In World War II, the Netherlands was quickly occupied. Some naval ships fought a short but fierce battle near the coast and in the waterways. Several ships sank during this battle. Significantly more British and German warships sank in Dutch waters in the following war years. Large numbers of merchant and fishing vessels were sunk. Many casualties occurred. The wrecks were often left behind and because of the victims present, these became war graves.
Numerous bombers and other aircraft also crashed into the North Sea or dumped their bombs into the sea on their way home. Even years after the wars, merchant ships still fell prey to dislodged mines. Between 10 May 1940 and August 1962, 148 more ships were hit by loose floating mines!
An inventory of war wrecks is being worked on. These will be shown on the Maritime Stepping Stones website.