:: Middelburg Liberated ::
the 21st Army Group under command of B.L. Montgomery captured
Antwerp it was obvious, yet for some time not to him, that the Antwerp
Docks were useless as long as both banks of the river Scheldt stayed in
German hands. After an
agonisingly long back and forth, operations 'Switch Back' (clearance of
the South bank) and 'Vitality 1 and 2' (partial clearance of the North
bank) finally started.
final hurdle was the Dutch Island of Walcheren, which essentially
locked the river Scheldt. To clear that job operations
'Infatuate-1, Flushing' and Operation 'Infatuate-2, Westkapelle'
started on November 1st 1944. It turned out to be the last sea-borne
landings in North-West Europe!
Operation Infatuate-1 started at Flushing in the early morning of the 1st of
November 1944. A heavy battle raged through the partly inundated town,
culminating on November 3rd in the battle for the German HQ in and
under the former Hotel Britannia on the Flushing seawall. The
next important target was the provincial capital Middelburg. That town
was surrounded by seawater as a result of the bombing of the dikes in
October 1944 by the RAF.
first attempt to reach and liberate Middelburg was made on November 4th
and 5th along the canal banks but was cancelled due to strong
German defences and heavy mined banks. The
7/9th Royal Scots did a reconnaissance tour from Flushing via
Koudekerke towards Middelburg by Landing Vehicle Tracks, better known
as 'Buffalos'. That route seemed the most promising and the
decision was made to start another push on November 6th. As
the War Diary of the 155 Infantry Brigade notes: "The big show for the
day" was to be by 'A company 7/9 Royal Scots'. They left Flushing at
12.40 hrs and followed the designated route.
had been under heavy shelling from November 1st till November the 6th.
The Scots reached it at about 16.00 hrs. where they had to wait
for reinforcements. Finally, at 03.00 hrs at night the 5th
Infantry was able to enter Middelburg from Nieuwland. First
hand, detailed information on the course of events are presented here
through the War Diary of the HQ 155th Infantry Brigade: