History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Calais, 1944

Calais, 1944 was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in the action to take this city during the operations to clear the Channel Ports. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was tasked with taking Calais, after having fought at Boulogne. Despite taking that city at considerable cost, the port facilities had been severely damaged. Allied armies were now moving with great speed into Belgium and towards the German border with France, yet their supplies were still being drawn through the Normandy beachhead.

Even if the port at Boulogne could be repaired quickly, the facilities were useless until German batteries at Cap Gris Nez and Calais were reduced. Calais had many natural and German-built coastal defences, including seven heavy batteries. The garrison of 7,500 men protected these batteries from land attack with concrete bunkers overlooking a flooded landscape, with positions well wired in and mined, and covered by anti-tank guns and artillery.


Click to enlarge

Background

After breaking out of Normandy, Field Marshal Montgomery was "focused on his quest to cross the Rhine" and to that end, the Canadian Army was assigned a "minor role" in the grand scheme of Allied strategy.1 That role was to clear the French and Belgian coast of German fortifications and "remain in the general area Bruges-Calais until the maintenance situation allows...employment further forward."2 Montgomery felt that with enough supplies - and he would need at least one port in the Pas de Calais area to provide that - he could win the war in 1944 with a single thrust over the Rhine. Le Havre and Rouen had, unfortunately for Montgomery, already been allocated to the Americans.

Plans for Operation WELLHIT, the reduction of Boulogne, were developed by Major-General Dan Spry of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, as the 2nd Corps Commander, Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds worked on Operation SWITCHBACK, the plans to reduce the Breskens Pocket, and Operation INFATUATE, a combined land and air operation against Walcheren Island - what the Germans were calling Scheldt Fortress South and Scheldt Fortress North, respectively. General Crerar, commanding 1st Canadian Army, hoped to simply mask Calais - not attack it, but surround it and cut the garrison off, as was being done with other enemy ports - but "the navy insisted that the gun batteries south of the city, including Cap Gris Nez, had to be captured if Boulogne was to be safely used as a port." Simonds ordered the 7th Brigade and the 1st Hussars to probe the Calais defences, "but by the eve of WELLHIT it was evident that Calais-Cap Gris Nez would have to wait until the artillery and specialized armour employed at Boulogne was available" to be employed at Calais as well.3

The 7th Recce Regiment (17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars) had been screening the city since 5 September, and on 10 September the Toronto Scottish Regiment, seconded from 2nd Division for the occasion, joined them in their task. Then the 3rd Division's 7th Infantry Brigade moved in to start clearing the batteries of cross-Channel guns sited at Cape Gris Nez, west of the city.

On the night of 16/17 September, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles with 'A' Squadron (1st Hussars) and the Regina Rifles, with 'B' Squadron (1st Hussars) attacked the heavily fortified gun batteries on Cape Gris Nez. There were four batteries in all, manned by the 242nd Naval Coastal Artillery Battalion; Battery Todt with four 380-mm guns, Battery Grosser Kurfürst - four 280-mm guns, Battery Wissant - four 150-mm guns and Battery Gris Nez with three 170-mm guns. Electrified fences, minefields, anti-tank ditches and concrete bunkers containing anti-tank weapons protected all the positions.

The Canadian attack made no impression.

...The (1st Hussars) Regiment lost six tanks on this day; two to mines and four to tank traps. Three Hussars were killed and one wounded.4

The day after the abortive attack on Cap Gris Nez, the Toronto Scottish, who had taken over positions from Fort Batard (inevitably referred to as "Fort Bastard") to the coast near Oye-Gravelines, had a strange encounter on the opposite end of the Calais perimeter.

During all this time "B" Company had been living a fairly quiet life on the coast to the north. Their HQ became subject to regular attention from a couple of German guns in rear of Marck, and over a period of time they suffered several casualties. Although they were less active than Dog and Charlie Companies to the south, they were no less observant. Each day their OP's reported strong enemy patrols moving out to Markenface Farm, which lay about half way between their positions and Marck. Since the battle for Boulogne was almost over, and it was essential to investigate this odd behaviour along the otherwise quiet front, it was decided to send a fighting patrol, one platoon strong, out to trap the Boche if possible.

In preparation for this operation, recce patrols were sent out for several nights running, but none were able to solve the Markenface riddle.

On the morning of September 18th, Number 6 Platoon, commanded by Lt. Bob Lecky, set out to seize the objective...As anticipated, the Farm was deserted when they arrived and an investigation of the house and surrounding buildings began. As Lt. Lecky was about to search a large concrete bunker, a booby-trap in the door frame exploded, killing him. The sound of the explosion roused the German gunners in Marck and soon round after round of artillery fire was pouring into the area. A heavily armed German infantry platoon rushed to the scene in an effort to re-capture the position, and in a matter of minutes a full-scale, close quarter battle was raging. Two SP guns which had been allocated to the Battalion as additional support crashed into action, returning shell for shell the German heavy fire.

Major Ellis, who commanded Baker Company, rushed forward to personally direct the work of his assault platoon, and within a few seconds of his arrival, found himself lying in the open sniping at running figures a few yards away. The battle by now was a shambles, each man fighting his own individual scrap with the closest Hun, and the Company Commander was unable to rally his forces into an effective group. Therefore he flashed back word for the supporting platoons to come to their assistance. They charged in firing their Vickers from the carriers and in a moment the situation was restored.

