The Netherlands / Fortification
Fort Rammekens was built in the sixteenth century to control and protect the shipping connection to Middelburg and Antwerp. For centuries, the fort had an important role, but eventually it lost its strategic significance and fell into decay.
Prior to the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, Fort Rammekens became part of the Dutch defences. After the capitulation of Zeeland on May 17 it was put into use by German units and from 1942 the fort became part of the Atlantik Wall; the German line of defence along the coasts of north-west Europe. Besides the fort itself, bunkers and other concrete reinforcements were also built in its immediate vicinity.
When the Allied decision was made to inundate Walcheren by bombing the sea dykes, 247 Lancaster bombers dropped 1270 tonnes of bombs on the Zeedijk near Westkapelle on October 1, 1944. Although the bombs breached a hundred meters of the dyke, the relatively high altitude of the village and its surrounding area meant that only a small part of Walcheren was flooded. It was therefore decided to carry out new bombings on Walcheren's lower lying dykes.
On October 7, 58 Lancasters bombed the Nollendijk west of Vlissingen and 68 Lancasters bombed the sea dyke at Ritthem, just west of Fort Rammekens. Later, two more bombings would follow west of Veere and again around Westkapelle. The hole that was struck in the dyke just west of Fort Rammekens was about 400 meters wide. The water flooded the land and inundated a larger part of Walcheren. When the Scottish 157th Infantry Brigade approached Fort Rammekens on November 5, the commander set an ultimatum; surrender or be shelled by artillery. The small German garrison decided to surrender.
The breach in the dyke would eventually be closed with Phoenix caissons in February 1946, caissons intended for the construction of an artificial harbour during the invasion of Normandy.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.