The Netherlands / Monument

The battle of Woensdrecht




Woensdrecht was an important place for the Allies since it was the only land entrance to South-Beveland and Walcheren. If the Canadians could capture the village the German forces to the west would be cut off from the rest of their army. Woensdrecht was the first key objective for safeguarding the Scheldt estuary and thus be able to use the ports of Antwerp.

Despite the huge importance of Antwerp the Allied focused their advance in early September 1944 further to the east, with Operation Market Garden. The frontline around Antwerp remained almost unchanged for a month. By the end of September the Canadian troops went into action to change this situation. On 28 September 1944 the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division crossed the Antwerp-Turnhout Canal and started its offensive to clear the Scheldt river. At first progress was slow and steady but as the Canadians approached the village of Woensdrecht they were brought to a halt.

The battle of Woensdrecht started on 7 October 1944. The opposing forces were well match in terms of numbers but the Canadian forces enjoyed a superiority in artillery and air support. On the other hand many of the Canadian soldiers were very inexperienced. The German defenders of Woensdrecht on the other hand were veterans of several battles and included the elite 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment which was known for its fanaticism.

On Friday 13 October, one of the bloodiest battles took place. On this day the Canadian Black Watch Regiment made an attack across an open field against well prepared German positions. The result was devastating. The Black Watch lost 183 men of which 56 dead. Ever since this day is known by the Canadian soldiers as Black Friday. Despite the heavy losses, the Canadians captured Woensdrecht on 23 October, effectively cutting off the German forces in South-Beveland and Walcheren.

The monument that can be seen on this location is dedicated to the Canadian troops that fought and died for the liberation of Woensdrecht.

Dorpsstraat 2, 4634 TR Woensdrecht, Pays-Bas