Fort Eben Emael: The Key to Hitler's Victory in the West by Simon Dunstan, Hugh Johnson

By Simon Dunstan, Hugh Johnson

On the outbreak of worldwide battle II, fortress Eben Emael in Belgium used to be the most powerful fort on the planet, and it lay precisely around the German invasion direction of Belgium and France. The fort's removing was once crucial for the luck of Hitler's invasion of the West. Deemed impregnable to traditional assault, Hitler himself urged the potential for its seize with the 1st glider-borne attack in army historical past. On 10 could 1940, ten gliders wearing simply seventy seven paratroopers landed on best of the castle. utilizing top-secret hollow-charge guns for the 1st time in battle, the attack pioneers of Sturmgruppe Granit subdued citadel Eben Emael inside of simply half-hour, and the fort surrendered inside of 30 hours. It is still one of many maximum raids within the annals of specific Forces.

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The Allies were put on high alert with French forces moving to their assigned sectors along the border regions. None was allowed to cross into Belgium because of her adherence to neutrality. German observers were quick to note the French dispositions and the weakness of the forces around Sedan. At the behest of Adolf Hitler, the OKW was instructed to revise Fall Gelb. At the instigation of Lt. Gen. Erich von Manstein, the chief of staff to Col. Gen. Gerd von Rundstedt, the commander of Army Group A, and Maj.

After a final briefing and the issue of the stimulant methedrine to each man, the paratroopers boarded their gliders by squad. Corporal Wilhelm Alefs of Squad 7 recalled the final minutes before takeoff: It was very black. I felt around and found the explosives and everything else as it should be and as I left it five hours earlier. I patted the pockets of my jacket to feel the grenades, then the ones above to see if my machine pistol ammunition was there, unconscious but reassuring gestures. I reached into the pocket of my inner jacket to feel the fuse and cord for the explosives.

Rotating lights on flightpath H. Vertical pointing searchlights on flightpath I. Aachen - Aix-la-Chapelle J. Border of Germany and Holland K. Proposed release point for gliders L. Actual release point for gliders over Gulpen M. Maastricht N. Fort Eben Emael O. Kanne bridge P. Vroenhoven bridge Q. Veldwezelt bridge R. Lanaken S. Albert Canal T. Meuse River U. Wonck the gliders was loaded with almost a ton of equipment and explosives. Everything was carefully lashed down and secured to prevent it from shifting in flight and upsetting the critical centre of gravity of the gliders or else injuring the paratroopers.

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