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 ~ OPERATION INFATUATE ~

 WALCHEREN - 1 to 8 NOV 1944

Operation Infatuate, the codename for the invasion of the Dutch Island of Walcheren, was a major Combined Operation's amphibious landing against very heavily fortified and entrenched German positions. The island stood at the mouth of the River Scheldt and blocked Allied access to the captured port of Antwerp some 60 kilometres inland which was needed to supply the advancing Allied armies. Based on an article by James Paul with contributions by J N (Hans) Houterman and Lt. William J Smith of the Calgary Highlanders.

See also an account of a RNVR Lieutenant who was in charge of a Landing Craft Tank carrying Buffalos and Royal Marines. They landed in a gap left in the dyke by RAF Bombers a few months earlier. Click here.

Background

Plans & Preparations

The Assault

Personal Memories

Calgary Highlanders

The Outcome

Organisation of Forces

Memorials & Plaques

Further Reading

Correspondence


Background

The city of Antwerp and its port had fallen to Dempsey's 2nd British Army in early September 1944. Montgomery's attention at the time was on securing several bridge crossing, including the Rhine at Arnhem in an operation code-named Market Garden. If successful, it might have ended the war by Christmas 1944 by opening a clear route to Germany and Berlin. There was no sense of priority given to securing the approaches to Antwerp which would require the island fortress of Walcheren, with its formidable array of weaponry and the Fifteenth German Army garrison, to be removed.

The First Canadian Army, under Crerar, was ordered by Montgomery to open up the Antwerp area but Crerer also had orders to capture Boulogne and Calais. His forces did advance north-westwards from Antwerp and approached Walcheren but were held up at the entrance of the narrow isthmus which connected south Beveland to the mainland.

Plans and Preparations

With the failure of Market Garden, Montgomery issued a directive on the 9/10/1944 giving priority to opening the River Scheldt to Allied shipping. Some 10 days later the Canadians began attacking along the isthmus breaking into the Breskens pocket. Meantime in Zeebrugge y the end of the month the Germans had been cornered in Zeebrugge, surrendering on November 2. Both south and north Beveland had been virtually cleared and the time was right for the assault of Walcheren itself - Operation Infatuate was activated.

A three pronged assault was planned with Commandos landing at Westkapelle in the west of the island and at Flushing in the south. The Canadians were to cross by a water channel close to the causeway in the east. However, it soon became clear that the tidal flats around the water channel were virtually impassable leaving the Canadians with the exceedingly hazardous option of a direct assault along the well defended causeway - an exposed stretch about 30/40 yards wide and 1200/1500 yards long. The Canadians were to establish a bridgehead on the island through which the British 52nd Lowland Division would pass to continue the assault. Against much scepticism and opposition, General Simonds' plan to breach the island's dykes, and flood the interior, was adopted.

After the ill fated 'Market Garden' operation on October 20, No. 2 Dutch Troop of 10 IA (Inter-Allied) Commando moved to Brugge in Belgium and were incorporated under the command of No. 4 Brigade. They split up and were attached to other fighting units where, in the case of some officers and men, their native language skills helped Allied liaison with the local population, while others fought alongside their comrades in arms.

A Nautical View in Pictures

 

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Taken from LCT 532. LCIs ahead of the main armour with Walcheren just visible in the distance.

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A direct hit on a pillbox by a salvo of rockets from an RAF Typhoon.

3

The major forces of armour going in.

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An LCS set on fire by shell fire.

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Royal Marine Commandos aboard LCT 980 about 20 minutes before beaching.

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 LCT 532 unloading amphibious tanks.

 

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LCT 952 discharging her amphibians taken from LCT 980.

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LCT 980 preparing to discharge her amphibians.

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LCT 532 discharging her cargo against a background of a destroyed reinforced concrete pillbox.

The Assault

The three RM Commandos of No.4 SS Brigade, along with the No.4 (Belgian) and No.5 (Norwegian), troops of No.10 (IA) Commando, commanded by Peter Laycock, landed at Westkapelle on the western side of the island. No.4 Commando, with Nos.1 and 8 (French) troops under command, crossed from Breskens and attacked Flushing. In support were 155 Infantry brigade. The brigade had trained for this assault in the Ostend area during October.

The bombing of Walcheren in October by RAF Bomber Command had breached the dykes around the island and had turned it into a massive lagoon, rimmed by broken dykes.

The Germans had installed such defences on the dykes to virtually turn them into a continuous fortification bristling with guns of every calibre. The Marines placed great reliance on Weasel and Buffalo LTs. The RM Commandos were to seize the shoulders of the gap in the dyke and then to fan out north and south to roll up the remainder of the German defences by linking up with the southern thrust. The RAF provided air support and the 79th Armoured Division provided wand naval gunfire support including Landing Craft Gun (Medium) and multiple-rocket launch systems. After some debate over the sea conditions the operation was planned for November 1. No.4 Commando landed at 0545 hours and the remainder at 1000 hours.

On the day of the assault a heavy mist over the Dutch and Belgian airfields limited RAF support for the actual landings, although the skies over Walcheren itself were clear. No.4 Commando, under Lt-Colonel Dawson DSO, had a problem in finding a suitable place to get ashore. Dawson sent a small reconnaissance party (known as Keepforce) ashore in two LCPs. They were followed by Nos.1 and 2 troops who secured the beachhead with minimal casualties and soon began to take prisoners. The main body came in at 0630 hours, but, by this time, the Germans were totally alert and opened heavy fire with machine guns and 20mm cannon. Nevertheless the Marines got ashore with only two or three casualties, although, the LCA containing the heavier equipment including 3 inch mortars, hit a stake and sank some 20 yards off shore. The mortars were successfully salvaged.

The marines now fought their way through the the German strong-points. They were somewhat encumbered by the need to leave rearguards against infiltration. However, they were aided when the leading battalion of 155 Brigade began to land at 0830 hours despite having lost two LCAs to heavy fire from one of the coastal batteries. German prisoners were pressed into service unloading stores and supplies. A good proportion of the defenders of Walcheren were poor quality troops and many suffered from stomach complaints. Curiously the defence positions were well stocked with food and ammunition. By 1600 hours the Commandos had reached most of their objectives and they decided to consolidate as the day drew to a close.

Brigadier Leicester's plan for the attack on Westkapelle called for three troops of No.41 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel E C E Palmer RM, to land on the north shoulder of the gap blown in the dyke with the objective of clearing the area between there and the village of Westkapelle. The remainder of the Commando, along with the two No.10 (IA) Commando troops, would then come ashore in Weasels and Buffalos launched from LCTs. Their mission would be to clear Westkapelle and then move north. No.48 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel J. L. Moulton DSO, would use the same methods but come ashore south of the gap. From there they would advance on Zoutelande some two miles to the south. Finally No.47 (RM) Commando, under Lt-Colonel C.F. Phillips DSO, would land behind No.48 and drive on to meet up with No.4 Commando near Flushing.

