The Netherlands / Audiospot
The province of Zealand and Flanders play a key role at the end of World War II. From September 4 until November 8 1944 the Battle for the Scheldt takes place with the objective 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.
The Liberation of Aardenburg was part of Operation Switchback. The 'Breskens pocket' was defended by the 64th German Infantry Division: 10,000 well-armed soldiers. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division started the attack on the Leopold Canal at Strobrugge on 6 October. An terraqueous attack on Hoofdplaat followed on 9 October. Breskens fell on 21 October, but the Germans only surrendered on 3 November.
The population suffered badly during the fierce battle. The Germans had inundated large areas, a third of the houses had been destroyed. Around 600 civilians, 800 Allied and 1,325 German soldiers lost their lives. Among the dead were 21 civilians and 5 Belgian expatriates from Aardenburq; only 35 of the more than 1,000 homes remained undamaged. Eede was almost totally destroyed, as well as many farms.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.