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Intro

Day 1-3 (Paris) Day 4        5       6 (France) Day 7     8      9 (Belgium)    Day 10         11       12 (Nether.)
C.O.'s Intro | Itinerary

June 1-3

Dieppe | Juno | Clair Tison Ypres | Vimy | Low Tempo Walcheren | Arnhem | Groningen

2010 Centennial Battlefield Pilgrimage - Day 10

June 10th was marked by a visit to the Walcheren Causeway, site of the regiment's proudest battle honour of the Second World War. On the night of 31 October 1944, the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade was tasked with securing the 40-metre wide causeway linking the South Beveland Peninsula to Walcheren Island. (More details on the battle are available here.) The mile-long causeway, in 1944 surrounded by water, has since disappeared as the tireless efforts of Dutch citizens have reclaimed much land from the sea. Ongoing commercial development have also caused the relocation of military memorials to combat actions at the causeway - both in 1944, and in 1940, when French soldiers fought the Germans during the initial campaigns to conquer the Low Countries. A memorial was dedicated in the 1980s and subsequently relocated due to road and rail construction. The day also featured a stop in Middleburg, and a short commemoration at Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery, before reaching the ultimate destination of Nijmegen.

Photos by Nancy Desilets, click to enlarge

Warrant Officer Paul Holland inspects the remains of German bunkers on South Beveland. The area of the causeway in 1944 was heavily defended, with fortifications and heavy weapons including 2.0cm guns, high-velocity 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns, and during the battle The Calgary Highlanders were attacked by German flamethrowers for the first time in the North-west Europe campaign.

The Pipes and Drums lead the regimental contingent across the site of the former Causeway towards the location of the new memorial.

Veterans and honoraries bring up the rear.
Senior NCMs on parade at the memorial site.

Calgary Highlanders parade at the Walcheren Causeway memorial site.

Three memorials currently stand at the location of the former Walcheren Causeway, dedicated to French troops who fought there in 1940, as well as the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade (to whom The Calgary Highlanders belonged) and the 52nd (Lowland) Division of the British Army who crossed the Slooe Channel during the assault on Walcheren Island in 1944.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Vernon, Commanding Officer of The Calgary Highlanders, salutes as the lone piper plays during a short service of Remembrance at the memorial site.

Drum corps of The Calgary Highlanders performing at the memorial site.

The Battle of the Scheldt is described in one of the memorial plaques.

Soldiers and members of the regimental contingent examine the commemorative displays at the memorial site. Conspicuous on the uniforms of several soldiers is the red, white and green ribbon of the General Campaign Star, denoting operational service in the presence of an armed enemy.

Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery contains 1,284 Commonwealth burials and commemorations and is the final resting place of many of those lost during the Battle for Walcheren Island. There are 100 Calgary Highlanders buried at Bergen-op-Zoom; of 14 Canadian military cemeteries in Europe who contain the remains of soldiers from The Calgary Highlanders, Bergen-op-Zoom has the second highest total (only Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, in Normandy, surpasses this total with 154 Calgary Highlanders burials).

Soldiers and veterans had time to walk through the well-manicured grounds and reflect.

The grave of Private Frank William Christopher, son of Josiah and Grace A. Christopher, of Edgett's Landing, Albert Co., New Brunswick, killed in action during the Battle of the Scheldt at the age of 19.


Canadian Virtual War Memorial photo

The lone piper plays Flowers of the Forest in tribute to the 100 fallen Calgary Highlanders at Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.


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