A Canadian's Journey Through D-Day Part 4: Liberation and Rememberance

Updated: Nov 18, 2019


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The Juno Beach Memorial outside the Juno Beach Centre.

 

After D-DAY

The initial attack on Juno beach during June 6th was a success and marked the beginning of the nearly 3 month Battle of Normandy. This battle had the Canadian's pushing through the Caen region of France against some of Germany's best fighting units, the Armoured 12th SS Panzer Division. After many months of fighting, the Allied troops found themselves at a victory as August 21st 1944 marked the end of the Battle of Normandy. With the liberation of France and Belgium underway days later, the Canadians now had time to start taking action against the other Nazi occupied countries such as the Netherlands.


A coloured image of the liberation of Paris, France.

 

Netherlands

The liberation of the Netherlands was a long and costly battle that started 3 months after D-Day. The Allied forces devised a plan known as "Market Garden" which would be an airborne assault into occupied Netherlands. With this plan, also gave the Allies a direct route to Germany which would surely bring an end to the war.


The city of Rotterdam after a Nazi bombing raid.

The Battle of Arnhem and a Bridge too Far

In the beginning of September the Allied forces parachuted into the Netherlands, landing in the town of Arnhem. This attack was the initial step in Market Garden and had the Canadians tasked with securing important bridges and roads. In doing so had the Canadians undertaking intense house to house combat along the Rhine River while sustaining heavy causalities. In the end, the operation was a failure but nerveless consisted of some of the most fierce fighting in all of World War 2. The aftermath resulted in over 2000 deaths for the Allies and having almost 7000 troops captured with many going missing and dying in captivity.


The destroyed city of Arnhem after the Allied defeat during operation "Market Garden".

The Battle of Antwerp

With the large failure of Market Garden , led to the Allied forces second attempt to take Germany. The plan consisted of entering the already liberated country of Belgium, and use a port there to bring in supplies for the Allied advancements. Although Belgium was somewhat liberated , many parts still sported German resistance . One of these locations was the the city of Antwerp which needed to be cleared by the 1st Canadian Army. The Canadian managed to take a harbour and started to advance further into Belgium.

The first photo shows the destruction of Antwerp as the Nazi's hit the city with their "Vengeance" bombs. The second photo is of the Canadian troops as they move along the Scheldt in their amphibious vehicles. The third photo shows Canadian troops clearing the landing areas near the Scheldt.

The Battle of Scheldt and The Rhine

With success in holding the harbour in Antwerp , had the Canadians now pushing into the Southern tips of the Netherlands. The battle that was later to come in these following weeks was what defined Canadian bravery by the Dutch today and has Holland remembering Canada ever since.

The Canadians were now in some uncomfortable fighting conditions as they marched through the Dutch country side. The land was mostly below the sea level which left the Canadians mostly fighting in wet soggy conditions. The landscape held a whole host of medical problems as the soldiers were getting sick and hungry as they were forced to keep pushing forward. The areas where surrounded by Dykes which were narrow paths for the troops to get trapped in as the enemy were able to use these as a perfect locations for a machine gun nest. On top of all this , the men were being given little to no supplies or re-enforcement's which was arguably the main reason why the assault was taking so long.

Canadian troops walking along a Dyke in the marshy lands of Holland. And Allied troops preparing to air drop food to starving Dutch citizens.