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Liberation Of The Netherlands Essay Writing

In the final months of the Second World War, Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

In the final months of the Second World War, Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. From September 1944 to April 1945, the First Canadian Army fought German forces on the Scheldt estuary — opening the port of Antwerp for Allied use — and then cleared northern and western Netherlands of Germans, allowing food and other relief to reach millions of desperate people. Today, Canada is fondly remembered by the Dutch for ending their oppression under the Nazis.

British and American troops first entered the southern Netherlands in early September, 1944, three months after the D-Day landings in Normandy. In mid-September, the Allies launched Operation Market Garden, a massive airborne assault on the Dutch town of

As the Allies sought another way into

The First Canadian Army was Canada's principal fighting arm in northwest Europe during the war. A powerful strike force under the command of Canadian General Harry Crerar, it included the 2nd Canadian Corps, as well as large contingents of British, Polish, American and Dutch infantry and armoured troops. Since the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944, the Army had formed the left flank of the Allied advance towards Germany — with the First Canadians liberating ports and cities along the Channel Coast of France and Belgium.

Upon reaching the Netherlands, the First Canadian Army was ordered to clear the banks of the wide, multi-channelled Scheldt River between the North Sea the port of Antwerp. It was a treacherous landscape for attacking troops to operate in — flat, soggy, sometimes-flooded land, situated below sea level and enclosed by a series of dykes.

Under the leadership of Canadian Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds (who had temporarily replaced Crerar), Canadian and British soldiers fought a series of fierce battles through October and early November, including amphibious assaults from small boats against German defences along the estuary. Aside from the use of boats, the movement of men, tanks and other equipment was often restricted to narrow roadways along the top of dykes, under frequent German fire.

The First Canadian Army lost nearly 13,000 men killed, wounded or missing during the

The First Canadian Army spent the winter patrolling its portion of the front line in the Netherlands and France — skirmishing occasionally with the enemy — while American forces in Belgium fought back against Germany's surprise attack in the Ardennes Forest. In February 1945, the Allied advance in northwest Europe resumed, with a huge offensive to drive the enemy across the Rhine River. It fell to the First Canadian Army to clear the area between the Maas and Rhine Rivers, pushing German forces eastward over the Rhine.

In March the First Canadian Army was reinforced by various Allied units, including the 1st Canadian Corps, and transferred north from the battlegrounds of

Food and Relief

In late March, as other Allied armies crossed the Rhine into Germany, the First Canadian Army began rooting out German forces in the remainder of the Netherlands. The Canadians faced stiff fighting in places, and were also hampered by the broken roads, bridges and other infrastructure destroyed by the fleeing Germans, who blew up some of the dykes in the western Netherlands, flooding parts of the countryside.

The Canadians were greeted as heroes as they liberated small towns and major cities, including

General Charles Foulkes, commander of the 1st Canadian Corps, accepted the surrender of German forces in the


More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen died fighting in the Netherlands. They are buried today in official war cemeteries across the country. The largest, Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery near the city of Nijmegen, holds the graves of more than 2,300 Canadians.

Canadians are fondly remembered by the Dutch as both liberators and saviors who rescued millions from sickness and starvation in 1945. The joyous "Canadian summer" that followed forged deep and long-lasting bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Every year since the war, the Netherlands has sent thousands of tulips to Ottawa, in appreciation for Canada's sacrifice and for providing safe harbour to the Dutch royal family, which lived in exile in Canada during the war. The Canadian-Dutch bond is also celebrated every summer during the Nijmegen Marches — an annual, international military marching competition — at which the Netherlands' liberation by Canadian soldiers is warmly and gratefully remembered.

Suggested Reading

  • D. Kaufman and M. Horn, A Liberation Album (1980).

Sherman tank on a festive street with crowds.

The Liberation of the Netherlands, 1944-1945

By September 1944, the Allied armies, advancing from France and Belgium, had reached the southern boundary of the German-occupied Netherlands. The first attempt to break into the Netherlands failed. The First Allied Airborne Army dropped by parachute and glider in an attempt to capture bridges across the Maas and lower Rhine rivers. American paratroops successfully took the Maas bridges, but the British 1st Airborne Division, landing near the Rhine bridge at Arnhem, was all but destroyed by a strong German force.

