May 1940: three abandoned armoured vehicles in the Sysselt forest
In the early morning of Friday, 10 May 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands. Towards the end of the afternoon, the German advance guard appeared at the Zuid Ginkel inn. The first skirmishes immediately resulted in fatalities. As they crossed Ginkel Heath, the Germans approached Ede. They engaged in battle with the Hussars and three armoured vehicles at the edge of the Sysselt forest.
In 1940, the Dutch army had only 24 of these armoured vehicles, which were equipped with a 37 mm gun and three machine guns. Five men were assigned to a vehicle. They fended off the attack by the Germans, who temporarily retreated. By early evening, however, German troops had occupied Ede.
At the end of the day, the Hussars were ordered to withdraw behind the Grebbe line. The troops went through Ede and used the Rijksweg national highway to move to De Klomp. The message failed to reach all units, however. The platoon with the three armoured vehicles was still in the Sysselt. They were not aware of the current situation. Platoon commander Lieutenant Moolenburgh sent an orderly on a motorbike to the headquarters in the De Langenberg hotel to get an update. The orderly was captured and did not return.
A second orderly discovered that all Dutch troops had already cleared out of Ede. Not only that, but the platoon left behind in the Sysselt came under artillery fire from fellow troops in the middle of the night. The lieutenant decided at once to drive back to De Klomp. In the dead of night, the first vehicle drove into a pothole and the platoon was forced to abandon it. All of the men were packed into the remaining two armoured vehicles and, travelling via the Rijksweg, managed to reach their own units in De Klomp in the early hours of the morning.
In the days that followed, the Whitsun weekend, the fighting continued to the west of Ede. On the evening of 13 May, the troops on the Grebbe line were given the order to withdraw. The outdated New Dutch Waterline was set up as a defence, but it was futile. On 14 May, the Netherlands capitulated and the five-year occupation began.