The Netherlands / Audiospot
The province of Zealand and Flanders play a key role at the end of World War II. From September to early November 1944 the Battle for the Scheldt takes place with the goal to open up the ports of Antwerp for the Allied war effort. With the operation Switchback the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division have to clear the south side of the Scheldt with the German 64th Infantry Division, the so-called "Breskens pocket". It will be one of the most difficult operations in western Europe. Follow the Liberation Route and listen to the experiences of soldiers and civilians.
On October 16, the Canadian regiment, the Queen's Own Rifles, takes up positions in the Groote Jonkvrouw polder, east of IJzendijke. At first, they launch a frontal assault in battalion strength, but this is soon cancelled because of problems in implementation and support. However, there is heavy artillery fire. On October 17, at 9:00 pm, the Canadians launch their attack. However, the remaining German soldiers offer fierce resistance. Every street and every house must be fought for, even by hand-to-hand combat with bayonets. Nevertheless, the Canadians manage to liberate the eastern part of IJzendijke. In the afternoon, the Germans react with shelling from the west, causing large fires. The next day, the Canadians manage to take the western part of the city as well. IJzendijke is badly battered by the fighting. There are dozens of deaths to be mourned. Around 200 buildings are destroyed.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.