Model depicting the Calgary Highlanders' attack on the Walcheren Causeway

Model depicting the Calgary Highlanders' attack on the Walcheren Causeway, October 31, 1944.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
1944-10-31
Walcheren, NETHERLANDS
© The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Museum and Archives


On October 31, 1944, The Calgary Highlanders were ordered to capture the Walcheren Causeway. Connecting South Beveland to the eastern tip of Walcheren, the causeway was approximately one kilometre long, forty metres wide and twenty metres high running over a tidal flood plain.

An integral component in the Allies’ battle for the Scheldt Estuary and the sea lane to Antwerp, the attack on the causeway was meant to divert German attention away from the British assaults at Flushing and Westkappelle on the opposite side of the island. Initially, The Calgary Highlanders’ orders were to cross to the island in storm boats and tracked landing vehicles. However, a reconnaissance of the area by engineers proved that there would not be enough water, even at high tide, to permit such an operation. Prior to learning about this setback, the Black Watch had sent troops in to advance along the causeway itself. The attack proved unsuccessful, but according to the engineering reports on the water level, crossing the causeway was the only available attack route open to the Calgary Highlanders. Their initial assault on the causeway was unsuccessful and, like the Black Watch, they Read More
On October 31, 1944, The Calgary Highlanders were ordered to capture the Walcheren Causeway. Connecting South Beveland to the eastern tip of Walcheren, the causeway was approximately one kilometre long, forty metres wide and twenty metres high running over a tidal flood plain.

An integral component in the Allies’ battle for the Scheldt Estuary and the sea lane to Antwerp, the attack on the causeway was meant to divert German attention away from the British assaults at Flushing and Westkappelle on the opposite side of the island. Initially, The Calgary Highlanders’ orders were to cross to the island in storm boats and tracked landing vehicles. However, a reconnaissance of the area by engineers proved that there would not be enough water, even at high tide, to permit such an operation. Prior to learning about this setback, the Black Watch had sent troops in to advance along the causeway itself. The attack proved unsuccessful, but according to the engineering reports on the water level, crossing the causeway was the only available attack route open to the Calgary Highlanders. Their initial assault on the causeway was unsuccessful and, like the Black Watch, they were forced to retreat. Their second advance made better progress and they managed to secure the bridgehead on Walcheren as well as assault the German buildings.

However, due to heavy casualties, including the loss of several officers, they were unable to hold the position and were forced to withdraw. A subsequent attack by Le Régiment de Maisonneuve also failed. In the end, despite the failure to seize the bridgehead, the Black Watch, the Calgary Highlanders and Le Régiment de Maisonneuve were ultimately successful. The Germans, preoccupied with the attacks on the causeway, were assaulted from behind by British troops at Flushing and the Allies successfully seized the position.

Link:
Go to http://www.calgaryhighlanders.com and click on "Ballads" to view the Regimental song entitled "Walcheren."

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Develop an understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Army in the World War II
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in military events during World War II
  • Identify key locations in which Canada’s military operated during World War II
  • Evaluate the weapons and technology used by Canadian soldiers

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