Fighter Command flew more than ten thousand sorties against railways and road transportations, between Den Haag and Leiden, and around the Hoek van Holland. Fighter Command flew 600 more from British airfields, much of the work done by the Spitfire, employed as a fighter-bomber. Allied fighters caught two trains just from the Central Works factory at the end of November. The trains carried 40 missiles between them - all 40 rockets were scrapped.
Operating out of Sussex, England, the first Australian fighter-wing to operate in Europe was a Spitfire wing, which included No. 451 and No. 453 Squadron R.A.A.F. These fighter wings were devoted entirely to counter-measures against the V2 long-range rocket. Operating from bases in Britain and on the Continent, the wing flew 1328 sorties over Holland, bombing and strafing launching sites, workshops and transport, and cutting railway lines leading to the firing sites.
Members of the Dutch resistance very quickly learned that the arrival of a rocket-carrying Meillerwagen trailer in their area, along with the rest of the rocket batteries vehicles, was the sure sign of an impending launch. The rocket troops knew that the underground was watching, because the Spitfires and Typhoons came soon after, to shoot at the Germans after a missile shot. All along the Rijksstraatweg, the road north from Den Haag through Wassenaar, foxholes had been dug for quick shelter in case of air attack. At one place along the road, a large sign informed pedestrians; “Attention - Strafing attacks: foxholes on left”.
But the rocket crews were also aware of the undergrounds moves. The troops realized that the launch vehicles were giving away their intentions. In December, each firing unit included a camouflage platoon. Field training now emphasized camouflage, for concealing the tankers and trailers from the air. Vehicles that had to remain in the launch area were dug in and covered with concealment netting; the rest were dispersed and hidden in the woods.
High-flying Allied bomber crews were also viewing this daily onslaught on V2s rocketing skyward towards England. On November 24, the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group, while flying at 22,000 feet, got a close look at V2 rockets being fired at London. The B-17 and B-24 crews could easily see the fast-moving missiles and their contrails against the blackness of the upper atmosphere.
People all over London were enjoying a nice shopping day on November 25. In West End, American soldiers could be spotted among those enjoying the day. In the East London district of Deptford at the New Cross Shopping Center it was crowded as ever on this Saturday afternoon. Shoppers were crowded in Woolworth’s, busy choosing from the store shelves. At 12.10 hr. the Woolworth's building was shaken apart by a massive explosion. An instant later, the entire building collapsed into the basement. Everyone inside was thrown down into the cellar along with tons of beams and plaster; many were buried under the huge pile of debris. One hundred and sixty-eight people had died. Some were killed outright by the rockets impact; others were crushed or suffocated when the building caved in. Seventy bodies were pulled out of Woolworth’s alone. Eleven souls were never found.
At the beginning of December a rocket came down in the River Thames, not far from London’s Savoy Hotel. It sent a huge geyser of muddy water high into the air, and blew out windows all up and down the riverfront. Later that day, Londoners gathered on Waterloo Bridge and the river embankment to stare at the spot where the rocket impacted.
At the first of December, the Allied air attacks increased. The air raid sirens sounded many times each day for the rocket troops. In spite of the many Allied aircraft attempts to stop the launchings, only rocket malfunctions and an occasional errant shot kept the missiles from falling in Britain. An average of four or five V2s hit London every day during the early part of December, with as many hitting the neighboring county of Essex, just to the east.
By December 15, launch sites were prepared at new locations. These included a site near Kasteel (castle) Oud Poelgeest at Rijswijk, another site at van Vredenburgweg Huis te Werve and also a new site near the former Rijswijk railway station de Kooi at Leiden. On December 16, rockets were reported to be launched between Egmond and Bergen aan Zee in the dune area. The Dutch resistance reported on Dec. 31, about one hundred V2 rockets lying underneath the trees of the Haagse Bos at the corner of Leidsestraatweg. The V2 train unloading depot was at Scheveningen, on the corner of Harstenhoekweg / Zwolsestraat. A rocket launched (23.55 hr.) from the Waalsdorperweg site on December 31, rose to 2000 meters then exploded. Residents in Van Voorrschotenlaan (near Waalsdorperweg) were evacuated.
The residents of Den Haag were still unsuspecting victims of out-of-control rockets. A rocket launched from Ockenburg on January 1 came down in a heavily populated area at (17.17 hr.). Several meters above the launch table the rocket turned 160 degrees, then blasting low over two cemeteries, it came down on the houses in the Indigostraat, corner Kamperfoeliestraat, at a distance of 3600 meters from the launch site. 38 people lost their lives. The Dutch doctors and nurses, who arrived very quickly, could not start with their work until after the Germans collected the remains of the rocket.
On January 16, even the German civil authorities suggested the German troops should stop the launches in the city because, even for the Germans, there was a lot of useless suffering. The German commander replied that all failures were the fault of the Dutch people, because it was only by Dutch sabotage that a V2 could fail. Curious people, that collected the crashed pieces of the V2, usually had to pay with their lives. The fear of espionage and treason of the German secrets made the Germans introduce strict measures. Several people were executed because they picked up a silly piece of metal - of a crashed V2.
On January 5, rockets where launched at the estate Madesteyn, between Madeweg and Monsterscheweg. Firing sites were located at the villa of Ockenburg, and also at Bloemendaal. On January 21, the firing site at Bloemendaal is moved to Monsterscheweg.
On January 25, a missile was fired (08.17 hr.) in the morning from the grounds of Duindigt. It came down at the Archipel area on the corner of Riouxstraat / Bonistraat, totally destroying five houses with forty more houses heavily damaged. Ten persons were killed with forty more injured.