Both sides had suffered heavily in proportion to the size of the operation, and after obtaining the required information and attending to the wounded, Major Ellis led his men back to their permanent positions.

This was a comparatively costly operation and why the enemy was prepared to sacrifice his troops in such a minor skirmish is difficult to understand, for it was obvious that a full scale Divisional assault would soon be launched..., and one can but assume that he would require every available man if an effective defence of Calais was planned. It may have been his hope that by keeping the containing perimeter as far back as possible, he would keep the Canadian artillery out of range, at least temporarily.5

The Germans had good reason to be fearful of Canadian artillery; while the tank and infantry attack had been unsuccessful on the 16th, the 3rd Medium Regiment, with a plentiful supply of ammunition, duelled with one of the German batteries on the 16th and while it did not destroy the guns, did manage to silence it by preventing it from firing to sea.6


A 38cm gun of Batterie Todt. Bundesarchiv photograph.

The Plan

On 23 September the remainder of the 3rd Division redeployed from the Boulogne area to Calais; the 8th Brigade to Calais and the 9th Brigade to Cap Gris Nez. The planning for Operation UNDERGO had been developed even as Boulogne was under attack.

Photo reconnaissance had identified 42 heavy gun batteries in the 30 kilometres coastal zone around Calais and the Corps Survey Regiment installed a five microphone sound ranging base and extensive flash spotting posts to help pinpoint locations. Two batteries of 7.2 inch howitzers and two regiments of heavy anti-aircraft guns moved into position on September 21st and began to register the enemy batteries. Since the air observation planes were committed to Boulogne, serious counter-battery work did not take place until the operation began. By then the full weight of the available artillery, eight medium regiments plus the divisional artillery were on grid ready to support the attack.7

Calais was a well-defended city, protected by marsh and flooded ground, the inner city surrounded by an inner ring of fortifications and a network of canals, with a central citadel protected by a moat. The Germans built a series of defensive keeps out to Cap Blanc Nez, seven miles to the west, and had 7,500 men in the garrison determined, according to one history, to fight to the end.8 Another history noted that `The German commandant, Lt-Colonel Ludwig Schroeder, complained that most of his 7,500 troops were ``mere rubbish,` a fact not obvious to the Canadian infantry until the later stages of the battle.``9 In 1940, the British Army had used the flat, open countryside, criss-crossed with canals, to good effect to hold the Germans at bay. In 1944, the Germans added barbed wire, landmines and flooded wide swaths of ground to make movement for an attacker even more difficult.10

The final order for Operation UNDERGO was drafted on 22 September by Lieutenant Colonel Don Mingay, the GSO I of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division,11 having been amended several times as resource allocation was constantly changing. As finally envisioned, the 7th Brigade was to capture or destroy the garrison of the city itself (including the Bellevue Ridge and Coquelles fortified areas) while the 8th Brigade was assigned to neutralize the Escalles-Noire Mottes fortified areas. The 9th Brigade was to assault Cap Gris Nez. The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (of the 8th Brigade) and The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (of the 9th Brigade) were kept in divisional reserve.12

General Spry`s plan was to clear the coastal defences west of the city with two brigades, close up to its perimeter, then mount a concentric attack on every possible approach. The third brigade, when it had completed mopping up in Boulogne, would capture the batteries at Cap Gris Nez. In the meantime these would be screened by smoke from interfering with the attack on Calais. Each phase of the assault would be preceded by bombardments by heavy bombers and artillery and the infantry would be supported by tanks and the specialized armour, `the Funnies,`of Hobart`s 79th Armoured Division.

The heavy bomber preparations began on 20 September, before the capture of Boulogne was complete, when 600 aircraft dropped over 3,000 tons of bombs on Calais` defences. Bad weather prevented another attack until the 24th.13


Click to enlarge

The Battle

With one brigade tasked to capture fortifications at Cap Gris Nez, the remaining two brigades of the 3rd Canadian Division, with British and Canadian tank support and large artillery preparation, assaulted the city, with a smoke screen shielding the action from the batteries at Cap Gris Nez. At 08:15hrs on 25 September, the heavy and medium bombers passed over the positions of the 7th Brigade, and the regimental history of The Canadian Scottish notes that the 7th and 8th brigades attacked at 10:00hrs, after the last bomb had fallen.

Le Régiment de la Chaudière

The Chaudière had a great deal of success on the first day of the battle, taking Cap Blanc and 200 prisoners.

The Chauds secured Escalles and Cap Blanc Nez, employing 3-inch mortars to generate their own smoke screen. When the first pillboxes were brought under fire, white flags emerged and an officer appeared offering to surrender the entire Cap Blanc Nez position if given two hours to arrange it. The garrison seems to have spent the two hours getting drunk and destroying equipment, but they all appeared on schedule to follow instructions `to walk directly towards our lines, both arms in the air,`without arms or helmets.14


Aerial bomb craters, in the vicinity of the battery at Cap Blanc Nez. Canadian Forces Photo Unit photo PMR 84-12

The North Shore Regiment

The North Shore Regiment surrounded Batterie Lindemann at Noires Mottes, the hill dominating the approaches to the sea which fell on the second morning, yielding three large coastal guns and almost 300 more POWs. The approach march was made under cover of the smoke screen masking Cap Gris Nez.

