Casemates (sometimes called pillboxes), like these built here in 1939 as part of the defence of the Netherlands against enemy attack, were all the same shape and of the so-called S-type. The two casemates near Noord-Sleen are well-preserved and still clearly visible. They protected the road from Westenesch to Noord-Sleen. On Friday 10th May 1940 the Dutch military managed to hold up the German occupying force for a few hours. This showed great bravery, not least in view of the enormously superior numbers with which they were confronted. The bullet holes in one of the two casemates bear witness to this. Shortage of ammunition and loss of communications eventually forced the Dutch soldiers to abandon the position
One of the Casemates near Geesbrug
Casemates near Geesbrug
Pillboxes can also be found near Geesbrug and to the north of the Oosterhesselerbrug (the bridge over the Verlengde Hoogeveensche Vaart between Oosterhesselen and Wachtum). Some of these also came under heavy fire on 10th May 1940. Just like the casemates near Sleen, they are a good illustration of the way in which the early warning lines in Drenthe were laid out in 1939-40: two casemates, placed close to bridges along the Drenthe waterways, or at points of strategic importance. The standard S-type had three loopholes for rifle fire. Iron hooks were fixed on top, from which camouflage nets could be hung. For that reason they were called porcupines..