On this day in history – 10th May 1940 – German paratroopers launched a glider-borne assault on the fort of Eben-Emael in Belgium, paving the way for the invasion of France and the Low Countries. Ten gliders, carrying less than 80 men, would take the fort by surprise, while another group would capture the nearby bridges at Veldewezelt, Vroenhoven and Kanne.
Here we see the paratroops rush into action at Eben-Emael, their gliders having landed atop the fort. An MG 34 gunner provides covering fire for his comrades as they move up to eliminate an enemy position.
Taken by surprise, the Belgian gun emplacements and concrete defence posts were quickly neutralised by the first wartime use of hollow explosive charges, which forced the defenders to retreat further within the fort and eventually surrender the following day. The Germans had suffered only six killed and 15 wounded in capturing the strongest fortress in Europe.
By Ibrahim Zamir