Battle of the Scheldt

The Battle of the Scheldt (2 October – 8 November 1944), was an allied offensive which was primarily led by Canadian troops, who had the objective of liberating the port of Antwerp by taking control of the two banks of the Scheldt river, in Belgium and the Netherlands.  The Port of Antwerp was paramount for ensuring supplies could reach troops, with the front line spanning several hundreds of kilometres. The major ports in the Channel and North Sea were well defended by the Wehrmacht, and it was clear that capturing Antwerp would be far from easy.

Following the vast failure of operation Market Garden, the First Canadian Army was entrusted with the mission of capturing the Port of Antwerp. The offensive proved to be complex. Many land operations and open-air attacks led in exposed areas were necessary. The Germans were well organised and fortified, defended by artillery and snipers, and mines were spread across the land and in the water. The Battle of the Scheldt was particularly harsh and bloody. Almost five weeks of intense fighting ensued before the First Canadian Army, assisted by other allied reinforcements, managed to liberate Antwerp and take control of the Scheldt. The offensive ended on 8 November 1944, having caused some 12,873 victims amongst the allies. However, it was not until 29 November that the first resupply vessel could dock in the Port of Antwerp, after having to wait for rubble and mines to be cleared.

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