The Netherlands / Battlefield
After the liberation of Oostburg, the Canadians were left facing a final obstacle: the drainage canal at Retranchement. On October 31, Sergeant Hickman was fatally wounded during the construction of a Bailey bridge in Retranchement. Once the bridge was completed, Canadian troops were able to advance to the last part of Belgium that had not yet been liberated.
After the liberation of Oostburg, the Canadian units immediately moved westward. The countryside was muddy, and the German defences initially fought back relentlessly. In the last days of October, the remaining German resistance was rounded up in western Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Retranchement had been abandoned by the defenders when the Queen’s own Rifles of Canada took control of the village on October 29th. While constructing a Bailey bridge over the drainage canal, Sergeant Hickman was killed. The current bridge is named after him.
The completion of the bridge allowed the Canadian units to cross to the last part of Belgium that had not yet been liberated: the area around Knokke. The commanding officer of the German troops in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, Major General Eberding, was taken prisoner in Knokke together with his staff on October 31, 1944. On November 2nd, the last German Stützpunkt, Stützpunkt Cadzand Bad in West-Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, fell. The last German units surrendered in Zeebrugge, Belgium on November 3rd. The struggle in West-Zeeuws-Vlaanderen lasted no less than 26 days.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.
Hickmanbrug, Zwintstraat 17, 4525 AC Retranchement