Nov 1944

Jan H. Wigard - 29.07.2007


In the early morning of the 10th of May 1940 the German forces attacked the Netherlands. After Rotterdam was bombed by the “Luftwaffen” on the 14th of May 1940, the Dutch forces in the Netherlands, except those in the province Zeeland capitulated. This to give parts of the French Army in and nearby Zeeland the opportunity to escape back to France.

The likely presence of French soldiers in Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland, was probably reason enough for the German Forces to bomb Middelburg on the 17th of may with their Artillery in firing position near Lewedorp. There is no definite evidence that the German Air Force was also involved in the bombardment.

The overall result of that bombing was the loss of about 600 buildings in the center of the town.

On the 4rd of September 1944 the harbour of Antwerp, Belgium, fell almost unharmed into the hands of the British Canadian 21st Army. That was about 3 months after the Normandy Landings. Because of the long supply lines to Normandy, the Antwerp harbor was of major logistic importance to the Allied forces. Yet, it would take another 3 months before Antwerp harbor could be used by Allied forces as both sides of the river Scheldt were still in German hands.

The most fortified part in the Atlantic Wall was the island Walcheren with Zeelands capital Middelburg situated in the center. Walcheren was the last remaining territory that had to be liberated from the German occupation by the Allied forces. This was accomplished from the West by sea-born landings of Operation Infatuate 1 and 2 and from the East across the Sloedam causeway. In October Walcheren was flooded by RAF air bombardments of the seawalls in Westkapelle, Vlissingen, Ritthem and Veere.

Infatuate 1 took place at Flushing early in the morning November the 1st 1944. Infatuate 2 started at Westkapelle later that same morning. The amphibious assault of November 1st in Westkapelle – the last such enterprise in the European War – was relatively more difficult and dramatic. Especially hard-hit was the Support Squadron Eastern Flank. Twenty of its twenty-seven vessels sunk or were put out of action and their complements of about one thousand men suffered 192 killed or missing, 126 severely wounded and many others slightly wounded.

At that time Middelburg was surrounded by seawater and with the Walcheren coastline out of reach there was only one road available for the Germans to sent reinforcements to the Sloedam area. The German HQ of the 70th Infantry Division of General Daser and 2000 German soldiers were more or less trapped in Middelburg.

During the night of the 1st on the 2nd of November 1944 the shelling of Middelburg started and details of what happened are presented below, based on my research of the reports of the Middelburg police and the Middelburg Fire Brigade.The town center was already very heavily destroyed by German bombing at the start of the War, so now another wave of destruction hit the battered city. The heavy Allied shelling went on for 5 days and 12 civilians lost their lives.

My ongoing research focuses on that shelling, in particular on the exact units that were involved. I would urge anybody with more information about the shelling to mail me at wigard !

In the history of the western campaigns the 1940 bombing is hardly ever mentioned. Whats more, the lengthy and bloody Scheldt campaign is more or less treated as a local affair, which in my view deeply underestimates its importance and ferocity.



In the Zeeuws Archive I researched the 'Day and Night Reports' of the Middelburg Police, covering the period from 31st of October to the 8th of November 1944. My most important finding is the fact that the Middelburg shelling started during the night of the 1st on the 2nd November 1944. What I found in the reports of the Fire Brigade covers the findings in the Police reports. The Flour Mill was also hit that night and not during the night of the 4th to the 5th of November 1944, as Mr. G. Blake wrote as a caption of the aerial photo of Middelburg in his book 'Mountain and flood: the history of the 52nd (Lowland) Division, 1939-1946' (Glasgow, Jackson, 1950). According to my research, at least 12 civilians died during Allied shelling in 1944.

These are, in brief, the main facts ::

The main target was the Railway station area and in particular the railway crossing near the Flour Mill. Within this area most of the shells came down. The total distance from the Flour Mill along the Railway station (956mtrs.) in the middle towards the end is about 1287 metres.  The distance from the Flour Mill to Daser H.Q in westward direction is about 850 metres. We have to presume that the hits around the Daser H.Q. were meant to discourage the Germans. All distances in birds-eye-view and measured from Daser’s H.Q. at Dam 6 Middelburg.

