The battlefield tour Delfzijl pocket began at Delfzijl Station. We were first greeted with coffee and listened to the introduction by our guide Jol Stoppels who told us about the Canadian advance from Juno Beach in Normandy in June 1944, the Battle of the Scheldt, October / November 1944 to the advance in the Northern Netherlands in April 1945.
 
On Sunday 16 oktober 2016 we took part in a battefield tour with theme: Delfzijl-Pocket Southern sector, organised by Battlefield Tours. We followed the advance of the Canadian army through Niewolda, Woldendorp, the harbour of Termunterzijl, where the German army tried to escape to Emden, leaving many stolen items, Heveskes where only the church is left to make way for expension of the Delfzijl industry that was never realized, through Batterie Fiemel near Termunten to Farmsum. Here was the final surrender by the German Festungscommandant on 2 May 1945. Despite their hopeless position mid-April the Germans were not intended  to give up the port of Delfzijl without fight. On the contrary, it was Festung Delfzijl, which meant that the port of Delfzijl should be defended untill the last man. In Delfzijl units of Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine en Luftwaffe were stationed.

On 11 april 1945 the Polish Armoured Division under the comman of General  Maczek liberated Musselkanaal and Stadskanaal. On 16 April 1945 the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division had liberated the city of Groningen after four days of battle. But different from what was expected tough fight had to be conducted to liberated the northern part of Groningen including Delfzijl.

Picture of ARS Collection: the liberation of Stadskanaal on 12 april 1945. A Polish tank is driving here in front of the house of my grandparents at Ceresstraat 18 at Stadskanaal.
 
The Germans had firmly entrenched in Delfzijl. Large areas north of the drainage canal and south of the Damsterdiep were inundated by opening the sea locks. So the Canadians could only on the south and (southeast) and advance through the northwest. In these areas were minefields, machine gun nests and artillery positions include tank ditches, trenches, barbed wire and roadblocks constructed to slow the advance and protect the port. The Germans also had an "outer perimeter" or outer defense line defined therein to carry out any serious defense of Delfzijl. This line, consisting of a barbed wire fence with trenches, roughly from the Point Reide through Woldendorp, Wagenborgen, Meedhuizen, Appingedam, Jukwerd, Bierum and Hoogwatum to the coast. The battle was characterized by fierce and protracted battles. Delfzijl Pocket was heavily defended and was therefore seen as strategically important by the Germans. However, this applied also to allies. The port could, after the liberation, serving as port for food to supply the population after the 1944-1945 famine. In additon Delfzijl was important to capture Emden. The for coastal batteries   in and around Delfzijl (in Nansum, Delfzijl (ttwo pieces on the north west side of the harbor), Fiemel / Termunten and Dollard Sd / Carel Coenraadpolder) the port of Emden protected and the Ems, which makes this German port potentially remained threatening the Allied advance into northern Netherlands and Germany. In total, 62 Canadian soldiers killed and there were 180 wounded. The losses on the German side are unknown.

Composition 5th Armoured Division: The 5th Canadian army division existed at the time of operation Canada from the following army units

  • 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade
    • 2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians))
    • 5th Amroured Brigade (8th Princess Louise's (New Brunswick) Hussars)
      Major-Generall B.M. Hoffmeister in a Sherman-tank, 23 mei 1944
    • 9th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Dragoons)
    • The Westminster Regiment
  • 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade
    • 11th Independent Machine Gun Company
    • The Perth Regiment
    • The Cape Breton Highlanders
    • The Irish Regiment of Canada
    • The Governor General's Horse Guards
  • Other units
    • 17th Field Regiment, RCA
    • 8th Field Regiment (Self-Propelled), RCA
    • 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA
    • 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA
    • 5th Canadian (Armoured) Divisional Signals

    De commander of the division was Major-General  Bertram Meryl (Bert) Hoffmeister (15 mei 1907 - 4 december 1999). As thanks for his efforts during the liberation of the Netherlands Hoffmeister distinguished as Grand Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau.

More about Operation "Canada" Delfzijl Pocket attack on Delfzijl by the 5th Canadian Armoured Divisie 21 April until 2 May1945 on Battlefieldtours.nu

 

Dollard Sd at Carel Coenradpolder. At the bottom, on the embankment, stands the two artillery positions of the Germans. Top left of the storage for ammunition and in the middle the sports ground.
 
