The Netherlands / Battlefield
Now reinforced with units of the fifth Canadian Infantry Brigade, the sixth Infantry Brigade continued the advance towards the Kanaal door Zuid-Beveland. With the knowledge that the landings in the so-called Zak van Zuid-Beveland had also been successful (Operation Vitality II) and a bridgehead had been created here, the two brigades tried to cross the Canal in three places from 27 October onwards.
On the north side of the Canal, units of the fifth infantry brigade (Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders) liberated Yerseke on the 27th of October. They tried to reach Wemeldinge across the still intact locks. Despite the artillery support it failed to break the German defense. A second overnight attempt, using attack boats, resulted in a debacle in which almost all of the boats were sunk and many soldiers were killed and injured. Further attempts were halted because, by now, the Canal had been crossed in other places.
As focused as the German defense at Yerseke responded to the Canadian attempt to cross the Canal, so poor was the reaction of the German units at Hansweert. When Les Fuseliers de Mont-Royal of the sixth Infantry Brigade opened the attack around 05.00 in the morning, they could take the locks quickly and without any significant opposition. Almost without a shot fired, a large part of the German defenses was overtaken.
At the main crossing over the Canal, near the village of Vlake, the German defenders had already blown up the traffic and rail bridges. Across the remnants of the bridges and with boats, units of the South Saskatchewan Regiment of the sixth Infantry Brigade crossed the Canal during the evening and were able to create a small bridgehead. A German counter-attack in the morning of October 28 was repulsed.
In the course of the following day, a pontoon bridge was constructed over the Canal, after which the advance toward Goes and further onto Walcheren could be continued without delay. On the same day Kapelle was liberated. One day later, on October 29 in ’s Gravenpolder, Canadian units made contact with units of the Scottish Lowland division that had previously landed at Baarland and Hoedekenskerke (Operation Vitality II).
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.
Reeweg / Kanaalweg, Reimerswaal