Canada’s Role in the Liberation of the Netherlands. Chris Briand Thomas O’Brien. The Participants. The Allies -Canada -Britain -U.S -Poland -France -Netherlands Resistance Forces. The Axis
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Canada’s Role in the Liberation of the Netherlands Chris Briand Thomas O’Brien
The Participants • The Allies -Canada -Britain -U.S -Poland -France -Netherlands Resistance Forces • The Axis -Germany
The Situation Before Liberation The Netherlands had been conquered in May of 1940, the battle for the entire nation lasting a whole of three days. This led to a German occupied Netherlands, and four years of misery until allied forces would reach the borders in the Fall of 1944.
The Reason for Haste As the Allies pushed further into Europe, the supply lines began to stress under the lack of ports through which to sustain logistical operations. The port of Antwerp, located in Belgium, but only accessible through a series of waterways located within the German held Netherlands, had a capacity like no other port within the region, allowing the Allies the perfect city from which to unload vital supplies onto the mainland of Europe to a greater degree. With this port secured, the Allies could then have the critical mass within Europe to bring the fight to German territory, and ultimately end the war in a much more timely manner than otherwise.
Canada's Role With the nearly complete failure of Operation Market Garden by the British, American, French, and Polish allied forces in late September, it fell upon the 1st Canadian Army to spearhead the advance into the Netherlands while other Allied elements focused on other parts of the Siegfried Line. The Battle of the Scheldt To open up a pathway to Antwerp, the 1st Canadian Army had to clear the surrounding German held coastline, and the city itself. This under taking came in the name of The Battle of the Scheldt. Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds led the all Canadian force as they began what would become one of the bloodiest battles on the European mainland. The wetlands, canals, and polder country allowed for the German forces within the area to form a daunting defence against the Allied troops, and would cost 12 000 lives, over half of them being Canadian.
Canada’s Role - Continued As Winter neared, both the Allied and Axis battle lines began to settle for the next three months as both sides licked their wounds and prepared for the spring that would decide what was already known. Canada was tasked with holding the defensive line between Dunkirk, to Antwerp, and from Antwerp to Just south of German held Nijmegen. The winter proved mostly uneventful save for some raids from the Germans along the Canadian lines, but for the Dutch, it would become a trying time for their people. The Hunger Winter, as it became known, took it’s toll, both through starvation due to lack of rations, and the cold. The Rhineland Campaign As February rolled around, the Allies were ready to finish what Germany had begun five long years ago. The Canadian First Army pushed into the Siegfried line, north of Nijmegen, and was met by the Americans shortly after. With the Western banks of the Rhine in Allied hands, Field Marshal Montgomery led his Allied forces across into Germany’s heartland while the bulk of Canada’s forces turned North East to secure a route North into Germany via the, and to the Northwest to clear out any remaining German resistance to liberate the Netherlands.
Canada’s Role - End While the Allies fought over the Rhine and into Germany, the First Canadian Army split in two parts; the 2nd Corps, which fought its way into Northern Germany, and the 1st Corps, which thrust into the western Netherlands and continued to liberate historic cities such as Amsterdam, the Hague, and Rotterdam, being met by the gracious victims of the Hunger Winter. Allied supply lines began to aid in the recovery of the Dutch peoples, and by April 28th, the Canadians had pushed the broken Germans to a feeble defensive line running from the North sea to Arnhem. On May 7th, Germany surrendered to the Allied forces, and an ever grateful Netherlands began it’s celebrations with their Canadian liberators.
The Aftermath Since those trying times, the Netherlands has forever remained grateful in Canada’s role in the liberation from their German occupiers, and raised have many cemeteries to honour the nearly 7 000 dead which fought for their freedom. Those times also have since forged a strong friendship between the Canadian and Dutch, which is remembered through the Dutch sending thousands of tulips every year, of which are used in the Canadian Tulip Festival.
Bibliography • http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/liberation-of-holland • http://www.junobeach.org/e/2/can-eve-rod-rhi-e.htm • http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/history/secondwar/fact_sheets/netherlands • http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/history/secondwar/netherlands/n_intro • http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/operations/netherlands_e.shtml