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Hiking in the footsteps of the Canadian Liberators






1585.68 km

Canadian soldiers played an important role in the liberation of the Netherlands. With these walking routes, you will follow in their footsteps. From Zeeland, across the Netherlands to Groningen. With familiar and unfamiliar stories along the way.

The Canadian deployment began in autumn 1944 during the Battle of Scheldt, one of the largest and heaviest military operations during the war on Dutch soil. Battles were fought for weeks in northern Belgium, Zeeland and western Brabant for control of the Western Scheldt.

After commissioning the ports of Antwerp, the Canadians moved into North Brabant. The Canadian troops guarded a long front line and had to hold out against fierce German attacks in the harsh winter. The bloody battle at Kapelsche Veer features in many history books.

Operation Veritable ended the static front in February 1945. In a joint operation, British, Canadian and American troops cleared the western bank of the Rhine from the Reich of Nijmegen. Canadian units overcame heavy, German resistance.

After the Rhine crossing, the Canadians returned to the Netherlands to also liberate the east and north of the country. Paleis Het Loo became the headquarters of the Canadians. During the advance to the north, there was especially heavy fighting with fatalities at the crossing of the river IJssel, Operation Cannonshot, and in the city of Groningen. On 2 May 1945, near Geefsweer in Groningen, the last Canadian died during the bitter battle for the so-called Delfzijl-Pocket.

Canada paid a big price for the liberation of the Netherlands. Thousands of Canadian soldiers died and found a final resting place far from their loved ones in cemeteries at Adegem (Belgium), Bergen op Zoom, Groesbeek and Holten. Canadian involvement in the liberation and reconstruction of the Netherlands created close ties between the two countries. For example, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the unit that was closely involved in the liberation of Friesland, holds a 'Leeuwarden Day' every year on 15 April.

Battle of the Scheldt

The nearly five-week Battle of the Scheldt was one of the largest and heaviest military operations during World War II on Dutch soil. Led by the First Canadian Army, an international force fought for control of the Western Scheldt. This was crucial to regain control of the ports of Antwerp.

Operation Veritable

Mud and more mud. That is the memory of those involved in Operation Veritable. From the Rijk van Nijmegen and the north of Limburg, an unimaginably large force began its advance into Germany on 8 February 1945. Due to days of rain, inundations and fierce, German resistance, the Canadians and British advanced only slowly. It was not until 23 February that American troops, attacking from the south, were able to cross the Rhine. US general Dwight D. Eisenhower called Operation Veritable "a bitter battle of endurance between the Allies and the Germans."

Liberation of the eastern and northern Netherlands

In early April 1945, the First Canadian Army began the liberation of the eastern and northern Netherlands. Often helped by information from the resistance, the Canadians advanced quickly and liberated many villages and towns. Supported by French paratroopers who landed in Drenthe and by Polish and Belgian troops under Canadian command. The advance remained constantly stressful due to the unpredictable behaviour of the German troops. Sometimes these offered fierce resistance, other times they retreated without firing a shot. Except for the Wadden Islands, the northern provinces were completely liberated on 2 May 1945. Three days later, the German troops in the Netherlands capitulated. Yet the island of Schiermonnikoog had to wait until 11 June before it became the last Dutch municipality to regain its freedom.

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