In the days prior to February 2, firing sites were reported to be located in the garden of Zorgvliet and in the garden of Stedelijk Museum (town museum). The Stedelijk Museum site had just experienced an explosion, which damaged part of the museum. After February 2, a new firing site was set up at the corner of Statenplein / Willem de Zwijgerlaan. At this site there was also a V2 failure and rocket pieces rained down on the streets. One day later another rocket that was launched from Klingendael failed and it impacted near De Battaaf. The firing site previously at Monsterscheweg was moved to Frederick Hendrikplein (Den Haag).
In the months of January and February the number of launches substantial increased. Because of the the improved transportation of missiles from the Mittelwerke and also, more missiles became available from the Blizna testing ground, Heidelager, because of the Russian advances in Poland. The weather improved in January, which helped to increase the number of firings because the soil became firmer allowing better missile handling on the previously wet ground. On February 4, a total of 16 V2s were fired in just 24 hours.
On February 13, several A4 firing sites were situated close to the grandstands of the racetrack at Duindigt, straight across Wittenburgerweg on the track, and also behind a house at Buurtweg. The Germans used this site many times from November to February. The firm sandy soil of Duindigt provided a good base for the firing table and there were many launch sites located on these grounds. The greatest V2 activity was in mid-February. Inside of one week over seventy V2s were fired at London, with as many as 50% of them hitting greater London.
14, several R.A.F. Spitfire aircraft had just finished a bombing run over
Wassenaar when a V2 was fired from the forest. One of the aircraft tried
to attack to fast moving rocket, but was unable to hit the target from
600 meters. R.A.F. pilot Raymond Baxter remembers,
“…I read in my log book that we attacked a target just North above The Hague on 14 February 1945. I must have been in a very aggressive mood because I read in my logbook that after a dive attack of 6000 feet, I ordered the boys to return to attack the anti-aircraft defense, which was trying to make it difficult for us. After we dropped the bombs I saw to my surprise at a distance of 600 meters a V2 out of the forest, that we just had bombed, rising into the air, very slowly. Right in front of us. It was an incredible sight and it was so unexpected that I couldn't do anything about it. But my number three, a Scotchman called Cupid Love, responded very fast and shot at the V2 that was rising slowly. It must have been one of the most optimistic shots of the entire war. So far as I know this was the only time in history of the war that a dive-bomber attacked a rocket in the air. Fortunately, he didn’t hit the rocket. I say fortunately, because if he had hit the rocket, the war would have been ended for me quite abruptly.”
resistance reported that trucks and vehicles for the rocket troops were
parked at Rust en Vreugdlaan, at the entrance Houtlaan, and
also at the Buurtweg (Voorlinden). At Pionierpark
many parts of the rockets were stocked.
The month of
March was very hard on the residents of Den Haag. On March 3, fifty-six
Mitchell bombers flew to Holland intending to target Duindigt and
the western portion of the Haagse
Bos, where many V2s were stored. Because of a navigation mistake,
the first bombs were dropped to the southeast of the Haagse
Bos instead of northwest – a deviation of 2500 meters. The
following aircraft also released their bombs on cue of the lead aircraft.
a short time the entire Bezuidenhout quarter was ablaze.
Firemen from all over Den Haag, Vlaardingen,
and Utrecht en Zaandam battled to extinguish the fires all afternoon
and evening. That night, as the fires still blazed, several rockets rose
into the dark skies, launched from Duindigt. The Germans wanted
to let the R.A.F. know that they missed their target once again. At 02.15
hr., five firemen were killed when one of these rockets came down at Vlierweg
near the Schenkweg, on the edge of the Bezuidenhout. On
Sunday the damage was clear. 3315 houses were burned entirely,
mainly at the Thersiastraat and the Juliana van Stolberglaan
and in the surroundings of the Korte Voorhout. 1217 houses were
damaged heavily. About 12000 people lost their houses and all their possessions.
486 civilians were killed.
|On the night
of March 23-24, the troops of Montgomery reached the Rhine and 48
hours later the situation for the Germans became critical. The V-weapons
were ordered to leave by the Oberkommando and all actions of the V1 and
V2 troops were stopped. The expensive material and the special trained
troops were to return to Germany before the enemy captured them.
The last six rockets fired at England on March 27, included one that impacted a block of flats (apartments) at 07.21 hr. in Stepney at Whitechapel. 134 people were killed and 49 others injured. It was a bittersweet end to the 'rocket affliction' that held its grip on London for so many months.
The rocket troops from Den Haag still had 60 rockets. Everything that could not be transported by truck or tractor was put into a cargo train. At an assembly site near the Kasteel (castle) Duivenvoorde, explosives were used on a large amount of rocket parts, which were not worth transporting; building a large pile to be destroyed when leaving the site. At (14.00 hours) March 29, an enormous explosion sounded and the material was blown up. The windows of houses in a wide area were blown out, ceilings and walls came down or were torn apart, trees broke easily into pieces. The heavy walls of the castle (that hadn't experienced violence for ages) withstood the explosion. The Germans threw other parts of V2 rockets into the water at Leidschendam. This was the farewell of the Germans troops. Protected by low clouds on the rainy Thursday afternoon, they drove in a long procession to Leiden, from there to Utrecht, and then finally to Germany.
In total the Germans in Den Haag launched about 1300 V2s at London since September 8. Of these 1115 reached (86%) reached the United Kingdom and 518 (40%) reached the target London. The official overview says 2724 people lost their lives and 6467 people were heavily injured. Of the 1300 launched, 1039 took place (80%) from Den Haag or in close neighborhood of The Hague. The others were launched from or near Hoek van Holland.
Click map for more photos and operational map of the V2 rocket
in the Den Haag / Wassenaar area
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