The Netherlands / Fortification

Cannons on the dike: the German Battery Delfzijl




On June 2, 1940, the coffee cups on the table were shaking in many households of the inhabitants of Delfzijl. For the first time, the soldiers of the German anti-aircraft battery practiced with their heavy artillery on the Eemsdijk. The cannon roar became an almost familiar sound in the following years.

During the Second World War, the port of Delfzijl was an important German fortification. Shortly after the Dutch capitulation, a start was made on setting up an anti-aircraft battery on the Eems coast, approximately where the Eemshotel now stands. This Battery Delfzijl was operational from May 29, 1940. It consisted of four cannons on the dike and a barracks camp at the foot of the dike for the men of the Küstenartillerie. German artillery was also placed at Nansum, Fiemel (Termunten) and in the Carel Coenraadpolder.

The artillery on the Ems and Dollard coasts was not intended to prevent an attack from the sea. The shallow Wadden were unsuitable for a large invasion fleet. The German guns were able to fire on the shipping traffic at the mouth of the Ems. The Battery Delfzijl mainly served to defend the German city of Emden, on the other side of the Ems, less than 20 kilometers away. During the war, that German port had to endure 95 British and American air raids.

From August 1944, the Germans built bunkers at the Battery Delfzijl and at the other artillery positions on the Ems and Dollard coasts. The reason for this was the Allied landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944 (D-Day). The concrete shelters primarily provided protection for soldiers and ammunition during air raids. It is clear that a land attack was expected. The entrances to the bunkers were on the side of the dike.

Around Delfzijl there was also a whole system of trenches, barbed wire barriers and minefields. This 'Festung Emden-Delfzijl' had to be defended to the last man during an Allied attack. That attack came in the spring of 1945. A heavy battle for the 'Delfzijl Pocket' ensued for two weeks. The guns of the Battery were constantly firing at the approaching Canadians, who could barely find cover in the flat land. On May 1, the Germans in Delfzijl surrendered. A day later, the last shots of the war in Groningen sounded in neighboring Farmsum.

Zeebadweg 2, 9933 AV Delfzijl