In order to understand the construction of the fort we need to look back to the 19th century and more specifically, to the year Belgium, a young state only in existence since , feared that Germany and France would go to war again in the future. Due to the construction of French and German lines of fortification on both sides of the new border, Belgium feared that their neighbours would be tempted to fight on its territory. Due to lack of funds no fort was built there. When the Great War erupted in August, a large part of the invading German army came through this area.
In normal circumstances the frontage for an infantry division would be 6 km. Each target received a Eban glider assault emael name. The fort at Glder is big. Sergeant Eban glider assault emael distributed energy glidwr and made sure each man completed his will. It even turns the tide of global conflicts by helping bringing initially neutral nations like the USA into wars they at first avoided. The bridge at Kanne was blown up by the defence. The Germans captured more than a thousand Belgian soldiers. The Grebbe-Peel Line in the Netherlands, which stretched from the southern shore of the Zuiderzee to the Belgian border near Fetal heart monitor uniform accelerations, had a large number of fortifications combined with natural obstacles, such as marsh-lands and the Geld Valley, which could easily be flooded to impede EEban attack. Around h, a platoon from the 2nd Grenadiers under lieutenant Wagemans reached the fort. After this they had encountered a fair amount of resistance while trying to cross the Albert Canal.
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Proudly powered by WordPress. Only one gun remains — the other apertures have been blocked. Media from Commons. Saunders, Tim Tugwell, Maurice These guns guarded three bridges over the deeply-cut Albert Canal, on the Belgian border. The fort is located along the Albert Canal at the junction between the Belgian, Eban glider assault emael and German border, 20 km northeast of Liege and 10 km south of Maastricht in the Eban glider assault emael, built in the Mount St Peter. The element of surprise can enable even a tiny force to beat a large one. It is claimed that the fort was said to be impregnable, although not by the German military, who merely described it as the strongest of the Belgian forts, and surely not by the Belgian military, who knew forts could only delay. On 10 MayGermany launched Fall Gelb i. Its underground galleries extend over 4 km beneath the hill, connecting combat positions, barracks and the power plant which provided an independent source of electricity. Name required. The fort consisted of 15 armed points — blocks, pillboxes, cupolas, casemates and machine gun nests.
These carried roads which led into the Belgian heartland and were what the German forces intended to use to advance.
- Traveling in 11 DFS gliders towed by Ju 52 transport planes, the men in your assault force took off at a.
- On 10 May , 80 paratroopers of the German 7th Flieger, later known as the 1 st Fallschirmjager Division, landed on top of the supposedly impregnable Fortress, Eben Emael.
- Is that possible?
These carried roads which led into the Belgian heartland and were what the German forces intended to use to advance. As some of the German airborne forces assaulted the fortress and disabled the garrison and the artillery pieces inside it, others simultaneously captured three bridges over the Canal. Having disabled the fortress, the airborne troops were then ordered to protect the bridges against Belgian counter-attacks until they linked up with ground forces from the German 18th Army.
The battle was a strategic victory for the German forces, with the airborne troops landing on top of the fortress with gliders and using explosives and flamethrowers to disable the outer defences of the fortress. Simultaneously, the rest of the German assault force had landed near the three bridges over the Canal, destroyed a number of pillboxes and defensive positions and defeated the Belgian forces guarding the bridges, capturing them and bringing them under German control.
The airborne troops suffered heavy casualties during the operation, but succeeded in holding the bridges until the arrival of German ground forces, who then aided the airborne troops in assaulting the fortress a second time and forcing the surrender of the remaining members of the garrison.
German forces were then able to use two bridges over the Canal to bypass a number of Belgian defensive positions and advance into Belgium to aid in the invasion of the country. The bridge at Kanne was destroyed, forcing German engineers to construct a new bridge. On 10 May , Germany launched Fall Gelb i. By attacking through the Netherlands , Luxembourg and Belgium , the German Oberkommando der Wehrmacht believed that German forces could outflank the Maginot Line and then advance through southern Belgium and into northern France, cutting off the British Expeditionary Force and a large number of French forces and forcing the French government to surrender.
