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60th Anniversary Commemoration - The Battle of Walcheren Causeway
Calgary Highlanders Photos

All photos are thumbnailed, click to enlarge.

30 October 2004 marked the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Walcheren Causeway.

Of all the Regiment's Second World War Battle Honours, this particular engagement was selected for annual commemoration, and represents all of the difficult operations the Highlanders participated in during the course of 10 months of combat in Northwest Europe.  The details of this battle are discussed in several locations on this site.  In brief, the battle - fought over a forty-metre wide causeway stretching for over a kilometre, spanning the Slooe Channel between Walcheren Island and the South Beveland Peninsula in The Netherlands, was the last Canadian act in the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary.  The great port of Antwerp, which had fallen into Allied hands nearly intact in September 1944, was useless until the guns on Walcheren Island could be cleared.  Only then could ships carrying vitally needed supplies such as gasoline and ammunition pass unmolested into the great port.  From June to October 1944, when the Scheldt battles were fought, the majority of supplies for all the Allied armies on the Continent were landed over the open Normandy beaches, and then trucked at great expense (using up much manpower, gasoline and thousands of motor vehicles) to the front lines. 

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The Calgary Highlanders paid dearly during the fight to open the Scheldt Estuary, from their first battles at the neck of the South Beveland peninsula, to the Causeway itself, where 64 men were killed or wounded between 31 October and 2 November 1944.

The parade on Saturday 30 October 1944 marked the 60th anniversary of this feat of arms, and served multiple purposes; a tribute to those who fought in the battle itself; a reflection of the ongoing relationship between the Regiment and the Dutch people, both in Canada and in The Netherlands, and a remembrance of fallen comrades, in 1944 and in the years since.

The Reviewing Officer for the parade was the Consul General of The Netherlands, Mister Joop M. Corijn.

walch1.jpg (139412 bytes) Officers on parade.  Full dress for officers consists of the standard DEU (Distinctive Environment Uniform) with Highland accoutrements.   The Calgary Highlanders have always armed officers with a Scottish pattern broadsword (called, incorrectly but traditionally, "Claymores") and in recent years have outfitted all officers with a half plaid and brooch.
walch2.jpg (44294 bytes) As in years past, the local Dutch community turned out in force to honour the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers in the liberation of The Netherlands.  Here, the Dutch choir is shown on the parade square in traditional dress.
walch3.jpg (57620 bytes) In preparation for the service by Regimental Padre Captain Ganowicz, the Drum Major leads the drummers in the ancient tradition of piling drums to form an altar.
walch4.jpg (78577 bytes) The Old Guard, under the command of former RSM Bill Toews, MMM, CD.  RSM Toews served in Korea with the PPCLI.  Also on parade are several Second World War veterans, including Floyd Rourke, DCM who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (second highest bravery award in the British Commonwealth at that time) for his actions at Gruppenbühren, Germany in April 1945.  As a Lance Corporal at that time, he took command of his platoon and assaulted several German defensive positions.   Rourke later served in Korea also.

Also on parade at far right is former RSM Dave Boyer, a veteran of the First Special Service Force (The Devil's Brigade), and in front of him in Black Watch attire former Corporal Michael McAdam, who served with the Pipes and Drums in the 1980s and 90s and did a peacekeeping tour on Cyprus with the PPCLI.

walch5.jpg (134446 bytes) The Pipes and Drums, under Pipe Major Chris Penney and Drum Major Jim Stewart, lead the Regiment in the March Past.
walch6.jpg (173479 bytes) Mister Joop M. Corijn, Consul General of The Netherlands, takes the salute as the regiment marches past.  In addition to being a diplomat, Mister Corijn's background as an economist have made trade and economic affairs his favourite parts of his duties.  As a guest of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, it has been Mister Corijn's desire to improve the already good relations between Alberta and The Netherlands.
walch7.jpg (61520 bytes) The Heritage Section put on a historical display in period uniform on the Armoury balcony before and after the parade, in conjunction with artifacts, maps and other visual aids provided by the Regimental Museum and Archives.  The Regimental Monument in front of Mewata Armoury was dedicated in 1998.
walch8.jpg (73989 bytes) This painting gives an idea of the conditions on the Causeway on the night of 31 October-1 November 1944, and is one of several items put on display by Regimental Museum Curator Barry Agnew and Assistant Curator Denny Russell.  

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