Holandia / Audiospot

Bombing the Dike




In the winter of 1944, the front line ran straight through the Betuwe region. The Germans planned on preventing any further advance of the Allied troops by flooding the Over-Betuwe area to the east. Helped by bombs from the British air force and these newly rising waters, the badly-damaged dike near Ommeren finally gave way and flooded the Neder-Betuwe area to the west as well. With that, the plans of the occupying forces were ruined.

When, on December 2nd 1944, the Germans blew up the dike on the Rhine at Elden (Rijndijk), the Over-Betuwe area flooded quickly. This forced the Allies to abandon some of their positions and consolidate the frontline. According to the Germans, the dike at Ommeren (Liniedijk) should have functioned more like a dam, preventing the water around the frontline near Arnhem from ebbing away. However, the plan did not work, and the enormous pressure cracked the dike in various places, flooding the Neder-Betuwe area as well.

On the morning of Sunday, December 10th, Typhoons from the 193rd Squadron of the Royal Air Force, took off from Deurne Airport in Antwerp with so-called 1000-pounders hung under their wings. The pilots had been given orders to bomb the partially-collapsed dike in Ommeren so that even more water would flood the Neder-Betuwe, but the manoeuvre had little effect as large parts of the area were already under water.

The war in the Betuwe region crumbled into an amphibious nightmare. The frontline positions were the last pieces of dry land, and soldiers patrolled in canvas boats in cold and soggy surroundings. Meanwhile, the situation for the civilian population became increasingly desperate; houses were flooded and food was scarce. The residents of Ommeren and the surrounding area had to find shelter and food on higher ground whilst the many evacuees staying in the area found themselves in need of refuge for a second time.