Operation Infatuate

Location

Walcheren
Netherlands
51° 33' 48.6" N, 3° 29' 59.64" E
Date commenced: 
Wednesday, November 1, 1944

Operation Infatuate was the amphibious assault on the island of Walcheren, off the coast of Holland, the capture of which was essential to the opening up of Antwerp as the major Allied supply port for the final push into Germany. The major role for the assault landings was allotted to 4 Special Service Brigade Brigade, which had previously consisted of four RM Commandos, but for this operation No. 4 (Army) Commando replaced 46 RM Commando.
 
No 4 Commando, including 1 and 8 troops from No 10(IA) Commando,  landed at Flushing. 
 
The three RM Commando units 41, 47, and 48 Commando, with detachments from the Belgian and Norwegian Commandos from No. 10 (IA) Commando, were to land in the Westkapelle area, and had a range of sophisticated armoured amphibious vehicles in addition to the conventional landing craft.
 

No. 4 Commando, after a daring pre-dawn landing and nearly two days of bitter street fighting, succeeded in capturing the port and most of the town before being relieved by the 52nd Infantry Division. They were thus enabled to rejoin the rest of the Brigade, who without air or artillery support, had made a daylight assault landing at Westkapelle, in the face of heavy enemy fire from the formidable gun emplacements built into the sand dune dykes.

For three days, without any room for manoeuvre due to the deliberate flooding of the island by the Germans, the RM Commandos frontally attacked and, one by one, captured the heavily defended strong points sited along the crest of the dykes, before successfully linking up with their comrades of No. 4 who had advanced from Flushing.

After eight days of continuous action, the whole island was captured and the enemy surrendered with many prisoners. Although during that time the Brigade suffered a total of almost five hundred casualties they had the satisfaction of knowing that the port of Antwerp was opened and supplies were being offloaded by the end of the month.

(Source: Major James Dunning's book When Shall Their Glory Fade.)

 

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