Some Distances: 

Nieuwdorp towards Flour Mill Middelburg : 7860 meters             
Breskens area -9th medium regt. Near Slijkplaat - the Flour Mill - Middelburg : 12932 meters

During the shelling of Middelburg the 'Zeeland Resistance Radio' frequently urged the Allied Forces to stop the shelling or change the direction and distance of the shelling because most shells came down in the center of Middelburg.

It is not clear to me yet which exact Artillery units were involved in the shelling - almost certain is that Field- Medium- as well as Heavy guns were involved. For the moment this is the most essential point of my research! In the Middelburg Police Reports only the shell burst are mentioned that involved inhabited houses, because during German bombardments on the 17th of May 1940 hundreds of houses in the inner part of Middelburg were destroyed and not yet rebuild. As a result of the shelling in november 1944 a total amount of 12 civilians lost their lives.


Day Reports Middelburg Police


This morning at 08.00 hrs. shell-burst in the Singelstraat (257 metres North-North-East). Killed: Arend Mijnheer born Souburg 28-09-1921, carpenter, identity card 009225.


20.30 hrs. Shell-burst at the Veersesingel (530 mts, N.E.) Reported by Mr. Adriaan Paulus Tanus resident of a nearby house at the Veersesingel.


Police-sergeant Schuyer reports that during heavy artillery fire there was a direct shell-burst on the house Gortstraat 66 (590 mtrs S.W.). After the shelling ends he and the Red-Cross nurse Mr. Buys entered the House because a loud screaming was heard. They found: Adriana Clara M. Janse (Middelburg 15-10-1939) and Paulus Jansen (Middelburg 01-03-1941), both seriously wounded; Willy Swaneveld (Middelburg 07-04-1926) slightly wounded; Jacob Janse (Ulrum 22-04-1908), his spouse Neeltje Melis (Serooskerke 17-09-1912), Adriana Clara Steijn mother of Jacob Janse and widow of J. Janse (Middelburg 23-12-1862), all 3 killed.
The wounded were taken by the Red Cross to the local Hospital and the deceased to a makeshift mortuary on the Lange Delft owned by the Firm Simon de Wit (grocer).


20.20 hrs. police-sergeant Wondergem reports that the public bath at the Nieuwe Haven (510mtrs S.S.W) and the grocery shop of Mr. Seymour at the Zusterstraat (572 mtrs. S.W. – [the Fire Brigade said Gravenstraat but that was wrong JHW]) had both a direct shell-burst. Both houses were on fire and the Fire Brigade was already present. Also the bakery of Mr. P. Rotte at the Varkensmarkt (660 mtrs S.W) had a shell-burst just as Mr. J. G. Versluys house at the Laan van Nieuwenhoven (670 mtrs. N.E) the house of Mr. P. de Ruiter Rozenstraat 17, (717 mtrs. N.E) and the Kuiperspoort (92 mtrs. S.E).


Night Reports Middelburg Police

Wednesday the 1st to 2nd of November 1944:

The report states that during that night shells landed on Middelburg and "the police chief-detective A. v.d. Jagt was wounded in his face by falling glass". 6 shell-burst were reported in the town-centre on:

Bellinkstraat (87 mtrs. S.W); at the back of the house Dam 31 (101 mtrs.N.W); Dampoort-corner Veersesingel (475 mtrs. N.E.. and just in our backyard JHW);  Dampoort 25 (580 mtrs. N.E.E); Zuidsingel nr. 74 (340 mtrs N.N.W) victims/killed: Mr. Cornelis Jacobus Maat (Biervliet 09-09-1886) assistant direct-tax office and his spouse Mrs. Sara Nortier (Oostburg 01-12-1887). Molenwater-gasworks (107 N.W.) where the engine-room was hit; Loskade (320mtrs S.S.E) The hay-barn of Mr. de Paauw was hit; Also the “Flour Mill” (850E.S.E) fell pray to the flames by direct shell-burst(s); Breestraat 18(355 E.N.E.) and 20, coal-depots, and Brakstraat corner Breestraat. (335 E.N.E). That night 14 persons who were more or less seriously wounded got medical treatment. Mr. Malipaard (later Police-inspector JHW), head of the Technical Emergency Help will later on make a detailed report of what happened that night.

