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

 

Moerkerke

Moerkerke was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in actions at this town on the night of 13-14 September 1944, as part of the overall battles to clear the Channel Ports.

Overview

The 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, free of the close-in terrain and high force concentrations in Normandy, enjoyed a long advance from Normandy into Belgium alongside the British 2nd Army in the opening weeks of September 1944. On 6 September, the division was organized into two battle groups: STEWART Force and MONCEL Force and tasked with pursuing the retreating German armies. The Canadians were to advance on Eeklo, a town northwest of Ghent while the divisional recce unit, the 12th Manitoba Dragoons, was to reconnoiter the coast. After the battle at Moerbrugge, the Algonquins were ordered ahead to Moerkerke in order to gain a bridgehead over the Leopold Canal.

German Forces

Infanterie Division 245 was mainly responsible for the defence of this area. According to the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War:

At this moment the Leopold (Canal), from the point where it crossed the Bruges-Sluis Canal to the main Knocke road, east of Moerkerke, was held by the 245th German Infantry Division, under Lieut.-General Erwin Sander. This formation is stated to have been reduced to approximately 5000 men and to have lost much equipment, including most of its anti-tank artillery. It nevertheless retained considerable fighting power and, as events were to prove, reserves were available. Sander's left (eastern) flank was protected by the 64th Infantry Division, which was soon to assume responsibility for the entire "pocket" south of the Scheldt.1

The Battle

The Algonquins moved through the bridgehead created by STEWART Force during the Moerbrugge fighting. The belief that the Germans were still in a general retreat was reinforced by the tactical withdrawal of the defenders at Moerbrugge. At Moerkerke, the Leopold Canal and the Canal de Dérivation de la Lys were separated by only 60 feet and it was felt that a surprise crossing of both these major water obstacles would be successful.

Forty assault boats, crewed by soldiers of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, transported the Algonquins across the obstacles, with the entire divisional artillery of the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division as well as the divisional MG company (mortars and machine guns of the New Brunswick Rangers) firing in support.

The two canals - each 90 feet wide - were crossed just before midnight on 13 Sep under light harassing fire. Engineers attempting to bridge the canals were stopped by small arms fire, and at first light, artillery and mortar fire intensified, preventing not only bridging operations but also ammunition resupply attempts. Both battalion headquarters and the Regimental Aid Post of the Algonquins were hit in Moerkerke. A request for aerial resupply was denied due to lack of aircraft. By 1200, a withdrawal order was issued, and a heavy artillery barrage and smoke screen was laid down to cover the move. Enemy troops had infiltrated as far as the dyke separating the canals, and the withdrawal was hampered by small groups of Germans along the way. With most of the boats destroyed by Germans shelling, some men swam back - without equipment. Some 240 men had crossed the bridgehead; 40 were wounded, 66 were taken prisoner, and 28 had been killed.2

The Canadian plan of attack had been to put ashore all four rifle companies of The Algonquin Regiment near the hamlet of Molentje, north of the Leopold. Each company had a fighting strength of 90 men, and made the crossing in assault boats augmented by civilian craft. A ferrying party was also provided by The Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The attack had gone in at 23:30hrs on the 13th, and navigational errors and 20mm gunfire proved hazardous to the venture. Confusion in finding landmark compressed the assault into a narrow bridgehead. Counter-attacks began immediately.

Evidently fully alive to the grave threat which our bridgehead represented to his control of Antwerp and the Fifteenth Army's escape route through Breskens, the enemy took effective counter-measures. When news of the attack reached General Freiherr von und zu Gilsa, commanding the 89th German Corps, he immediately saw Sander, "giving him the strictest instructions that the bridgehead must at all costs be eliminated" and promising him the Corps reserve to help him.

During the early hours of the 14th the opposition to our narrow bridgehead stiffened. The enemy's infantry infiltrated the Algonquins' lines; his mortars and artillery maintained a heavy fire not only on the forward troops but also on the bridge construction and the regimental headquarters. The latter was shelled accurately and repeatedly at successive locations; later the battalion heard that a German sympathizer, complete with wireless set, had acted as observer for the enemy's gunners. By dawn, one of the Algonquin companies had had 75 per cent casualties. Many of the assault boats had been destroyed and shellfire compelled the engineers, after persistent efforts, to suspend work on the bridge. Worst of all, ammunition was running low in the bridgehead; and one attempt after another to ferry new supplies across the canals was frustrated by the storm of fire.
3

By 10:00hrs a fresh German battalion had developed a new counter-attack, and by 11:00hrs the order had been issued by the divisional commander to withdraw the Canadians. Heavy artillery and mortar fire covered their extraction, which was completed at about 14:00hrs on the 14th. During a period of 24 hours, Canadian artillerymen fired 11,000 rounds of ammunition in support of the attempted crossing.

Aftermath

The German divisional commander is quoted at length by Terry Copp:

On Sep (14) the Canadians succeeded in forcing a bridgehead at Moerkerke which, if it had been allowed to develop, would have not only cut short any further evacuation through Breskens, but would have secured the vital ground south of the Scheldt which commanded the estuary and which at this stage the Germans were determined not to give up. When news reached the Corps Commander, du Gilsa, he came down personally to Gen. Sander at Lapscheure giving him the strictest instructions that the bridgehead must at all costs be eliminated, promising him the Corps reserve to help him achieve his task. During this time the division was making every effort to eliminate the bridgehead without extra aid but despite every attempt, the Canadians maintained their precarious foothold. After the meeting between Corps and Divisional commanders and before the Corps reserves could arrive, the Canadians withdrew under cover of the most incredible artillery barrage that Sanders had ever seen. No one was more surprised than he when at the conclusion of this prodiguous effort, instead of renewal of the conflict which he considered was imminent as a result from this fire, he found the enemy had retired and had used this form of cover to evacuate his troops. Not all the Canadians, however, were evacuated and his division succeeded in taking 60 prisoners.4

Aftermath

The German commander had expected a full scale assault and was surprised at both the intensity of Canadian artillery, and the fact that follow up attacks never came. The Canadians had expected no resistance. The Leopold Canal would be the site of another opposed crossing - but that attack would not take place for another month, during the Battle of the Scheldt. The 4th Division moved to the northeast as the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division moved up to fight in the Breskens Pocket.

One soldier of the Algonquins, Corporal R. W. Ellenwood, MM, was killed, nullifying a nomination for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (only two awards for valour could be made posthumously in the Second World War, the Victoria Cross, and a Mention in Despatches). His body was not discovered until 1947.5

Battle Honours

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

Image:4gif.gif 4th Canadian Division

  • 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment)

  • The New Brunswick Rangers

Image:4gif10bde.gif 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Algonquin Regiment

 

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume II: The Victory Campaign. p.361

  2. Copp, Terry A Canadian's Guide to the Battlefields of Northwest Europe (The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Waterloo, ON, 1995) ISBN 096979553X

  3. Stacey, Ibid, p.362

  4. Copp, Ibid, pp.110-111.

  5. Cassidy, G.L. Warpath: From Tilly-la-Campagne to the Küsten Canal (Ryerson Press, Toronto, ON, 1948) PaperJacks Edition 1980 ISBN 0-7701-0147-X p.182

Photo Credit

  • The photo is a Second World War aerial photo, the overprint info comes from Copp, Terry A Canadian's Guide to the Battlefields of Northwest Europe (The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Waterloo, ON, 1995) ISBN 096979553X. It is believed use of this image falls under legitimate fair use.

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