The Netherlands / Battlefield

Smoke screen saves lives




The Canadians surprised the German defences on 10 October 1944 by passing the mudflats and salt marshes of the Braakman with amphibious vehicles. After the infantry east of Hoofdplaat dug in, an invisible organisation of anonymous Smoke Pioneers moved in. A technical feat that spared many soldiers' lives and managed to fool the German troops.

Monday night at 02.11 on 9 October, the radio set suddenly crackled "Touchdown!". It was the redeeming sign that the North Nova Scotia Highlanders had been the first to successfully reach the other side of the Braakman! With this, the Canadians had surprisingly invaded the back of the main German defences.

The resistance did not begin until after dawn, when German artillery opened fire from South Beveland and Walcheren. "Very Heavy Stuff" reported the liaison soldier and he requested "More Smoke"! Captain Jim Bond and his team were ready with a huge arsenal of smoke machines near Terneuzen; 8,000 floating smoke pots, 4,000 smoke generators and 400 drums of oil.

In his extensive report, Bond wrote that they used four motor sloops and three amphibious vehicles to make a plume of opaque, white smoke on the Western Scheldt. While the infantry faced the enemy, the anonymous Smoke Pioneers plodded hour after hour in their small boats through the chilly waves to maintain the smoke screen. The shooting on the landing beach stopped! A few days later, the smoke screen stretched from Hoofdplaat all the way to Terneuzen. Instead of shooting at the attacking troops, the German artillery fired at the smoke pots. By constantly moving them, the German troops wasted many hundreds of shells on a target obscured by smoke.