The position had about it all the features that make for hard fighting - every advantage lay with the defenders. The slope leading up to the dugouts was open and devoid of cover as well as being heavily mined. On the other side of the hill leading down to the sea, were large concrete emplacements, mutually supporting. The ground was churned up in an almost unbelievable manner, for the position had been subjected to an almost continuous bombing from R.A.F. heavies for a long period. Enormous craters overlapped each other and not a single road, track or blade of grass remained. So it was plain that after the heights had been gained, armoured support was an impossibility.15

The unit built a sand-table in the schoolhouse at Audembert and tank crews of the 79th Armoured Division rehearsed with platoon officers and NCOs while patrols went out nightly to gather information in the days before the attack. On 25 September, ``A`` and ``B`` Company had a long approach march - their mission was to secure the hilltop while ``D`` Company passed through and took the gun positions. No. 6 Platoon under Lieutenant Harry Hamley was first to get through the German defensive barrier, working closely with a Sherman flail tank. The unit also employed Crocodile flamethrowers and a new weapon called a ``Conga`` (a flexible hose filled with liquid explosive) in support.

By noon, ``B`` company reached the crest of the hill on the left and two platoons of ``D`` Company followed behind. The third platoon of ``D`` Company under Lieutenant Staples followed behind ``A`` Company on the right to try a flanking attack. In the words of one of the officers:

The next 24 hours were possibly the most fantastic of the whole war. Our efforts to get down the slope met with little success. The enemy had given up the crest positions with little opposition but once the initial shock wore off his reactions were quick and effective. An exposure on the seaward slope brought instant and accurate machine gun fire.

My lead sections were making very slow progress so I tried to work some Crocodiles down the slope but only ran into anti-tank fire, and found the craters made by the bombing so enormous the tanks could not manage at all. So dusk found me with the better part of one platoon down the slope 300 yards and three Crocodiles with them. As this was no place for such slow-moving vehicles in the dark, I gave orders for them to pull back to the rear of the hill. Two managed to get back though the enemy anti-tank gun put two nice holes in the trailer of flame fluid towed by one tank as he was sky-lined for brief seconds getting over the crest. The third Crocodile had fallen into a bomb crater and couldn't get out, so I left the forward platoon to protect it and this proved a lucky move.16

The reduction of the strongpoint was eventually arranged when a German prisoner with a Brooklyn accent was captured, who convinced several other Germans to give up. In turn, one of the new prisoners was convinced to act as an emissary to the commander of the strongpoint, who was convinced to surrender 300 men to the North Shores - as ell as a bunker full of steaks and Danish butter.

The Main Attack on Calais

The outline plan for the main attack by the 7th Brigade had been issued to commanders by Brigadier Jock Spragge on 19 September, giving "ample time" for patrolling over the ground in advance of D-Day on 25 September 1944. The commander of the Regina Rifles' Scout Platoon, Lieutenant Louis Bergeron, infiltrated all the way to Escalles on one trip and had been able to report the village empty, the Germans pulling back to their fortifications. The RMR and Royal Winnipeg Rifles also patrolled, the latter gaining valuable information on the defences leading to Vieux Coquelles, a strongpoint on the edge of the flood plain, as well as Fort Nieulay.

The early success of the Chauds and North Shores greatly assisted the 7th Brigade in turn as it attacked the Belle Vue and Coquelles defences, which this ground overlooked. Although the infantry were ably assisted by tanks of the 1st Hussars ("B" Squadron under Major Bill Gordon supported the Royal Winnipeg Rifles while "C" Squadron under Major Bill Robinson accompanied the Regina Rifles with "A" Squadron under Major Brandy Conron in reserve with The Canadian Scottish)17, the infantry were disappointed to find that heavy bombing either partially or completely missed their targets in these sectors.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles met stern resistance about Vieux Coquelles; "but after a bitter close quarter fight the resolute attackers finally drove the enemy from his bombproof concrete shelters". Pressing forward towards Calais, they encountered troublesome pockets of resistance, mines and snipers, while the enemy's artillery began to find the range. Another fierce struggle ensued at the village of Coquelles--"the determined enemy had to be driven back house by house"--but, with the "always ready and efficient" support of the artillery, the Winnipegs were able to consolidate on the objective late on the 25th. In the meantime The Regina Rifle Regiment fought its way down the forward slope of the ridge west of Coquelles with the help of the 6th Armoured Regiment. The enemy resisted strongly and late in the afternoon Brigadier Spragge ordered the 1st Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment, to assist the Reginas. The Scottish diarist recorded that they trod carefully, "as there were many minefields, and a man makes only one wrong step with them". By the following morning* they were advancing along the coast road towards Fort Lapin and the north-western outskirts of Calais.

The 3rd Division had successfully penetrated the outer western defences.
18

Among the attacking infantry at Calais were soldiers of The Royal Montreal Regiment. A company of the regiment had been tasked as the 1st Canadian Army Headquarters Defence Company; on 17 September soldiers of the unit went into battle for the first time with The Regina Rifle Regiment - three sections of 10 men each had taken part in the attack on Cape Gris Nez. Other men participated in patrols in advance of the attack on 25 September, when the Company was attached to the Regina Rifle Regiment for the attack on Belle Vue Ridge.

