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Liberation of Schouwen - 47 Cdo Last WW2 Operation

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Last Operations Role - Schouwen

Unit/ Formation: 47 Cdo RM Location: The Netherlands Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1945 Date/s: 7 - 8 May 1945

The European war was now fast coming to a close, individual enemy organisations had been surrendering to Gen. MONTGOMERY - forces in the NE of Germany - but those in Holland's Northern and NW areas remained firm until May 8.

On May 7/8 47 Commando's last operational role of investing SCHOUWEN took place.

On Sunday morning the 6th of May 1945, the mayor of KORTGENE announced that British Commando troops in landing craft would depart from COLIJNSPLAAT to SCHOUWEN in the course of the morning.

On Sunday morning the evacuated mayor of ZIERIKZEE, SCHUURBEQUE BOEYE arrived in COLIJNSPLAAT, ready to return to his municipality. Because the weather conditions were not sufficiently favorable for the Allies, the crossing was to be postponed until Monday morning the 7th of May.

In the meantime, other mayors and police officers also joined forces to make the crossing to SCHOUWEN.

On Monday morning the 7th of May, a large number of British soldiers with the famous green hats, were gathered in the port of COLIJNSPLAAT. At that moment, however, there still were no landing craft to be seen. They appeared around 8.00 am from the direction of KATSE VEER. They were flat, gray-painted vessels. At the front there was some kind of door which could be opened and served as a gangway.

At 8.15 am, 120 commandos led by Capt. SPENCER embarked the landing craft, heavily armed with modern Tommy Guns. In addition to the British commandos, a number of Dutch commandos from the 14th Infantry Regiment took part in the mission.

In the meantime the Royal Artillery had set up guns at COLIJNSPLAAT with the firing line in the direction of SCHOUWEN to support their comrades in case the Germans would decide to resist.

Of the six landing craft, three sailed to ZIERIKZEE and three to BURGHSLUIS. De VRIEND .

Mayors and police officers landing at Borrendamme. Photo courtesy of Beeldbank NIMH (47

The commandos went on their way to the German commander in ZIERIKZEE. With him the surrender of the German troops would be negotiated. They entered through the Nobelpoort. Cautiously they continued to Havenplein. At the Zuidhavenpoort a German Feldwebel with some soldiers are diligently undermining the gate to place a load of explosives under it. At the sight of the British soldiers, the Germans grabbed their guns. When the British showed the white flag and made clear they wanted to speak to the German commander there were no further hostilities.

The British commanding officer was soon informed and with him as "protector" at the forefront, the British entered ZIERIKZEE on foot. While marching under the white flag, they marched to the headquarters of the German Ortskommandant KAPPES, who had his office in Het Vrije No.55.

It was not to be a triumphal march like the British experienced hundreds of times before. Gray and desolate, the houses stood out against the spring air. The few residents which ZIERIKZEE still had at that time were not allowed to show themselves by the Germans. SPENCER and KAPPES contacted the German island commander MARX at the German headquarters of the island in HAAMSTEDE.

German commander's house at Het Vrije 55. Photo coutesy of Archive Schouwen-Duiveland (47

They then set up a wireless channel with Rotterdam, where the German staff was located. The German soldiers stationed on SCHOUWEN were given permission to obey to the demands of the allies on the condition that their soldiers could retreat to the western part of the island while maintaining their weapons. The British, who in turn maintain radio contact with the Commando on NOORD-BEVELAND, give this permission.

Two of the landing craft then sailed to COLIJNSPLAAT to transfer the assembled mayors and police officers to SCHOUWEN. The administrative task was waiting for them and to maintain order.

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