Hided into a small forest on the Vrijburgstraat just north of West Souburg are still remnants of the anti aircraft battery "Battery Nord". After the conquest of the Netherlands in 1940 by the Germans, east of the Buitenhaven in Vlissingen, this anti aircraft battery was placed to ward off air strikes. Very soon thereafter it was replaced by two anti aircraft batteries, a sea wall in the east and west of Vlissingen. This soon proved inadequate and in subsequent years there was at West Souburg and later also in Breskens a heavy anti aircraft battery set up. Each battery was named after the direction it had over Vlissingen. Thus the bunker of Western Souburg was called "Battery Nord". The four heavy anti aircraft batteries were equipped with four pieces of 10.5 cm SKC/32 each. Like the three other heavy Flak batteries around Vlissingen, the anti aircraft guns mounted in turrets thinnest materials. The domes offered protection against weather and falling shrapnel, but a direct hit from a heavy shell or bomb could not be resisted. On March 31, 1944, the weakness was noted during an inspection of the commander of the 1st army. The answer was that on command of Rommel that ammunition bunkers could not be built anymore. This kept all the features of the battery under the protection of reinforced concrete 30 cm. They were standing on the VF works type Fla14. Some of these VF works are still covered with earth. In the middle of the battery is a bunker, probably built for the power supply.
This and the two bunkers on the type Fla 14a are easily accessible and in good shape. It was a static gun which was initially designed for use on ships. With modern guns at that time it was a vigorous defense of the airspace over Vlissingen, defense against direct attacks and air offensive against the formations that had their flight path over Vlissingen. The German Navy considered such protection necessary because the ports, shipyard 'De Schelde' and the airport (which was abolished in the course of 1941) were of important strategic and financial value. In retrospect, this was not wrong when viewed that Vlissingen wa along the most bombed cities in the Netherlands. Air strikes that in the first instance seemed to be the fate of Vlissingen, but eventually the whole of Walcheren when the dikes at Westkapelle, Vlissingen, Veere and Ritthem in the autumn of 1944 were bombed. It were these anti aircraft batteries that had to fend off airstrikes. Then in October 1944 the Allies approached Walcheren, the anti aircraft batteries got the attention of the Allies due to the increased number of air operations over Walcheren and because they hindered the Canadian advance. The entire month of October 1944 there were successful targeted attacks against the batteries and they were all knocked out. The first problems that the "Battery Nord" encountered were not caused by air strikes on the proposition itself, but by the bombardment of 3 October 1944 on the seafront at Westkapelle. The local marine authorities saw the emerging water problems and would eventually give the statement. It was considered advisable to move the entire battery to Veere. When the Nolle Dike Vlissingen was bombed, the decision about the relocation was acute. The admiral commanding in the Netherlands, who sat in Utrecht, however thought that the guns should remain where they were. The whole bunker should be encircled by a dike. He also believes that the ingress of groundwater could be stopped by an extra layer of cement on the floors to be lubricated. On Walcheren they thought otherwise. The battery was surrounded by sea water without any possibility to camouflage and thus the battery was a target for allied air attacks which the military could not protect. The situation of "Battery Nord" was made clear to a representative of the commanding admiral in the Netherlands in the period when he came to Walcheren from 22 to 25 October. There was made a dike for the whole battery and some dikes separately around them. Aggregates were first placed in the bunker and finally on the roof. On October 18 the battery was completely surrounded by water. The radar for fire control had been prey to the water and a light-aircraft gun threatened to follow. A day later, the housing of the military forces was impossible. Only in emergency situations, the uppermost of the three high beds could be slept. The troops were housed on the upper floors of the houses on the Kerklaan. Getting here was a 700 meters long and 2 meters high walkway from the battery to West Souburg. On October 30 this part was destroyed in an air strike. Because on October 10 by the North Battery fire support was given for the defenders of Western Zeeland the battery was attacked by fighters. "Nord" remained compared to the other three setups the longest in tact. The last deployable gun hit one day before the attack on Walcheren, October 31, it was shutdown because a bomb hit with three tons of hot liquid were thrown into the bunker. Due to cleaning the weapon it was knocked out for 24 hours. On November 1, the gun fired on the landing beach at Vlissingen the last time. A day later the battery is permanently abandonent.
Outside the ruins in a bush on the street vrijburg in Walcheren no remains of the all-important air war could be found. During the war. Here on the street Vrijburg, most remnants of the former "Battery Nord" can be found. One part is destroyed by the war and partly by a post-war demolition drive. What remained are two 7-sided gun positions which are typical of the architecture within the fortifications of the German navy. One of them, possibly damaged in the war. Between these two platforms is a shelter. This was probably built as a local design which is also to be seen due to the less sophisticated design, making it a somewhat unfinished appearance.
Text on the first information board: During the Second World War (1940-1945) ,Vlissingen with hundreds of bunkers and barricades was built as part of the Atlantic Wall. A defensive line that stretched from the North Cape in Norway to the Franco-Spanish border in the Bay of Biscay. The Atlantic Wall had to defend against an Allied invasion of occupied western European coast. An important part of the defense of Vlissingen, the anti aircraft artillery, which means four heavy batteries around the Schelde. The important port and shipyard 'De Schelde' made Vlissingen one of the most bombed cities in the Netherlands.
In this forest lie the remains of the northern anti aircraft battery in Vlissingen.
Restoration and conservation of the bunker complex is a project of the Bunker Preservation Foundation, Foundation Landscape Zealand and Vlissingen municipality.
You're welcome. Entering the bunker (s) is at your own risk.
Text on the second information table:
The battery Vrijburg.
This bunker remains are the remnants of the northern anti aircraft battery of Vlissingen (Marineflakbatterie Nord), armed with four 10.5 inch anti aircraft guns.
The artillery fire control for this was provided by a "Leitstand" which was central to the battery. Using distancemeters and angle viewers, they calculated the position of enemy aircraft. To accommodate the gun control and storage of ammunition, several shelters were built across the battery position.
The battery as a monument:
After the war a part of the underground bunkers were demolished and removed. Only two gun positions and a bunker, remained visible. In 2000 the Bunker Preservation Foundation's Encouragement price of the Foundation Natural Zealand. In collaboration with community Vlissingen, a plan for preserving and restoring the bunker complex was made. Culture, history, nature and recreation come together in this plan. For example, the staff accommodation is now occupied by hibernating bats. In autumn 2002 the battery was made accessible to the public. The battery is now a monument to the air war over Vlissingen, that has cost so many victims.
The battery and liberation:
In November 1944 the Allies carried out a landing on the coast of Walcheren. The aim was to liberate the island and to make the Allied convoy sailing to Antwerp easier. To advance to weaken German defenses in front, the island was put under water by bombing the dikes. To protect Vrijburg battery against the rising water a dike was built. The existing bunkers were partially bricked up and connected by scaffolding. After a series of heavy bombing, most of the guns were broken. One of the setups for the 10.5 artillery was completely destroyed by a direct hit. After these attacks the battery had no real role in the further battle.
You're welcome. Entering the items at your own risk.
Photos: 1, 2, 3 & 4, The remnants of the destroyed bunker.
Photo 5: The bolts of the guns are all still there.
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