Some of these defensive positions were only lightly defended and intended more as delaying positions than true defensive lines designed to stop an enemy attack. However, some defences were of a more permanent nature, possessed considerable fortifications and were garrisoned by significant numbers of troops. The Grebbe-Peel Line in the Netherlands, which stretched from the southern shore of the Zuiderzee to the Belgian border near Weert, had a large number of fortifications combined with natural obstacles, such as marsh-lands and the Geld Valley, which could easily be flooded to impede an attack.
This delaying line was protected by forward positions manned by troops, except in a single area where the canal ran close to the Dutch border, which was known as the "Maastricht Appendix" due to the proximity of the Dutch city of Maastricht. There the Belgian military could not build forward positions due to the proximity of the border, and instead assigned an infantry division to guard the three bridges over the canal in the area, a brigade being assigned to each bridge.
Artillery support was provided by Fort Eben-Emael, whose artillery pieces covered two of the bridges. The German High Command became aware of the defensive plan, which called for Belgian forces to briefly hold the delaying positions along the Albert Canal and then retreat to link up with British and French forces on the K-W Line. The Germans developed a strategy that would disrupt this plan, by seizing the three bridges in the "Maastricht Appendix", as well as other bridges in Belgium and the Netherlands.
This would allow their own forces to breach the defensive positions and advance into the Netherlands. The Belgian 7th Infantry Division was assigned to guard the three bridges over the canal, supplementing the troops who garrisoned Fort Eben-Emael at the time of the battle. It possessed walls and roofs composed of 5 feet 1. One side of the fort faced the canal, whilst the other three faced land and were defended by minefields; deep ditches; a 20 feet 6.
The fort also possessed its own hospital and living quarters for the garrison, as well as a power station that provided electricity to power the guns, provide internal and external illumination, and to power the wireless network and air-purifying system used by the garrison.
Belgian plans did not call for the garrison of the fort and the attached defending forces to fight a sustained battle against an attacking force; it was assumed that sufficient warning of an attack would be given so that the detachment on the eastern side of the canal could be withdrawn, the bridges destroyed and the garrison ready to fight a delaying action.
The defending force would then retire to the main defensive positions along the River Dyle, where they would link up with other Allied forces. The airborne assault on Fort Eben-Emael, and the three bridges it helped protect, was part of a much larger German airborne operation that involved the 7th Air Division and the 22nd Airlanding Division.
Once these airfields had been secured by the parachute battalion, the rest of the division would land with the aim of occupying the Dutch capital and capturing the entire Dutch government, the Royal Family and high-ranking members of the Dutch military.
The intention of the German OKW was to use the two airborne divisions to create a corridor, along which the 18th Army could advance into the Netherlands without being impeded by destroyed bridges. The force tasked with assaulting the fort and capturing the three bridges was formed from elements of the 7th Air Division and the 22nd Airlanding Division, and was named Sturmabteilung Koch Assault Detachment Koch after the leader of the force, Hauptmann Walter Koch.
Adolf Hitler , who had taken a personal interest in the arrangements for the assault force, had ordered that gliders be used after being told by his personal pilot, Hanna Reitsch , that gliders in flight were nearly silent; it was believed that, since Belgian anti-aircraft defences used sound-location arrays and not radar , it would be possible to tow gliders near to the Dutch border and then release them, achieving a surprise attack as the Belgian defenders would not be able to detect them.
A detailed study of the fort, the bridges and the local area was made, and a replica of the area was constructed for the airborne troops to train in. When exercises were completed gliders and equipment would be broken down and taken away in furniture vans, the sub-units of the force were frequently renamed and moved from one location to another, unit badges and insignia were removed, and the airborne troops were not permitted to leave their barracks or to take leave.
