On the 10th of January, 1940, a German aircraft of the liaison services, a Messerschmitt Bf108, took off from the airport in Münster with destination Cologne. On board were the pilot, Major Erich Hönmann and his passenger Major Helmut Reinberger. The latter was on his way to a staff meeting of the German 7th Flight Division in Cologne. The pilot lost his bearings in the fog and had to make an emergency landing because they ran out of fuel. The emergency landing succeeded and both the occupants survived the crash. They were not aware at that moment that they had ended up on Belgium territory, close by Maasmechelen, a village about 15 km north of Maastricht.
Soldiers from a frontier post in the area approached the crash site and found a man in uniform busy burning some papers. The fire was kicked out and the remainder of the documents was impounded. Both the German majors were taken along for questioning. On the command post the passenger tried another time to repossess the documents in order to destroy them. The quick action of a Belgian Captain prevented this. It was not surprising that Major Reinberger tried so hard. The documents appeared to contain the German operational orders for the German Army Group B regarding the invasion of Belgium and Holland, codenamed "Fall Gelb" (case yellow).
The text on the monument reads:
Hier viel met documenten zwaar,
den eerschten Duitschen aadelaer.
Jong en oud heuge 't u goed,
vier maanden later kwam de vloed.
Opgericht door het gemeentebestuur
Vochte en de bevolking.
And can be translated approximately as follows:
Here fell loaded with documents
the very first German eagle
Young and old remember the blame
four months later the high tide came.
Erected by the municipality
Vochte and its residents.
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- Text: Wilco Vermeer
- Photos: Ivo Swinnen