Nieuwolda
 

The 1st Polish Armoured Division was assigned to the 2nd Canadian Corps. During the first stop of the Battlefield Tour, we assist the church in Nieuwolda, where we are told about the operations of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. At the entrance to the church at the P. G. Cremer 14, is a plaque Polish soldiers. The plaque under the names of other Polish liberators, and the arms of the Polish First Armored Division. The text on the plaque made in both Dutch and Polish.
We walk across the cemetery Nieuwolda to view the war graves.
General Cemetery Nieuwolda contains the joint grave of seven airmen from the Commonwealth who died on April  23 april 1944.


At the municipal cemetery in Nieuwolda is one Dutch war grave.
It is the grave of:
Berend Klaas Bosma, Farmer, member resistance, deceased in Anloo, 18-04-1945, 45 years.

Our guide tells us about the progress of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division through the Groningen countryside. The advance was hampered by bad weather, poor radio links and little coverage by the open landscape with many ditches, canals, lakes and flooded areas.
Our guide shows us a Canadian and German helmet. This offered more protection.
 
Woldendorp
 
At the end of Worls War II Woldendorp came under fire. Canadian and Polish troops then tried to prevent German soldiers fled through the Point Reide to Germany. Dozens killed and more than a hundred houses destroyed were the war. The monumental church was badly damaged.
In the morning of 28 april 1945 Canadians were trying to make a quick end to the chaotic situation in Woldendorp. While the rain pouring from the sky was falling, they purified the village of the last Germans. Here the Germans also did a second attempt to attack the village. According to the German attack was the best defense, so there were many casualties on the Germans. The shells of "Batterie Termunten" did do their destructive work, Woldendorp was badly damaged.
Traces of war in the cemetery around the church of Woldendorp. By shelling damaged gravestones.
On24 april the Canadian Scottish Regiment in Wagenborgen was relieved by the Irish Regiment of Canada that had cleared the village of the last Germans. On the next day the regiment had liberate Schaapbulten. After that the Canadians marched to the north through Kloosterlaan. In the early morning of 28 april the Irish Regiment continued its advanc. Near Heveskesklooster ran a company on the outer barbed wire and came under fire. Still they succeeded in capturing this village at dawn and go into position. In the afternoon around five o'clock from out Heveskes the Germans did a counterattack. With support of their artillery, mortars and machine guns the Canadians repulsed the attack. But on the eastside of Heveskes abbey hit some of them into a corner. They appeared to be surrouned by Germans. Some succeeded to escape, thirteen men were captured by the Germans.
 
Heveskes
 
We are standing near the church of Heveskes. The village is no more. Fallen prey to the expansionism of the industry of Delfzijl.Ten prooi gevallen aan de uitbreidingsdrift van de industrie van Delfzijl. The irony is that expansion never took place. Only the church remains.
Yet clearly there to see traces of the war to the church of Heveskes.
 
Now the Canadian troops had penetrated the outer defense ring in several places, the German resistance collapsed quickly. Some German cannon shots later. Blowing up bridges, remained continue. After the Perth Regiment had occupied the site of Nansum, the march was continued to the hamlet itself. With artillery support this hamlet was walked five hours released in the afternoon of April 29th. Shortly before midnight, the Canadians were relieved by the Cape Breton Highlanders north of Delfzijl. Canadians booked following huge gains. was within hours frees Butt. In the evening the forefront County Avenue reached north of Delfzijl. This meant breaking the inner defense ring of Delfzijl. There was hardly any opposition, 250 Germans surrendered. The area east of Delfzijl was further relieved by the Irish Regiment. Several Germans meanwhile tried to escape through the port of Delfzijl to Emden. Heveskes was released at the beginning of the evening. At a quarter to three in the night attack on Termuntenzijl and Termunten was deployed. The Westminster Regiment, supported by four tanks pulled the area around the two villages inside. Meanwhile Batterie Termunten shot all day with his heavy shells at the advancing Canadians. But about 500 Germans who were in Termuntenzijl and Termunten, surrendered without significant opposition over.
 
Geefsweer
 
On 2 mei 1945 the bunker at Geefsweer was captured by the Canadians. For the last time the Germans resisted. This skirmish was the last battle of the last Allied liberation in the Netherlands. Thereafter Netherlands was totally FREE!
Our battlefield tour arrives at the bunker of Geefsweer.
 