The force sailed from Ostend at 0315 hours and by 0930 hours they were off the objective. The ships bombarded the German defences with everything at their disposal including the 15inch guns of HMS Warspite, the guns of LCGs, the rockets of rocket LCTs and a squadron of rocket-firing Typhoons. The German defences held fire until the assault craft made for the shore. Several landing craft were hit including a rocket LCT which received a direct hit. Thirty landing craft from the Close Support Squadron were lost and over 300 men were killed in the action.

No.41 overran a pillbox in their path and pushed onto Westkapelle where they were met by a battery of four 150mm guns. They were reduced with the help of some tanks and the Commando then moved north along the dyke.

No.48 also came up against a battery of 150mm guns. The leading troop commander was killed and several men wounded in an attack on the position. Another attempt was met with intense mortar fire. Supporting fire was called in from the field batteries in the Breskens area together with Typhoon attacks. Following this action another troop went in under cover of smoke and reached the centre of the battery putting it out of action.

The next day No.4 Commando, together with 5 King's Own Scottish Borderers, continued with the battle for Flushing. No.5 (French) Troop were involved in an action against a strongpoint nicknamed Dover. One section of the troop gained the roof of a cinema and opened fire on the strongpoint with their PIAT. The other sections moved along the street and  through back gardens. As the troop was preparing for the final assault, Typhoons attacked the enemy position. That afternoon the Troop resumed their advance and reached the corner overlooking their objective. One house remained occupied by the Germans and as they made for the strongpoint they suffered several casualties from the fire of No.5 Troop. No.1 Section was now by the Anti-Tank wall and firing PIAT bombs into the embrasures of the strongpoint at very short range. Corporal Lafont was on the point of breaching the strongpoint with a made-up charge at the ready when the German defenders surrendered.

No.48 (RM) Commando pushed on at first light and took Zouteland, meeting only light opposition. No.47 took over the advance but soon came up against a strong fortified position with an anti-tank ditch and huge Dragon's Teeth. The weather had closed in and no air support was available so they attacked supported only by artillery. They came under heavy mortar fire and suffered several casualties. The other half of the Commando having moved along the dyke were confronted by another 150mm battery. Their approach was obstructed by pockets of resistance to the front of the battery which were not cleared until nightfall. The three Troops halted in front of the battery and repulsed a German counter-attack just after they had been replenished with much-needed food and ammunition.

Defensive stakes and mines embedded in the base of the dyke made it difficult for supply craft to land stores. By the third and fourth days the Commando were forced to 'endure' captured German rations. To the relief of all concerned supplies were parachuted in on the fifth day near Zouteland.

No.41 and No.10 Commandos reached Domburg on the morning of D+1 where they encountered strong resistance. That evening Brigadier Leicester ordered No.41, less one Troop, to assist No.47 in the south, leaving the Troops of No.10 and one of No.41 to finish mopping up Domburg. No.4 Commando was relieved by 155 Brigade and embarked on LVTs to assault two batteries, W3 and W4 situated north-west of Flushing. They had been fighting for 40 hours and needed a well earned rest. After landing in a gap in the dyke, about which little was known, Lt-Colonel Dawson asked Brigadier Leicester for a break of some 24 hours to rest his men. This was agreed but it was well after dark before the Commando was relieved by 155 brigade. In the event No.47 (RM) Commando overcame the opposition south of Zouteland later that day and linked up with No. 4 Commando. Meanwhile No.10 cleared Domburg with the Norwegians showing particular courage in the face of heavy opposition which cost them a number of casualties.

In the after-action report of the battle Captain J. Linzel of No 10 Commando stated.... This operation had more impact on me. The objective was to clear the seaway to Antwerp. We went to Belgium, where the Nr4 Troops Brigade and the No10 Commando were billeted. We were an attached unit of 14 men. We entered our LCT's Buffalo's amphibious vehicles to go to Walcheren where we experienced heavy German Artillery. Our vehicle got hit direct by a grenade, setting our flamethrowers and ammunition on fire. This was a chaos. Our burning Buffalo was pushed into the sea and I can remember that together with 10 other men I ended-up in another Buffalo and landed at Westkapelle. We experienced some serious fighting there and a lot of the Brigade were killed. It took us 3 days to capture the German dyke at Vlissingen, there were about 300 casements.  Captain J. Linzel.
 

[Photos l -r: (1) Amphibians (Buffalos) coming ashore at Westkapelle; (2) Oranjemolen (Orange Mill) at Flushing (Vlissingen) where No. 4 Commando landed early on 1/11/44; (3) French Commando Officers in Flushing - Lt. Guy de Montlaur, Lt. Guy Hattu, Commandant Phillippe Kieffer & Lt Jacques Senée; (4) Bunkers of the German coastal battery at Westkapelle. The first two are for 9.4 cm artillery and the third for fire direction; (5) Lt./General Wilhelm Daser, Commander of the 70th Infantry Division & Fortress Commander of Walcheren led into captivity accompanied by Major Hugh Johnston of the Royal Scots.]

Personal memories of Pete

I was a telegraphist or 'sparker' in the Walcheren (Westkapelle) landing as part of a Forward Observation Unit for naval gunfire. Each unit consisted of an Artillery Captain known as the FOB (forward observer bombardment), his bombardier and three naval telegraphists carrying backpack radios. When the bombarding ships opened fire the FOB and his bombadier plotted the fall of the shot and calculated corrections which we transmitted by Morse code to the ships. We trained in an area about 9 miles east of Ostend since the extensive sand dunes and scrub-land were similar to parts of Walcheren. Our unit was housed in modern buildings in what may have been a holiday area.

We were attached to the Marine Commandos and trained with them. They were very professional and disciplined. On the eve of the operation, they paraded in the morning with their webbing scrubbed, then paraded later in the day with their webbing 'blancoed' to the correct shade of khaki! To cap it all they marched the nine miles to Ostend to embark when other units were carried in vehicles.  

Our unit was allocated a small amphibious vehicle called a Weasel to disembark with our equipment onto the beach at Westkapelle. When we boarded our Landing Craft Tank (LCT) at Ostend we found the Weasels arranged in a line along each side of the tank deck with the much larger and heavier amphibious Buffalos in the centre line between them. The Buffalos were partially armoured and could carry several men and cargo. This particular arrangement of Weasels and Buffalos later proved to have life and death implications.

We sailed late in the day on October 31st 1944 to make the fairly short voyage to Walcheren. During the night there were rumours that we were passing enemy coastal batteries but I believe that the Canadians had put them out of action. In any event they gave us no trouble. We were due to land with a follow up wave and so were a mile or two behind the main assault craft and troops. However, any thoughts that this would make for a 'cushy' landing were soon dispelled.