Major Lowe wrote, ``...The attack of the Regina Rifles, to which we were attached, was to be done in two phases; `C` and `D` Companies of the Reginas were to take the first objective, with the R.M.R. Company passing through to take the final objective some 1,500 yards farther on. The Company was to march about five miles to the Forming-Up Point and was to be there at 1030 hours.``

On approaching the F.U.P., heavy shelling was encountered and the Company was halted while contact was made with Lieut.-Col. Mathewson (sic), the Battalion (C.O.) From a ditch in the forward area, the Reginas` colonel was directing the advance as his two companies moved in. Meanwhile, as Major Lowe found on arrival, the ditch was the target of persistent shell fire. After a time, the Battalion Commander moved forward, leaving Major Lowe and his runner, Pte. Bedore, to await further orders.19

The first phase of the Regina Rifles' attack involved "A" Company crossing an open wheat field on 25 September to secure the village of Peuplingue, then the Belle Vue Ridge. The decision was made to use heavy bombers to crater the field in order to provide cover, but the bombers had trouble with heavy winds in the target area and several were shot down. The Regina Rifles' history notes that at one time 13 Halifax and Lancaster bombers were observed to be in flames in the sky. In the event, "A" Company managed to cross the field and secure Peuplingue at at 10:30hrs on 25 September, forming a base for "D" Company (on the left) and "C" Company (on the right) to pass through and assault the concrete fortifications on the ridge. The Royal Montreal Regiment, in place of "B" Company, was to pass through and secure what was believed to be a German headquarters.

The attack on Bellevue Ridge was carried out over gently rolling ground, bare of cover, which gave the Germans perfect fields of fire from their emplacements high on the crest of the ridge. As a result, the attacking companies of the Johns came under heavy shell fire which lasted all morning. The German fire intensified to the point that at 1330 hours both D and C Companies, fighting hard for their objectives, had to call on support from the tanks. Both flails and Crocodiles (flame throwing Churchills), were used in the assault. After the first few pillboxes had been captured, the Germans began to withdraw and the Montrealers began the assault on their objective. With the Battalion objective secured, its tasking was over. However, the cost had been high. The Reginas had suffered 10 killed, 61 wounded, and two missing in action. Forty-one German prisoners were taken. After the battle, it was found that some of the emplacements that the Battalion had attacked were close to 300 feet deep. The bombing and artillery fire had left them virtually undisturbed. It perhaps would have taken at least a brigade to dislodge them if the Germans had decided to put up a more spirited resistance.20

The Canadian Scottish, in reserve, did not go into action until late in the day.

(The two brigades) made good progress  against stern opposition so that by six o'clock in the evening the Canadian Scottish, carried by the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron, started off in a cloud of dust toward the wooded area atop Belle Vue ridge. Enemy guns bracketed the road with shell fire all along the route, but crouched behind the steel sides of the carriers, the companies arrived without casualties just before dark. The Regina Rifles, then still under heavy shell fire, were holding the ridge so the Scottish "debussed" and dug in on the same ground. That evening, after conferring with the C.O. of the Reginas, Lt-Col. Crofton learned that their "B" Company was located at La Grand Cour farm, about 2,000 yards north-east and thus closer to the coast. He decided, therefore, that "A" and "C" Companies should move up to this farmhouse and attack Oyez Farm and Fort Lapin during the night, using the forward Reginas' position as a firm base. After daylight "D" Company, commanded by Major D.V. Pugh, and "B" Company, commanded by Major E.G. English, would then leap-frog to seize Le Cran and Fort Nieulay. The weather, however, had deteriorated during the evening and got worse as "A" and "C" Company commanders set out to reconnoitre the ground.21

The weather was extremely foul with high winds off the Channel and driving rain with "almost impenetrable blackness", in the words of the C.O. of The Canadian Scottish. Two reconnaissance groups tried to follow a track on the map that did not exist in reality, several times accidentally finding their way back to the Tac HQ of the Regina Rifles. Further attempts to find the start line for the next day's action led to the recce party finding their way to the objective in the dark, after which all of "A" Company was retrieved and brought through a gap in the German line. Sangatte was thus secured by first light. The next morning, a platoon of "A" Company cleared out an enemy blockhouse while a few rounds fired towards Noires Mottes ridge induced the crews of two 40.6cm guns to surrender in a "half-inebriated" state. "C" Company, held up temporarily by machine gun posts, arrived at Sangatte and the two companies began to work their way along the coast.

It was a slow, methodical task since none of the blockhouses could by by-passed and even those cleared out later caused a bit of trouble when the enemy infiltrated back into them. Near Le Cran "C" Company was held up by an enemy flame-thrower but this was taken out and the advance continued against heavy small arms, mortar and dual-purpose gun fire which swept the sand dunes and narrow roadway over which the men travelled. Tactically it was an awkward business, like trying to hit a man on the jaw with two extended fingers. The well-tried "fire-and-movement" tactics, however, were proving their worth.22

At 11:00hrs on the 26th the two companies reorganized near Oyez Farm, laid down artillery, then sent out a platoon apiece to take the farm. The action was successful, yielding prisoners for the battalion POW cage at Sangattes, and two platoons from "A" Company were pushed forward to Fort Lapin and les Baraques. The latter was reached by 19:00hrs, and it was seen to have been flattened by aerial bombing. One platoon passed through the remains to secure the east edge while the other platoon turned west and attacked Fort Lapin in a "brisk" action that yielded between 50 and 60 more German prisoners. Only one fort was taken, however, and it was discovered that there were many more. Both companies withdrawn due to an imminent bombing raid being proposed, and they were pulled back to a point at Trouille Farm, two and a half miles to the east of Sangatte. Two sections of the 3-inch mortar platoon opted to sit on the safety line, ahead of the rifle companies, happy with their positions.23

 

Rifleman N.R. Menard of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada displaying detonators clipped to the demolition charges on a bridge, Calais, France, 1 October 1944. 

