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Artillery Position “Kormoran”
On the edge of the West side of the Staelduinse Forest lies Artillery Stand “Kormoran”. This was an open firing position just outside the inner anti-tank ring of Fortress Hook of Holland, with an Ammunition storage bunker Type 674, two PAK/Gun bunkers Type 672 and some Vf garages situated just behind the tree line in the Forest.
The artillery position shares the forest with the Fortress Hook of Holland Commander HQ: Stützpunkt XIX (or Stp. XIX) and Widerstandsnest 35H (or W.N. 35H) at the East side of the forest.
The fact that the bunkers at Position Kormoran are without a crew room and that it has no further known crew bunkers, apart from the ones at Stp. XIX some distance further East in the forest, may mean that this gun position was not permanently manned with a large unit and probably there in case of an enemy attack.
The possibility of the indicated forest clearing being an air-strip, based on the RAF aerial picture of 1945, could also explain more about the purpose of this position. Taking into account that the Fortress Hook of Holland Headquarters was situated here at Stp. XIX, such a facility wouldn’t be unlikely.
Position Kormoran could very well have been a position to defend the opening of the Anti-Tank trench, while the Vf buildings and garages were there for the service of the air-strip.
Regelbau 672 “Geschützunterstellraum I (ohne Nebenräume)”
This heavy bunker type “Geschützunterstellraum I (ohne Nebenräume)” or in Eng: “Gun bunker I without annexes” is a so called “Ständiger Ausbau” or in Eng: “Bomb proof build” and a later development of the Regelbau 600-series (1943). It had the purpose of being a garage to store a large (PAK) field gun. The bunker had double bomb proof armored doors.
This bunker is facing West towards an opening of the Anti-Tank trench that used to be here (see RAF aerial). It had a perfect flanking position against any tank passing along the dike.
V2 warhead storage and mobile launch
There are numerous sources and witness accounts claiming that the Staelduinse Forest was also a V2 storage and launching location in late 1944. Especially when the Allies had liberated Northern France, the Germans intensified V2 launches from the Netherlands, mainly in the The Hague area. The fact that the V2 warheads could be safely stored in bomb proof shelters of heavy class bunkers and the relatively hidden location so near to The Hague, the coast and prime target England all seem very plausible.
Drs. J.R. Verbeek has done a lot of research on the use of the German V2 rockets in the area of The Hague, which he has published in a book.
In this book he states that the V2 rockets that arrived at Leiden Station in the Netherlands were, among other places in the area of The Hague, also launched and stored in the Staelduinse Forest. From here they were launched at London and Antwerp using mobile installations. The V2 war heads were supposedly stored in “Ständige” PAK bunkers according to this source. This could mean that they were stored in these two bunkers, since both Type 672 bunkers are the only ones in the Staelduinse Forest fitting this description.
To further support the theory there are also garages to store the vehicles and trailers needed for the rocket’s transport and launch.
The book has an online version (in English) available.
Regelbau 674 “Kleinstunterstand für Munition”
A small ammunition bunker (up to 10 cm caliber) that was for the most part dug in. It probably served as the ammo storage facility for both guns that were stationed here. An undefended entrance with some steps lead down to two small rooms of which the second room functions like a lock and gives entrance to the Ammunition Room.
The bunker has been sealed, but was partly opened up again when we were there.
If you follow the treeline towards the South-West corner of the forest you can see some large mostly brick structures, which seem to be garages or “Feldmässige” storage facilities. The buildings have been positioned in a half circle around a small open terrain in the forest. Most of them have been made inaccessible or are even half buried and hardly recognizable in the forest. Poison Ivy is working hard to hide the rest of the buildings from view.
The name “Kormoran” (Eng: Cormorant) is likely to have been chosen to honor the Raider “Kormoran” or “Schiff 41”, which was originally the merchant ship “Steiermark” (HAPAG), but was later requisitioned by the German Kriegsmarine during the war. At least, she seems to be the most well known bearer of this name in the German Army at that time.
During WW2 there were multiple positions and facilities, named “Kormoran”.
The Raider Kormoran is best known for sinking the light Australian cruiser HMAS “Sydney” on 19 November 1941 near Shark Bay, Australia. The Sydney went down with it’s entire 645 men crew. The tragedy of the sinking of the “Sydney” has been recorded as the largest loss of life of an Australian War Vessel to date. The Kormoran herself was so heavily damaged in the battle that the surviving crew was forced to scuttle her and abandon ship afterwards.
The wreck of the HMAS Sydney was found a 150 kilometers West of Shark Bay, Australia in 2008.
Visit Position “Kormoran”
The bunkers are situated at the Western edge of the Staelduinse forest. You can find them by following the “Bonnenpad” path around the forest to the West and then turn right at the forest edge and follow the sand path. If you like to enjoy a forest walk, there is a nice trail through the forest that brings you to the bunkers too. Use the information signs to pick the right track.
If you go here during the summer months, the bunkers will be heavily overgrown and not easy to approach due to stinging nettles and thorny bushes. So plan your visit wisely.