We watched as LCG(L)s and LCG(M)s, fitted with guns, closed in to slog it out with the German coastal batteries ensconced in massive gun emplacements. It was a David and Goliath contest of massive proportions. The bold actions of the landing craft were designed to keep the German batteries busy while the Commandos made for the shore. Even from the distance it was easy to see that these little gun-ships were being pounded but they didn't falter. Their losses were, however, very heavy.

An LCT(R) rocket craft fired a salvo but it fell short amongst allied craft in forward positions. It looked like mayhem but I believe the losses, though bad, were less severe than they appeared to us. As we watched the flashes from the German batteries we felt disappointment, and a degree of frustration, that our usual air cover was not present. It later transpired that flights were delayed by fog over the airfields. Nevertheless fighter bombers did eventually join the fray by attacking the German defences.

All this time we were making slow but steady progress towards the shore at the back of a short line of landing craft. Our attention was grabbed when the craft ahead of us was bracketed and hit by shell fire. Soon shells fell abeam of us as our position, direction and speed were plotted by the enemy gunners. I began to climb back into our Weasel for protection and had one foot on the guard rail around the LCT when we were hit. The shell fell into the Buffalo parked alongside our Weasel. Sadly Canadian engineers with packs of explosives were inside....   and we had been chatting with them just a short time earlier. The resultant explosion was contained by the Buffalo which went up in a sheet of flame and saved our Weasel from the worst of the explosion. I was blown onto the catwalk which ran around the LCT. Some men jumped overboard and were carried away on the tide but were recovered by rescue craft.

I made my way to the stern of the craft where the bridge structure provided some shelter from the burning and exploding vehicle. Soon a Buffalo came alongside and took some of us ashore. We headed for the south side of the gap which had been blown in the sea walls (dykes). On shore vehicles were burning, filling the air with black smoke. Wreckage was strewn about all over the place.

Bomber Command had earlier breached the dykes and the interior of the island was flooded. Small areas of higher ground were sticking out of the water but Westkapelle village itself was badly inundated. The flooding on the southern side of the gap contained the fighting to a very narrow front only a few hundred yards wide. It was along this narrow strip of dry land that the Commandos faced massive gun emplacements and land mines.

Around this time one of our FOBs and his sparker were wounded by a mortar bomb. The Medical Officer (M.O) was treating them in the crater when a second bomb killed them all. This disproved the old adage about two bombs not falling on the same spot.

That first night enemy star shells lit up the landing area. Shortly after a Buffalo evacuating casualties made its way across the beach and ran over a mine. It immediately blew up. I will forever remember the desperate cries for help from within. The driver and his mate jumped out burning as they ran to the sea. It was a truly hellish scene made all the worse by the bright flames glowing in the darkness.

Naval supporting fire was good. Our units were able to direct the fire of heavy ships such as the Warspite and the Monitors Erebus and Roberts. The fighting is documented elsewhere but I would like to comment on the spirited manner in which the Commandos took on the massive German emplacements with comparatively light weapons.

When we reached Zouteland, a little village down the coast from Westkapelle, we could clearly see the damage we had caused. Compared to Caen it was nothing but to the local population the devastation caused by 15 inch shells was frightening. Despite this the inhabitants were wonderfully welcoming and some of the women wore traditional dress. One Dutchman watched the landing in progress despite the obvious dangers!

Our side on the south of the gap was cleared in a few days and having reached the gap before Flushing our part in the assault was over. We spent some uncomfortable days in a hollow scooped out in the sand with a roof of corrugated iron sheets to keep us dry and relatively safe. Just a few yards away the medics had piled up corpses wrapped in corrugated cardboard bound with string.  They were stacked, I have to say, in criss-cross fashion like firewood. It made me think of the cheapness of human life in war conditions. Some German prisoners were nearby in a crater surrounded by barbed wire. They had little shelter and food and they were distinctly unhappy. In reality their conditions were not very different from our own.

After eight days an LCM took us off the island. The vagaries of war had one more unpleasant surprise for us. The voyage back to Ostend passed through an exceptionally violent storm. The skipper feared for the safety of his vessel and most of the troops were violently ill. I stayed on deck and remember one soldier lying face down on the very edge of the craft gradually sliding overboard and apparently not caring. I grabbed his webbing and pulled him back inboard.

As we approached Ostend an air raid was in progress with  flak sailing into the sky. The skipper and his bridge party failed to notice a destroyer signalling an Aldiss lamp challenge to 'unknown vessel.' Luckily we understood Morse code and alerted the bridge party. The destroyer might well have opened fire as our craft bore some resemblance to a high speed German motor boat.

Our first night ashore was spent in a German barracks decorated with murals of Storm Troopers. They bore little resemblance to the dejected prisoners occupying the crater on Walcheren! Finally back to the training area and the large dormitory we had occupied there. It was sad to see many beds stripped down because their former occupants would not be returning. Sad also to find that many of our possessions had gone missing in our absence.

I sometimes wonder why, in my recollections, D-Day seemed more exciting and important than Walcheren. Perhaps the reasons are self evident. Walcheren was a landing in bleak November on the shores of the North Sea. It was a necessary and important operation in its own right but D-Day was, in the mind of a young impressionable soldier, the battle to liberate Europe.

The Calgary Highlanders (by Lt William J Smith) - personal recollections.

I served as a Lieut. Rifle Platoon Leader, 9 Platoon, "D" Company of the Calgary Highlanders - a replacement for my predecessor, Lt. Stewart, who was killed on the Causeway right at its entrance on to the Island.

It was a battered, depleted Platoon I took over. They had been in hard fighting right from the time the push to clear the Scheldt estuary first started. I was saddled with a legacy of nine "ghosts," - men who should have been with me but were absent and unaccounted for. I was ordered to find out from the survivors where and when these missing men had last been seen, and in what circumstances. I was able to report very few facts and those I could were painful. When I went up to join the Highlanders I was accompanied by two other 'new' lieutenants, also replacing casualties of the assault on Walcheren. Their names were Brown, and Doakes, as I remember. We were along the southern edge of what became known as The 'Nijmegen Salient' which the Allies established as a fall-back from the Arnhem failure. There in early December, outside Groesbeek, on the edge of the Reichswald Forest, I was wounded on patrol.  Brown was killed, shot in the kidneys by a sniper, and Doakes died of Diphtheria in a hospital somewhere in Holland.

Sojourning at Aldershot, awaiting orders to return to the Continent, was a friend from the Highlanders who had been wounded on the Causeway before I had caught up to him. He recounted to me that his Company ("A") had lost all their Officers. The causeway was 30 yards wide, about 1 mile long, straight and barren. Facing the 5th Brigade were dug-in fixed-fire machine guns and Oerlikon Rapid-firing 20mm Anti- Aircraft Cannons, the belts of which carried cartridges in a fixed order of 1 armour-piercing shell, 1 high explosive shell and 1 tracer. The troops of the 5th Brigade had no advance knowledge of this lethal mix but they soon knew what they were facing! It took a high calibre of men to run the gauntlet of the withering fire in such an exposed situation. It's not surprising that the Infantryman's unofficial motto was 'It aint our business to die for our country; our job is to make the other guy die for his country!'

