Fortress Hook of Holland: W.N. 35 H – Staelduinse Bos, s-Gravenzande, Netherlands

As part of the Fortress Hook of Holland, Widerstandsnest (or W.N.) 35 H lay hidden in the relative safety of the Staelduinse Forest, a small distance to the North East from Stp. XIX, the Fortress Command Headquarters that was also situated here.

Widerstandsnest 35H

Although bunker Type 610 “Gefechtsstand für eine verstärkte Kompanie” or “Battle HQ for a strengthened company” indicates that Widerstandsnest 35 H must have been the Headquarters of a Commander, it is not clear (to us) what it was Commanding. Some sources state that W.N. 35H was the Headquarters of the Kommander Nord. This would mean it had the Command over the Section from around Scheveningen and further North.
Other sources state that W.N. 35H was the Headquarters of the Infantry Reserves of Fortress Hook of Holland. This is also what the information sign at Stp. XIX in the Staelduinse Forest states about W.N. 35H.

A map of the bunker Headquarters layout at Staelduinse Forest
A map of the bunker Headquarters layout at Staelduinse Forest

There is of course also an option that both of the above might be true, but in a certain order in time. We know that most of the bunkers at Staelduinse Forest were added in 1942 during the intensified construction of the Atlantic Wall and the Fortress Hook of Holland. Stp. XIX was upgraded to Fortress Hook of Holland HQ during that time.

Compared to Stp. XIX, half of the bunkers are of a lower class “Baustarke” or strength. The location of W.N. 35 is well chosen, protecting the East side of the Staelduinse Forest and close enough to Stp. XIX to quickly assist in the event of an attack.
Also worth noting is that the terrain here is quite hilly, with bunkers placed on top or hidden in between. The low ground is very wet, almost a sort of marshland. Not ideal for large trees. Many can be seen that have fallen over and leaning on the bunkers.

Regelbau 621 Unterstand

One of the first bunkers we ran into coming from Stp. XIX. We hardly recognized it, as it has an extra protruded wall attached to protect a stairs giving access to the bunker’s entrances and there were trees that had fallen onto it. The stairs is there because the bunker is placed on higher ground. A sea of stinging nettles make walking around this bunker a literal pain.

Type 621 hidden in the forest
Type 621 hidden in the forest
Regelbau 621 WN 35 H
Stairs leading up to Bunker Type 621 at W.N. 35 H
corroded steel beam
The wet environment eats away at the bunkers of W.N. 35H. Metal parts are mostly heavily corroded, like this beam above the Tobruk entrance.
Steel tube rotten
Don’t you love the Dutch climate.. Steel tube is rotting away. Notice the camouflage paint that is still visible in the pocket.

Regelbau 134 Minutionsunterstand

This is an ammo storage bunker. It has an open corridor with two armored doors giving access to the storage rooms. The corridor serves as an extra protection against bombing. These bunkers were mainly used to store infantry ammunition. W.N. 35H has three of these type bunkers.

regelbau 134 armored door
Armored door of the Regelbau 134
Patrick armed with nettle stick
Patrick armed with his trusty nettle stick walking trough the corridor.
Regelbau 134 constructed with formsteinen
At the back of the Regelbau 134 bunker you can see that it is constructed with formsteinen

Notice this bunker has been constructed with so called “formsteinen”. These were hollow building blocks that could be filled with sand or concrete (even reinforced). The choice of building with formsteinen isn’t always clear. Speed could be a reason, as well as a shortage of construction materials (like timber for the lagging).

Regelbau 501 “Gruppenunterstand”

The Type 501 is a personnel bunker with one central crew space, which was accessible via a gas lock. The entrance could be defended through a gun embrasure. There are two type 501’s constructed at W.N. 35H.

Type 501 at WN 35H
Type 501 at WN 35H

Regelbau 502 “Doppel Gruppenunterstand”

The 502 is also a personnel bunker but fitted with two interconnected separate crew rooms that were accessible through two entrances via one central gas lock. This type lacked the feature of a gun embrasure to defend the entrances. Sometimes the 502 had a Tobruk or “Ringstand” on top for observation purposes.

Bunker Regelbau 502 at W.N. 35H
Bunker Regelbau 502 at W.N. 35H

Regelbau 610 “Gefechtsstand für eine verstärkte Kompanie”

Unfortunately, we missed this Command bunker. One day we will return to take a picture.

