Pays-Bas / Champ de Bataille

One cannon proved too many




Where the bridge in the A58 over the Scheldt-Rhine Canal is now, the Kreekrakdam was once located. It connected Noord-Brabant with Zuid-Beveland and was the only access to the Scheldt estuary. After the heavy fighting at Hoogerheide and Woensdecht, the German troops withdrew to Bergen op Zoom on 24 October, finally allowing the attack towards the west to continue. With a column of tanks and armoured cars, the Canadians wanted to break through the defences of the Kreekrakdam to reach the Canal through Zuid-Beveland within hours. Expectations were high. Until a single gun opened fire.....

The Canadian plan for the breakthrough to the South Beveland Canal involved the infantry of the Royal Regiment of Canada crossing the polder south of the Kreekrakdam on the night of 24 October. While the German defences gave every attention to this danger, at the crack of dawn an armoured column was to drive up the Kreekrak dam and force a breakthrough.

That night, Canadian artillery burst in. The long column of vehicles entered the narrow, mud-covered country roads from Woensdrecht towards the Rijksweg with great difficulty: four tanks, four reconnaissance vehicles and a number of armoured trucks in which soldiers of the Essex Scottish Regiment were transported safely from shrapnel.

Meanwhile, the Royals entered the Kreekrakpolder in pitch darkness.Tangled fighting followed and an hour and a half later they dug into the Bathsedijk. The column reached the dam ramp by noon and the first tanks drove up the Kreekrakdam with roaring engines. The breakthrough seemed imminent!

Just outside Rilland, on the other side of the dam, a lone anti-tank gun stood in the German defences. While mortar fire and artillery forced the Royals into cover, the gun crew spotted three kilometres away the first Canadian tanks on the Kreekrak dam. Within minutes, they took out three tanks and three reconnaissance vehicles. By just one German gun, the Canadians' dreamed cavalry charge had fallen apart!

Distressed, the infantry took over the attack in the conventional way. It then took two days before the German defences threw in the towel and the Canadians were able to advance further into South Beveland.

Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.


Oude Rijksweg N289 (afslag N659 Oesterdam) in Rilland