He, with his men, had moved about six-hundred yards off the Causeway onto the Island when they were pinned down. It had been decided that the 5th Brigade was done for and would be replaced. Accordingly, at dawn of the 1st (or 2nd?) November an artillery barrage was to be laid on, behind which their exchange with the Maisonneuves would be carried out. It is difficult for those who have not experienced the chaos and confusion of war to appreciate that in a battle the situation changes by the minute. They had no radio or telephonic communication and runners often did not make it through. The big shots directing the operation did not know how far forward the Highlanders had fought their way onto the island and the barrage came down BEHIND  them! They had to retire through the "protective" barrage to rendezvous with their replacements. It was winter and the Highlanders were wearing their greatcoats. In the semi-darkness of the dawn, the advancing Maisonneuve mistook the retiring Highlanders as a German attack. One of the men I took into my unit later told me that as he was emerging from the smoke of the barrage, he found himself facing troops with fixed bayonets attacking him! There it was; darkness, smoke, language differences, troops in unexpected places. In a split second he had to decide: is it going to be him or me? Him! So he opened up with his Sten gun. Canadians killing Canadians!  

Life had to go on, and so did the war. When these men, all volunteers, were signing-up they did so for 'the duration.' There was no resigning or quitting; you were in it until you were dead, crippled, or until, in some unforeseeable future event, the war was won (or lost!) There was one slim chance of an out - if you had been wounded three times you could elect to go home to Canada for thirty days; but who could have stood the thought of coming back to Europe? Nobody!... so nobody I knew took advantage of this option.

It is painful to study the big military picture leading up to the very desperate frontal assault on Walcheren by the 2nd Division's 5th Brigade, primarily the Regiment de Maisonneuve and the Calgary Highlanders. Painful because it seems clear that its purpose was diversionary: to draw onto themselves enemy forces and fire which otherwise would have been available to the German 70th Infantry Division to oppose the landings by the British 52nd Lowland Division and various British Commando Units.

As the storming of the Sloe Causeway got stuck the diversionary operation "Mallard" was carried out, crossing the Sloe by wading and storm boats. Here (photo opposite) you see German POWs and wounded brought back. Storm boats can be seen in the background.

To gain access to the Port of Antwerp was essential to the further success of Shaef operations and as the Brigadier said (at an "O" Group meeting of all senior officers of the 5th Brigade, who were questioning General Simonds' determination to proceed with such an obviously difficult and  potentially costly operation) the risk had been thoroughly evaluated, and in view of the larger military picture, had been considered acceptable. I have seen figures which show Highlander casualties as 63, of which 17 were killed.

The Dutch people recently showed their sincere gratitude for what the Canadian Army did for them. At an anniversary commemoration service for the Walcheren action the King (or Crown Prince) of Holland spoke these gracious words: '

Thank you Canada! Thank you Canadians, from the bottom of our hearts!'

The Outcome

Nos. 4, 47, 48 Commandos then concentrated at Zouteland and a two-day pause ensued while they re-supplied. The remaining enemy resistance was concentrated in the area north-west of Dombug. Nos.4 and 48 Commando set off on foot, although they used LVs to cross the gap at Westkapelle, in order to reinforce No.10 and No.41. While No. 41 assaulted the last remaining battery, W19, No.4 cleared the Overduin woods and pushed on to Vrouwenpolder opposite North Beveland. No.48 remained in reserve, This phase of the operation began on November 8.

At 0815 four Germans approached the Allied troops to ask for a surrender of all remaining German troops in the area. After some negotiation 40,000 Germans surrendered and for them the war was over. No.4 SS Brigade had lost 103 killed, 325 wounded and 68 missing during eight days of fighting. By the end of November after a massive minesweeping operation of the Scheldt, the first cargoes were being unloaded at Antwerp.

Organisation of Forces

Full details of the opposing forces are provided below courtesy of Mr J N Houterman, Middelburg, Walcheren. Source is the Dutch language book on the liberation of Walcheren.

ALLIED FORCES

52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division
Major-General Edmund Hakewill Smith
General Staff Officer 1 (GSO1): Lieutenant-Colonel F. Gordon Maxwell
Commander Royal Artillery (CRA): Brigadier Lionel B.D. Burns (also Commander Burnsforce)

Infatuate I (Flushing)

155th Infantry Brigade
Brigadier James F.S. McLaren

Brigade-Major: Major A.L. Holmes
4th Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Lieutenant-Colonel Christian L. Melville
5th Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Lieutenant-Colonel William F.R. Turner
7th/9th Battalion The Royal Scots
Lieutenant-Colonel Michael E. Melvill

Attached

No 4 Commando
Lieutenant-Colonel Robert W.P. Dawson

Second-in-Command (2 i/c): Major B. William S. Boucher-Myers
- No. 5 & 6 (French) Troops
Commandant Philippe Kieffer

Causeway Sloedam

5th Canadian Infantry Brigade
Brigadier William J. Megill

Brigade-Major: Major George H. Hees
The Black Watch (RHR) of Canada
Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce R. Ritchie
The Calgary Highlanders
Major Ross L. Ellis
Le Régiment de Maisonneuve
Lieutenant-Colonel Julien Bibeau

157th Infantry Brigade
Brigadier James D. Russell

Brigade-Major: Major M. Russell White
5th Battalion The Highland Light Infantry Regiment
Lieutenant-Colonel Rhoddy L.C. Rose
6th Battalion The Highland Light Infantry Regiment
Lieutenant-Colonel Edward L. Percival
1st Battalion The Glasgow Highlanders (HLI)
Lieutenant-Colonel William I. French

156th Infantry Brigade
Brigadier Cyril N. Barclay

Brigade-Major: Major Alistair C.S. Troup
4th/5th Battalion The Royal Scots Fusiliers
Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur N. Gosselin
6th Battalion The Cameronians (SR)
Lieutenant-Colonel A. Ian Buchanan-Dunlop
7th Battalion The Cameronians (SR)
Lieutenant-Colonel Claude F. Nason

 


 

 

 

 

Infatuate II (Westkapelle)

4th Special Service Brigade
Brigadier Bernard W. Leicester

General Staff Officer 1 (GSO1): Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice W. Hope
Brigade-Major: Major Benjamin G. Pugh
41 (Royal Marine) Commando
Lieutenant-Colonel Eric C.E. Palmer
Second-in-Command (2 i/c): Major N. Peter Wood
47 (Royal Marine) Commando
Lieutenant-Colonel C. Farndale Phillips
Second-in-command (2 i/c): Major Patrick M. Donnell
48 (Royal Marine) Commando
Lieutenant-Colonel James L. Moulton
Second-in-command (2 i/c): Major Donald H.W. Sanders

Attached

No 10 (Inter Allied) Commando
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Laycock

