The Scots also participated
in the operation. German resistance disintegrated.
On October 28th, the Canadians crossed the Canal through
Zuid-Beveland and joined up at 's-Gravenpolder with the
troops who had landed in the Zak.
On Sunday morning, October 29th, 1944, they marched on
Goes. It was deathly quiet in town. Everyone remained
indoors. Church services had been cancelled. To the
population's joy, the Canadians rolled and marched into
Goes around noon via the Poel from the south and via
Patijnweg from the east. The allies stopped in front of
the town hall at the Grote Markt (the town square) which
soon filled up with cheering crowds. The liberators were
given a most hearty welcome.
The Canadians continued on towards the Sloedam. The
liberation of Goes was just one incident on the long and
difficult road to Walcheren. On the Sloedam they engaged
in heavy fighting with the Germans. The French Canadians
called this dam Le Pont Maudit (The Cursed Bridge). They
were not able to conquer the dam until other allied
troops had waded through the Sloe and attacked the
German troops camped at Arnemuiden from behind. Years
later, in 1987, a monument was unveiled by HRH Prince
Bernhard on the dam where the Canadians had fought so
hard to liberate central Zeeland.
With extreme caution and
socks over their shoes to muffle any noise
liberation of Apeldoorn
I have been requested to say something about the night
and morning of April 17th, 1945. Not that I was an
eyewitness, but I can reconstruct the situation.
After the Battle of the Bulge and the unsuccessful
Battle of Arnhem the Allies had, in effect, passed our
country over and had immediately advanced over the Rhine
to the heart of Germany. It is for this reason that our
liberators came from the east, from Germany, via this
outflanking movement, instead of from the west or the
On Friday, April 13th, 1945, just before six o'clock in
the evening, a long column of Canadian and English
liberators coming from the direction of Teuge arrived in
the vicinity of Zevenhuizen. They encountered tremendous
resistance from a mixed lot of Germans, alone or in
small groups, all the way from the River IJssel. The
losses the Canadians and English sustained enforced
vigilance upon the unit.
Near to Anklaar, the
Hastings and Prince Edwards Regiments again came up
fierce German resistance.
unsuccessful attack was attempted in the early morning
of April 14th on the Broek Bridge and again a day later
at the fork near the Toll.
Two tanks met with heavy resistance. Anti-tank shells
bombarded them from various sides, setting them on fire.
The Canadian supreme command became more and more
convinced that the Germans would doggedly defend the
city of Apeldoorn. They even assumed that the Germans
had formed a bridgehead at the Apeldoorn Canal in a last
attempt to thwart or at least delay the allies' push
towards the west of the Netherlands.
Would "the final battle of the Second World War" take
place at Apeldoorn? This is what occupied the minds of
The Canadian offensive, in the night of April 15th, was
heralded by heavy shelling around the canal. The
grenades whistled through the air before striking with
thundering force. Light flashed through the dark. Heavy
machine-guns rattled. The Germans retaliated with
snipers. Dozens of prisoners were taken. And yet there
were very few inhabitants of Apeldoorn who witnessed the
sight, as most hid anxiously in cellars waiting for what
was to come.
In the early hours of April 16th, the Royal Canadian
Regiment's D-Company reconnoitred the surroundings of
the Welgelegen Bridge while the 48th Highlanders
battalion had advanced within 300 metres of the
Apeldoorn Bridge – better known in Apeldoorn as the
Dozens of prisoners of war were taken here in the
Zevenhuizen district as well.
German snipers on the west bank in town opened fire on
the troops. In the afternoon they had to endure
fighter-bombing. But the advance stagnated and tension
That Monday evening, the allied army command drew up a
formidable plan of attack for the following morning. The
centre of Apeldoorn would come under concentrated
Fortunately, it never got that far and Apeldoorn was
saved from destruction. More on that later.
Up until three o'clock in the morning of April 17th, all
companies along the Canal were still engaged in an
exchange with the enemy but suddenly, as if by superior
order, both parties ceased fire and silence fell. Just
when a reconnaissance patrol was to be dispatched a
message arrived stating that "the Germans left Apeldoorn
last night. The bridge over the Canal has been
abandoned, except for a dynamite group". These commandos
surrendered shortly after to members of the war-time
Domestic Forces in the Netherlands.
Gijs Numan, who was a member of the Resistance and the
Domestic Forces in the Netherlands, saved Apeldoorn from
the offensive. He and Albert van der Scheur succeeded in
reaching the east side of the Canal. By the light of the
moon, they snuck unseen across the Apeldoorn locks to
bring the liberators news of the German retreat. This
briefly met with disbelief, as just shortly
before a reconnaissance patrol had taken two more German
prisoners of war.
around 4:30 p.m., the advance was set in across the
devastated bridge in Deventer Street and over the locks.
With extreme caution and socks over their shoes to
muffle any noise, the Canadians stole towards the west
side of the Canal. Royal Canadian Regiment C-company was
the first to reach the centre of Apeldoorn without
encountering any resistance to speak of. The 48th
Highlanders battalion followed on their heels, heading
towards Het Loo Palace by way of the Parks. Another
battalion reached the same destination via a temporary
bridge near the Loo Bridge which had also been
destroyed. Around half past eleven on April 17th, 1945,
the Dutch flag flew again from the roof of the Palace.
The southern regions of Apeldoorn, Beekbergen and
Ugchelen were liberated that same day by troops of the
3rd Canadian brigade.
If I should survive this hell and come home, I would eat
a plate of mud.
The liberation of Walcheren and Middelburg.
allied attack on Walcheren was aimed at securing the
Scheldt-estuary to enable the use of the Antwerp
harbors. In October 1944 it was decided to flood the
peninsula to limit German manoeuvre capabilities. The
actual attack on Walcheren compromised several actions.
In the south (Vlissingen) and west (Westkapelle) a
landing took place on 1 November by British forces. On
the eastside the Sloedam (nickname ‘Bloody Causeway’)
was attacked by the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade. The
attackers found themselves in an extremely difficult
position. The dam was more than a kilometer long and
completely bare. Between 31 October and 3 November 1944
severe battle took place.
Pte. Frank Holm, B-company,
‘At a certain moment a heavy shell dropped nearby. As a
result we were covered with a wave of mud. At instant I
promised myself that if I should survive this hell and
come home, I would eat a plate of mud. I indeed lived
through the war, but in contrast with the promise I have
never eaten mud!.’
Lt. Charles Forbes, D-company Régiment de Maisonneuve:
Total silence was dominating. Only in war similar
contrasts appear. One minute you are not able to hear
your own voice, the next moment you can even hear the