Hauptmann Koch divided his force into four assault groups. It was believed that the combination of a noiseless approach by the gliders used by the assault force, and the lack of a declaration of war by the German government, would give the attackers the element of surprise.
However, German estimates were that this would last, at the most, for sixty minutes, after which the superior numbers of the Belgian forces defending the fort and the bridges, as well as any reinforcements sent to the area, would begin to come to bear against the relatively small number of lightly armed airborne troops.
The finalized plan for the assault called for between nine and eleven gliders to land on the western bank of the Albert Canal by each of the three bridges just prior to on 10 May, the time scheduled for Fall Gelb to begin. Forty minutes later, three Ju 52 transport aircraft would fly over each position, dropping a further twenty-four airborne troops as reinforcements as well as machine-guns and significant amounts of ammunition.
For reasons of security, Sturmabteilung Koch was dispersed around several locations in the Rhineland until it received orders for the operation against Fort Eben-Emael and the three bridges to begin.
Preliminary orders were received on 9 May, ordering the separated detachments to move to a pre-arranged concentration area, and shortly afterwards a second order arrived, informing the assault force that Fall Gelb was to begin at on 10 May. The aircraft maintained strict radio silence, forcing the pilots to rely on a chain of signal fires that pointed towards Belgium; the radio silence also ensured that senior commanders of the assault force could not be informed that the tow-ropes on one of the gliders had snapped, forcing the glider to land inside Germany.
This alerted the defences in the area to the presence of the gliders. All nine gliders carrying the troops assigned to Group Steel landed next to the bridge at Veldwezelt at , the barbed-wire wrapped around the landing skids of the gliders succeeding in rapidly bringing them to a halt. Simultaneously, Altmann gathered his troops and led them along a ditch running parallel to the bridge until two men were able to reach the canal bank and climb onto the girders of the bridge and disconnect the demolition charges placed there by the Belgian garrison.
The defenders held on until a platoon of German reinforcements arrived and forced them to retire to a nearby village. However, the assaulting force's small-arms fire could not overcome two field-guns located five hundred metres from the bridge, thus forcing Altmann to call for air support.
Several Junkers Ju 87 Stukas responded and knocked out the guns. During the fighting, the attacking force left eight airborne troops dead and thirty wounded. Ten of the eleven gliders transporting Group Concrete landed next to the Vroenhoven bridge at , the eleventh glider having been hit by anti-aircraft fire en route to the bridge and being forced to land prematurely inside Dutch territory.
The resulting crash severely wounded three airborne troops. The rest of the gliders landed without damage. This allowed the airborne troops to rapidly assault the position.
They killed the occupants and tore out the wires connecting the explosives to the detonator set, ensuring the bridge could not be destroyed.
They were repelled with the aid of several machine-guns dropped by parachute to the airborne troops at They suffered losses of seven dead and twenty-four wounded. All but one of the ten gliders carrying the airborne troops assigned to Group Iron were able to land next to their objective, the bridge at Kanne. Due to a navigation error by the pilots of the transport aircraft towing the gliders, one of the gliders was dropped in the wrong area.
As the gliders began to descend towards their objective, the bridge was destroyed by several demolition explosions set off by the Belgian garrison.
Unlike the garrisons of the other two bridges, the Belgian defenders at Kanne had been forewarned, as the German mechanized column heading for the bridge to reinforce Group Iron arrived twenty minutes ahead of schedule.
Its appearance ruined any chance of a surprise assault and gave the defenders sufficient time to destroy the bridge. The remaining eight landed successfully, and the airborne troops stormed the Belgian positions and eliminated the defenders. By the airborne troops had secured the area as well as the nearby village of Kanne, but they were then subjected to a strong counter-attack which was only repulsed with the aid of air support from Stuka divebombers.
