I apologize to those readers who clicked through hoping to read that Andrew Tuohy had taken up figure skating, the rest of you can breath a sigh of relief that you won’t be seeing Andrew in a lycra skating outfit. This post is instead about two curious photos of Dutch soldiers training with ice skates during World War II.
These photos are said to be from early 1940 in an unknown location along the New Dutch Waterline. The Waterline was a defensive line designed to protect the Netherlands from land-based attacks. It is named the Waterline because dykes, flooded land and moats were used to keep attackers at bay. The original Old Hollandic Waterline dated back to the 17th century. It was rebuilt in the 19th century after the Napoleonic wars and again modernized after WWI.
During winter it makes sense that soldiers would skate over the ice to quickly move about the frozen lakes or to pursue a retreating enemy.
Like the more famous Maginot Line, these static defenses were obsolete as soon as they were built. A few months after this photo take taken Germany invaded the Netherlands. The German Luftwaffe dropped paratroopers behind the defensive lines to capture key strategic points and then used bombers to bomb the country into submission.
Many thanks to WhaleOil for the pics.