Holandia / Historia

Crashed planes




During World War II, more than 6,000 aircraft crashed or made an emergency landing in the Netherlands. The flight routes to and from German targets often passed over the Netherlands. By mid-1942, engines of bombers and fighters could be heard almost every day in the Netherlands, all on their way to bomb the German war industry.

Following the Allied invasion of Normandy and their advance northwards, Allied fighters became increasingly active over the Netherlands from September 1944 onwards. The bombers and fighters used the major rivers in the Rivierengebied, among others, for their navigation.

During flights towards Germany, they faced anti-aircraft fire and attacks by enemy aircraft in the sky. The Luftwaffe stationed fighter planes in the Netherlands to defend the airspace.

The roar of the planes also created hope among the population; it meant that people were fighting for their liberation. But as soon as people heard the planes or anti-aircraft guns, they rushed inside or sought shelter. That way they hoped to be safe from the violence coming from above. In Vuren, a father pulled his playing daughters inside when he heard the anti-aircraft gunfire. However, the Polish plane that was shot down landed right on their house killing all three of them. The pilot who jumped out of the plane survived the crash and was captured.

The price paid by the Allies was high. Without the commitment and sacrifice of the Allied pilots, the repression and persecution in the Netherlands (and Europe) would probably have lasted a lot longer. In total, the RAF lost 55,000 airmen and the USA Air Force more than 37,000, of which many hundreds came down in the Rivierenland area.