The Canadians are coming





Because of the situation in the south, the Allied advance and the liberation of the northern part of the Netherlands had to wait when in September 1944 the bridge at Arnhem proved to be a bridge too far. Part of the solution was found in Operation Veritable that started on 8 February 1945 and Operation Plunder of 23 March 1945. After that, the road to liberation of the northern Netherlands was in fact free...

 On 6 April, the first scouts were already on their way north. Scouts led by Captain Victor Combes Stilwell had already explored the northern edge of Meppel. Captain Stilwell had made contact with resistance fighter Jan Poortman from Meppel, whom he asked not to put out any flags yet, because the Germans had not yet been driven away and the Scouts had to go back to their night quarters in Lutten (province of Overijssel) that same night.  

One day later, the Canadians returned for a reconnaissance of Meppel to find a passage to the province of Friesland. That same day, another Canadian unit managed to advance as far as De Wijk, on the border of Overijssel and Drenthe. To confuse the German occupiers and secure the bridges in Drenthe, 700 French paratroopers were dropped in Drenthe in the night of 7 to 8 April.  

Some Frenchmen landed in the woods near Staphorst. Nevertheless, they managed to get in touch with Canadian scouts of the Manitoba Dragoons armoured regiment on Sunday 8 April. The next days, together with the resistance, they made every effort to clear the road for the advancing Allied army. 

Because of the tough defence by the German occupiers, it took until 13 April for Meppel to be liberated by various units from Staphorst and from the east. Liberation is something of an exaggeration, since the enemy had withdrawn further, allowing the Canadian troops to drive freely through Meppel on their way to Friesland.