By Richard Brooks
Walcheren is a saucer-shaped island within the estuary of the river Scheldt, commanding maritime entry to Antwerp, the most important port in Western Europe. The Allies captured Antwerp intact on September four, 1944, yet their eyes have been at the Rhine crossings at Arnhem, now not the reduce Scheldt. The failure of Operation Market-Garden later that month introduced domestic the Allies' logistical weak spot. As autumn gales drew close to, each shell and petrol tin had nonetheless to be landed at Cherbourg or around the Normandy seashores. whole US military divisions have been immobilized for loss of delivery. It was once very important to re-open Antwerp. the continuing German presence on Walcheren, notwithstanding, avoided Allied delivery from coming into the Scheldt.In the autumn of 1944, Walcheren had the main seriously fortified sea coast on the planet. Its seaward defences consisted of 30 coastal and box batteries, mounting 50-60 weapons from 75mm to 220mm in quality, manned through top of the range naval group of workers in the back of huge concrete emplacements. assisting strongpoints had anti-aircraft weapons, flame-throwers rocket-launchers and Goliath distant managed demolition automobiles. The sand dunes conserving the low-lying island from the North Sea have been laced with barbed cord, mines and dragon's enamel. protecting infantry got here from Generalleutnant Wilhelm Daser's 70.Infanterie-Division, a 'white bread department' including males with gastric difficulties. Allied intelligence envisioned the entire garrison at 4,000, yet 8,000 ultimately surrendered.On November 1, 1944, in a double-pronged assault, the lads of 52nd (Lowland) department plus No. four military Commando seized Flushing (Infatuate I) whereas within the west 4th precise carrier Brigade with 3 Royal Marine Commandos and No. 10 Inter-Allied Commando may take Westkapelle, and struggle their means north and south alongside the dunes, taking the coastal batteries as they went (Infatuate II). All this used to be to be supported with HMS Warspite and 15-inch gun displays; the help Squadron jap Flank (SSEF) with 25 really expert touchdown Craft with weapons and rockets; 350 military weapons south of the Scheldt, such a lot of them heavier than 25-pounders; and the storm and Spitfire fighter bombers of eighty four staff RAF.In combating defined by way of one survivor as 'worse than Dieppe and D-Day prepare' the military and Royal Marines pressured their manner ashore, supported through really expert armour and tracked autos, and over the following 8 days cleared the positions in their German defenders in sour road struggling with. the 1st Liberty ships unloaded at Antwerp on December 1, simply over a fortnight sooner than the Ardennes offensive all started. If Walcheren had now not fallen while it did, commencing Antwerp simply in time, the Allies could were challenging pressed to resist the German assault, or substitute the gasoline shares misplaced in its establishing days, not to mention pass the Rhine within the following spring, and meet the Russians at the Elbe. The Walcheren crusade was once now not purely a dramatic mixed operation pulled off opposed to the chances; it helped confirm the process the conflict and the form of the post-war international.
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Additional info for Walcheren 1944: Storming Hitler's Island Fortress
At 1017hrs, after firing 200 rounds per gun, W13 fell silent, having apparently run out of ammunition. The AORG Report claimed this was the A n LCG(L) m a k i n g s m o k e during the S u p p o r t S q u a d r o n ' s run towards Westkapelle. Only o n e LCG(L) escaped from Walcheren u n d a m a g e d . 7in. g u n s is m o u n t e d singly in t w o turrets amidships. (Photo © Trustees of the Royal Marines M u s e u m ) 39 decisive moment of the action. Without this lucky accident, the battery would have finished off the support craft, and gone on to sink the troop-carrying landing craft.
Enemy positions beyond the crossroads were proof against infantry weapons, and too close to be shelled by guns beyond the Schelde. They were eventually dealt with by Typhoon fighterbombers firing rockets. D Company, in battalion reserve, went to relieve the commandos around WORTHING. No. 5 Troop then moved on to their next objective at DOVER, another strongpoint on the seafront at the top of Coosje Buskenstraat. Looking down an appreciable slope from the top of the dyke, DOVER dominated BEXHILL.
4, the heavy weapons troop, had to salvage one of their two 3in. mortars when their LCA was sunk by German crossfire; nevertheless they soon came into action, while the two medium machine-gun teams moved up Walstraat to the crossroads at Betje Wolffplein or BEXHILL. The heavily restored Arsenaal is n o w a children's play centre, hence the pirate climbing out of the w i n d o w , while the Vissershaven has b e c o m e a marina. (Photo © Richard Brooks) 34 No. 5 also had a wet landing, with several men wounded, before following No.
Walcheren 1944: Storming Hitler's Island Fortress by Richard Brooks