At this time Antwerp, Belgium, was in Allied hands, but it could not be used as a port to resupply the advancing armies because the Germans held the approaches to the port on both banks of the lower River Scheldt. In October and November, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division cleared the south bank, while 2nd Canadian Infantry Division fought along the north bank.

But at tremendous cost. The Germans cut the dykes to let seawater flood the low-lying fields and the attackers were forced to follow narrow, fire-swept routes along the tops of dykes or to attempt amphibious assaults. The Scheldt battles cost the First Canadian Army 6,367 killed, mostly from among the tired, perpetually wet infantrymen.

After an uncomfortable winter spent patrolling through the wet Dutch countryside, the Canadians got the help of their countrymen from Italy ( see the Sicilian and Italian Campaigns ), who advanced quickly north from the Rhine through the eastern Netherlands to the North Sea. Although the fighting was never easy, and continued nearly to the last day of the war, the German resistance collapsed from lack of supplies and manpower. In the western Netherlands, getting food to the starving Dutch population in their flooded villages was the major task. Finally, there was a ceasefire, allowing food to be dropped by parachute or trucked in.

Related Newspaper Articles

English Articles

  • An Epic of the War
    The Globe and Mail, 28/09/1944
  • Canadians Thrust Deeper Into Holland
    The Globe and Mail, 03/10/1944
  • R.H.L.I Has Lead Role in Capture of Dutch Island
    The Hamilton Spectator, 06/11/1944
  • Scheldt Cost 40 000; Antwerp Port in Use
    The Globe and Mail, 30/11/1944
  • 'Water Rats' Catches on a Nickname for Canadian Third Division in Holland
    The Globe and Mail, 06/04/1945
  • More than 1,000 German, Dutch Jews Freed by Canadians in Netherlands,
    The Hamilton Spectator, 14/04/1945
  • Canadians in Holland Trap 110 000 Huns
    The Globe and Mail, 19/04/1945
  • Food Deal in Holland May End in Surrender, German Officer Hints,
    The Globe and Mail, 03/05/1945
  • Canadians Find Gallant Dutch Suffering Yet
    The Hamilton Spectator, 26/06/1945
  • "When They Ask Who Freed Us…"
    The Hamilton Spectator, 25/03/1946

French Articles

  • Les troupes britanniques sont entrées en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 11/09/1944
  • La frontière hollandaise franchie à deux endroits
    Le Devoir, 14/09/1944
  • À la rescousse des parachutistes encerclés à Arnhem
    Le Devoir, 21/09/1944
  • Bataille acharnée et confuse autour du pont d'Arnhem. La percée de la ligne Siegfried pas encore exploitée
    Le Devoir, 22/09/1944
  • Les parachutistes d'Arnhem auraient été écrasés
    Le Devoir, 27/09/1944
  • Les parachutistes d'Arnhem ont forcé l'admiration des Allemand
    Le Devoir, 28/09/1944
  • Offensive canadienne au nord du canal Léopold. Pour libérer les bouches de l'Escaut
    Le Devoir, 06/10/1944
  • Nouvelle offensive des Canadiens. Au nord d'Anvers...
    Le Devoir, 21/10/1944
  • Les Allemands retraitent sur un front de 15 milles
    Le Devoir, 25/10/1944
  • Les alliés effectuent un débarquement à l'île Beveland.
    Le Devoir, 27/10/1944
  • Les nazis menaces d'encerclement en Hollande. Berg-Zoom tombre aux mains des Alliés
    Le Devoir, 28/10/1944
  • "La désagrégation des troupes nazies, dans les Pays-Bas"
    Le Devoir, 30/10/1944
  • La Hollande menacée de famine
    Le Devoir, 08/11/1944
  • Retraite nazie en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 08/11/1944
  • Impressions d'un Canadien en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 09/11/1944
  • Le camouflage des aérodromes ennemis
    Le Devoir, 14/11/1944
  • Courage admirable des nôtres en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 22/11/1944
  • Ravages nazis en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 04/12/1944
  • Secours à la Hollande
    Le Devoir, 14/12/1944
  • Le Noël de nos gars en Hollande
    Le Devoir, 26/12/1944

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