       

Lieutenant M.G. Aubut and Private C.D. Walker of The North Shore Regiment examining a German cross-Channel gun, Sangatte, France, 26 September 1944.

27 September

The next phase of the battle was a three-pronged assault devised by Brigadier Spragge; The Canadian Scottish were to capture Fort Lapin, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles were to attack Fort Nieulay, along the main road near Grevière, and The Regina Rifles were to attempt passage into Calais itself from the south-east.24 Bomber Command again paved the way, with 342 Lancasters dropping 1718 tons of bombs as well as, according to the Canadian Scottish regimental history, safe conduct passes and propaganda leaflets.

Inland, on the right flank of the Scottish, the Winnipegs attacked Fort Nieulay, whose high walls "dominate the flat country to the south, the highway [to Boulogne], and the approaches to the west". Shell-proof pillboxes had been built into the walls of the fort, which was surrounded by a wide ditch. At first the defences resisted strenuously; but, in the graphic language of the Winnipegs' account, "the attack was pushed near enough to the Fort to enable flamethrowers to be used and after warming the enemy up a little the white flag was seen hoisted and hundreds of Germans poured out through the open doors with hands up".25

"A" Company of the Reginas set out through flooded terrain - up to arm-pit deep - into the factory suburb of Les Fontinettes.

Using Frethun as a base, Charlie company was sent down the railway track toward the perimeter defences after our Pioneers and a detachment of Engineers had cleared a narrow lane as the embankment was covered with mines. This track was the only dry approach. When the Montrealers started down the same track, bursts of machine-gun fire laced up and down making movement impossible.26

The aerial bombardment had lasted from 08:30hrs to 11:00hrs on the 27th; The Canadian Scottish did not attack until afternoon, when they were ready to move forward with armour support and advance once more on Fort Lapin. During the attack, the Forward Observation Officer's wireless set stopped functioning, and the FOO was unable to call down fire support. Despite friendly tank fire from Trouille, and later closer support when targets in the forts were observed to be on fire and the tanks moved up, the infantry was unable to reach the objective due to high wind blowing the smoke cover away. The decision was made to wait for dusk and embark on a silent approach. A platoon of "A" Company worked forward under heavy automatic fire and barbed wire, blasted into a German bunker with grenades, and induced a surrender. A second platoon was able to move up and begin clearing other fortifications. The garrison commander surrendered - upset at surrendering to Major W.H.V. Mathews rather than a general officer - and the remaining platoon pressed on with "C" Company to take les Baraques; 150 prisoners were the total for both companies. Moreover, a firm base, along with Fort Nieulay, now in the hands of the Winnipeg Rifles, had been created to continue the attack east on Calais itself.27

"B" and "D" Companies were moved up to prepare for an assault on the citadel inside Calais proper. Elements of "B" Company had already been providing cover fire to engineers clearing mines and filling craters on the coast road; some of these mines had in fact been booby-trapped naval shells, reportedly "so powerful that they blew two Sherman tanks in half on the first day of the attack." The plan for the attack into the city itself was for No. 3 Platoon of the 6th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, to provide kapok bridging equipment and canvas assault boats for a crossing of the canal that the Canadian Scottish had fought their way to the west bank of, a task now made possible with the coast road cleared. On the night of 27-28 September a 90-foot bridge section was constructed at les Baraques and brought up under cover of darkness, with assault boats, to a point a few hundred yards east of the citadel.28

The attack did not go well; "D" Company headed east from les Baraques, then south other ditches and craters, making for the crossing point over the canal. "Unfortunately the assault boats had all been holed by artillery fire, but it was hoped some means of crossing the canal would be found on the spot to replace them." Waiting up ahead at the crossing point was a small reconnaissance party under Lieutenant Hobden, on a small island of land almost entirely surrounded by canals due west of the citadel. As they waited for "D" Company to approach, an enemy patrol of ten men passed by them, revealing that a bastion north-east of the citadel (Bastion 11) thought to be unoccupied was in fact in German hands.

"B" Company, having followed hard behind "D", was carrying the bridge to the canal between les Baraques and the island. Enemy tanks at Bastion 11, watching the Canadians approach, held their fire until they had a good target, then laced into the company, demolishing the kapok bridge and cutting off the attacking companies from each other. Half of "B" Company and half of "D" Company were pinned down by heavy machine gun and mortar fire from Bastion 11 north of the canal; the remainder were cut off on the island.

