Battle of the Scheldt - Backgrounder

The Battle of the Scheldt was fought in northwestern Belgium and the southwestern Netherlands during the Second World War. On 12 September 1944, the task of liberating the banks of the Scheldt River was initially assigned to the First Canadian Army. The campaign began in earnest on 2 October 1944 and ended on 8 November 1944. The First Canadian Army, under the command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simmonds, played a pivotal role in opening the Scheldt and allowing Allied shipping to reach the major Belgian port of Antwerp from the North Sea.

In early October, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division began to advance north of Antwerp to close access to the South Beveland isthmus and to capture the Beveland peninsula, while the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, supported by the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, began the assault to cross the Leopold Canal and clear the Breskens pocket south of the Scheldt. On 31 October 1944, our troops began the challenging task of capturing Walcheren Island at the mouth of the Scheldt. They established a foothold across the causeway there after a grim struggle. The 52nd British Division, supported by Allied amphibious landings, subsequently continued the advance. Middleburg, the island's capital, was secured on November 6. By November 8 all enemy opposition on the Scheldt had ended.

The Battle of the Scheldt secured the Allies' crucial supply lines in continental Europe, which was essential to continue their efforts to liberate Western Europe. This victory came at a high price, however, as more than 6,300 Canadians were killed, wounded or taken prisoner during the fighting on the Scheldt.

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