Second-in-command (2 i/c): Major Godfrey R. Franks.
- No. 4 (Belgian) Troop
Captain Georges M.G.U.J. Danloy
- No. 5 (Norwegian) Troop
Captain Rolv Hauge

Royal Navy Support

Naval Force "T"
Captain Anthony F. Pugsley, RN

Deputy Senior Officer Assault Group (DSOAG): Lieutenant-Commander Ronald McC.P. Jonas, RN
Deputy Commander (Flushing assault): Captain Colin D. Maud, RN
Training Commander & Beachmaster: Commander Redvers M. Prior, RN

Support Squadron Eastern Flank
Commander Kenneth A. Sellar, RN
Bombardment Squadron
Captain Marcel H.A. Kelsey, RN (HMS Warspite)
"H" LCA Squadron
Lt.Commander Stuart J. Vernon, RNVR
"N" LCT Squadron
Lieutenant-Commander Bernard K.C. Arbuthnot, RN

79th Armoured Division Support

30th Armoured Brigade
Brigadier Nigel W. Duncan

Brigade-Major: Major Michael Morris, Lord Killanin
11th Battalion The Royal Tank Regiment
Lieutenant-Colonel Raylton Dixon
1st Lothian & Border Yeomanry
Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher J.Y. Dallmeyer

1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers
Brigadier Geoffrey L. Watkinson

Brigade-Major: Major McAlister P. Lonnon
5th Assault Regiment Royal Engineers
Lieutenant-Colonel Richard H. Walker
6th Assault Regiment Royal Engineers
Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph K. Shepheard

GERMAN FORCES

70. Infanterie-Division [Middelburg]
Gen. Lt. Wilhelm J. Daser [also Festungskommandant (Fortress Commander)] [6.11.1944]
1. Generalstabsoffizier (la): Major im Generalstab KarI-Wilhelm L.O.W. von KIeist [6.11.1944]
1. Ordonnanzoffizier (Ol): Oberleutnant AIfred Bauer [6.11.44]
{Dates of capture in brackets, where known]

    GRENADIER-REGIMENT 1019 [Vlissingen; SW Walcberen]
    Oberst Eugen J. Reinhardt (also Kommandant Verteidigungsbereich Vlissingen) [3.11.1944]
    Adjutant: Oberleutnant Ruh [3.11.1944]
    I. Bataillon [Vlissingen]
    Hauptmann Rode
    ll. Bataillon [SE Walcberen, Fort Rammekens t/m Sloedam]
    Hauptmann Wilhelm Heine

    GRENADIER-REGIMENT 1020 [Oostkapelle; NW Walcheren]
    Oberstleutnant Wilhelm E.R.E. Veigele [8 11 1944]
    Adjutant: Oberleutnant Otto Radant [8.11.1944?]
    I. Bataillon
    Major Müller
    ll. Bataillon
    Hauptmann Schicke

    ARTILLERIE-REGIMENT 170 [Middelburg; batteries at Arnemuiden and Nieuwland]
    Oberst Franz A.M. Lex [7.11.1944]

    Divisions-Füsilier-Bataillon 170  [NE Walcheren from Sloedam to Veere]
    Major Gottlieb Maier

    Pionier-BataiIlon 170 [Sloedam]
    Hauptmann Kurt Winter

    Attached

    FESTUNG-STAMM-TRUPPEN LXXXIX [Nieuwland; E Walcheren]
    Oberst Otto K.A. Gajer

    Independent

    *RheinflottiIle
    Fregattenkapitän Alexander Stein [Evaded capture]

     

    **SEEKOMMANDANT SÜDHOLLAND [Vlissingen]
    Kapitän zur See Frank Aschrnann [Evaded capture]
    Stabsoffizier beim Stabe (Al): Kapitänleutnant Hans-
    Bodo Tolkmitt [Evaded capture]
    Adjutant: Oberleutnant Dr.phiI. Hans-Christian
    Wiester [Evaded capture]

    ***Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 202 [Domburg]
    Korvettenkapitän Robert Opalka [8.11.1944]
    Gefechtsstand (1./202)
    Marineküstenbatterie Ostkapelle (4./202) (W .19)
    Marineküstenbatterie Domburg (5./202) (W .17)
    Marineküstenbatterie Westkapelle (6./202) (W.15)
    Marineküstenbatterie Zoutelande (7./202) (W .13)
    Marmeküstenbattene Dishoek (8./202) (W.11)
    Oberleutnant Helmut Lange (+ 3.11.1944)
    Marineküstenbatterie Kernwerk (9./202) (W.6)
    Oberleutnant Josef Rülle [2.11.1944]
    leichte bewegliche Flak-Batterie
    Oberleutnant Bruno Jenner [3.11.1944]

    Marine-Flak-Abteilung 810 [Vlissingen/Zwanenburg]
    Korvettenkapitän Hans Köll [3.11.1944]
    Gefechtsstand (1./810) (W .4)
    Oberleutnant Ernst Kipper [3.11.1944]
    Marineflakbatterie Nord (2./810) (W.2)
    Oberleutnant Paul Kühnemann [7.11.1944]
    Marineflakbatterie West (3./810) (W.3)
    Leutnant Hans Krautmann [7.11.1944]
    Marineflakbatterie Ost (4./810) (W.I)
    Oberleutnant Leonhard Arenz [Evaded capture]
    leichte Flakbatterie Seedeich (6./810)
    Oberleutnant Wilhelm Schüler (+ 1.11.1944) ? (? ./810)
    Oberleutnant Adolf Rapp (from 3.11.1944 acting batallion commander). [Evaded capture] ? (1./810)
    Oberleutnant Hans Plass (+ 4.11.1944) 1 (1./810)
    Oberleutnant Gottfried Kuhlmann [7.11.1944]
    Hafenkommandant Vlissingen [Vlissingen]
    Korvettenkapitän Otto Würdemann [3.11.1944]
    Adjutant: Kapitänleutnant Dr. Hans-Günther Heinze (also Ortskommandant Vlissingen)
    Attached officer: Kapitänleutnant Kurt Blessinger [1.11.1944]

[Footnotes.]

*The Rheinfottille (Rhine Flotilla) was completely independent and was subordinate to the Admiral in the Netherlands.

* *The Seekommandant Sudholland (Naval Commander Southern Holland), with subordinate units, was independent; i.e. for deployment on land the naval units came under the Festungskommandant (Fortress Commander).

***Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 202. The battery commanders of the Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 202 (Naval Artillery Battalion 202) are known by name and date of capture but they cannot be pinpointed down to the exact battery. However the officers involved were; Kapitanleutant Hermann Koster (1 11 44), Oberleutnant Paul Litzba (1 11 44), Kapitanleutnant Anton-Joachim Lange [(10/202?) (7 11 44)] and Oberleutnant Gerhard Leutritz [(Stabsbatterie?) (7 11 44)].