"D" Company Headquarters and the platoons from "D" and "B" Companies dug in or used bomb craters for shelter. The company was very close to the enemy, and when daylight came they were completely pinned down, for any attempt to move brought withering fire on them from the bastion on their left, the citadel in front, and from enemy positions on their right. The battalions was now in a rather sticky position.29

28 September

If the Canadian Scottish were disheartened at their new situation, the Germans were far from smug:

By 28 September Lt.-Col. Schroeder's situation was desperate. His troops' morale was low and desertions were numerous. Moreover, he was embarrassed by a large civilian population (some 20,000) which had refused to leave the city before operations began. And on the morning of the 28th Bomber Command attacked again, this time with 194 aircraft. That afternoon a Civil Affairs officer at Ardres heard that the German commander was "about ready to consider surrendering". A message was sent to him on behalf of General Spry offering to meet him at Le Pont sans Pareil, north of Ardres, at 10 a.m. the next morning. The Germans accepted.30

In the meantime, "A" Company of the Canadian Scottish, the only rifle company with freedom of movement, captured a German blockhouse beyond Fort Lapin, and eased the pressure on "C" Company. "D" and "B" Company discovered their positions rested on an old landfill, remains of which German shelling brought to the surface, making conditions even worse.

Truce

 In the evening, word of the rumoured truce became official at noon on the 29th, and orders came down not to fire unless fired upon. Neither side was permitted to regroup, and the Germans were given until noon on September 30 to carry out the arrangement of evacuating civilians from city. A small German patrol was captured trying to make contact with Fort Lapin during the truce, and a Canadian medical orderly was permitted to evacuate wounded Germans back to Canadian lines. Major Pugh investigated a long concrete building to the rear of his company's area, finding it contained a railway gun, before being fired on and beating a hasty retreat. On the night of 29/30 September, one of the cut-off platoons tried to break out and worked their way to the railway gun building., where 105 Germans were rounded up. They were hastily interrogated, and a route through a swamp was laid on to take them back to the Canadian battalion HQ, though waist-high water, past a German mine field. The company also searched the German quarters and discovered rations, having not had food supplied to them for two days. When the company arrived at battalion HQ, they were informed that a final large scale attack was being laid on to finally take Calais.31

During the truce period, while the unfortunate people of Calais streamed out of the city by the eastern roads, to be received and looked after by our Civil Affairs staff, General Spry issued his orders for the final assault. Two hours after the expiration of the truce, the Queen's Own Rifles and the Camerons were to make a well-supported diversionary attack from the east, while the 7th Reconnaissance Regiment maintained strong fighting patrols on the city's southern perimeter. Then in the second phase the 7th Brigade would make the main effort from the west, opening the road from Coquelles and destroying or capturing the garrison.32

Final Attack

The Regina Rifles' regimental history is very succinct:

On September 30 a terrific artillery and fighter-bomber attack began which was to be a prelude to the main effort. This show of force was too much, by 1315 hours we received reports that they were surrendering in masses to the Queen's Own Rifles and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa who had been containing the city on the north. We were ordered to attack at once and Colonel Matheson with the intelligence officer started out to tactical headquarters in an amphibious jeep. The jeep sank.

Objectives were rapidly occupied and by early evening the prisoners totalled were three hundred and seventy-two including nine officers. It was all over but the shouting. Company areas in the city were searched and occupied. The battalion's vehicles had to travel ten miles around the water in order to find a route into the city.33

The report of Major Mathews, written in October 1944, described the view from the Canadian Scottish perspective:

Inasmuch as international conventions permit no regrouping of forward troops during the period of the armistice it was not possible even to withdraw the two companies whose positions were so isolated. Prior to the parlay, however, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, the reserve battalion of 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade, had already stationed themselves on the eastern perimeter of CALAIS, and plans were now formed to launch an attack from that sector on 30 Sep, when the armistice had expired. Their intention was to capture or destroy all enemy up to the line of the canal just east of grid line 89. Another massive air attack and an extensive artillery programme were prepared to lend weight to the final blow. While this attack was in progress 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade was to eliminate enemy posts in front of its battalion positions prior to the resumption of the main assault against the city. In this second phase 1st Canadian Scottish Regiment was to capture CALAIS NORD; Royal Winnipeg Rifles and Regina Rifles were to capture CALAIS SUD.

At the same time Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa were to clear eastern CALAIS to the line of the next canal. For 1st Canadian Scottish Regiment this meant that "A" Company, being the only unrestricted sub-unit, should first capture the bastion and that after dark all companies should surge forward into CALAIS. At 1200 hours, 30 Sep, the attack was begun. "A" Company sent a platoon under Lieutenant Milton to the right into the bastion, aide by Crocodiles. With this support they were successful in breaking into the bastion area and proceeded to clear it. Amongst its earthworks — relics of an older fort—the enemy had constructed dug-in concrete emplacements.

