Pays-Bas / Champ de Bataille

Operation Schultz




By mid-January 1945, units of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division had been staying along the Meuse front for another two months. Their sector ran roughly from Heusden to Lith. Their daily life along the river Meuse had by now become rather monotonous. Most of their time was spent standing guard and peering across. Occasionally, small patrols moved across for reconnaissance. These did not take away a Canadian commander's curiosity. Who were actually across the Meuse?

In January 1945, the Lake Superior Regiment had positions along the Meuse River on an elongated front running from Bokhoven to Het Wild. The unit's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Keane, had absolutely no idea who his opponent was on the other side of the Maas. Therefore, the commander decided to go big and send A Company (about 100 men) across the river.

Not only was the scale of 'Operation Schultz' remarkable, but also the fact that Keane chose to operate in broad daylight. From the embankment near Hoenzadriel, German troops could see exactly what the Canadians were up to and bring targeted fire to their boats.

To prevent this, Canadian guns fired smoke grenades. To support the crossing, the Canadians deployed three of their four tank units, about 150 Sherman tanks, and some 70 guns were brought in. This huge number was to deny the Germans all sight of the Lake Superior Regiment's action as well as isolate the village of Hoenzadriel so that reinforcements from surrounding villages were impossible. Machine guns were to provide fire from the Maas dyke.

Via the Blauwe Sluis (blue lock) in Gewande, the group set off on 17 January 1945 at the stroke of 12.30pm. Two minutes later, the Canadians were already on the other side. Despite numerous smoke grenades, they still came under heavy German machine-gun fire. The German troops managed to pin the Canadians down near some dike houses. The large amount of artillery then brought relief. Luck turned out to be on the Canadian side. In one of the houses they were able to capture three German soldiers, exactly the number that had been set as a target beforehand. At 2.40 pm, 'Operation Schultz' was over again.

The Canadians counted four wounded, including their commander. Nothing was known about German losses. The damage in the area near Hoenzadriel and Kerkdriel was enormous due to the heavy artillery fire. The tanks had fired over 6,500 shells, the artillery nearly 4,000. Through questioning, the Canadians found out that a unit of the Luftwaffe was on the other side. Not exactly the fine fleur of the German army.

It was a huge operation, but Commander Keane's curiosity was appeased. He no longer had any cause for concern.



Krommenhoek, Gewande