The last of the infantry for my 28mm WW2 Dutch army is a section of ‘Korps Mariniers’, or Marines, known as the ‘Black Devils’. As with the rest of my army, these figures are produced by Dutch company, May ’40 Miniatures.
Marines were professional soldiers – the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces – and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field. They had a strong tradition that went back to the year 1665, when the Korps Mariniers found its roots.
Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the olive-green of the regular army. They were armed like regular army soldiers, but were much better trained to use them. They were additionally equipped with a so-called ‘storm-dagger’. The basic weapons used in Rotterdam were the Steyr M.95 rifle, the Lewis light machine-gun and the storm-dagger.
There were about 450 Marines in Rotterdam, the home town of the Korps Mariniers, when the German invasion occurred on 10 May 1940. About half were in basic training, and the others were either staff, operational marines or attending NCO courses.
The Marines successfully defended the bridges across the River Maas for four days, preventing German paratroopers in the city centre from rendezvousing with the other German forces. The Germans ended the stalemate by bombing Rotterdam.
The story goes that when the surrender was declared and the Dutch soldiers came out of their positions, the German commander was expecting a full battalion of men, but was stunned to see only a few Marines emerge in their dark uniforms. He ordered his men to salute them out of respect for their bravery and determination, and labeled them ‘Black Devils’.
As always when I try to take photos of blue uniforms, my pictures have turned out much lighter than the actual figures. The blue tunics and greatcoats are actually quite dark on my models.
Historical information in this posting came from the War Over Holland website.
5 thoughts on “WW2 Dutch ‘Black Devils’”
Great post mate. I’ve never heard of the black Devils. Very interesting and the Minis look cool.
Your account of how the nickname came about is correct. It has stuck because it was overheard by a Dutchman and found its way into romanticized books about the battle. It is only used in reference to the Marines at that time.
Another thing: the Marines were not the only professional branch. The Korps Politietroepen was also a professional branch although I can not confirm it was 100% professional. The Politietroepen also gave a good account of themselves against the invaders.
That’s really interesting information, Peter. Thank you for that.