On the 16 th of december 2010 this Lion was moved to a new location with a special ceremony.
But what is so special about this Lion ?
This Lion was a gift from the city of Rotterdam to the Signal units from the Royal Dutch Army which fought bravely in the defence of Rotterdam and his bridges in 1940 against the invading Germans.
The Lion is one of four lions which where part of the pre-war Four Lion bridge at Rotterdam.
On the 10 th of may 1940 the Germans invaded the neutral Netherlands and due to terrible budget cuts our defence was at a low level.
"We are not prepared " from the famous Fritz Behrendt.
After the First World War which ended in 1918 , a lot of people believed that this war ended all wars and the believe in peace and the deep economic depression in the twenty's and thirties made investments in a strong military defence impopular. Symbolic for the peace movement was the broken rifle.
In the late thirties the Dutch government was not blind for the dangers of Nazi Germany.
But is was to late, for a solid and strong defence you need years and years of investment , and intensive training.
And when a little country is not part of an international defence alliance like the NATO today, you are on your own.
Although we had not sufficient numbers and quality in weapons and ammo, the soldiers from the Dutch Army tried to resist the Nazi invader as good as it could get.
This story is published by Lt. Col. Eppo Brongers in his triology
"Advance to Rotterdam "
In Dutch : Opmars naar Rotterdam, deel 1 De Luchtlanding
ISBN 90 6045 288 7.
From this quality publication , internet sources and the official military history publications i found the following story of heroism.
In 1940 the Signal Units where part of the Engineers which made bridges, cleared minefields and worked with explosives to blow bridges.
The egineers at work with a bridge.
The signal units (Dutch : Verbindingstroepen) where active in sending messages.
This soldier is working with the field telephone.
He is armed with the Carbine M95.
The Carbine M95.
The helmet M 1934.
A soldier from a signal unit (two crossed flags on the left arm)
with telephone cables in the field.
The badge from the Signal Unit.
Field equipment for telephone line communication.
The German attack 10 th may 1940.
For the Germans the city of Rotterdam was inportant because it was the southern part of the stonghold Holland (Vesting Holland) today called Randstad , the area between Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag), Amsterdam and Utrecht. The troops landed on airfield Waalhaven and tank units from the south (area Moerdijk) needed to join for a further attack
in the heart of the Dutch defence.
In the german planning the deployment of paratroopers was rejected because of the density of buildings in the area around the Willems bridge and the Four Lions bridge.
Therefore the Germans used waterplanes from the type Heinkel HE-59.
The Heinkel HE59 was able to land on water
and was armed with machineguns
positioned in front of the first seat.
The Four Lions bridge marked in the circle.
For the defence of Rotterdam the Colonel Scharroo (engineer)
had no impressive fighting force under his command.
The Colonel Scharroo was an intelligent vigorous and
One guard company was spread over the different locations in Rotterdam with his logisitc importance.
There where training depots from the Navy, Air Force and
the Army Egineers, most conscripts with a little basic training
or just arrived from civillian life.
The greatest in number was the training depot from the Signal troops : 1500 men with just basic training or less.
The Infantry batalion (III-39 R.I.) had guard troops and was spread over the whole harbor and city ,guarding important locations.
But dont think that the men from III-39 R.I could not fight !
The soldier N.W. Boontjes from this unit was decorated after he was killed in action against German Airborne troopers with a high medal for bravery :
(de bronzen leeuw)
He was armed with the heavy machine gun Schwarsloze :
A serious fighting force where the Professional soldiers from the Royal Dutch Marines, hundred of them where higly trained and 200 where just for 3 or 7 months in active duty.
Officer and N.C.O from the Royal Marines.
The fight from this Marines on the nearby Willemsbrug is also famous.
The Germans called them the black devils.
This painting gives a good impression of the fight in Rotterdam harbour by the Marines.
In the middle, the Lewis machine gun is used.
The lewis machine gun, the magazine on top gave troubles
with jamming parts during low maintenance.