In Geefsweer (municipality delfzijl) the bunker is still there, type 656, right next to a big farm. The only left bunker with strong point.
Our guide Jol Stoppels tells us about the events near the bunker of Geefsweer, where the last Canadian soldier was killed. The details below I found in my search to more details about this killed soldier.
The grave of private Spicer on the Canadian cemetery at Holten.
Name:SPICER, JOHN GERARD
Initials:J G
Nationality:Canadian
Rank:Private
Regiment/Service:Irish Regiment of Canada, R.C.I.C.
Age:21
Date of Death:02/05/1945
Service No:B/122049
Additional information:Son of Usher Cecil and Dorothy Catherine Spicer, of Hamilton, Ontario.
Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference:V. D. 4.
Cemetery: HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY
 
 
The area between Delfzijl and New Statenzijl is one of the last parts of the Netherlands that was liberated from German occupation in April 1945. For sure that happened not unnoticed. On 15 April 1945 the inhabitants of Termunten and Woldendorp thought they were almost freed, drew some demoralized German troops in disarray away towards Germany. However, on the next day among people was considerable disappointment when they saw new, fresh and returned fanatical invaders. They explained defenses in the polders between Termunten and Woldendorp. The gun at Fiemel and Carel Coenraadpolder bombed Nieuwolda. Although some allied tanks reached within Ae (in Woldendorp), but had to withdraw again.
On 17 April Woldendorp was cleared. Everything that could be taken was loaded onto wagons, carts and wheelbarrows. The exodus began. Part of the population reached via Reiderwolderpolder liberated area in Oostwold and Midwolda. Others were stopped in the polder and had to find a safe haven. However, they could not return to the village and had to take cover in some deep ditches between Termunten and Woldendorp, protected car bodies and trucks with straw bales.

Others were taken up by the residents of houses spread through the polder. On 22 april on several places in locks field church was held by pastor Van der Berg. On the next day people had to leave the locks, the area around Fiemel was cleared. The people of the locks were housed by the inhabitans of Termunten. Wagenborgen and Nieuwolda came in other hands several times. On day the Allies came, but they had to withdraw in the evening. In the last week of April Woldendorp, Termunterzijl, Termunten en Fiemel were under constant fire. On several places there were full hits. Several people lost their life.
On 27 en 28 april withdrawing German soldiers set in fire fams in Carel Coenraadpolder and Joh. Kerkhovenpolder.. On 28 april the Canadian liberators reiched Borgsweer; the occupiers more and more withdraw to the positons Fiemel and Carel Coenraadpolder.

Our guide explains the events in the harbour of Termunterzijl. The last German resistance, chaos of Germans trying to escape over the Dollard to Eemshaven in Germany en left equipment, mostly stolen during the war years.
 
On 29 april Borgsweer and Termunterzijl were liberated. In de morning of 30 april around 5 o'clock Canadian soldiers liberated Termunten and early in the afternoon these troops marched through Woldendorp to the liberated area of Oostwold and Midwolda. On 1 mei battery Fiemel was captured by Polish and Canadian soldiers. A week later the evacuated inhabitants of Woldendorp and Termunten could return to their villages. At least what was left.
We have the opportunity to look around in the nice yacht harbour of Termunterzijl. It's completely renovated. From the dike we walk downstairs to the harbour.

Schutsluis (1870/1906)

Boog van Ziel. Rijkmonument.

Termunterzijldiep

We go into the bus with destination battery Fiemel.

 
Batterij Fiemel
In the year1940 the first twelve German soldiers arrived at the Point of Reide. Their first act was tp place a search light on the tip of the Point. Later on the searchlight was moved to a stone building that is there still. Also four foundations were laid for anti-aircraftguns. The so called FLAK. Still you can find these foundations. With that searchlight they were searching for enemy ships on the Dollard and Ems. The first quartermaking soldiers were stationed in saloon cars. In 1941 the next batch of German soldiers was transferred to The Point. Initialy about hundred men.
De The quartermaking soldiers were stationed in twenty saloon cars, in German called  "wohnwagen" which were put on the front mound "The wohnwagen" were placed on poles to prevent would walk in the Dollard Water with high water.

The stationed soldiers on battery Fiemel.

The guns of battery Fiemel fyring on bombers flying overhead. During the Canadian advance direction Delfzijl they were still pretty awkward to them when they were turned inland. The villages were in the area severely battered. However, it was eventually offered not occupied, but the Canadians found an abandoned battery, where the guns were destroyed.
In the picture around 1946 poses a child at one of the large 128 mm guns to Fiemel.
An aggregate was placed on the tip for generating electricity. In addition to the barracks a large square hole was dug for the collection of rainwater. German soldiers swam occasionally in this pond, which locally is better known as "the pool". The clay which was brought to the front tip came out of the "pool", in order to place the gun platform higher. There were two double batteries, artillery and ammunition placed several buildings.
Start of construction of bunkers with a site office in the background.
 
