20 Lesser Known Battles of World War II That Really Mattered

German paratroopers above the neighborhood of Bezuidenhout in The Hague (c. May 10, 1940). Wikimedia Commons.

17. Although ultimately only delaying the fall of the Netherlands to Nazi Germany, the Battle of The Hague was an important propaganda victory as well as permitting the Dutch government the time to escape to Britain

Flying without effort to conceal themselves over the Netherlands in the early hours of May 10, 1940, the German intention was to deceive the Dutch and convince them of an intent to attack the United Kingdom. However, and unsurprisingly, the presence of large numbers of enemy aircraft above did not lull but rather alarmed the Dutch. Releasing their paratroopers as planned, the German Fallschirmjäger units – tasked with seizing airfields and cutting off The Hague to force a quick surrender – succeeded in only capturing three and a counter-offensive was readily launched by the Dutch.

Failing in the mission’s core objectives, including the capture of Queen Wilhelmina and Henri Winkelman, commander-in-chief of the Dutch forces, to force a surrender, the Germans instead became cut off themselves. Driven from the airfields, the Germans were scattered and skirmishes continued throughout the countryside. Resulting in the capture of almost two thousand paratroopers, as well as the deaths of nearly five hundred, the effort was an unmitigated failure for Germany. Victory, however, was short-lived, and following the brutal German bombing of Rotterdam on May 14 the Dutch capitulated. Nevertheless, the Queen and her cabinet – prime targets of the German paratroopers – were afforded the chance by the delay to escape to Britain and form a government-in-exile.