After the breakout from Normandy, the German forces held on stubbornly to the French and Belgian Channel ports. This forced the Allies to bring all supplies for their rapidly advancing armies from the artificial harbour they had constructed off the beaches of Normandy and from Cherbourg, which was far from ideal. Due to Antwerp’s port capacity, it became the immediate objective of the British 21st Army Group commanded by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. While Antwerp fell to Montgomery on September 4, no supplies could be landed there until the German forces holding the lower reaches of the Scheldt, between Antwerp and the North Sea, were removed.
Four main operations were planned in order to gain free access to the Scheldt Estuary – firstly clearing the area north of Antwerp and securing access to the South Beveland peninsula, followed by Operations ‘Switchback’ and ‘Vitality’, which involved freeing the Breskens Pocket and the capture of the South Beveland peninsula, before the final Operation ‘Infatuate’, which involved the capture of Walcheren island, heavily fortified and a powerful German stronghold.
Join our tour to follow in the footsteps of the Allies as they battle to secure this section of the Atlantic Wall, which was considered to be among the ‘strongest’ concentration of defences the Nazis had ever constructed.