German paratroopers exiting a glider. Defense Media Network

39. The Germans Landed On Top of the Fortress

In the wee hours of May 10th, 1940, a company of 80 German paratroopers, commanded by a captain Walter Koch, boarded gliders tethered to Ju 52 transport airplanes, which towed them, then released them on an approach path to the fortress. The gliders landed atop the fortress, which had been built to thwart attacks from land, but whose designers had not contemplated a direct assault from above by airborne soldiers. Exiting the gliders and quickly forming into assault teams, the paratroopers threw explosives down Eben-Emael’s ventilation shafts, to explode within the fortress’ vitals.