Thursday the 2nd to Friday the 3rd of November 1944:

During the night shell-burst in the town centre on: Vlissingsesingel (1045 metres. S.S.W.); Lazarijstraat (361 mtrs N.E.); Smidsbolwerk (489 mtrs.east-N.E); Latijnscheschoolstraat nr 6 (387 mtrs.S.S.-West), here 2 persons were wounded; Klein-Vlaanderen (708 West-N-.W.); Molenwater (531 mtrs. W.N.W.)

Friday the 3rd of November to Saturday the 4th of November 1944:

No reports of shell-burst in the town-centre.

Saturday the 4th of November to Sunday the 5th of November 1944:

That night shell-bursts in the Spuistraat nr. 24 (139 mtrs. W-north-W); Police-station of the local police Lange Giststraat (54 mtrs. North-w-w); 03.15 hrs. Fire H.B.S. (high-school)St.Pieterstraat/Spanjaardstraat by shell-burst ( 158 mtrs. N.W.); Direct shell-burst house Korte Delft 48 (205mtrs. South-W).

Sunday the 5th of November to Monday the 6th of November 1944:

00.30 hrs.  Report of shell-burst and fire-alarm at 23.30 hrs at the Segeerstraat 8 (297 mtrs S.W.) The top floors of the house of family Minderhoud, a tax-consultant, was lost by fire. Waterdamage etc. on the groundfloor and the next door house.


Civilian Victims ::

From 01-11-1944 to the night of the 6th of November there were regular shell-bursts in the Railway-Flour Mill area. In 1944 this area was not of the jurisdiction of the Middelburg police. Their jurisdiction was only the town centre West of the canal through Walcheren (from Flushing towards Veere) and the flooded areas South, West and North of that centre.

At that time not all the civilian victims were reported to the Police. My latest findings (07-01-2007) include a total of 12 civilian victims in 1944.

Shell-burst projected on a recent map


Aerial photo, Middelburg 1944

View larger size aerial photo <here>


Dagrapporten Brandweer 30-10-1944 / 8-1-1944


Geen bijzonderheden.

0.50 Aanvang luchtalarm, 01.45 Einde luchtalarm

Route luchtbescherming bij Luchtalarm:

Brandweerkazerne St. Jansstraat; Turfkade; Houtkade; Londensekade; Bierkade; Rouaanschekade; Beatrixbrug; Nederstraat; Rond Oostkerk; Brakstraat; Rotterdamschekade; Dam n.z.; Molstraat; Koepoortstraat; Molenwater; rond Noordpoortplein; Herengracht; Achter de Houttuinen; Schoorsteenvegerssingel; Teerpakhuizen; Blauwendijk; Stationsstraat; Turfkade; Stadsschuur; Hoogstraat; Gortstraat; Langeviele; Beddenwijkstraat; Vlasmarkt; Markt; Noordstraat; Hofplein; Wagenaarstraat; St.Pieterstraat; Lange Delft; St.Jansstraat/Brandweerkazerne.

(Opgave door: de Commandant der Luchtbescherming Kapitein A.Vink)

22.00 – 05.00 - Luchtalarm.
23.00 Brand Brakstraat hoek Breestraat slagerij Poelman waarheen om 23.04 trekker vertrekt met 6 man o.l.v. brandmeester van Roo.
23.45 Brand Loskade hooischuur de Pauw.
01.30 Trekker terug. Huis Breestraat 16 en Pakhuis Breestraat 18 onder bewaking “baby Spuit” Hofplein als reserve doch weer teruggehaald door trekker.
07.40 Brand Londensche Kade doch na verkenning niets meer te zien.