Canteen and Kitchen

This canteen and kitchen building is what they call a “Feldmässige Aufbau” and not the Regelbau Type standard. Still this kind of mess building was quite commonly constructed along the Atlantikwall. In the Netherlands similar buildings were constructed at Oostvoorne and Rockanje. A Kitchen/Canteen like this one, but without the triangular support and shrapnel walls, existed at W.N. 31H of Fortress Hook of Holland very nearby. It also had the same setup with a bunker type 621. Unfortunately it was taken down in 2009 (together with the type 621 and a 134). Luckily, the “Haagse Bunker Ploeg” documented the building with pictures (nl) before it was demolished.

W.N. 35H Canteen and kitchen front
The Canteen and kitchen front facade

It is clear that the building has been used after the war. The purple paint on the outside suggests it might have been a hang out or something like that. Still the front facade is in quite good shape, where the back facade lined with a sort of court yard wall slowly disappears in the forest.

Canteen kitchen court yard
Canteen kitchen back facade with court yard wall, seen from bunker type 621

On the inside the building is in a surprisingly good shape. Even the graffiti artists seemed to have lost interest. The building is divided into two spaces with arched ceilings, which are probably the Canteen and kitchen parts. The many windows bring a lot of light in, which gives the it a rather friendly feel. Compared to the dark cramped bunkers it must have been a nice place to enjoy some food and company during the war.

Inside the Canteen kitchen at WN 35H
Inside the Canteen kitchen at WN 35H
Canteen kitchen ceiling
Pockets in the canteen ceiling seem to provide some sort of ventilation.

Toilet Block

Walking South past the Canteen and Type 621 you run into a partly earthed brick toilet facility.

toilet block at WN 35H
Toilet block at W.N. 35 H
Latrine. No, that is NOT a LandmarkScout Nr.2 ..

Water Storage bunker

A little bit further from the toilet block is a small bunker with a water reservoir.

Boiler reservoir
Water reservoir
Boiler reservoir top
Water reservoir top

Visit W.N. 35 H

This location lies in the North-West corner of the Staelduinse Forest. This part is now closed for visitors as it is a protected nature reserve. The vegetation explodes during the summer, which makes it hard to take some decent pictures. But that is not the worst problem. That is having to wade through a sea of stinging nettles to reach the bunkers.

So we hope you benefit from our Indiana Jones experience and if you would like to catch a glimpse of W.N. 35H, go early in the year when the leaves have fallen. And if you are here in the summer, don’t wear shorts. And take a nice nettle stick just in case.

4 thoughts on “Fortress Hook of Holland: W.N. 35 H – Staelduinse Bos, s-Gravenzande, Netherlands

Excellent presentation! As to the unresolved question of what kind of command post Stp. XIV was, I can provide the answer. I’ve done some research and found that it was merely the Gefechtsstand (command post) of I./723 (1st Battalion, 723rd Grenadier Regiment, 719th Infantry Division). Actually, the supreme headquarters of Festung Holland was that of LXXXViII. Armeekorps, 3 divisions under General Reinhard, located at Utrecht which was responsible for the defense of the entire coastline from Den Helder to the Zeeland islands. Curiously, In the German documents, Staelduinse Bos appears as the “Kormoran-Waeldchen” – I wonder why.

By the way, from October 1943 until May 1945 my own father was a member of I./723. He was an Unteroffizier and Geschuetzfuehrer of a 7,5 cm Pak 40 near the Nordmole in Hoek van Holland.

Compliments on this beautiful page about Wn. 35 H.
I can clear up some of the uncertainties / questions mentioned above in the article as well in the comment section.

Wn. 35 H was without any doubt the headquarters for a company of the 723th Grenadier Regiment. First, around september ’43 it was meant for the 11. Kompanie, but this changed in November ’43 when it became the headquarters and residence of the entire 3. Kompanie. This was a mobile company on bicycles(!) that could be dispatched anywhere in the Festung where needed. It consisted of 2 – 17 – 118 men and had (heavy) machine-guns and mortars that could be carried on their bicycles. There is even a very interesting propoganda photo-series from the ECPAD archives, showing how the men operate / exercise, cycling to the dunes of Hoek van Holland.
Please ignore the information that Wn. 35 H was the headquarters of the section Festung Nord. I am afraid this story originates from a small book on the forrest by Kees Neisigh and John Verbeek. I did not menage to find any information where this claim was based on.

Share your thoughts on this article