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Although the administrative significance of Antwerp was fully recognized, operations to open the port were postponed Field Marshal Montgomery's 21st Army Group made a bold attempt to thrust across the lower Rhine before the Germans could recover themselves after the Normandy defeat. But the great combined airborne-ground operation called "Market-Garden" failed of its main object, and on the night of September 25-26th the remnants of the 1st British Airborne were withdrawn across the Neder Rijn from their precarious foothold near Arnhem. Thereafter the opening of Antwerp was given first priority. While the Arnhem fighting was in progress, General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery had been arguing over strategy, the latter emphasising strongly what he considered the importance of concentrating the available administrative resources on his own front in the north for a blow as the great German industrial area of the Ruhr. On September 22nd the Supreme Commander sent Montgomery a letter which concluded: No one is more anxious than I to get to the Ruhr quickly. It is for the campaign from there onward deep in the into the heart of Germany fro which I insist all other troops must be in position to support the main drive. The main drive must logically go by the North. It is because I am anxious to organize that final drive quickly upon the capture of the Ruhr that I insist upon the importance of Antwerp. As I have told you I am prepared to give you everything for the capture of the approaches to Antwerp, including all the air forces and anything else you can support. Warm regard, Ike.

During September Lieut-General H.D.G. Crerar's First Canadian Army was occupied with clearing the Channel Ports. By October 1st it had captured Le Havre, Dieppe, Boulogne, Calais and Ostend. All these ports were so badly damaged that it took weeks to get them t work, and then their capacity was limited. The importance of Antwerp was more and more evident.

The task of opening the Scheldt was formally assigned to the 1st Canadian Army on September 14th. On the 15th General Crerar allotted the operation to the 2nd Canadian Corps, commanded by Lieut-General G.G. Simonds. The task before the Corps Commander was formidable. The Wes Scheldt, a winding channel, extends some 50 miles from Antwerp to the sea. It was heavily mined throughout its length. Along the south side the enemy still held a large bridgehead, protected on most of its land front by the Leopold Canal. On the north stood the fortified island of Walcheren, joined by a causeway to the long peninsula of South Beveland, above which the right bank of the Scheldt was also in enemy hands almost to Antwerp. Most of the land about the estuary was reclaimed ("polder") ground, low lying tilled fields, cut by ditches and dykes and easily flooded. Nearly all of Walcherenand much of South Beveland lay so low that, if the seaward dykes were broken, inundation would result.

General Simonds' appreciation of September 21st envisaged airborne and waterborne attacks upon Walcheren following heavy air bombardment. He recommended that Walcheren be flooded by bomber attacks upon the sea dykes. He proposed that the 2nd Canadian Division should push northward from Antwerp to cut off South Beveland and exploit the land approach to Walcheren via South Beveland as far as possible. The clearing of the bridgehead south of the Scheldt he assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

The Army Commander agreed that the Walcheren dykes should be breached, provided that this was technically feasible and the higher authorities concurred. Army engineers expressed the view that breaching the dykes was impracticable, and an officer form the R.A.F. bomber command who attend a conference at Army Headquarters on September 23rd was not prepared to commit himself on the question. General Simonds after considering the  matter again, was still of the opinion that the attempt should be made; and Army Headquarters recommended the plan to 21st Army Group, which supported it. The R.A.F., while not guaranteeing success, was willing to try. At this point illness forced General Crerar to hand over the Army temporarily to General Simonds. Major-General Charles Foulkes took over the 2nd Canadian Corp.

Supreme Headquarters had refused an airborne operation against Walcheren, the terrain being considered unsuitable. But the Supreme Commander now authorized the flooding operation. On October 3rd Bomber Command made the experiment at Westkapelle, and the dyke was successfully breached. The previous day General Simonds had issued his directive. It required that the 1st British Corps (now in the Antwerp area) to use the 2nd Canadian Division to close the eastern end of the South Beveland isthmus. The 2nd Canadian Corps would clear the area south of the Scheldt and subsequently captured South Beveland and Walcheren.      


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