Danube River in Austria

Terschelling Tiger Bunker... bitter days of war

Submitted by mag on Wed, 08/01/2018 - 05:07

Lest we forget... Terschelling was not always an island paradise.  It was one of the first places overrun and occupied by the Nazis in WWII.  They established a huge Stellung (bunker complex) that covered almost the entire island.  It's main purpose was to detect allied fighter planes, bombers and ships before they could reach Europe’s mainland, and destroy them with anti-aircraft guns and mortars.  

"Tigerstellung bunker complex lies just outside the town of West-Terschelling. During the Second World War, this outlying fortress guarded the northern aerial routes into and out of the Third Reich, covering much of the southern North Sea. It was used in the assault on England known as the Englandspiel. Buried in dirt in the fifties, the entire complex – comprised of bunkers and anti-aircraft guns in defence of the radar installations and listening posts that were highly advanced for their time – is now being excavated to broaden public awareness of its historical importance. Over the last few years, islanders and student volunteers have worked hard to uncover many bunkers and restore them to how they would have looked some 70 years ago."

This photo was taken in May 1945, in West-Terschelling village. These men were all POWs in the last months of the war, and brought to Terschelling by the Germans, because the "road to Germany" was already closed by the Allied forces, due to the progress of their actions in Northeast Holland (March - April 1945). Seven of the airmen in the photo are Americans and four of them have on flight jackets with fur collars.  My father was a Marine air navigator during WWII and had a jacket exactly like this.  I couldn't help thinking of him and how he would have loved exploring these ruins, and like us, imagining what the world would be like without brave men like our fathers who were willing to risk their lives for freedom.