Battle for Delfzijl (operation Canada)

 

During the final days of the war, extensive and brutal fighting took place around Delfzijl located in the most northern part of the Netherlands. Here, advancing Canadians clashed with retreating Germans that had dug in and were prepared to fight until the last man. 

 

 

 

Following the liberation of Groningen on April 16 1945, the Canadians were sure of a swift victory while chasing the retreating Germans towards the coast. They certainly not expect that heavy fighting continued until May 2 1945. For the Germans, the coast, and most notably Delfzijl with its harbor, was the only place from which they could be extracted towards Germany in the face of the superior Canadian army. Around Delfzijl the Germans had constructed several heavy anti-aircraft batteries during the war that were manned by the Kriegsmarine and protected Emden, a German city located nearby. These were located at Nansum, Delfzijl, Fiemel and Carel Coenraadpolder. All batteries were protected by bunkers, machine gun posts, trenches and belts of barbed wire. They main reason for the draw-nout fighting was the fact that the Germans turned the anti-aircraft guns inward to engage the Canadians. This, in turn, slowed the Canadian advance and the last pocket of German resitance could only be engaged succesfully after armoured reinforcements were rushed up. This enabled the Canadians to capture the anti-aircraft batteries one by one after which Delfzijl was captured. During the battle for Delfzijl, 102 Canadians and 185 Germans were killed and 1400 Germans were captured.

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The battery at Nansum (Marine Flak Batterie Nansum) was located to the west of Delfzijl and built in 1942,  comprising five bunkers as well as other personell buildings. Today, an ammuntion bunker and a storage bunker for  an electrical  generator remain, while the other bunkers that were located near the sea dyke were destroyed in the 60's.  

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In addition, four  10.5 cm anti-aircraft guns were located at the sea dyke as well as a radar installation and search lights. This battery was garrisoned by men of Marine Flak Abteilung 256 (Emden). This battery was captured by the Canadians at April 29, 1945, following heavy fighting for several days.

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Another anti-aircraft battery is located to the east of Delfzijl near Termunten, which was called Marine Flak Batterie Fiemel and built in 1940. This site was also part of the air defence ring of Emden (at the horizon). Initially, this battery was equipped with 10.5 cm FLAK but these were in 1944 replaced by three 12.8 cm FLAK, the heaviest of its kind in the Netherlands. The 12.8 cm FLAK were supported by six 10.5 cm FLAK. In addition, this battery comprised several personell buildings as well as ammunition bunkers, personell bunkers and machine gun bunkers. This battery also included a radar. 

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Shown here is the emplacement of a 12.8 cm FLAK located at the sea dyke near the sea.

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Ammunition bunker for the 12.8 cm shells and a bunker on which another 12.8 cm FLAK was located.

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Bunker for the 12.8 cm FLAK

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Close up of ammunition bunker riddled with bullet holes. This battery was attacked by the Canadians at April 30, 1945 and captured the next day after the occupying garrison had crossed the sea towards Emden overnight  

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An additional battery, Dollard Sud, was located in the Carel Coenraadpolder south east of Delfzijl. This battery was also part of the air defence ring of Emden and was constructed in 1940 and was equipped with four 10.5 cm FLAK. Today, the only building that remains of this battery is an ammunition storage that has been turned into a holiday house. During the night of 24 April 1945 this battery was destroyed by Canadian troops supported by air strikes.