Operation Morgenröte (i)

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This was a German one of a series of attacks by elements of Hauptmann Dr Theodor von Hippel’s Bau-Lehr-Bataillon ‘Brandenburg’ zbV 800 on the Dutch forces holding several bridges over rivers and canals in the Netherlands during ‘Sichelschnitt’ (10/11 May 1940).

‘Morgenröte’ (i) was the seizure of the Maas river bridge in the Dutch town of Gennep. An eight-man team, led by Leutnant Wilhelm Walther, was tasked with capturing the bridge intact, and at 02.00 on 10 May Walther’s team, disguised as Dutch military police escorting German prisoners, made their assault. Two guard posts were destroyed, but three Brandenburgers were wounded and the team was pinned down. Dressed in a Dutch uniform, Walther advanced across the bridge. The confused defenders hesitated, allowing the rest of the team to take them out, seizing the bridge and disabling the detonators.

This was just one of several operations of this type undertaken during the course of the campaign. At another bridge attempt, however, the team of Brandenburgers was arrested by Dutch troops and its men shot as spies.