Originally Posted by Von Richter
Good 'un that, wonder what they did have in 1940?
The Netherland's posture was entirely defensive. In 1940, they had a cavalry brigade with some armoured car squadrons.
Apart from the questionable logic of failing graduates of the Koninklijke Militaire Academie after
they have passed out, obviously the appropriate question would have been not "How would you invade the Netherlands?" but "From what direction would an attack be most likely to come?"
Netherland's neutral stance obliged them to be seen to be preparing for attack from all directions, (even the North Sea coast). Of course, the main, the only, concern was an attack from Germany and the principal static defences did nevertheless face east, although the inner ring of inundations enclosed the main urban provinces on the south as well.
Any student or graduate positing an attack from the south would not only be showing his ignorance of the political situation but also of the nation's geography since to attack the Netherlands from the south would be attacking 'across the grain' of the country, requiring successive crossings of the 'great rivers,' the Maas, the Waal and the Nederrijn/Lek. That of course was precisely the problem faced by the allies in 1944, although, technically speaking, I suppose we might say they were 'liberating from the south.
True, there were also considerable water obstacles facing attackers from the east, along the IJssel and the upper Maas, with linked indundations- as well as the general patchwork of waterways crisscrossing the country that, in theory gave such overwhelming advantage to the defence, a fact on which the Netherlands had relied for 400 odd years.
The Germans were able avoid this problem by relying on airpower; bombing l.o.c and civilian centres while airborne troops by passed the static defences and seized airfields and other key points. This ensured the surrender of the Netherlands in a very short time.
As we know, in 1944, the allies took the airborne option as well. They advanced down the causeway linking Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem not because they thought it was the most advantageous line of approach but because they had no choice. The bridges were the key to the plan and the only route forward was a single road traversing low-lying land intersected with drains and canals. The key question was, "Given that this is our only line of approach, is this plan to seize the road to Germany by coup de main
worth attempting?" Enough people thought it was.
The fact is they almost succeeded. They got within five miles of Arnhem. Debate will undoubtedly continue indefinitely as to whether they should
have succeeded, or whether the speed with which the operation was mounted meant that the sum of error, miscalculation, and sheer bad luck, as well as the friction of war, meant that it was always going to be a bridge too far.
Fortune does not always favour the brave.