During this time smoke was laid between the bastion and the fort at 854787. When it was observed that the first platoon had achieved partial success on the right, a second platoon, under Lieutenant Chambers, attacked the fort on the left. It was cleared quickly so that Lieutenant Chambers was able to join Lieutenant Milton in the bastion where fighting was still going on. This too was soon captured. With its fall a succession of white flags appeared in a long line from enemy posts right up to FORT RISBAN. In the bastion "A" Company hoisted its own flag, presented by the Princess Royal, above the swastika, thereby offending many Germans, as it later appeared. The CO came up and decided to exploit the success thus gained, without waiting for darkness. "C" Company was ordered to advance through "A" Company. This it did, crossing by the railway bridge to the citadel, and freeing "D" and "B" Companies, who had been pinned there for so long. All three companies now continued to move into CALAIS NORD, which was thoroughly demolished. As a final measure "C" Company crossed the avant port by the bridge at 875789 to clear the quay to the north. At its tip was a fort still in enemy hands, whose commander, while ready to surrender, insisted on doing so to the CO. This was arranged and at 0300 hours, 1 October 1944, the German commander and his men departed as prisoners of war. Lieutenant-Colonel Schroeder had already surrendered to Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, and Regina Rifles and Royal Winnipeg Rifles had occupied CALAIS SUD, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa had advanced to the  line of the canal which was their objective. The capture of CALAIS was complete.34

Cap Gris Nez

While the truce played out at Calais, the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, launched a "skilful and inexpensive" operation on the guns at Cap Gris Nez, where guns powerful enough to reach England had been endangering lives not only in the Dover Straits, but also in Dover itself.

The German positions at Cape Gris Nez were manned by the 242nd Naval Coastal Artillery Battalion. They comprised three main batteries: Battery Todt, at Haringzelles, with four 380-mm. guns; Battery Grosser Kurfurst, at Floringzelle, mounting four 280-mm., and Battery Gris Nez, near the western tip of the Cape itself, with three 170-mm. A fourth, Battery Wissant, at the village of that name, with four 150-mm. guns, had been overrun earlier by the 7th Brigade. Both the Todt and Grosser Kurfurst guns had ranges of over 25 miles; the latter and Gris Nez could fire landward. These massive installations were well protected against direct assault by a complex system of minefields, electrified fences, reinforced bunkers and anti-tank positions supported by numerous machine-guns and field pieces.

The R.A.F. Bomber Command made two heavy attacks on the batteries before the infantry went in. On 26 September 532 aircraft attacked; this raid and the simultaneous one on Calais dropped 3648 tons of bombs between them. On 28 September, the day before the 9th Brigade operation, 302 aircraft dropped 855 tons on the Gris Nez positions. No doubt these attentions contributed materially to the success of the assault on the 29th. The operation was mainly the work of two battalions. On the right, The Highland Light Infantry of Canada advanced against the Grosser Kurfurst and Gris Nez batteries; on the left, The North Nova Scotia Highlanders took out Battery Todt. The infantry were supported by "B" Squadron of the 6th Armoured Regiment, together with Flails, Crocodiles and AVREs of the 79th British Armoured Division. Artillery support was provided by the 14th Field Regiment R.C.A. and mediums of the 9th Army Group, Royal Artillery. The battalions had carefully examined the ground. Lt.-Col. D. F. Forbes of the North Nova Scotias, an almost legendary commanding officer, had led a reconnaissance whose boldness can be judged by the story, later apocryphally told, that it culminated in his knocking on the steel door of one of the casemates and inquiring the strength of the garrison.

The supporting artillery opened fire at 6:35 a.m. on the 29th and ten minutes later the infantry and armour moved forward. Tanks were impeded by minefields and extensive craters resulting from the bombing; but Flails cleared paths through the mines and AVREs filled anti-tank ditches with fascines. On the northern flank the H.L.I. met little opposition. "The barrage crept ahead of the troops and was very effective in keeping the enemy's heads down. As soon as our troops got into the enemy positions the white flags started popping up and a stream of prisoners of war started to flow back to the PW cage."

By 10:30 a.m. the H.L.I. had captured all four guns of Grosser Kurfurst and, during the afternoon, they overran Battery Gris Nez. The diarist of a squadron of the 141st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (The Buffs), which supported the H.L.I. with Crocodiles, described what he called the "last writhings" of the guns of one battery. "One, the last to fire, with Canadian Infantry actually on the revolving turret fired one shell wildly out to sea, another in the direction of Dover and one more inland before sappers could put it out of action with hand-placed charges." This was presumably the very last shot fired at Dover. Similar success attended the efforts of the North Nova Scotias against the southern defences. The Canadians were upon Battery Todt before the defenders realized what had happened. Afterwards the battalion commander described the technique employed against one of the formidable gun positions:

An AVRE was brought up near Number 3 gun and commenced to pound its concrete casemate with petards, while the infantry threw grenades into its open front. Against the solid walls the petards had little real effect, but they achieved penetration through the window slits, and in any event their shattering detonation produced a notable moral result.

By mid-morning the entire battery was in our hands. The North Nova Scotias completed their share of the operation, with notable assistance from Flails, when they struggled through craters and minefields to the coast and captured the local German headquarters at Cran-aux-Oeufs.

The two battalions suffered only 42 casualties between them, including eight killed, and took some 1600 prisoners. That night, for the first time in four years, Dover was safe from the menace of the enemy's artillery. A flag which had flown over Battery Todt was sent by General Spry to the Mayor of Dover. Brigadier Rockingham, in the act of congratulating his men on their victory, was able to point out to sea, where minesweepers were already at work clearing a channel into Boulogne harbour.

Tank support had come from the British 79th Armoured Division, as well as "B" Squadron of the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars).

