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Memorial plaque stolen from Canadian war monument

Honoured fallen comrades

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WOENSDRECHT - A memorial plaque honouring more than 80 soldiers of the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment who died during the Liberation of the Netherlands, was ripped from its base recently and has not yet been recovered. Veterans of the Canadian regiment had donated the plaque in 2004.

City workers discovered the destroyed memorial one early morning recently. A similar plaque honouring the memory of fallen soldiers of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry had not been touched.

Both plaques flank the path leading to the Liberation monument in this Brabant community just south of Bergen op Zoom.

In early October 1944, the Second Canadian Division moved north from Antwerp, Belgium, to block an escape route for the Germans from the island of Zuid-Beveland. Fighting was fierce, but on October 6, the Canadians neared Woensdrecht and the objective of their action.

German defenders however had reinforced Woensdrecht to try hold onto the narrow land connector to Zuid-Beveland and Walcheren, the island controlling the Antwerp harbour entrance. This forced the Canadians to advance over open terrain and through inundated polders. Canadian casualties mounted when the German artillery pounded them during a days-long rain storm.

The Canadians regrouped for a new assault which was begun on October 16. Backed by heavy Allied artillery, which pounded the German defenses relentlessly, the Canadians advanced, forcing the enemy to retreat so that Woensdrecht at last could be taken and cut the escape route of the Germans on the two main islands. Both camps paid a heavy toll.