Vliegveld Ockenburg

Kijkduin during wartime
door John van de Wouw

De schrijver van dit verslag woonde sinds 1947 in de Verenigde Staten en is daarom in het Engels gesteld.

As to spectators, there probably were some, people always want to see what is going on on May 10, 1940. Dad and I were watching from our front yard at Duinlaan 123, and did not see any other people around. We were of course a couple of km from the airfield Ockenburg itself and did not have an unobstructed view since it is a bit below grade. We did see the planes coming in and the parachutists dropping, main action in our yard were the small contingent of Dutch troops that were stationed there for a few days. In summary, saw practically no people around and no traffic (never was much anyway) on the Duinlaan or the Kijkduinsestraat. As to artillery fire, I do not remember if that was on May 10 or the next day (or two), getting a bit hazy there.

On the picture of the paardentram, that is the corner of the Kijkduinsestraat and Scheveningselaan, with the Duinlaan running between the last house on the right and the vliegveld terrain area. On the left side of the picture there is a Shell sign (I do not remember the sign) but there is a driveway (small car parked on it) that runs to a garage business below ground level, repair, stalling, and I guess benzine sales. My dad had a car parked in the garage occasionally. De Gruiter owned the garage, later he would take over the strandhotel and run it until well into the occupation. His son wrote an article about that episode. After the whole area became sperrgebiet, us boys would sneak into it by various means and go visit him since he lived at the hotel. It was great to get to the beach and take a forbidden swim (even better since it was forbidden). I searched a lot of old Vaderland and Haagse Courant listings but never found an applicable Pander advertisement, however I did find an ad for a bicycle for sale that my dad put in het Vaderland in 1941. I knew the Noordwijkselaan very well, I went to the kleuterschool at the corner of the Wijkselaan and Noordwijkselaan. Pension Pander was at the Noordwijkselaan 5, 7 and 9 (a drie onder een kapwoning). The Noordwijkselaan 9 was later also the home of the familie Gezang. The winkelgallerij had on the corner Scheveningselaan and the Kijkduinsestraat a grocery store Bokhoven I think. Further there were stores for  strand spullen, tabak, ijs, photo material and probably more. I can't remember, all between the Scheveningselaan and the Zandvoortselaan. Then further to the beach was a fietsen stalling and the Cafe de Werf & Bad Hotel (notice the WW1 seamine on display on the patio). The house across from Kijkduinschool, south corner of Scheveningschelaan and Ter Heijdelaan, was used for ammo storage. No special construction, ammo was stacked up in the various rooms of the house. Kids had pretty much made a mess and much ammo was just laying around. Of primary interest to the kids was the gunpowder inside the shell casings,we would break them open by hitting the projectile part over the street curb to break it loose from the casing. I probably mentioned this before, inside was a centrally located solid rod of gunpowder (about as thick as a thumb), when lit and stuck with the flaming end in the sand, it would take off like a rocket.The shells seem to be for cannons, perhaps anti-aircraft, I think the shell casings were about 2 feet long, the projectile another 10 inches or so. These may be inaccurate measurements, as kids things always seem bigger in memory that they actually were.

In the dunes was a glass dome structure. The glass work seemed fairly primitive, like taking existing window frames patched together, rather than designed-from-scratch. I think the top was flat rather than pointed, but can't recall specifically. The structure was about 6 or so feet above grade. I think below ground the structure was octagonal (or perhaps rectangular) and like I mentioned, I think wood. The soldier standing inside was still well below grade level, so inside might have been about 7 or 8 feet below grade. All these observation made very fast and in panick mode as escape was called for. Must have been in summer 1943, perhaps 1944. must have been wrong when I mentioned before that I thought 1943-1944 was the time we were in the dunes fussing with the glass dome. I'm pretty sure Ed de Gruijter was there, it more than likely was after the beach/dunes were closed to the public (April 1942 I think) and before we had to move out of Kijkduin (November 1942). We must have taken advantage of Ed's (at least his dad's) position of being allowed in the closed area and then goofing off in the dunes, coming across the glass structure, a perfect target for stone throwing. As to sneaking into the area in the 1943-1944 period, different methods. There still were a number of people that had access to the Sperrgebiet, some even lived there. I guess that most of them had some function in the area that was considered essential. These folks would cross into the Sperrgebiet at designated entry point (one was located not far from the Danckertsstraat where we lived). By cleverly walking next to a person likely not to be scrutinized too closely by the guards (like a pregnant or good looking woman, a well dressed gentleman, whatever) and pretending we belonged to that person, we sometimes would pass through without being challenged, perhaps the guards, even though checking pass papers on the adults, didn't much care about kids. We did know a boy that lived there and occasionally we would get across via his authority. The crossing point(s) had bridges across the tankgracht. Closer to Kijkduin there was a makeshift (surely temporary) floating foot bridge across the water that we used occasionally, I can't recall specifically if that was before or after May 1945.

I mentioned above that we used to sneak into the Sperrgebiet. Some people actually still lived there, de Ruiter, who managed the hotel with its contingent of German troops was one of those. The son and us would meet up occasionally. One day we were in the dunes and came across that glass topped dome structure and did not see anyone around. Being the belhamels we were, we started throwing rocks at it,even breaking a pane or so. When we then walked up, we were totally surprised with a soldier standing inside, looking up at us. Needless to say we ran out of there at maximum speed and we're not chased nor caught. The structure itself was not very substantial, as far as I can remember, dug out, with wood sides below ground level and topped with a wooden frame with window panes, something like a green house, but more circular, not very big, perhaps 5-6 meters diameter. It seems like it was located near the Hotel, also North, but more in-land. And yes it would have been connected to the tunnel system.

I vaguely recall a shelter in Kijkduin, I guess us kids never really got into it there, although they had identical shelters in Den Haag, one near the Dankertstraat that I went into several times. They were open, no doors that I recall (or if doors, not locked), one long room, all wood construction, with a long wooden bench on either side. Nothing prevented casual trespassing, I do not recall any "forbidden entry" signs for which the Dutch (& Germans) are famous. Not like Zorgvliet where the signs along the perimeter indicated trespassers would be shot without warning (that's the place we could get into by going through a storm drain obviously we were never spotted nor shot at). The ammo storage I mentioned before, was in the house across the street from where the person on the sidewalk is visible. The house is a double under one roof. The ammo was in the section closest to the Ter Heijdelaan.

w.g. John van de Wouw
Californie 2013, 2014

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