Memorials and Plaques

Wide Angle

Description

Close-up

Subject - the landing of the 52nd Lowland Division on 1st Nov '44 against entrenched German defensive positions. Location - 'Uncle Beach' Vlissingen, Walcheren Island, Scheldt Estuary, Holland. Other Info - the heavily fortified island blocked the River Scheldt to Allied shipping and thereby to the newly captured Antwerp. The Division was under the commando of Major-General Edmund Hakewill Smith with General Staff Officer 1 (GSO1) Lieutenant-Colonel F. Gordon Maxwell and Commander Royal Artillery (CRA): Brigadier Lionel B.D. Burns (also Commander Burnsforce).

Subject - the landing of No 4 Commando Brigade* on 1st Nov '44 against entrenched German defensive positions. Location - Westkapelle, Walcheren Island, Scheldt Estuary, Holland.  Other Info - the heavily fortified island blocked the River Scheldt to Allied shipping and thereby to the newly captured Antwerp. [* At the time of the action they were called No 4 Special Services Brigade being re-designated No 4 Commando a few weeks later.]

Subject - a monument to No 4 Commando near the Orange Mill (where they landed). Location - Flushing, Walcheren Island, Scheldt Estuary, Holland. Other Info - the original plaque attached to the monument is not in place in this photo (left) but the text can be seen in the photo (right).

Subject - 41 Royal Marine Commando.  Location - Domburg, Zeeland, Walcheren.. Other Information - The wide angle view shows the front of the memorial with the dedication in Dutch and English. The close up lists the names of those who lost their lives. 41 RM Commando was part of the 4th Special Service Brigade under Brigadier Bernard W. Leicester. The General Staff Officer 1 (GSO1) was Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice W. Hope and Brigade-Major was Major Benjamin G. Pugh. 41 RM Commando was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Eric C.E. Palmer with Second-in-Command (2 i/c): Major N. Peter Wood.

Subject - Belgian Commando. Location - Domberg, Zeeland, Walcheren. Other Information - The wide angle view is of the front of the memorial with the dedication. The close up lists the names of those who lost their lives. No. 4 (Belgian) Troop, under Captain Georges M.G.U.J. Danloy, was part of No 10 (Inter Allied) Commando under the overall command of Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Laycock. Second-in-command (2 i/c) was Major Godfrey R. Franks.

Subject - Norwegian Commando. Location - Domberg, Zeeland, Walcheren. Other Information - Wide angle is the view of the front of the memorial with dedication in Dutch and Norwegian. Close up lists the names of those who lost their lives. No. 5 (Norwegian) Troop, under ,Captain Rolv Hauge was part of No 10 (Inter Allied) Commando under the overall command of Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Laycock. Second-in-command (2 i/c) was Major Godfrey R. Franks.

 

 

 

Further Reading

Websites

1. Elsewhere on this website, read the remarkable story of LCT 979, which against all the odds, came through the operation severely battered but not broken. Also the story of LCT 980 which, in part, includes Walcheren.

2. German coastal defences on this Walcheren website with a printable list of English translations of selected words. Many interesting photographs. 2) Wartime Diary of the Action in English and Dutch.

3. http://www.lawlerbrown.com/ Memories of a soldier who saw service on Walcheren.

Books

There are over 200 books listed on our 'Combined Operations Books' page which can be purchased on-line from the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) whose search banner checks the shelves of thousands of book shops world-wide. Type in or copy and paste the title of your choice or use the 'keyword' box for book suggestions. There's no obligation to buy, no registration and no passwords. Click 'Books' for more information.
 

Turning the Key; the Capture and Liberation of Walcheren Island October 30 - November 8, 1944 by Paul M Crucq. 320 pages, maps, photos, bibliog. ISBN/EAN 978-90-807854-4-1.

Hoofprints in the Clouds - Jeep Tracks in the Mud by Geoffrey Tudor. An account of how a group of men came together in Scotland in the late summer of 1943 to form a new mountain battery. Geoffrey Tudor relays his World War II experiences as 'Graham Turner', a second lieutenant with the 1st Mountain Regiment, Royal Artillery. With the formation of 474 Mountain Battery and their initial training in the Scottish mountains, the gunners then cross the Channel to the floods of Holland and through bloody conflicts in northern Germany. Pen Press Publishers, 15 Nov 2008. Paperback 272 Pages. ISBN: 1906206325. £8.99.

Mountain and Flood - The History of the 52nd (Lowland) Division by George Blake, published by Jackson, Son and Company, Glasgow 1950.

They did what was asked of them, by Raymond Mitchell. Pub by Firebird Books, 1996. ISBN 1 85314 205 O History of 41 [Royal Marine] Commando - the book covers the period 1942-1946, but has a detailed chapter on 41's role in the invasion of Walcheren.

In the Shadow of Arnhem by Ken Tout. xiv, 242 pages and 42 illustrations. Published by Sutton Publishing Ltd., Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucester GL5 2BU England. ISBN 0-7509-2821-2

Ken's book is published in English. The subtitle is: The battle for the Lower Maas, September-November 1944. Chapters 7 and 8 are about province Zeeland and most about Walcheren and South Beveland. Chapter 7 begins at page 116 to page 133 and chapter 8 starts at page 134 and ends at page 155. Jan H Wigard, Walcheran, Holland.

Battle for Antwerp; the liberation of the city and the opening of the Scheldt by J L Moulton. 1944 (London, Ian Allan, 1978) ISBN 0-7110-0769-1.

Tug of War - by W Denis Whitaker DSO. Pub 1984. ISBN 0-8253-0257-9. This Canadian author saw service at Dieppe and Walcheren. The book contains good detailed information on the Walcheren Causeway fight.

Battalion of Heroes: the Calgary Highlanders in World War II by David Bercusson. Pub by The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation 1994. ISBN 0-9694616-1-5.

Cinderella Operation by General Rawling. Pub by Cassell Ltd

The Eighty Five Days - The Story of the Battle of the Scheldt by R W Thompson. Pub by Hutchinson of London.

From Omaha to the Scheldt - the story of 47 Royal Marine Commando by John Forfar. Pub by Tuchwell Press Dec 2001. ISBN 1 86232 149 3. 300 pages with around 150 B&W illustrations and maps. John Forfar was the Senior Medical Officer attached to 47 RM Commando. For his heroism at Walcheren he was awarded the Military Cross.

Operation Neptune by Commander Kenneth Edwards R.N. Published by Collins in 1946.The book covers the naval side of the North West Europe campaign including Commando actions such as Walcheren.

Le Jour J au Commando N° 4 by René Goujon (French Kieffer Commando), published by Editions Nel 1, rue Palatine, 75006 Paris tel 00 33 1 43 54 77 42. Enquiries in English to the author's daughter at goujon.barbara@wanadoo.fr.

