Ottawa, ON– Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to mark the 76th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Scheldt:
“76 years ago, the First Canadian Army began a gruelling and bloody five-week offensive along the Scheldt River in northwestern Belgium and the southwestern Netherlands. Some historians would come to call it the most difficult battlefield of the Second World War.
“The Battle of the Scheldt opened the major Belgian port of Antwerp to Allied shipping, providing the vital supplies needed to sustain the war effort in Northwest Europe. It would also free hundreds of thousands of civilians in parts of Belgium and the Netherlands from German occupation.
“By the time their offensive ended on 8 November 1944, the First Canadian Army – under the command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds – had taken more than 41,000 enemy prisoners. But while their victory was impressive, it came at a terrible cost: nearly 13,000 Allied soldiers, including more than 6,300 Canadians, were killed, wounded or declared missing.
“Today we remember those brave Canadians who risked everything along the flooded and muddy banks of the Scheldt River to help restore peace in Western Europe.
“Lest we forget.”