Group Iron suffered the heaviest casualties of all three assault groups assigned to capture the bridges with twenty-two dead and twenty-six wounded. He was later freed by German forces at a British prisoner of war camp at Dunkirk. The nine remaining gliders transporting the airborne troops assigned to Group Granite successfully landed on the roof of Fort Eben-Emael, using arrester-parachutes to slow their descent and rapidly bring them to a halt. However, attempts to destroy Objective No.
Primitive unlined shaped charges  were affixed to the turrets and detonated, but whilst they shook the turrets they did not destroy them, and other airborne troops were forced to climb the turrets and smash the gun barrels.
In the northern section of the fort, similar actions were taking place, as the airborne troops raced to destroy or otherwise disable the fortifications housing artillery pieces. Objective No. Unexpected complications came from Objective No. The rapid fire of the weapons led to air support being summoned, and a Stuka squadron bombed the cupola. Although the bombs did not destroy the cupola, the explosions did force the Belgians to retract it throughout the rest of the fighting.
A number of these included anti-aircraft weapons and machine-guns. As these secondary objectives were attacked, a single glider landed on top of the Fort, from which emerged Oberleutnant Rudolf Witzig. After his glider had unintentionally landed in German territory, he had radioed for another tug, and it landed in the field with a replacement glider. Once the airborne troops had broken down fences and hedges obstructing the aircraft, they boarded the new glider and were towed through anti-aircraft fire to the fort.
These counter-attacks were made by Belgian infantry formations without artillery support and were uncoordinated. This allowed the airborne troops to repel them with machine-gun fire. Heavy Belgian resistance, as well as several demolished bridges over the River Meuse , had forced the battalion to lay down new bridges, delaying it significantly. Faced with this attack, the garrison surrendered at , suffering sixty men killed and forty wounded.
The Germans captured more than a thousand Belgian soldiers. Group Granite suffered six killed and nineteen wounded. But I have not been able to find anything among the host of brilliant actions—undertaken by friend or foe—that could be said to compare with the success achieved by Koch's Assault Group. Sturmabteilung Koch was promoted after the end of Fall Gelb to become 1st Battalion of the newly formed 1st Airlanding Assault Regiment, which itself consisted of four battalions of Fallschirmjaeger trained as a gliderborne assault force.
Hauptmann Koch was promoted to the rank of Major for his part in the operation and assumed command of the 1st Battalion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Battle of Belgium , Belgian casualties taken during fighting at the three bridges is unknown. Lucas,  writes that "The Belgian garrison was said to number 2, men," while Harclerode  and Lucas,  give lower figures of 1, and 1, respectively.
Retrieved 28 April Bekker, Cajus Da Capo Press. Devlin, Gerard M. Robson Books. Die Wehrmachtberichte — September bis Dezember [ Wehrmacht Reports: September to 31 December ]. Band 1, I. Dunstan, Simon Fort Eben Emael. The key to Hitler's victory in the West.
Battle of Belgium , The fort was neutralized by glider-borne German troops 85 men  on 10 May during the Second World War. It is also flat, and arranged like a huge sports arena, with bunkers and gun emplacements on embankments placed around the field like spectator stands. The attack was a masterpiece of planning, training and execution. The Germans were inventive and clever. But there were many defences facing inwards towards the arena-like landing zone: heavy bunkers with multiple machine guns, heavy turrets with double cannons that could be fired like giant shotguns, and casemates full of artillery that could be used the same way. A number of these included anti-aircraft weapons and machine-guns.
Eban glider assault emael. The Fallschirmjager Glider Assault on Fort Eben Emael, May 1940.
By clicking on agree or by continuing to use the website, you indicate that you agree with this. Commanding a strategic spot on the Albert Canal in eastern Belgium, the fort overlooked three bridges vital to the planned German invasion of France through the Low Countries. Eben-Emael bristled with artillery, was manned around the clock by rotating shifts of troops and was thought to be impregnable.