Drijvende kolossen voor vrede en veiligheid; het gbruik van Phoenix-caissons bij dijkherstel in Zeeland, 1945-1953" by Cor Heijkoop 2002 publisher: Stichting Caissons Ouwerkerk/Museum Watersnood 1953. (Translation - Floating Colossuses for peace and freedom, the use of Phoenix caissons in dyke repairs in Zeeland 1945-1953) 104p. A book on the use of the Phoenix-caissons (first used for the Mulberry Harbour) in the province of Zeeland.

The Fighting Fourth - No 4 Commando at War 1940-1945 by James Dunning. Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0750930950 (Chapter 10).

48 Royal Marine Commando, The story 1944-46. Published privately in 1946.

D-Day Commando, From Normandy to the Maas with 48 Royal Marine Commando. Written by Ken Ford and published(2003) by: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN )-7509-3023-3.

Commandos and Rangers of World War 2 by James D. Ladd. Pub in 1978 by MacDonald & Jane's. ISBN 0 356 08432 9.

Commandos 1940 - 1946 by Charles Messenger. Pub by William Kimber, London 1985. ISBN 0 7183 0553 1.

The Watery Maze by Bernard Fergusson pub 1961 by Collins.

Codename 'NELLY'; British Radar Units on Walcheren and in Flanders. Defence of the Scheldt estuary, December 1944 - May 1945 by Paul M. Crucq  Illustrations and photographs, detailed interviews; limited edition, 80 pages and over 100 illustrations. Subjects are: RAF mobile Radar defence at De Haan, Blankenberge [both in Belgium], "Nelly" at Westkapelle and "Paddy" at Oostkapelle {both in Walcheren}. Publication date Oct 2004 Price: 28 Euro.

The author writes; On the 1st of November 1944 at Westkapelle a technical officer of the RAF landed. His mission was to find out if the (Westkapelle) lighthouse was suitable for the installation of "NELLY" the codename of a portable, experimental plane radar especially developed for this aim. At the beginning of December "Nelly" came to Westkapelle and was raised at the lighthouse till June 1945. The project was shrouded in the greatest secrecy and that is the reason why "Nelly" has never been mentioned before in Walcheren history.

Battle Ground Europe Guide to Walcheren by Andrew Rawson. Published by Pen and Sword, 47 Church Street, Barnsley. Fully illustrated with maps and photographs the book charts the planning and execution of Operations Infatuate I and II. The final section deals with visiting the island. 144 pages, 120 illustrations (75 wartime photos, 25 modern and twenty maps). ISBN number is 0850529611. Available through Amazon, the Pen and Sword website or direct from the publishers. The author is happy to answer questions about the book and can be contacted at rawsonandrew@hotmail.com

The three books immediately below are written in the English and can be ordered from the author Mr. Paul Crucq, President Rooseveltlaan 186, 4382 KX Vlissingen, Netherlands. Phone +31 118-414402

Aiming Point Walcheren; the bombardment of gun emplacements and strong points Walcheren island, October 1944 by Paul M. Crucq, published Vlissingen, 2003. 207 pages; illustrations; abbreviations, bibliography; bomb expenditure. ISBN 90-807854-1-5

We never blamed the crews; the flooding of Walcheren island, October 1944, published Vlissingen,  2000. 209 pages, illustrations; battle orders, bomb expenditure, bibliography. * Illustration: situations, maps, aerial picture, persons.

Correspondence

Hi Geoff,

I am a retired History teacher with a hobby of collecting militaria. At the moment I have been working through some items to sort out their history for recording purposes and was looking for some images of General Daser when your site popped up so I thought you may be interested in one item I have.

In the year 2000 I obtained from an ex member of a co 7/9th Royal Scots, Walter Rowland- see his photo, ( then living in Woy Woy on the Central Coast of NSW just north of Sydney Aust), the War flag that had been flying over General Daser’s headquarters. Walter wrote down some brief details concerning the flag which I include below.

Hope the info is of some interest,

Regards

Mark Hansen in Oz


THE TAKING OF THE FLAG IN HOLLAND IN 1944

The allies needed a port to bring in supplies in large numbers. They had captured the Port of Antwerp but could not use it until the islands at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary were captured. This task was given to the 52nd Scottish Division under the command of General Hakkewell-Smith. It should also be noted that the division had many other units attached to it. ‘i.e.’ commandos and many Dutch and Canadian units.

The 7/9th Royal Scots were given the task of taking Flushing. The headquarters in town was the Hotel Britannia, after some fierce fighting it was captured where Colonel Rheinhard the Commanding officer in Flushing surrended. 600 prisoners were taken.

A Coy 7/9th Royal Scots in which I was a Cpl were given orders to take the town of Middleburg the HQ of the German Commander General Daser. He said he would only surrender to a Colonel. The Coy Commander of A Coy was Major H Johnstone so he promoted himself to a Colonel by putting another pip on his shoulder. He also took the surrender of 2000 prisoners.

Myself and mate Bob Dryburgh took the flag from the two German soldiers as they were lowering it. Major Johnstone was decorated with the Dutch Silver Cross He died in South Africa a few years ago. Bob Dryburgh died tragically in 1989

Signed

Walter Steane Rowland, 3056413 ex Cpl “A” Coy 7/9th Royal Scots 1939-45

10/12/00”


Dear Geoff,

I have read several times your website regarding the Operation Infatuate with great interest. Many thanks for a great site!

I graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy Krigsskolen in 1982 and are now a major (r). I "left" the army in 1990 for a civilian career but came back in Feb 2010 in an civilian position. I have a great interest in history as a general and military history especially. I was only a young boy when I first read about the  No. 5 Norwegian Troop of 10A and their effort in this Operation Infatuate. One of the Norwegian Officers wrote a book, called "Groenne Djevler"  ("Green Devils") about his service during WWII.

When the No 5 Nor Troop came back to Norway May 9th 1945 they got the task to protect the Royal Castle and our Crown Prince Olav, together with forces from the Norwegain Independent Company No.1/SOE (NORCIC 1) the "Kompani Linge" (known from Operation: " Claymore, Antrum, Arquebus, Kitbag, Archer, Anklet, Archery, Cheese, Lark, Anchor, Anvil, Cockerei, Grebe, Mallard, Penguin, Raven, Heron, Swan, Musketoon, Kesterel, Gannet, Carhampton, Chaffinch, Seagull, Martin Red, Vestige I, Company, Lapwing, Woodpecker, Swallow, Grouse, Gunnerside, Delfin, Sunshine", etc, etc.

Operation Gunnerside:
http://www.fact-index.com/o/op/operation_gunnerside.html
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/worldwar2/theatres-of-war/western-europe/investigation/resistance/sources/docs/3/

Until the Kings Guard was re-established in 1945  the No 5 Troop together with other picked units guarded the King and his family. Some of the men from this unit was the basis for the new Kings Guard.

Only some days ago the Dutch Government saluted the only 4 still alive  of the Norwegian Walcheren Veterans with the Dutch "Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau" in a ceremony held here in Oslo.

