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The British Columbia Dragoons in Appingedam




In a forgotten chapter of Canadian military history, the 9th Armoured Regiment, better known as the British Columbia Dragoons (BCD), took center stage during the bloody struggle for the Delfzijl Pocket. Although part of the mighty 5th Canadian Armoured Division, the Dragoons faced challenges that limited their tank capabilities.

Upon arrival in Groningen on Sunday, April 22, 1945, Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Angle expected his tanks to support the infantry of the Perth Regiment. However, an abrupt change in plans forced the Dragoons into a defensive and static role, securing Appingedam and 'locking down' the port city of Delfzijl. This resulted in mixed feelings among the tank crews, who likened themselves to riders without horses.

Two squadrons had to leave their tanks in Groningen and focus on defending Appingedam. The transition from tanks to infantry was not only unusual but also a first for the Dragoons. With only 120 'tankers' available as infantry, they had to take strategic positions in and around Appingedam and keep the Germans at bay.

The biggest challenge for the BCD, however, was enemy artillery bombardment. The Germans closely monitored the flat area around Appingedam, resulting in devastating precision attacks. Even from the nearby German island of Borkum, the city was bombarded with 28 cm shells, leaving houses with craters six meters in diameter and three meters deep.

The Dragoons' task was an endurance test. As Appingedam gradually turned into ruins, the men of the BCD bravely resisted constant pressure. On May 2, after a week of intense fighting, news of the Germans' surrender in Delfzijl reached the Dragoons' ranks. Despite the extensive destruction of Appingedam, the number of casualties within the regiment remained remarkably low - only three dead and nine wounded.

With the capture of Delfzijl, the BCD's tasks were completed. After a brief rest period in Groningen and Loppersum, the Dragoons were sent to Veendam to guard a German prisoner-of-war camp. Contact with Veendam persisted, and the story of the British Columbia Dragoons in the Delfzijl Pocket became an indelible chapter in Canadian military history.

Wijkstraat 44, 9901 AJ Appingedam