During the weekend of april 16th and 17th, the Battle of Delfzijl was remembered during the event “Spijk terug naar toen”. Most people do know the Battle of Overloon, but not everybody knows that some fierce fighting took place in Drenthe and Groningen as well.
After the failure of Market Garden, the advance was mostly halted. The cold winter of 1944 didn’t help eighter. To make things worse Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge on december 16th 1944, in an attempt to annihilate the allied forces in the north. Only in februari a new campaign was started to push the Germans over the rivers. On march 28th Mechelen was liberated as first Dutch town north of the rivers Rhine and Maas. In april the Canadian forces would make good prgress and reach the shores in the north near Zoutkamp. Groningen city is liberated at april 16th, while a Polish brigade reaches the Dollard on april 15th This progress isolates some German forces in what is called the “Delfzijl-pocket” by the Canadians.
Battle of Delfzijl
In the days from april 21st to may 2nd Some fierce fighting took place around Delfzijl. Delfzijl was well defended because there were some strong bunkers there as part of the “Atlantikwall”. The area was also defended by large amounts of anti aircraft artillery, the feared FLAK 88 among them. The FLAK 88 was also used as anti-tank artillery with good results. On the German side of the Eems heavy artillery was located near Emden, Knock and on the Borkum island. Because the Canadians needed their infantry divisions in Germany, the 5th Canadian Armoured Division assisted in the Delfzijl area. Duet o the flat landscape, open and wet fields, tanks were of little use. They were mainly used for defense. Some tank crews also acted as infantry in the area around Appingedam. On april 20th and 21st the ”Regina Rifles” move through Middelstum, Gartshuizen and Roodeschool to Spijk, where they are first greeted with artilley fire. Shortly after this the are releaved by the “Perth” regiment. On aprl 23th the “Perth” regiment advances to Holwierde where they meet continuous artillery fire from the coastal batteries. Only on april 28th they manage to advance further tot he coastal defences of Nansum. The fighting around Delfzijl will take until the morning of may 2nd, when Korvettenkapitän Wolters surrenders to Lt. Col. Payne of the Irish regiment.
Spijk terug naar toen
On april 16th And 17th the occupation and liberation of Spijk is remembered. Reenactment group ETOR 40-45 (European Theatre of Operations Reenactment), together with several Dutch and foreign reenactment groups, simulates the Battle of Delfzijl. The village square is occupied by the “Germans” while the “Allies” reside at the borders of the village. On Saturday several small clashes occured. On Sunday afternoon the liberation of the village took place.