Some Norwegian links about Walcheren and our Walcheren veterans:
http://www.mil.no/start/article.jhtml?articleID=190754 (2 of our Walcheren veterans back on site Nov 2009)
http://www.mil.no/start/article.jhtml?articleID=100287 (Norwegian Memorail opening May 2005 - Operation Infatuate - No 5 Nor Troop
http://www.mil.no/start/article.jhtml?articleID=88064 (Memorial Ceremony 60 yrs after Nov 2004)
http://home.online.no/~gestrom/history/n5t10frm.htm

 Kind regards,

Ole-Bernt Wivesoll
Adviser/Team leader

Norwegian Defence Staff


263 Squadron. My mother's cousin, F/Lt D. J. Turner, flew his first Op with 263 Squadron flying Typhoons operating from B70 Deurne to attack the German radar installation at Walcheren on 29-10-1944. Take off was at 16:22 hrs and he landed back at base at 17:22 hrs. The attack must have been around dusk. The Squadron attacked with cannon and strikes were seen on target by the pilots. F/Lt Turner was subsequently killed in action on 26-12-1944 over Windesheim in occupied Holland whilst engaged in an interdiction on the Zwolle to Deventer railway line. 263 Squadrons ORB for the period 1942 - 1945 is now available on the net at the following link:- http://homepage.ntlworld.com/laurieburley/jeff/index.html I enjoyed your very useful and informative site. Hope this information is of some interest to your readers. (Chris Aspinwall).


52nd Lowland Division Remembered - Operation Mallard 3rd of October 1944. On the 6th of October 2008 a new industrial railway line, constructed by the Dutch railway company Pro Rail, was officially opened between Walcheren and South Beveland / Netherlands near the Sloedam causeway. The route included a viaduct across the A 58 motorway and, on my suggestion, it was given the name MALLARD VIADUCT.


As the battle for the Sloedam Causeway by the exhausted Canadian 5th Brigade failed, the 52nd Lowland Division made a very difficult 750 yard crossing (see map) partly in boats and partly by wading through very muddy salting. The operation was codenamed Operation Mallard and the naming of the viaduct provides a lasting remembrance of this decisive operation for the Sloedam Causeway which, sadly, is almost forgotten at the annual remembrance ceremonies in early November each year.
 
For many decades to come travellers along the A58 will see the name and will remember what happened in WW2 or will be motivated to ask why the viaduct was so named. It is also my way to honour the Scottish victims and all  the men who fought and ended the crossing so successfully. With great respect Pro Rail constructed an excellent view-point over the former Mallard area which is now an industrial area.
 
Kind Regards,
Jan H. Wigard,
van Kleffenslaan 60,
4334 HK Middelburg-Netherlands

26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron RAF

I thought you might be interested to know that 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron has Walcheren (3-10 to 19-11-1944) as one of its Battle Honours and the word 'Walcheren' is emblazoned on the Squadron Standard. The task of the Squadron was to spot the fall of shot from the various battleships taking part and to direct fire. This required the pilots to fly at very low level for sustained periods which was of course very dangerous. Precise casualties resulting from this operation are not known but were believed to be high. (M Roberts)


Frank Nightingale & George Martin 41 RM Commando. I have been trying to find two old friends who were in y troop 41 RM CDO. To my delight I found a picture of them on your website it showed them (operation Infatuate at Weskapelle) on 4th November 1944 just before they went into action the next day at Domberg. Frank Nightingale is in the middle of the picture (he went on to win the DCM the next day) and behind him George Martin. I wonder if they are still with us and if they made the 60th reunion. My name then was Violet Millross. Are there going to any pictures of the 60th reunion on the website? violetjenkins@onetel.com (also on notice board).


New Museum. I've just been to Westkapelle to follow my father's footsteps. There is a new museum opening on the anniversary day 1st November 2004. They are requesting any information from formers troops involved or anyone with detailed stories of those involved so that they can be featured. I have sent details of my Dad who was on LCG 1 commanded by Lt A.H.Ballard but I have no other information on this ship or commander other than she sank that day. The address to send memoirs to is: Stichting Polderhuis, mw A. Van Hoof, Julianastraat 19, 4361 EA Westkapelle, Walcheren.

I hope this is of interest as to your readers as I know it is of great importance to the villagers of Westkapelle. Steve
[Please mention www.combinedops.com  if you contact the museum].
 


Gunfire at Middelburg ..... from a Resident of Walcheren.

In the period 1st Nov to the 5th Nov 1944 the capital of the Dutch province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, Middelburg, came under heavy gunfire. I remember that fact well because I was, and am, an inhabitant of that town. The gunfire was mostly at the East part of the town and one of the first hits was a German vessel, loaded with munitions, which exploded of course.
 
Some time ago an unexploded shell was found in that area which occasioned a public debate about the question: 'who fired on Middelburg?' Until this recent find every inhabitant of Middelburg understood that the gunfire came in support of Allied landing forces from the ships Warspite, Erebus, Roberts and Kingsmill or at least from one of those ships. The ships fired first at the German coastal defences at Walcheren. This view is supported in publications about the liberation of Walcheren and Operations Infatuate that have since been published.

I have now narrowed down the possibilities from three (gunfire from ships; German gunfire from the Walcheren coast to stop the allied troops fighting on from South Beveland/Sloedam and allied support gunfire from the Breskens-pocket) to one.... the most likely explanation, according to my enquiries, is the last of these.

I now know that the 9th AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) was in South Beveland and the "Breskens-pocket" during the period 01-11-1944  to 06-11-1944 under the command of the 52nd Lowland Division. I am trying to identify the specific parts/units of the 9th AGRA that fired on Middelburg. From Regimental war diaries it now seems that the 9th Medium Regiment fired their 5.5 inch shells during the night of 5/6 November from the gun area at SLIJKPLAAT and from other places or villages from where the 5.5 inch medium guns, or 25 'pounders,' were situated in what was most likely the front line at that time. Any information on this would be warmly welcomed.

I hope you can help me resolve this question which has provoked so much local interest. Many thanks in anticipation. Yours Sincerely Jan H. Wigard, van Kleffenslaan 60, 4334 HK Middelburg / Netherlands
e-mail wigardjh@zeelandnet.nl.

If you have any information or book recommendations about Operation Infatuate please contact us.

 

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The Gazelle Squadron Display Team. The Gazelle Squadron is a unique team of ex-British Military Gazelle helicopters in their original military colours and with their original military registrations. The core team includes four Gazelles, one from each service; The Royal Navy, The Royal Marines, The Army Air Corps and The Royal Air Force. A fifth Gazelle in Royal Marines colours will provide intimate support for the Team. Their crest, opposite, (click to enlarge), includes the Combined Operations badge. The last, and possibly, only time the badge was seen on an aircraft was in the early mid 40s. A photo of the Hurricane concerned is included in the 516 Squadron webpage.
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