Termunten during the war years

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During World War II, the German Stützpunktgruppe Delfzijl is part of the Festung Emden. Emden is an important supply harbour for, among others, the more inland Ruhr region. The anti-aircraft artillery in and around the city provide protection for the harbour of Delfzijl, but their main purpose is to shoot down enemy fighters and bombers before they can drop their deadly load on Emden. Emden is heavily bombed and largely destroyed during the war, just as many other North German harbours. Although the anti-aircraft artillery (Flak) on Groninger territory is unable to prevent this, it does claim many lives in the air. The Flak batteries are the most effective way to combat allied bomber formations.

Battery Termunten. (source T. Groenewold - Oorlogsmuseum Middelstum)

With its four 12.8 cm cannons, the Flak battery in Termunten is one of the heaviest on Dutch territory, together with the one in Nansum. Initially, a lighter fortification was constructed in the area outside the dike near Punt van Reide. However, this is not a good spot to build bunkers and put heavy equipment. Storm floods and icy conditions make it inaccessible and isolated during winter. 

 

Therefore, in 1944, the battery is moved to the dike near Fiemel, a small hamlet. Four platforms are constructed (Ringstände) for the heavy anti-aircraft artillery. These are open concrete artillery batteries mounted on a high base, three in the dike and one behind it. Concrete foundations for lighter - 10.5 cm - artillery are also constructed. A unique addition is the ammunition depot for the heavy battery type Fl 317 (Munitionsauffüllraum für 12.8 cm Flak-Batterie), the only one ever built in the Netherlands.

Military men on the dike near Fiemel, Battery Termunten. (source T. Groenewold - Oorlogsmuseum Middelstum)

Advance of the Canadian army

On 28 March 1945, the II Canadian Corps begins advancing north to liberate the northern provinces, reaching the borders of Friesland and Groningen in early April.  On 15 April, the first Canadian units enter Leeuwarden. They are still fighting for control of the city of Groningen at this time. On 18 April, the city is liberated  and the Canadians now advance towards Delfzijl. This harbour is important for delivering supplies and the attack on Emden. Meanwhile, the German occupiers flood a large area around Delfzijl. This makes it only possible to attack from the south via a narrow piece of land along the Eems. It is here that the Canadian army first encounters the battery near Fiemel.

The battle of Delfzijl

The artillery in the Flak batteries is also capable of firing at ground-level targets. Their reach in the air is about 15 kilometres, but horizontally it exceeds 20 kilometres. The battle of Delfzijl lasts from 23 April to 2 May. The Germans defend the last piece of the occupied Netherlands with all their might. Fighting around the city and the defence lines is fierce. 88 civilians, 102 Canadian and 185 German soldiers lose their lives in the battle. The villages in the area are severely damaged and people are forced to flee. Hundreds of people find refuge in Finsterwolde, which has already been liberated, and Winschoten. During the night of 1 to 2 May, the Germans finally surrender. They quietly disappear to the other side of the Eems where they continue the battle. 

An 8,000 hectare nature reserve contains the remains of the Flak battery Termunten, which the Germans used for the anti-aircraft defence of Emden. Here, the Groninger Landschap tells the tale of nature, landscape and military heritage.

 

Starting at the nature organisation’s visitor centre, you can walk along several routes with visible and less-visible remains of the Atlantic Wall. Visitors can experience these memories of the war in various ways. An outlook point at the visitor centre gives an overview of the entire fortification.

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