On Parade! My WW2 Dutch army

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Over the last year I’ve been gradually parading each army in my wargaming collection for inspection to take stock of what I’ve got. In this posting in my On Parade! series, it is the turn of my WW2 Dutch. You can click on each picture to inspect them more closely.  

I’ve got sufficient models to field a small mixed force of the Dutch army as it was when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in  May 1940.

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My 28mm Dutch infantry are all produced by May ’40 Miniatures. They wear green M.1927 steel helmets, and the grey uniform that had changed little over the previous twenty years. 

On the right is a machine gun team. The light machine-gun squads had a M.20 Lewis light machine-gun operated by a gunner and assistant gunner.

The Dutch infantry in 1940 consisted mainly of conscripts, with only a small number of career officers and NCOs. Squads were commanded by sergeants, and had 9-12 men armed with Steyr rifles. I have sufficient figures for three squads of infantry.

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Here’s my squad of the Korps Mariner, who were the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces, and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field.

Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the grey of the regular army, which gave them the nickname of the ‘Black Devils’.

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On the left is an 81mm mortar. Like many armies, the Dutch introduced mortars based on the Stokes-Brandt principle. My force is actually quite lucky to have one, as the Dutch army were under-equipped with mortars, and had only two per battalion.

On the right is a three-man Schwarzlose M.08 machine gun team. The gun is complete with its hose and drain bucket. In May 1940 the Schwarzlose machine gun was quite outdated. Still, they proved to be highly reliable and robust, and the number of break-downs was extremely low.

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On the left is a Böhler 47mm anti-tank gun. These guns would prove effective during the intensive fighting in 1940. It could easily penetrate the armour of all German tanks of that time, it had a low profile and it was easy to handle.

On the right is a Solothurn S18-1000 20mm anti-tank rifle. When it was first introduced its firepower was adequate against light tanks and other soft-skinned vehicles, but by 1940 it was insufficient to deal with newer and heavier tanks.

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The Landsverk M.36 armoured car on the left was quite modern for its time. The 37mm gun was relatively heavy for an armoured car, and was better than that of a German Pz.III tank. Their only significant weakness was their poor armour. The Dutch armoured cars that served in the May war (about 35 were operational) would excel in the fighting.

On the right is a Carden-Loyd tankette. The crew comprised a driver and a machine-gunner, which allowed each to fully concentrate on his own task. Two small domes protected the crew’s heads. The Carden-Loyd was powered by a Model T Ford engine (true!) and had a road speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).

Tanks? Well, the Dutch army had none! Before the German invasion, the Dutch considered the introduction of powerful anti-tank guns as marking the end of the tank era. As the website War Over Holland says, this belief was “amazing for an army that had not seen anything of modern warfare and that got all of its ‘knowledge’ from papers or magazines.” Of course, they couldn’t have been more wrong, resulting in the Dutch being the only belligerent to have no tanks!

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Here’s the crew of the Landsverk. They wear blue overalls over their grey shirts.

The chap in black standing drinking a cup of coffee is a hussar in leather tunic and trousers. Hopefully sometime in the future May ’40 Miniatures might produce a motorcycle for him!

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There’s a personal reason why I have built a Dutch army. In September 1939 my father was conscripted into the Depot Battalion of the Medical Troops in Amsterdam (see my previous posting on this subject). In 1940 he was promoted to sergeant, a rank he had held for only one month when the Germans invaded on 10 May.

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My Dad is the left-hand soldier of the middle row. What he experienced over those five days in May 1940, we don’t know. He never told us anything about it. My mother believes he was in Rotterdam, which was badly bombed, though as a conscript from the southern province of Limburg, it was also possible he was stationed there.

So my Dutch army includes a team of medics, in Dad’s honour.

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Terrain for my Dutch army to fight over includes several modified Gungnir cardboard buildings, a MDF windmill by 4Ground, a bridge and back-gardens by Sarissa Precision, latex brick roads from Early War Miniatures, and plastic lamp-posts, power poles and brick walls from Rubicon.

That concludes the parades of the WW2 part of my collection. Next will come samurai! And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

10 thoughts on “On Parade! My WW2 Dutch army

  1. Lovely figures and a very good reason for raising them.
    I assume yo have seen the film about the German invasion of the Dutch featuring the bicycle mounted defenders. I forget it’s name but quite a useful film.
    Happy New Year

  2. Season’s Greetings to you Rolly /Artois …nice to see you have made up your …’Opas’…army . They were very brave especially the ones in Black =The Royal Netherlands Marines…!!! … have read up recently on how the Netherlands Army got its first Tanks …Canadian Ram tanks , and Shermans left behind by the Allies in 1945 … good on them … a good start => Free ,better than spending Guilders when Holland was trying to rebuild its economy . Then came the Centurions …now of course they have the magnificent Leopard 2’s . .. have a Happy ,Safe and peaceful New Year …Nick Papadopoulos [ aka Hellenic Kiwi ] ,Auckland ,New Zealand .

    1. p.s. … sorry Rolly I fully re-read your writing above -it was your Dad’s not your Opa’s army …NJP.

  3. Wonderful little army. Very well done. My mother was a young girl in Den Haag during the war. My uncle was a teenager and he hated Germans for the rest of his life. He did not take kindly to us kids playing with models of German tanks. When I visited we stuck to voetball and Formula 1!

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