The area between Delfzijl and New Statenzijl is one of the last pieces of the Netherlands was liberated in 1945 by the German occupation. Unnoticed is certainly not gone. On 15 April 1945 the occupants of Termunten and Woldendorp thought they were almost liberated, drew some demoralized German troops in disarray away towards Germany. However, among people was considerable disappointment when they saw that new, fresh and returned fanatical invaders the next day. They disployed defensive positions in the polders between Termunten and Woldendorp. The gun at Fiemel and Carel Coenraadpolder bombed Nieuwolda. Although some allied tanks reached within Ae (in Woldendorp), they had to withdraw again. Woldendorp, Termunterzijl, Termunten and Fiemel were almost constantly under fire in the last week of April . At various places were critical hits. On 27 and 28 April  retreating German soldiers put on fire all farms in the Carel Coenraadpolder and Joh. Kerkhovenpolder. On 28 April 1945, the Canadian liberators reached Borgsweer; the occupiers are increasingly pulled back on battery Fiemel and Carel Coenraadpolder. 29 April Borgsweer and Termunterzijl were liberated. On the morning of 30 April about 5 pm Canadian soldiers liberated Termunten and in the morning the troops were rushed by Woldendorp to liberated territory around Oostwold and Midwolda. On 1 May, battery Fiemel was captured by the Allies by Polish and Canadian soldiers.

On the dike at Dollard near battery Fiemel.

Our guide telling us the story about battery Fiemel.

It now looks more desolate, but our guide told us that there is a million Euro available for restauration. Groninger Landschap has now the management of these bunkers  and there is an information center planned.

Canadian temporarely grave yard in wirdum

A last farwell on the temporarely Canadian grave yard in Delfzijl before transferring them to Holten.
 
Farmsum
 
Met op de achtergrond de kerk van Farmsum op het Pijpplein, vertelt onze gids over de afloop van de Slag om de Delfzijl-Pocket met de uiteindelijke overgave van de Duitse garnizoenscommandant, de korvettenkapitein Wolters.
 
Captain Wolters was Festungscommandant since Hitler declared Delfzijl as Festung verklaard. That meant the utmost defence till the last man and last bullet. This crazy order would lengthen the battle with many casualties, the last would notably killed in the last hours before surrender at Geefsweer on 2 May 1945. The fightings were going on for more than a week. The FLAK positions at the coast were surrendering one after one. The were batteries Dollardt Sud and Nansum. On 30 April the Cape Breton Highlanders advanced to Delfzijl, but were stopped by a mine field. On 1 mei the fighting went on and they marched to their targets, namely the bunkers of battery Delfzijl and Hogeweg. Following the railroad station was captured. Hundreds of German prisoners were made. Then they moved into the city without any resistance.
German soldiers surrendering to the Canadians at the railroad station of Delfzijl.
Entry of the Canadians at Uitwierderweg in Delfzijl.
 
In the morning of 2 mei 1945 the German garrison commander Von Wolters with 400 men surrendered to Lieutenant-Colonel Payne of the Irish Regiment. After that in Farmsum there was a great chaos. More than hundred German soldiers appeared on the street to surrender themselves. Totaly 1386 Duitsers including 38 officers were captured in Farmsum. The Irish Regiment had to pay a high price for the liberation of Delfzijl. 16 dead were barried in Lutje Loug on 4 May 1945, between Woldendorp and Oostwold, next to four other members of the  Westminster Regiment and one member of the 5th divisional Engineers.
The Cape Breton Hithlanders actually liberated Delfzijl. Indeed, there was confusion because the German garrison commander had surrendered to the Irish Regiment. It was also widely reported in the newspaper of the Canadian Army, the Maple Leaf. That was a disappointment to the Highlanders, who indeed had paid a hote toll for the liberation of Delfzijl. On May 4 the Cape Breton Hithlanders HQ sent a message to the HQ 11 CIB: "Despite official reports and messages in the local newspaper, we still have conquered Delfzijl in the hands."
Farewell to his fallen comrade by Sergeant Bennie Peters of the Cape Breton Highlanders in Delfzijl.

The Pipe-band of The Cape Breton Highlanders in Delfzijl

Cape Breton Highlanders in Delfzijl.

Cape Breton Highlanders watch German P.O.W'.s put to work at unloading food relief.