Warmonument HoofdplaatBack Havenstraat/Spuikom, Hoofdplaat
Monument of brickstones with 3 plaquettes integrated. Standing next to the monument is a piece of art called “Strange bird”, designed by J. Boekhout.
- Year of construction
The number 1 refers to the first marker post of 18 successive posts marking the liberation trail followed by Canadian troops in October and November 1944 as part of operation “Switchback” by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.
This liberation operation began in Hoofdplaat in Zeeland Flanders by the 8th and 9th Canadian Divisions that were landed here to attack the Germans from the rear.
The last marker post is in Knokke – Belgium.
The Canadian liberation trail is marked by 18 markers, marking number 1 of this trail being bricked into this war memorial. The memorial is also the start of the annual liberation march that is traditionally held in Knokke-Heist on two days in the first week of November during Canada Week. The trail is 33 kilometres long.
The tradition of this liberation trail arose because of the task given to the Canadians to clear the canal harbours and then to tackle West Flanders. The Canadians reached Bruges on 12 September, but things went wrong at the canals. After Moerbrugge the district of ‘t Molentje in Moerkerke proved deadly for the Regina Rifles.
A second attempt to cross the canals was made in Strobrugge, but it too failed. Army command decided to launch an amphibious attack from Terneuzen across the Braakman to the vicinity of Hoofdplaat and Biervliet in the Netherlands. This was the main assault for the liberation of West Zeeland Flanders from the Germans and was given the name: “Operation Switchback”.
The population of Heist had to evacuate to Knokke. As a result of incorrect information Sluis was bombed by the allies, with a high number of deaths among the civilian population as a result. The ninth Canadian Infantry Brigade cleared a path to Knokke through the polders, assisted by some tank regiments. After building a Bailey Bridge in Retranchement, the troops were able to push on to the part of Belgium that had not yet been liberated. The liberators were welcomed into Knokke on 1 November. That same day further civilians and soldiers fell victim to shelling from Duinbergen and Zeebrugge.