Two Resistance men called for us in the last hours of the night's darkness and we set off to begin our wade through the flood water on what proved to be a most hazardous journey. They had made the crossing before and knew how to attempt it, directing our efforts in handling and positioning large lengths of wood which enabled us to reach an area of submerged ground that the four of us could just about manage to stand and at that stage we were half-way across the gap. We stood there for a moment to draw breath, clutching one another to keep balance as the tidal waters swept past us; if we had slipped we would surely have been swept into the Scheldt Estuary! With anxiety we viewed the distance still to be crossed but under the leadership and skill of our two friends of the Dutch Resistance and deft use of those valuable logs -- we made it!

The Brigade Commander issued orders for "A" Company of the 7th/9th RS and a machine-gun platoon of the 7th Manchester Regiment to be transported in Buffaloes and following the route taken by our patrol they had to get into position at the rear of Middelburg ready to attack. They surprised the German garrison by this unexpected approach of amphibious track vehicles crammed full of Jocks, and quickly sent to the General's HQ a 'white flag' party accompanied by a Norwegian officer as interpreter. They enforced the surrender, General Daser handing over his pistol along with his Chief-of Staff's map-case showing all the German troop positions on Walcheren. Later OC "A" Company thoughtfully and kindly presented the map-case to me as a remembrance of my part in the reconnaissance patrol. Our force of eleven Buffaloes moved into the main square of Middelburg and orders given to the German officers to bring their men into the square and pile their armaments. We had taken 2,000 prisoners with a force of 140 men and as the Germans began to realise this there was signs of unrest. However, this was kept subdued during the hours of darkness by a vigilant 'A' Company 7th/9th RS and having positioned well-sited machine-guns of the 7th Manchester Regiment in the four corners of the square. Sadly during the advance over the route the patrol had taken, one Buffalo struck a mine which killed one man and wounded another.

As footnote I add that when I met the OC "A" Company after his epic successful operation, he presented me with the mapcase of the General's Chief-of-Staff, saying: My heartfelt thanks for your splendid and very brave job. Without your recce patrol the day before my 'navy' might still have been wandering about somewhere out there!

In January 2011, Mr Jan H. Wigard, a retired academic librarian and a leading historian on War-time Walcheren <www.wigard.nl> kindly sent me copies of the 7/9th Battalion War Dairies which were written by myself during the action by the Battalion to liberate Flushing and Walcheren. These are available on pages 28, 29, 30, 31.

It is ironic that we were trained for mountain warfare and fought our first battle up to our chest in sea water! We were proud and pleased that at long last we had made a contribution by our part in the liberation of the Scheldt Estuary, regarded as "a victory of the first importance". "Flushing" was awarded as a Battle Honour and proudly takes its place with the Honours of The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), Britain 's oldest infantry regiment raised in 1633.


 


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