In the early morning on the 10 th of may 1940 Captain Duhoux went to the commandpost from Colonel Scharroo after he had send out patrols to give him information about the enemy airplanes and the shooting of the Dutch anti aircraft guns.
Modern 2 cm Oerlikon anti aircraft gun.
The 2 th Lieutenant H.A. Rodrigo (Signal unit) was send out with ten recruts to the 4 Lions bridge, to clear it from enemy troops and capture the bridge.
Captain J.T. Dohma ( 3 th Cie Signal troops) received orders to recapture the Maas railway station with 80 soldiers. In his plan he attacked from three sides. The enemy was suprised and retreated to the 4 Lions Bridge.
The 2 th Lieutenant Rodrigo reached the bridge and saw that the enemy hold strong defence possitions and was armed with machine guns. A frontal attack with his 10 recruts whith no combat expirimence would be fatal.
The Lieutenant made a smart plan to use the houses near the bridge and Hotel Weimar as fire position.
The went with his unit to the back of this houses and asked the owners politely if he could use the roof as fire position for his soldiers.
With 5 men he went to the roof.
When he was on the roof he realised that they had a perfect fire possition and he ordered to open fire on the Germans on the bridge.
His men hesitated, not used to war conditions.
The lieutenant took one carbine and opened fire, this was
enough to bring the other soldiers on the roof in action.
The Germans from the 11 th cie from the 16 th Airborne regiment under command of Oberleutant Schrader where suprised.
Oberleutant Schrader and his men.
Schrader did not survive the war, he was killed in 1943 near Sebastopol.
The Germans thougth that the five men on the ground had opened fire and gave fire in that direction. This had no effect because the fire came from the roof. This situation gave panic to the Germans and they went back to the place called Bolwerk near the bridge and made a new fire position behind car opstacles.
The fire position (filled black cirkle) from the Dutch and the retread
of the Germans to the Bolwerk.
After the German retread the Captain L. van Waegeningh ( 2 th. cie. signal troops) arrived from the direction Haringvliet and Oosterkade with 90 men.
They possitioned themselve after receiving heavy fire near the Four Lions bridge and Oosterkade.
The deffencive possitions at the Oosterkade (near the river) near the
Four Lions bridge.
After this action the Germans retreated from the barricade at the Bolwerk and left there anti tank rifle behind.
German 7.92 mm Panzerbusche.
This anti tank rifle was recaptured with 20 rounds by two vollonteers the soldier Van der Werff and the sergeant Verver. And they could use it against the Germans when they went back to their own possioton at the Oosterkade.
The forces from Capt. Van Waegeningh had just one light machinegun but Lieutenant Rodrigo had also captured two German light machine guns from the Heinkel airplanes in the harbour.
A young officer cadet F.C. de Boer from the first Cie. Signal troops was send with a few men to the White house which had a great view on the surroundings.
The White house with perfect firing positions to all sides.
Below the Willems bridge and right the Four Lions bridge.
Into the White House this unit could open fire on German troops which came from the north and wanted to capture the Jan Kuiten bridge.
The firing position on the Jan Kuitenbridge.
But with the light carbines it was not possible to fire on the Willems bridge.
With the help of the Marines with machine guns this problem was solved.
I hope this story gave you a good impression about the fight of the Signal Units around the Four Lions bridge in Rotterdam 1940.
One Lion is now a Regimental Lion and a iconic symbol for
the fighting spirit of these days.
With great respect we will remember all the men who died in this war and the missions after the Second World War. There names are on copper plates near the Regimental Lion.
Today the three remaining lions from the Four Lions bridge have a new destination since 1964 at the Maas boulevard near the Lion apartments.
Let us never forget what happened at Rotterdam in 1940.
Marked on the Regimental standard from the Signal Troops :
Today's badge with blue/white background.
Nunsius Transmitendus !
The message most come trough !
And with the fighting spirit from the Signal troops during the
Second World War in our mind, today every soldier
is also a rifleman.