While gliders had not yet been used in warfare, they seemed a good choice for a surprise assault on Eben-Emael—the motorless aircraft were silent and could actually land right atop the fortress. Just after dawn on May 10, , nine German gliders did just that. The glider troops held on until reinforcements arrived, while other German units secured two of the bridges before the Belgians could destroy them.
So much for the Maginot Line; the Germans had simply run around it. World War II was about to be taken to France.
The attack was a masterpiece of planning, training and execution. Training was intense and began in November , six months in advance.
The Germans constructed a model fort so soldiers would know the layout intimately when they landed. Since no force anywhere had ever used gliders in combat, secrecy shrouded their construction and dispersal as well; they were disassembled and shipped to their destinations in furniture vans. Pilots were recruited from nonmilitary types who pursued gliding as a sport; they were by far the most qualified.
The Belgians had no system for defending the fort internally; all personnel on-site were artillerymen, and all the guns pointed outward. Of the 78 troops who landed on the fort, only six were killed and 12 wounded. It was an amazing feat, one of the great raids of the war.
Battle of Fort Eben-Emael - Wikipedia
Was this spectacular glider assault strategically necessary, or was it a barn-storming diversion and a propaganda stunt? Morning mist shrouds the huge hill that is the fortress of Eben-Emael. In the distance is Bloc 6, one of the six massive bunkers that defended its exterior. The fort at Eben-Emael is big. As you approach, you see a hill, and might well wonder if the fort is somewhere on top of it. Then you see the massive entrance bunker, and realise that the entire hill is itself the fort.
So of course the top of the fort is also big. It is also flat, and arranged like a huge sports arena, with bunkers and gun emplacements on embankments placed around the field like spectator stands. On the one hand, this big flatness seems to beg for the glider assault which took place here.
On the other, it seems a miracle that any gliders survived landing in the centre of the ring of guns. The story is well known, but bears a brief retelling.
On 10 May , the first-ever airborne assault by glider was launched by the Nazis. They landed troops on top of the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael, where the highly-trained engineers in the gliders promptly disabled observation posts, defences, and heavy guns. These guns guarded three bridges over the deeply-cut Albert Canal, on the Belgian border.
They threatened German forces punching through Holland via Maastricht, who needed the Albert Canal bridges intact so they could deploy quickly into the heart of Belgium, and head towards France. The Albert Canal at Veldwezelt, near Eben-Emael, the site of the first-ever assault by glider designed to take a bridge like Operation Ladbroke.
The depth and width of the canal made a formidable obstacle. The Germans were inventive and clever. The use of gliders at Eben-Emael was not the only innovative part of the operation. The German engineers were also equipped with hollow charge explosives, which could penetrate steel and concrete many times more effectively than normal explosives. Their use at the fort was another first in the history of warfare. The Germans were also underhand and ruthless during the invasion of the Low Countries.
German commandos were dressed as Dutch policemen to dupe the defenders of the bridges in Maastricht. The civilian centre of Rotterdam was bombed despite a ceasefire. British prisoners of war were massacred. Unlike atrocity propaganda during World War I WW1 , when Germans were falsely accused of bayoneting and eating Belgian babies, these breaches of the codes of war by the Germans actually happened.
Hypocritically, it was in the name of these same codes, which they themselves had breached, that the Germans shot civilians. Propaganda is powerful stuff — it breeds hatred of the enemy, depersonalises him as subhuman, and gets used to justify almost any horror.
It even turns the tide of global conflicts by helping bringing initially neutral nations like the USA into wars they at first avoided.
The propaganda impact of Eben-Emael hinged on how terrifyingly easy the Germans made it look. It is claimed that the fort was said to be impregnable, although not by the German military, who merely described it as the strongest of the Belgian forts, and surely not by the Belgian military, who knew forts could only delay. But forts can delay to strategic effect. It was expected that the Germans would have to reduce the forts the way they did in WW1 — by super-heavy artillery, and by its terrifying new equivalent, the Stuka dive-bomber.
