River Dyle in flood 11 May 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Dirk, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Hello again,

    It's been a long time.

    At the moment I'm preparing a text for the magazine of our local history circle about the flooding of the river Dyle valley in May 1940 near Sint-Joris-Weert (Weert St. Georges) in Belgium. While looking into this matter I came across an RAF air reconnaissance report dated 11 May 1940 in which P/O Day 13 sqdn (a Lysanders squadron) reported:

    "WEERT ST. GEORGES/ 13.45 hrs./ 2000 feet/ RIVER DYLE in flood over 1/2 mile on both sides."

    I have difficulty understanding what P/O Day meant by: RIVER DYLE in flood over 1/2 mile on both sides.

    a) Did he notice a 1/2 mile river lenght along the valley in flood condition (spilling into the lands situated on both sides of the river)?

    b) Did he observe the river flooding its left bank over a 1/2 mile valley width as well as its right bank over a 1/2 mile valley width?

    c) Did he see the river in flood on both sides of Weert St. Georges? Thus meaning that the river was in flood over a 1/2 mile river lenght just North of Weert St. Georges and in flood over a 1/2 mile river lenght just South of Weert St. Georges.

    The pilot was flying along the river Dyle valley from the North (Leuven) to the South (Wavre, Limal). The river itself flows from the South (Wavre) to the North (Leuven).

    Perhaps to the native English speakers on this forum the meaning of the pilot's observation is obvious. What did he see according to your opinion?

    Cheers
    Dirk
     
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    hello Dirk my understanding of it is your option B


    b) Did he observe the river flooding its left bank over a 1/2 mile valley width as well as its right bank over a 1/2 mile valley width?

    Left bank flooded for 1/2 mile
    Right bank flooded for 1/2 mile


    regards
    Clive
     
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  3. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Welkom terug, Dirk:)

    To my mind, it's completely unclear ! If though he was flying north- south along the river then it suggests to me that the flood plain was under water to some depth for a width of a mile in total...but without knowing the topography, it's difficult to understand why that would only have been so at Sint-Joris-Weert.
     
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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Would agree with both in that the river was flooded either side to a distance of 1/2 a mile (making a total of 1 mile)

    TD
     
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Are there any aerial photos of it ?
     
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    According to the Official History sections of the Dyle were flooded rather than the river as a whole so whilst I would agree that the report could be interpreted in a number of ways option C seems most likely
     
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The Dijl there is a pretty miserable ditch these days, but the flood plain could be quite wide if there was sufficient flow of water. I'm not sure that it is wide enough to give 1/2" mile to the west though..The ridge that gave the Germans their view of the defences looks closer than that.

    IMG_0854.JPG

    IMG_0855.JPG

    IMG_0851 - Copy.JPG
     
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  8. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    According to Ellis Chp III page 40 the Dyle valley then was "from 500 to 1,500 yards wide" and "flooded in places" so being flooded to a width of a mile either side appears improbable
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    A Photo on page 68 of Ellis shows a river a little wider than Rich's photo but not by that much. It also shows the high ground
     
  10. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Thank you very much for your answers . It's very, very unclear to me what the pilot meant.

    According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary the idiom in flood means: "Definition of in flood of a river, a lake etc.: close to overflowing its banks and flooding the land next to it." According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English the idiom in flood means: "river that is in flood has much more water in it than usual."

    Attached is a fragment of Sheet 56 Louvain (1938) showing Sint-Joris-Weert (Weert St. Georges) and the area south of Leuven (Louvain).

    Here is some extra information to add to the confusion: In the Dyle valley south of Leuven the Belgian Army prepared three inundation areas. South of Leuven (near Egenhoven) you had the inundation area named "Rotspoel", south of Rotspoel you had the inundation area called "Ophem-Heide" and south of Ophem-Heide you had the inundation area called "Sint-Agatha-Rode".

    Each of these areas was fitted with a sluice blocking the river Dyle and a dyke blocking the valley width. Together the three adjoining inundation areas would have formed — theoretically — a water barrier of 9 km in lenght, thus stretching from Egenhoven in the north to Sint-Agatha-Rode in the south. However, the inundation area named Rotspoel wasn't operational in May 1940, because of its sluice not being finished in time. Rotspoel was dry and good going during the Battle of the Dyle.

    The other two areas mentioned were operational, but unfortunately it is unknow to what an extent they were flooded at the outbreak of war, the 10th of May 1940. It seems to me both where not fully flooded on May 10th.

    The village of Sint-Joris-Weert is situated halfway the two operational inundation areas named Ophem-Heide and Sint-Agatha-Rode.

    Keeping the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of "in flood" in mind, I tend to agree with Robert, and believe that the pilot meant either option A or option C.

    Does anybody knows of British intelligence reports that might shed a light on this particular matter? Any information is most welcome.

    Nice picture Rich!. I used to live in Sint-Joris-Weert .

    Dirk
     

    Attached Files:

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  11. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The Merriam Webster Dictionary is an American English dictionary and although the definitions also apply in real English it would normally have been taken by a British reader to mean having overflowed its banks
     
  12. Dirk

    Dirk Member

    Thanks you for pointing that out ! I've checked the following British dictionaries (online) regarding the idiom in flood.

    - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary :
    The river is in flood (= has more water in it than normal and has caused a flood)
    - Cambridge Dictionary: The river is in flood (= water has flowed over its banks).

    Dirk
     

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