Government of Canada

Government of Canada

May 06, 2010 09:00 ET

The Government of Canada Remembers the Historic Battle of the Scheldt

MIDDELBURG, NETHERLANDS--(Marketwire - May 6, 2010) - The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, today marked the national historic significance for Canada of the Battle of the Scheldt.

"Today we dedicate a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada monument honouring thousands of Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the name of freedom," said Minister Prentice. "The real heroes of the Scheldt were the soldiers who overcame desperate conditions equivalent to the worst horrors of First World War trench-lines."

Minister Blackburn unveiled the commemorative plaque and a map describing the battle at the Sloedam Memorial and was joined by Mr. George R.J. van Heukelom, representative of the province of Zeeland, in the name of the Queen's Commissioner and Mr. Koos Schouwenaar, Mayor of the Municipality of Middelburg, Zeeland, Netherlands.

"The Battle of the Scheldt was a singular battle, an almost entirely Canadian operation that led to the liberation of the Netherlands and contributed to the successful outcome of the war," said Minister Blackburn. "Canadians will forever remember this battle as a triumph over great adversity, and a demonstration of bravery and perseverance."

In October 1944, the 2nd Canadian Corps of the First Canadian Army, with the support of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, was given the task of clearing German forces from both banks of the Scheldt estuary. The Canadian success in opening the Scheldt allowed the Allies to use the vital port of Antwerp, opening the way to the liberation of the Netherlands and the final defeat of Germany in May 1945. The waterlogged conditions in the fierce struggle for the Breskens Pocket, the South Beveland Peninsula and Walcheren Island constituted one of the most difficult but significant Canadian operations of the Second World War. More than seven thousand Canadians would lose their lives in the battles to open the Scheldt.

"This monument reminds current and future generations of an important moment in our history," said Mr. Koos Schouwenaar. "This was a crucial military operation, opening the way to the liberation of the Netherlands. We are extremely grateful to the Canadian soldiers who played a prominent role. The new plaques are a valuable asset to the Sloedam Memorial."

After the plaque unveiling, guests attended a reception where six veterans who were part of the Netherlands Campaign were presented with the "Zeeuwse Herinnerings Medaille 1944-1945" by Mr. George R.J. van Heukelom, provincial representative, in the name of the Queen's Commissioner.

Since its creation in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has played a leading role in the identification and the commemoration of national historic significant places, persons and events that make up the rich tapestry of Canada's cultural heritage. Together, these places, persons and events comprise the System of National Historic Sites of Canada.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of the Environment
    819-997-1441
    or
    Media Relations
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    Parks Canada
    819-994-3023
    or
    Twitter:
    http://twitter.com/JimPrentice