The Netherlands / Battlefield
For several years after the end of the Second World War, the Walcheren Causeway - at that time a dyke of a 1000 meters in length and just 45 meters in width - was the only way to reach the island of Walcheren from South Beveland. In the weeks prior to the Canadian advance towards Walcheren, the importance of the Walcheren Causeway was already clear. However, the Causeway and the surrounding landscape were severely damaged by bombing. The craters would eventually provide a major obstacle to the Allied attacks.
In the morning of October 31, 1944, troops from the Canadian 5th Infantry Brigade ‘The Black Watch of Canada’ began the first attack on the Walcheren Causeway. The 5th Infantry Brigade had previously fought hard at Woensdrecht and would continue to lose many men on this day. The attack on the Causeway was met by murderous fire from the German side. Only in the evening of November 1 did the remnants of the Canadian unit succeed in pulling back to the Beveland side.
The Calgary Highland Regiment took over the attack from the Black Watch on the night of October 31 to November 1. Despite heavy preliminary artillery bombardments, this attack also stalled just past the large bomb crater in the Walcheren Causeway. A few hours later, in the morning of November 1, a new attack was carried out under artillery fire. This time, Canadian troops reached the other side of the dam. German troops, however, managed to initiate a successful counterattack and once again the Canadians had to withdraw.
On November 2, Le Régiment de Maisonneuve conducted the last frontal attack on the Walcheren Causeway. They managed to reach the other side and create a bridgehead. However, the dam was still not safe and in Allied hands; a further attack was needed.
The last attack to take the Walcheren Causeway was carried out by Scottish troops of the 52nd Lowland Division. The division commander, General-major Hakewill-Smith, suggested that, in addition to an attack on the Causeway itself, a second attack on the Sloe Channel, called Operation Mallard, should be launched in support.
While Scottish troops of the Sixth Battalion, ‘The Cameronians’, crossed the Sloe. Channel in the night of 2 to 3 November to outflank the German defences, the Glasgow Highlanders of the 157th Infantry Brigade opened the attack on the Walcheren Causeway. Around noon they managed to reach the Canadian bridgehead. Despite German counterattacks and the heaviest losses so far, they managed to maintain their positions and the Causeway could be secured.
After operation Mallard, the German defences collapsed. On November 4, the Allies had a firm foothold on this side of Walcheren. During the battle for the Walcheren Causeway, 79 Canadian and British soldiers died.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.
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