Shell Shocked Watch


On 14 May 1940, German planes sighted the Dutch gunboat Johan Maurits van Nassau just off the coast of the town of Callantsoog in the Netherlands. Earlier the ship had successfully helped to defend the Afsluitdijk, the large enclosure dam in the north of the Netherlands.


For days, Dutch troops managed to hold the front line near the small village of Kornwerderzand on the Frisian side of the dam.


At 6.34 in the evening the Johan Maurits van Nassau was shelled, causing it to go under. The ship was ablaze. In the scorching heat much of the crew jumped overboard including Steward First Class A. A. Coenraats – wearing this watch. He survived but seventeen of his shipmates met their deaths.

Coenraats’ watch stopped ticking the minute the shells hit the gunboat.