Posted by: sommecourt | 03/09/2010

Walcheren 1944

While I was out on the battlefields this week I had a chance to visit the Walcheren Island, something I had been wanting to do for a very long time.Walcheren was the scene of Operation Infatuate, commando landings at Flushing and Westcapelle, with the Canadians advancing across the Walcheren Causeway to link up. It was a tough battle, and there are further details of the history on the Combined Operations website.

I was up there looking at the area for a possible new battlefield tour, and our visit started at Bergen Op Zoom War Cemetery, which is in fact two cemeteries: the War Cemetery with largely British burials and the Canadian War Cemetery, unsurprisingly mainly Canadian dead. The British cemetery had evidence of divisional plots, and every rank in the army from Private to Brigadier. We then moved on to some of the Canadian battlegrounds, finding a Sherman tank at Woensdrecht; it proved a day for Shermans.

On Walcheren itself we started at the excellent Polderhuis Museum which has a display about the 1944 operations as well as the much earlier history of the island. Close by is a mock-up of an assault boat (we couldn’t quite work out what it was), and up on the dyke is a Sherman Crab Flail tank, minus the flail, which forms the main memorial to the landings. The museum had a useful bookshop where we got a good map showing the major locations. Later we moved on to the see the Walcheren Causeway and also another excellent museum, the Liberation Museum dedicated to Operation Infatuate.

Highlight of the day for me was seeing the Westcapelle Tower (below) which I’d seen in many photographs and film over the years. A fascinating area which I will be returning to, and can recommend as a good and rewarding battlefield to tour.

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