Waddenzee islands

In january 1940, KLM opened temporary postal and passenger service to the Dutch Waddenzee islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland.

The film shows the DC-3 landing on the beach of Schiermonnikoog, an impressive achievement and a almost unbelievable landing with a passengerplane at this time.

Copyright ©   Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid

A dove

KLM went through a relatively quiet period from the end of 1939 until April 1940. Although much of the route network was closed, attempts were made to increase flight frequency.

The line to the East was still open, but passengers had to cover the first part of the journey, to Naples, by train.

On 10 Mai 5 1940, Schiphol was bombed. Hangars and aircraft were destroyed and all scheduled flight services were cancelled.

On 13 May, Plesman asked W.C.J. Versteegh, the KNILM director in Dutch East Indies, to take charge of the company. Alternative employment was sought for the KLM staff who had not been mobilised at the beginning of the war.

Schiphol 1940

Hangar B completely destroyed

Schiphol 1940 after the bombing

Schiphol 1940 after the bombing

Better times in the Carribean at that moment: the Douglas DC-5 was introduced on flights connecting the Antennae Islands and Surinam on mainland South America. KLM is a loyal Douglas customer, from the DC-2 to the MD-11




Schiphol bombed

The advent of World War II changed the fortunes of the Dutch airline, as it did almost every other major airline in the world.

KLM stopped all its European flights in August 1939 except to Scandinavia, Belgium, and London.

Despite defiant attempts to continue regularly scheduled service after the war began, KLM had to close all its European operations in May 1940 when the Nazis invaded and occupied the Netherlands.


Amazingly, the company continued to provide services in eastern Asia even though it no longer had a “home” country.

Furthermore KLM maintained its services in the Caribbean, where the fleet now included the Douglas DC-5. KLM also maintained services from Bristol to Lisbon and Gilbaltar for the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

During the occupation, Plesman forged plans for the resurrection of his airline after the war.