Pays-Bas / Fortification

Defensive line De Spees




As a neutral country, due to the greatly increased threat of war in 1939, the Netherlands took the inevitable decision to call Dutch men to arms.

After mobilisation, work immediately began to put the various Dutch defence lines in order and bring them up to strength. In the Lower Betuwe, soldiers prepared the Betuwe Defence Line. 'Stelling' was a big word for an old, neglected, Napoleonic-era defence line, also known as line De Spees. The Betuwe Defence Line was an extension of the Grebbelinie between the Rhine and Waal rivers. Across the Waal, the defence line continued in the Peel-Raamstelling.

The defence of the Betuwe Defence Line was entrusted to soldiers of Brigade A, which included the 44th and 46th Infantry Regiments and the 19th and 22nd Artillery Regiments. Behind them in the Tielerwaard were reserve troops from Brigade G.

In all haste, several bunkers were built near the Betuwe defence line to provide some resistance to an enemy from the east. For the quiet villages in the area, the arrival of hundreds of soldiers meant quite a change. Economically, it certainly had its advantages: unemployment fell and local suppliers earned well from the army.

Close to the Spees defense line, there's a monument called De Wachter: a lady who overlooks the land in the direction of the Grebbelinie, thinking about what has happened during the Second World War.