The Netherlands / Landmark

The capture of Delfzijl station




On the night of April 30 to May 1, 1945, in the final convulsions of World War II, the Canadian regiment Cape Breton Highlanders entered the fray with a singular mission: to neutralize the German coastal cannons north of the strategic port city of Delfzijl.

The darkness witnessed the regiment strategically positioning itself, an impressive maneuver that brought them a mere 100 meters from the formidable German 10.5 cm coastal cannons. Despite staunch German resistance and a shortage of ammunition, the B-Company, affectionately nicknamed 'the Little Joes,' succeeded in capturing the Delfzijl station with the support of tanks from the "8th New Brunswick Hussars" and a smoke screen. An intense battle resulted in hundreds of German prisoners. In the aftermath of this triumph, retreating Germans found themselves confronted with relentless Canadian artillery along the Ems, even as they attempted to escape by ship to Germany.

Word reached the Canadian commander that the rest of Delfzijl could be swiftly taken, prompting A-Company to be dispatched to secure positions around the station. Canadian soldier Bill Metcalfe, an eyewitness to these critical moments, vividly recalled the unfolding events.

Upon reaching the Ems Canal, the border of Delfzijl, a platoon encountered a new obstacle. Despite the capture of the station promising a glimpse of victory, a brave group of fourteen, including Metcalfe himself, decided to patrol towards the center. An opening in a large iron fence, created by artillery shelling, led them to the next phase of their heroic adventure.

As they made their way to the harbor, they encountered German soldiers willing to surrender. Metcalfe, quick-thinking, disarmed them and had them wait along the road, armed with an unloaded rifle and a white flag. This resulted in more than a hundred German prisoners in just a few minutes.

The patrol continued, not without further challenges. A foxhole harbored a group of Germans who raised their hands, but one gunman attempted a final desperate attack. The result was a bullet through Metcalfe's leg, but not before the young German himself begged for surrender. After tending to his own wound, they continued their march to the harbor, where hundreds of German soldiers surrendered. With over two hundred prisoners, they continued through Delfzijl, even arming a Dutch civilian to guide the German prisoners back to allied territory.

Noordersingel 3, 9934 AK Delfzijl