The Netherlands / Fortification

Middelburg - Estate Toorenvliedt




In 1942, Toorenvliedt was set up as divisional headquarters for the German units on Walcheren and the Bevelanden. It was part of the Atlantikwall/ Atlantic Wall. German units had built several bunkers here: three command bunkers, a communication bunker and three bunkers used as living quarters. Some bunkers were camouflaged as peaceful farms with windows. It was a good location; the headquarters lay sheltered in the estate, with roads in the immediate vicinity and housing for the army leadership in the nearby castle Ter Hooge.

At the beginning of 1944, the German Fifteenth Army was responsible for the defence of the Channel Coast, from Le Havre to the Scheldt estuary. With the Allied invasion and the fighting in Normandy from 6 June 1944, the Fifteenth Army continued to guard the Channel Coast in the belief that the real invasion still had to come. When the German defences in Normandy collapsed and it was clear that no further invasion would come, the German Fifteenth Army had to pull out and be secured.

The rapid fall of Antwerp placed the High Command of the German Army in a difficult position. The troops west of Antwerp were threatened to become trapped. They eventually managed to escape via Zeeland. The “German Dunkirk” would thus provide a substantial contribution to the new defence of the Netherlands across the rivers and delay the ultimate liberation of the Netherlands.

During the German retreat, the headquarters of General von Zangen, the commander of the Fifteenth Army, was first moved to Wondergem near Ghent and then, on September 5, to the Toorenvliedt Estate near Middelburg. When Von Zangen left ten days later, Toorenvliedt took on its old role of division headquarters.General Daser, the Festungscommandant of Walcheren, would continue to command his troops on Walcheren and the Bevelanden form this place. Forced by the rising water on Walcheren,a result of the breaching of the dykes, he had to retreat to South Beveland on October 17.

When this headquarters was also threatened by the approaching Canadian troops from the east (Operation Vitality I and II) at the end of October, he returned to two buildings on the Dam Square in Middelburg. There, Daser would eventually capitulate.

Koudekerkseweg 129, 4335 SL Middelburg