Holland 1940 War broke upon Belgium and Holland on 10th May 1940. The brief campaign in Holland involved few British troops. The German forces crossed the eastern frontier of the country in several places and at the same time early on 10th May troops were landed on the beaches north of The Hague and parachutists were dropped near Rotterdam and The Hague seizing vital bridges and isolating the capital. The confusion was increased by the activities of German agents. The Dutch Army was relatively small and although a valiant resistance was put up in many places the fact that the German points of attack were widely separated made co-ordinated resistance difficult. On 12th May the German columns advancing from the east made contact with the parachute troops south of Rotterdam. The final blow was the bombing of Rotterdam on 14th May by some fifty German aircraft which demolished a great part of the city centre and killed a large number of people. Utrecht was threatened with a similar fate but in the evening of 14th May the Dutch forces surrendered. When the Dutch Government found their country attacked they appealed to Great Britain for help. In spite of their anxieties elsewhere and the shortage of trained troops the War Office arranged to send a force of Marines and a composite Guards battalion containing men from the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards and the 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards. The Marines, numbering two hundred landed at the Hook of Holland early in the morning of 12th May, with orders to hold the port so that further landings could take place unopposed. During the morning they established a perimeter about 2 kilometres from the jetty. Early the following morning the composite Guards battalion arrived with orders to move towards The Hague and to co-operate with the local Dutch commander in safeguarding the Dutch Government. Within a few hours of landing it became clear that unless strong reinforcements were forthcoming the British troops would have to be withdrawn from the Hook. In the meantime the road from The Hague having been kept open Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina arrived about midday and embarked for England in a British destroyer. The same evening the Dutch Government also left. The general situation in Holland was deteriorating rapidly and heavy air raids in the area defended by the battalion caused a number of casualties in the evening of the 13th and the morning of the 14th. About noon of that day the battalion was reembarked in British destfoyers along with the Marines and taken back to Dover. Belgium 1940 The attack on Belgium started simultaneously with that on Holland. Plans against this eventuality had been made by the British and the French commands the previous
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