Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 253 May 10, 1940

At 5.30 AM, Germany invades neutral Luxembourg, Belgium & Holland without declaring war. Luftwaffe dominates the skies, bombing French, Dutch & Belgian airfields in the early hours & destroying many planes on the ground. For the first time, airborne troops find widespread use, under the innovative leadership of General Kurt Student. German tanks and infantry advance 10-15 miles into Holland and Belgium. The Allies enact the Dyle plan in response & begin moving towards the Dyle River in Belgium where they intend to hold a defensive line.

News of the invasion causes Chamberlain to consider staying on as Prime Minister but he is advised by many that he cannot now lead effectively. He resigns and advises King George VI to send for Churchill to invite him to form a government. Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.

In Holland, German paratroops secure key bridges & airfields around Rotterdam & The Hague. Ju52 transport planes land 22nd Flieger Division in the Dutch heartland behind the main defensive line. Dutch Air Force manages to shoot down 18 Ju52s & prevent landings at Ypenburg airfield near The Hague, foiling German plans to capture Dutch Royal family, government & military leadership.

In Belgium, 10 DFS 230 gliders land 78 engineers under Oberlt. Rudolf Witzig on top of the massive underground Ebel Emael Fort, which dominates the Albert Canal and River Meusse crossings. They use secret magnetic hollow charges to disable steel & concrete gun emplacements and pen in the 700 defenders. Glider-borne troops also take two key bridges over the Albert Canal.
Northern Luxembourg is occupied easily, giving German tanks access to the Ardennes forest. The Royal Family is evacuated to safety in Luxembourg City in the South of the country.

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