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German Training Area ‘Fake Ships’ Westelbeers

At Landschotse Heide (Moorland) the Germans constructed so called ‘fake ships’ for training purposes. Because of the posting of German bombers at Welschap Airport there was a need of training area. In the area around the pools Keijenhurk and Wit Holland at Landschotse Heide a ‘harbour’ was constructed including ‘fake ships’. These ‘ships’ were made of sand, 50 meters long and 7 meters wide. They were surrounded with a ditch. The area was low so it could easily be flooded. To make it even more realistic, the Germans built wooden cabins on it. Five of these ships were constructed. Nowadays, because of the reclamation of the moorland, only three of them are still there.

The Germans used practice bombs. These ‘bombs’ were made of concrete with recesses where glass tubes with phosphorus were put in. Once the bomb fell on the ground, the tube broke and the phosphorus set on fire. This way the pilots as well as the observers in the observation bunker could determine the location of the striking. This bunker was built hundreds of meters in souwthwestern direction, near Ir. Metroppweg and is still intact today.

The training area is also used by bombers to discard their ‘real’ bombs when they could not deliver them according to the original plan. This way it was for the planes safer to land. Those bombs made huge craters, to the great satisfaction of the swimming youth after the war.

Also after the war many practice bombs were found by the farmers plowing their land. In the surrounding area on certain locations these bombs are marking the entry of the farmsteads, now and then painted with the colours of the flag of Holland or like a cow.

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  • Text: Kees Boks
  • Photos: Pascal de Graaf (1, 2, 3, 4), Kees Boks (5)