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Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge : The Woensdrecht Isthmus

File Author : huib
File Added : 25 DEC 2010
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Location : Mouth Scheldt Estuary, Holland
Opponents : Canadians, Germans

Description :

Version 1.0 (25 Dec. 2010, designed by Huib Versloot)
October 6th 23:00. North of Antwerp

The battle to open the Scheldt estuary.

The plan for opening the estuary involved four main operations. The first was to clear the area north Antwerp and close the South Beveland Isthmus. The second was to clear the Breskens "Pocket" behind the Leopold Canal (operation "Switchback"). The third, operation "Vitality", was the reduction of the Beveland Peninsula. The final phase would be the capture of Walcheren Island. This scenario depicts the first of the four operations which constitutes mainly the battles of the 2nd Canadian Infantry against LXVII Korps' remnants of 346. Infantry Division, later reinforced by "Kampfgruppe Chill" with in it's ranks the formidable 6th Paratroop Regiment 6. led by Lt. Colonel Von der Heydte.

Fighting North from Antwerp

On October 2 the 2nd Canadian Division began its advance north from the Antwerp area with a view to closing the exit from South Beveland and advancing along the South Beveland Isthmus. Initial progress was good, despite the fact it was made in the face of stiff opposition. By October 6, with the town of Woensdrecht less than five kilometres away, the objective of the first phase seemed within grasp.

But, once again, early successes proved deceptive and the Germans determined to hold Woensdrecht, which commanded access through the isthmus to South Beveland and Walcheren.

Casualties were heavy as the Canadians attacked over open, flooded polder land, made worse by booby traps and mines.

Finally, on October 16, the attack on Woensdrecht went in supported by an immense artillery barrage. As the artillery brought down a heavy concentration of fire almost within metres of their own troops, the enemy fell back. Woensdrecht was secure and the Bevelands and Walchern were cut off from the mainland. The first objective had been achieved, but only at the expense of heavy casualties.

At this point, Field Marshall Montgomery ordered a regrouping of all forces to concentrate upon the opening of the Scheldt estuary. The Second British Army attacked westward to clear the Netherlands south of the Maas and seal off the Scheldt region, while General Simonds concentrated on the area north of the Beveland isthmus. The 4th Division which had been engaged at the Leopold Canal, was moved north of the Scheldt and drove hard for Bergen-op-Zoom. By October 24, the isthmus was sealed off and the 2nd Division began the advance against South Beveland (assisted by an amphibious landing by the 52nd British Division).


Topografische Karte der Niederlande, 1:50.000 Truppenkarte blad 49 West May 1943.
Topografische Karte der Niederlande, 1:50.000 Truppenkarte blad 49 OstMay 1942

Kriegstagebuch LXXXVIII Korps, Oct. 1944

NARA B798, Waring Elmar, Battles of LXVII Inf Korps between the Schelde and the Maas 15 Sep-25 Nov 1944

CMHQ 188, Canadian participation in the operations in North-West Europe

AHQ 69, The Campaign in North-West Europe, Information from German sources.

Whitaker and Whitaker, Tug of War. The Allied victory that opened Antwerp

Didden, Swarts, Brabant Bevrijd.

Griesser, V,, Die Lvwen von Carentan. Das Fallschirmjdger Regiment 6 1943-45.

V.d. Heydte, F.A. FrHr, Muss ich sterben will ich fallen. Ein Zeitzeuge erinnert sich.

Brooijmans, Groffen, Woensdrecht en Hoogerheide in de bange dagen van haar bevrijding.

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