Fortress Hook of Holland: Stp. XIX – Staelduinse Bos, s-Gravenzande, Netherlands


Posted: , Last update: February 2 2016, in Atlantic Wall, Bunkers, Fortresses & Strongpoints. 3 comments

Port of Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam seen from Hook of Holland

Fortress Hook of Holland

Together with the harbors of Cherbourg and Le Havre, Hook of Holland was an important Sea Port for the German Navy along the North Sea’s “Atlantikwall” during WW2. With a Naval Base lying strategically at the North Sea and being the gateway to the large Port of Rotterdam, it’s defense had to be firmly secured. Therefor the German Oberkommando or High Command ordered the area of Hook of Holland a “Festung” (Eng: “Fortress”).
To ensure the safety of the port even after a possible enemy breach of the Fortress parameter, the Oberkommando ordered the construction of a “Kernwerk”, a heavily armed strongpoint of combat bunkers behind a surrounding antitank wall within the parameter, to fend off the attack.

Stp. XIX – Staelduinse Forest

Situated at a safe distance from the coast in the Staelduinse Bos (Eng: Staelduinse Forest) area at ‘s-Gravenzande and hidden between the forest trees, was the Fortress’ Command Headquarters or Hauptkwartier designated Stp. XIX or in full; Stützpunkt XIX.
Subsequently serving as an infantry division headquarters in 1940 as  Widerstandsnest 36 (or Wn. 36), it was heavily upgraded in 1942 to form the main Headquarters of the entire Fortress Hook of Holland. The bunker “village” mainly consists of 16 heavy bunkers, some light ammunition’s storage bunkers and facilities like an officers mess, a theater, a kitchen and bath house, which were made of brick.

A map of the bunker Headquarters layout at Staelduinse Forest

A map of the bunker Headquarters layout at Staelduinse Forest

The layout of Stp. XIX is rather unusual, with personnel and ammunition bunkers placed in a ring around the central Command bunker. Also part of this ring is a Dressing Station Bunker.
Next to the road on your left, walking towards the ammunition storage bunkers, is a rare Charging Station Bunker Type 142.

Unfortunately the bunkers of Stp. XIX are closed off as they now function as a Bat refuge. Most of the brick structures of Stp. XIX were demolished.

Dressing Station Type 118c

This Dressing Station is a rare Regelbau type. The large Station featured gas locks on all the entrances and a surgical room.

Bunker at Staelduinse Forest Hook of Holland

Hospital Bunker Type 118c at Staelduinse Forest, Hook of Holland, Netherlands

Eingang Gaskranke

“Eingang nur für Gaskranke” (Eng: “Entrance for Gas vicitims only”) sign next to center entrance of the Dressing Station

Tunnel leading towards the Dressing Station Type 118c

Brick tunnel shelter with the Dressing Station Type 118c in the background

Inside the trench tunnel which appears to be partly demolished

Inside the tunnel which is partly demolished

Munitionsunterstand I Type 134

Ammunition bunker with two storage rooms. The armored doors can be reached by a perpendicular open corridor running across it’s full length. This Type was designed for storing infantry ammunition.

Type 134 Munitionsunterstand I at Staelduinse Bos

Type 134 Munitionsunterstand I at Staelduinse Bos

Type 134 corridor

Type 134 corridor with armored door giving access to the storage room

Underneath a Type 134 with a protruded entrance for close quarters combat situations. All of the Type 134 Ammunition bunkers on the outer ring of Stp. XIX South of the road have this feature. The corridor would have been unobstructed during the war, but it has now been sealed off.

Type 134 with protruded entrance

Type 134 Ammunition bunker with protruded entrance

A Type 134 with open corridor and open armored door

A Type 134 designated “C” with open corridor and open armored door

View inside storage room of Type 134

View inside storage room of Type 134

Bunker Type 142 “Sammlerladestand und Kabelschaltstelle”

This a combined accumulator charging station and communications bunker. Phone communications could be maintained via a switchboard room.  Together with another Type 142 in Oostvoorne (bunker nr. 5909 of Wn. 105 H), these are the only bunkers of this type left in the Netherlands and presumably the whole Atlantikwall.

Regelbau 142 Communications Bunker

Regelbau 142 Communications Bunker

Regelbau 142 entrance

Regelbau 142 entrance

This bunker had split sections. The entrance on the left leads to a storage and an engine room. The one facing leads to a workshop and a gas lock followed by a corridor giving access to the communications and charging station facilities. The entrance had no means of defense added.

Gruppenunterstand Type 501 (2x)

A small distance from the command bunker Type 608 is a large bunker that consists of two Type 501 Gruppenunterstände which are linked by what seems to be a double garage. The wide entrances of the garages have been narrowed by brick walls and are now completely sealed off. The structure has a concrete walking promenade around it (as do more of the bunkers at Staelduinse Forest) made accessible by a brick stairs.

Type 501 with garages

Two Type 501 crew bunkers connected by double garages

The difference between the 501 and the 502 is of course that it respectively has one crew room and two crew rooms, but more notable is the defended entrance of the 501 that is absent in the 502 crew bunker setup.

Doppel Gruppenunterstand Type 502

There are multiple Type 502 bunkers at Stp. XIX. It is a twin troop shelter (Doppel Gruppenunterstand) which you will come across frequently visiting the Atlantikwall. Both entrances lead to a central gas lock, which then leads into the first crew compartment. Both crew compartments inside are interconnected. Notable is that Type 502 doesn’t have an MG embrasure opposite of the entrance to keep unwanted visitors out.
Sometimes these types are fitted with an observation cupola.

