'Walcheren - Operation Infatuate'

Date commenced: 
Wednesday, November 1, 1944


51° 33' 48.6" N, 3° 29' 59.64" E
Operation Infatuate was the combined operations 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 initial assault landings was allotted to 4 Special Service (Commando) Brigade, which had previously consisted of four RM Commando units, but for this operation No.4 Commando, an Army Commando unit, replaced 46 Royal Marine Commando, Royal Marines.

Operation Infatuate 1 - No 4 Commando, including 1 and 8 troops (both French) from No.10 (Inter Allied) Commando, assaulted at Flushing on the eastern side. 
Operation Infatuate 2 - Three RM Commando units, Nos.41, 47, and 48 Commando, with detachments from the Belgian and Norwegian Commandos from No.10 (IA) Commando, assaulted at Westkapelle on the western side, and had a range of sophisticated armoured amphibious vehicles in addition to the conventional landing craft. 
Some Commandos from 2 troop and 3 troops of No.10 (Inter Allied) Commando also took part being dispersed among the units of the main commando force.

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 victory was achieved and the enemy surrendered. During the operation the Brigade suffered a total of almost five hundred casualties but they had the satisfaction of knowing that the port of Antwerp was opened and allied 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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