08.20 Luchtalarm. Geen einde alarm vermeld.
10.25 Luchtalarm. Geen einde alarm vermeld.

11.30 Rookontwikkeling in Karelsgang; 11.35 trekker uitgerukt naar Karelsgang o.l.v. Brandmeester van Roo; 11.50 trekker terug in Kazerne. Geen bijzonderheden meer te zien.
17.20 Trekker met V.8 uitgerukt om Klein Vlaanderen leeg te pompen; 17.20 trekker met V.8 terug daar de V.8 niet werkte;
17.40 uitgerukt naar Klein Vlaanderen met Magirus.
17.45 Brand gemeld in Breestraat uitgerukt met trekker o.l.v. brandmeester van Roo.
18.00 Trekker van Breestraat terug in kazerne. Er waren wat kolen aan het branden.
18.20 trekker met V.8 ( welke inmiddels is gerepareerd) naar Klein Vlaanderen daar Magirus dienst weigerde.
19.30 trekker met V.8 terug in kazerne (deze werkt nog niet)
19.30 Magirus in Kazerne terug. In Klein Vlaanderen is in ’t geheel geen hulp verleend daar beide spuiten niet werken.

03.30 brand in de H.B.S.; 03.37 Malcorps belt of ze nog uitrukken en of de heer Mathijsen (Cdt) al gewaarschuwd is.
03.45 Magirus met Trekker en Hofplein-spuit uitgerukt. Er wordt hulp van de Ladderwagen gevraagd.
05.35 “Ladder” rukt uit.
05.45 Trekker komt om benzine; Brandweerman 10 liter benzine gehaald; 05.10 Trekker komt om bus vet.
06.30 “Ladder” en “Trekker” terug van brand.

15.25 brand gemeld hoofdpost L.B.D (Luchtbeschermingsdienst, JHW) Pottenbakkerssingel.
15.50 “Trekker”uitgerukt.
15.51 Bellen afgedrukt; 16.20 bericht Commandant dat geen assistentie meer nodig is.
16.50 “Trekker”terug in kazerne.
21.45 Brand gemeld in het Badhuis(Nieuwe Haven) “Trekker”met “Hofplein-spuit” gaan er heen;
22.00 “Ladderwagen”gaat er heen.
23.30 Commandant Brandweer in Kazerne.
22.45 uitgerukt met “standpijp” naar GravenStraat bovenwoning.
00.20 Manschappen brand van den Heer Seymour (Gravenstraat) terug in kazerne.
00.45 uitslaande brand in de Segeerstraat…. Hoofdpost in kennisgesteld benevens Cdt.
01.15 “Trekker”uitgerukt “Baby-spuit (Hofplein) Geeft water (waterleiding);
03.00 Brand in het pand van den Heer Poppe (Segeerstraat) meester, er wordt nog door enkele brandwachten nagebluscht, gemeld aan de Hoofdpost. De waarnemend burgemeester is die op de hoofdpost aanwezig is, vraagt de Cdt. aan de Telefoon. Deze is niet in de kazerne aanwezig. Deze dringt aan voor een grootere bezetting van de wacht in de kazerne, en vraagt de nog aanwezige brandweerlieden om deze nacht in de kazerne te blijven.

14.30 Babyspuit bij (aannemer) Groosman gehaald;
14.45 Standpijp geplaatst bij Badhuis brand; 2 man er heen;
15.45 Slangen weggehaald bij brand HBS;
16.45 Engelsche gezien in Lange Delft.
17.00 Magirus rukt uit met O.G.; 17.15 “Ladder” rukt uit naar auto-brand St. Pieterstraat;
17.25 “Ladder”terug loos alarm;
20.45 “Trekker” rukt uit om vrijwilligers op te Roepen voor nachtdiensten.

Geen bijzonderheden.

Morgen piket moet naar Langeviele pand 45 waar schoorsteen gevaar oplevert van instorten.


Bron: Zeeuwsarchief Brandweer 1100./ 38 - Zoveel mogelijk werd oorspronkelijke tekst èn spelling door mij (JHW) gevolgd.


The last german air bombartment

Although Middelburg was liberated on the 6th of November 1944, war was not over. Early in the evening of 23rd of January 1945 several German war planes came over Middelburg, probably on their way towards the river Scheldt to hamper the Allied towards the Antwerp Port. The Allied Anti Air defence was very heavy and possibly one of the planes was hit by the A.A. defence for several bombs (or sea-mines) came down on the centre of the town. As far as I know 3 civilians lost their lives. So for Middelburg the war both began and ended with german air bombartment.