Liberating Holland

Typical Battle Scene in Holland

After the failed German counteroffensive in the Ardennes, the Allies resumed their broad front push into the enemy's homeland. In February1945, the First Canadian Army began helping with the push against the Rhine River line and by April, they were expanding a Rhine bridgehead at Emmerlich. In addition, they were asked to clear remaining German forces out of the Netherlands.

The first target were those German forces left in the small country's northeast. With three divisions of the 2nd Corps attacking side by side, the Canadians liberated countless Dutch towns and reached the sea by April 18th. Second Corps then turned to the west and continued the pursuit of German forces. Earlier, on the 12th, another Canadian force had split from forces on the Rhine and also mounted an assault further west in Holland. In two days of fighting, they cleared Arnhem and help defeat a German force further north at Apeldoorn. The Zuiderzee was reached on the 18th of April. Near month's end, the German forces had been confined to line that ran Wageningen - Amersfoot - North Sea -- beyond any threat to the Allies advance in the east.

A Canadian Cemetery in Holland
12,500 Sons of Canada Would Fall in Europe After D-Day

Eisenhower about this time, had decided to stop offensive operations on humanitarian grounds. The people of Holland were hungry and additional flooding of the lowlands as defensive measure by the opposition would be catastrophic. A truce was signed on April 28th that stopped the fighting in Western Holland and allowed air drops of food stuffs to the starving population. As a result there has been long lasting gratitude of the people of the Netherlands towards Canada.

Canadian National Liberation Monument
Apeldoorn, Netherlands

The end came soon enough. The remaining German forces in Holland would surrender to the First Canadian Army on May 5th. V-E Day would come three days later.

Credits: Most of the information here came from Canadian Governmental websites. In researching this subject, it was shocking to see how many so-called comprehensive histories of the "Crusade in Europe" neglect this chapter of the story.

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