The British supplied flail tanks to beat a path through the minefields, Crocodiles to burn out the occupants of the bunkers and AVREs to (reduce) the concrete strongholds of the gun crews. With the North Nova Scotia Highlanders plus 1st and 4th Troops on the left and the Highland Light Infantry with 2nd and 3rd Troops on the right, the attack went in. It took all day for the infantry to fight their way through the defences, but by nightfall the batteries were all in Canadian hands and, contrary to most people's fears, not a single Hussar tank had been lost.35

The Canadian Army's official history noted that the final count of prisoners taken at both Calais and Cape Gris Nez was 9128, with those from Cape Gris Nez alone numbering "about 1600".36

Aftermath

By 0900 hours on 1 October, Calais surrendered. The 7,500 man garrison had been reduced for a cost of only 300 Canadian casualties. Here too, though, the port facilities had been badly damaged - a major factor for the Allies who were still trying to break out of the Normandy bridgehead.

With the conclusion of fighting for the channel ports, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division began to move into Belgium, and participation in the Battle of the Scheldt. With the failure to open significant working port facilities, the need to open the water route into Antwerp had become acute.

Battle Honours

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Calais, 1944" for participation in these actions:

Image:1armygif.gif 1st Canadian Army

  • The Royal Montreal Regiment

Image:2tankbde.gif 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)

Image:3gif7bde.gif 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

  • The Regina Rifle Regiment

  • The Canadian Scottish Regiment

Image:3gif8bde.gif 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

  • Le Régiment de la Chaudière

  • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

Image:3gif9bde.gif 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Highland Light Infantry of Canada

  • The North Nova Scotia Highlanders

Notes

  1. Copp, Terry "Canadian Operational Art: The Siege of Boulogne and Calais" The Canadian Army Journal Issue 9.1, Spring 2006 p.29

  2. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War: Volume III: The Victory Campaign: The Operations in North-west Europe 1944-45 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1960) p.324. One presumes these are Field Marshal Montgomery's words, but Stacey cites only a Montgomery directive, and the file "M 523, Gen. Crerar's file GOC-in-C 1-0."

  3. Copp, Ibid, p.32

  4. McNorgan, Michael R. The Gallant Hussars: A History of the 1st Hussars Regiment 1856-2004 (The 1st Hussars Cavalry Fund, Aylmer, ON, 2004) ISBN 0-9694659-1-2 p.186. Some references refer to "Cape" Gris Nez, the French spelling is "Cap" Gris Nez.

  5. Grant, D.W. Carry On: The History of The Toronto Scottish Regiment (M.G.) 1939-1945 (Toronto, ON, 1949) pp.101-102

  6. Williams, Jeffery The Long Left Flank: The Hard Fought Way to the Reich, 1944-1945 (Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, ON, 1988) ISBN 0-7737-2194-0 pp.73-74

  7. Copp, Ibid, p.41

  8. McKay, A. Donald Gaudeamus Igitur (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005)  pp.189-190

  9. Williams, Ibid, p.74

  10. Copp, Terry Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe 1944-1945 (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON, 2006) ISBN 978-0-9522-0 pp.75-76

  11. Ibid, p.78 - Copp only identifies him as "a senior staff officer" but Blatherwick and Halliday's citation for his MBE notes that "This officer was appointed as General Staff Officer Grade I, 3 Canadian Infantry Division in January 1944, immediately prior to the planning period for the invasion of France." Blatherwick, John and Hugh Halliday. Courage & Service: Second World War Awards to Canadians (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON) ISBN 1894581229

  12. Copp, Ibid, p.78

  13. Williams, Ibid, p.75

  14. Copp, Ibid, p.78

  15. Bird, Will R. North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment (Brunswick Press, Fredricton, NB, 1963) p.426

  16. Ibid, pp.426-428

  17. McNorgan, Ibid, pp.187-188

  18. Stacey, Ibid, pp.348-350

  19. Fetherstonhaugh, R.C. The Royal Montreal Regiment 1925-1945 (Gazette Printing Company Ltd., Montreal, PQ, 1949) pp.176-177

  20. Mein, Stewart A.G. Up the Johns! The Story of The Royal Regina Rifles (Turner-Warwick Publications Inc., North Battleford, SK, 1992) ISBN 0-919899-27-7 -p.124

  21. Roy, Reginald H. Ready for the Fray (Deas gu Cath): The History of The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) (Bunker to Bunker Publishing, Calgary, AB, 2002) ISBN 1-894255-11-9 pp.320-321

  22. Ibid, p.322

  23. Ibid, p.323

  24. Copp, "Canadian Operational Art", Ibid, p.44

  25. Stacey, Ibid, p.351

  26. Brown, Gordon and Terry Copp Look to Your Front...Regina Rifles: A Regiment at War: 1944-45 (Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001) ISBN 0-9688750-0-9 p.130

  27. Roy, Ibid, pp.323-324

  28. Ibid, pp.324-325

  29. Ibid, p.326

  30. Stacey, Ibid, p.351

  31. Roy, Ibid, p.328

  32. Stacey, Ibid, p.351

  33. Brown, Gordon and Terry Copp Look to Your Front...Regina Rifles: A Regiment at War: 1944-45 (Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001) ISBN 0-9688750-0-9 p.130

  34. Mat(t)hews, W.H.V. "Assault on Calais by Major W.H.V. Matthews, MC and Bar, Officer Commanding, "A" Company, 1st Canadian Scottish Regiment to Historical Officer, 19 October 1944", article in Canadian Military History, Volume 3, Issue 2

  35. McNorgan, Ibid, p.189

  36. Stacey, Ibid, pp.352-354


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