The old WW1 forts around nearby Liege also put up a fight in WW2, and it was many days before they all fell. One of four massive triple casemates for artillery on top of Eben-Emael for scale, note the person on the left. This casemate faces the glider landing zone. Only one gun remains — the other apertures have been blocked. It certainly served German propaganda to have Eben-Emael declared impregnable, as it made their achievement seem super-human.
But the assault could so easily have failed. And although the top of the fort was big, it was barely big enough, and the Germans had to enlist some of their pre-war civilian glider champions to achieve the landings. But there were many defences facing inwards towards the arena-like landing zone: heavy bunkers with multiple machine guns, heavy turrets with double cannons that could be fired like giant shotguns, and casemates full of artillery that could be used the same way.
The men inside the fort greatly outnumbered the Germans on top. There were also multiple anti-aircraft AA machine guns, some fighting foxholes, and the raised embankment around the arena was protected by a wide apron of barbed wire inside the ring.
And then there were the nearby forts which could pound the top of the Eben-Emael with artillery fire. In the background is part of the flat arena on top of Eben-Emael, and three more of its massive defences.
So the fort fell quickly not just because the Germans were well-trained, clever, innovative, courageous, aggressive and underhand. Eben-Emael also fell because the Belgian planners and commanders at all levels made many, many mistakes, both before and during the battle, some of them so foolish it almost defies belief. Almost none of the defences were used, or were used too late and to no effect. Would the Germans have abandoned their invasion if Eben-Emael had not fallen so quickly?
Certainly not. Not least because the attack through Holland and Belgium was partly a diversion, bait designed to draw the Allied forces deep into Belgium and into a trap.
The main strike, the one that would close the trap behind the Allies, came through further south, behind them, through the Ardennes. It seems nations believe their own propaganda only at their peril. Does this mean the glider assaults on the Albert Canal bridges and Eben-Emael were tactically unnecessary?
The Allies certainly did not think so. They quickly identified the bridges as bottlenecks through which the bulk of the German forces were passing. Unfortunately, not quickly enough. Belgian and British fliers in obsolete aircraft made heroic attacks on the bridges, but not until two days later. The Germans were amazed that these came in only after they had had time to erect plentiful AA defences, and many of the planes were shot down.
The Germans did indeed need to cross the bridges quickly, to prevent giving the Allies time to organise a coherent defence, and to save casualties. The risk was thus worth it. Like the loss of the Allied pilots who risked all to bring down the Albert Canal bridges, there is a brutal logic to sending a few men to achieve strategic miracles. If they succeed, the dividend is out of all proportion compared to the loss of the men if they fail. In the case of Eben-Emael, the dividend was not just an operational and tactical success for the Germans — it was also a huge propaganda success, and a personal fillip for Hitler, who had himself come up with the idea of using gliders on the fort.
It also raised the question of where, if anywhere, was safe from airborne attack. The possibility of airborne forces appearing deep behind the front lines forced defenders to defend everywhere, and not just at the front.
The dangers of believing your own myths were again evident when the Germans later tried to take the island of Crete almost solely by airborne assault, and suffered terrible casualties. The falling off from the previous sense of superiority was so steep that the Germans never again launched an airborne assault.
Meanwhile their enemies, the British and the Americans, were galvanised by Eben-Emael into setting up their own parachute and glider forces. Here the British, in imitation of the Germans, landed glider troops to seize the Ponte Grande bridge near Syracuse, to expedite a rush into enemy territory. But the airborne landings in Sicily, as for the Germans in Crete, did not go as planned. But they did not, and among later airborne failures there were also great successes.
But none quite equalled the shining example of the German exploit at Eben-Emael. One of two huge, inward-facing bunkers on top of Eben-Emael which were equipped with multiple machine guns, designed to sweep the top with fire.
Left of the ivy, and partly covered by it, is a huge hole made by German hollow-charge explosives, now blocked up. Your email address will not be published. Operation Ladbroke — Feat of Arms. Skip to content.
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