Gruppenunterstand Type 502 Staelduinse Bos the Netherlands

Doppel Gruppenunterstand Type 502 in the Staelduinse Bos the Netherlands

Bunker Type 608 “Batl.-, Abt.-, Regimentsgefechtsstand”

This is Battalion or Regimental headquarters bunker used by the Commander of Fortress Hook of Holland. This bunker with “N” designation has a square layout, with an MG schartenstand and a tobruk respectively right and left of both the bunker entrances for defense and observation purposes.
Inside there are two gun embrasures to protect the entrances. Most important are the chart room and the offices of the Commander and the NCO in the far back of the bunker.

The bunker has some parts that still show camouflage patterns. It is unclear if this is the original camouflage pattern dating from WW2.

The Command bunker of Fortress Hook of Holland

The Command bunker of Fortress Hook of Holland at Staelduinse Forest

Bunker regelbau 608 with flanking MG stand

Hauptquartier Bunker Regelbau 608 with flanking MG stand

Type 621 Unterstand

This is a crew bunker that can be found frequently on the Atlantic wall. This type has one large crew room that is accessible by a double entrance through a central gas lock. Both entrances can be defended by a gun embrasure. It also has a tobruk position for observation purposes.

Stp. XIX has two Type 621 which are directly beside the main road towards the ammunition bunkers.

Regelbau 621 front

Regelbau 621 front

Regelbau 621 with "J" designation

Regelbau 621 with “J” designation at Staelduinse Forest

Regelbau 621 tobruk entrance

Regelbau 621 tobruk entrance

Regelbau 621 Tobruk

View of Regelbau 621 bunker “J” top Tobruk position for observation purposes

Storage or Shelter Facility

In the outer ring in between the heavy bunkers there are also a few of these storage or shelter facilities. The brick structures are earthed and form small hills in the landscape. They are partly sunken into the ground which gives them a kind of cellar function, what in turn could mean they were used to store food (or wine for the commander ;). It seems they must have been too moist for storing ammunition, but this is a wild guess.

Inside you can see that these structures have doors installed that seem from a later time, maybe the cold war period.

Earthed storage facility

Earthed storage facility

Remains of the theater

Stp. XIX also had facilities for relaxation and entertainment. Across the road from the communications bunker type 142, there was a theater/cinema constructed. Sadly most of the brick structures were demolished over time including the theater, presumably in 2002. A few walls are all that remain today.

Remains of theater

Remains of the theater

I found a picture of the theater dating from the 90’s. Here’s a link.

Ammunition Storage Bunkers

Following the main road further West into the forest, you will find a concentration of seven storage bunkers scattered in the forest. Although they officially belong to the Stp. inventory, these bunkers were used for storing heavier ammunition for the larger batteries in the area of Fortress Hook of Holland.

The bunkers have a large armored door with another door behind it working like a lock. All of the outer doors have been sealed off by large piles of soil.

Storage bunker Staelduinse Bos

An earthed Storage bunker at the Staelduinse Forest

Storage bunker

Some of the Storage bunkers have been uncovered by the elements. Trees grow on top, fall over when too large and pull the soil away.

Original Entrance Gate

If you enter the forest at the South entrance you will find the original remains of the former entrance gate of Stp. XIX.

Remains of the original Stp XIX entrance gate

Remains of the original Stp. XIX entrance gate

Concrete foundations in the Staelduinse forest

Across the path from the former entrance to Stp. XIX lie these concrete foundations in the Staelduinse forest.

Heating system

If you have studied the pictures above here more closely, you will have seen the round shaped additions to some of the bunkers on the outside. These are always built against the backside of the bunker and seem to serve as some kind of heating system. The additions seal off the air intakes on the back of the bunker. Though this could also be later additions as the bunker were also used by the Dutch Army during the Cold War in the 50’s.

Type 142 at Staelduinse Bos

Type 142 at Staelduinse Bos

Detail of what seems to be an external heating system

Detail of what seems to be an external heating system

Round added structure close up

Round added brick structure detail

Partly demolished structure detail

Partly demolished structure detail revealing two air intakes or exhausts.

Miscellaneous

The base of Street lighting

Looks like the base of street lighting or electricity poles? You’ll find them every few meters along the main path.

Concrete construction in forest floor

A concrete construction in the forest floor somewhere along the path between the bunker village and the storage bunkers. It seems to have been the base of a small installation. Anyone?

Staelduinse Forest and the V2 rocket

There are numerous sources and witness accounts claiming that the Staelduinse Forest was also a V2 storage and launching location from 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. If anyone has more information about this we would love to hear from you.

Visit Stp. XIX at Staelduinse Bos

Very pleasant to see some bunkers that are not completely covered in graffiti. Most of these bunkers have a new function as Bat refuge during the winter and lie in a protected area of the forest which is not admissible for the public. If you follow the path from the parking we marked on our map then one of the first bunkers you’ll see is the Type 118c Dressing Station. You will also run into a sign telling you it is forbidden to access the forest here. A walking path leads around the position, so a lot of the bunkers can still be seen from here, although we would advise you to visit Stp. XIX in early spring as the bunkers tend to get overgrown by the foliage of the forest and you’ll have a hard time spotting them. We went to the Staelduinse Forest in late summer and had a very hard time taking descent pictures.





3 thoughts on “Fortress Hook of Holland: Stp. XIX – Staelduinse Bos, s-Gravenzande, Netherlands

  1. Het is allemaal nog redelijk goed bewaard gebleven. Bijzonder dat de letters (c en J) nog op de bunkers te zien zijn, of zouden die er in een later stadium op geschilderd zijn?

    • De bunkers zijn inderdaad nog in goede staat. De letters zijn waarschijnlijk in de jaren 50 aangebracht, toen de bunkers zijn gebruikt door het Nederlandse leger.

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