OLD TENISONIANS

Est 1878


The Association of former pupils of Archbishop Tenisons School

Walcheran Island, Holland - 1/8 November 1944


The island of Walcheren, approximately 150 square miles in area, lies at the mouth of the Scheldt River and as of October 1944 was still held by the Germans. It formed a strategic block to the Allies reaching the great port of Antwerp which the Allies had captured two months earlier and from which the rapidly advancing armies could be supplied. Unless Walcheren could quickly be taken the advances would be dangerously slowed.

It would not be an easy victory, for the island, roughly circular, was surrounded by sea walls some thirty feet high, surmounted by coastal batteries and anti-aircraft guns. The German defenders were determined, and well supplied with ammunition and food, sufficient for a long siege. Parts of the sea walls had been breached by Allied bombings and consequently much of the interior, well below sea level, was flooded. Recognizing the nature of the objective, those selected for the assault, were of a calibre that ensure ultimate success.

The attack began on November 1st, 1944 at 09:45 preceded by a bombardment by RAF Mosquito aircraft then later, as it progressed by Spitfires and Typhoons. Offshore, HM Ships Warspite, Erebus and Roberts shelled shore installations.

The landings took place at four points: No. 4 Commando landed on the south coast at the town of Flushing, attacking gun emplacements, barracks, and as they progressed through the town, being engaged in house-to-house fighting. 155 Brigade with the Royal Scots and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers soon joined them and after some severe fighting the town was secured.

On the west coast, Nos. 41, 47 and 48 Royal Marine Commandos had landed on three fronts: Tare Red (Lighthouse), Tare White (The Town of Westkapelle) and Tare Green (Radar Station). The distance from the Lighthouse to the Radar Station was approximately two miles.

Defensive fire was heavy and accurate, with the result that several tank and infantry landing craft were sunk or disabled. Supported by HMS Warspite’s bombardment and RAF Spitfires, 41 Commando (Palmer) and elements of the Belgians and Norwegians of Inter-allied Commando with 30 Armoured Brigade, Royal Engineers Sappers, Medical and Signal units fought their way ashore, quickly overcame the German defences and were within the village outskirts in six minutes. By 11:45 it was in the possession of the Commandos.

Following at H+5, the second wave of 41 Commando (Lt-Col  J. L. Moulton) landed along with 48 Commando and headed towards the Radar station. Finding it vacated they set up a defensive position on the south sea wall to await the  arrival of the other elements of 41 and 48 Commando with their machine guns. Unfortunately the vessels carrying them ashore were at a serious disadvantage in respect to armament. By D+1 the Commando forces had possession of the villages of Domburg,  Zouteland and critical areas of the sea-wall. On November 4th (D+4), Nos. 41,47 and 48 Commandos had linked up with No 4 Commando, but German resistance continued until the 8th, when they surrendered near the village of Veere.

The price paid for Walcheran was high. In eight days, casualties-killed, wounded and missing-totalled 8,000. It was truly a Combined Operation in every sense of the word, for the Navy, Army and Air Force had each played a vital role interdependent on the other for the achievement of the objective. The way to Antwerp was open.


Temporary Brigadier Bernard William Leicester, D.S.O.

Major, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, Acting Colonel Commandant, Royal Marines.

Bar to Distinguished Service Order

For gallantry, leadership and undaunted devotion to duty during the assault on the Island of Walcheren.                L.G.20.02.45


Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Charles Ernest Palmer, R.M.

Captain

Distinguished Service Order

For gallantry, leadership and undaunted devotion to duty during the assault on the Island of Walcheren.           L.G.20.02.45


Commando Gallantry Awards of World War II

Ty Sergeant Charles Leslie Stokell

Ch.x.2754 Corporal RM

Military Medal

For gallantry, leadership and undaunted devotion to duty during the assault on the Island of Walcheren.           L.G.20.02.45





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