The Dutch island of Walcheren stood at the mouth of the River Scheldt, and blocked Allied access to the Axis-held port of Antwerp. Walcheren Island was strongly garrisoned by the German Army, who had emplaced concrete pillboxes and bunkers along the waterway leading to Antwerp. The bunkers and pillboxes were part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, and were armed with several large-caliber guns intended to prevent ships coming upriver.
The Allies needed to capture Antwerp and its harbor in order to keep a steady flow of supplies moving to their advancing army. The plan to attack and capture Walcheren Island was code named Operation Infatuate. The operation was a success, and Antwerp became a major supply point. Part of the goal of Hitler launching the attack in the Ardennes in Winter 1944 was to recapture Antwerp and deny the Allies this vital port. Osprey Publications Ltd has released Walcheren 1944 - Storming Hitler’s Island Fortress
by Richard Brooks (illustrated by Graham Turner) as Number 235 in their “Campaign” series.
The book is a 96-page paperback. Included with the text are color and black & white photographs, color and black & white illustrations, color maps, charts and detailed captions.
- Opposing Commanders
- Opposing Forces
- Orders of battle
- Opposing Plans
- Walcheren and the Schelde
- The Walcheren Campaign
- Shaping the battlefield
- Infatuate I: the landing at Vlissingen
- Infatuate II: the landing at Westkapelle
- Storming the batteries I: Zuiderduin and Domburg
- Clearing Vlissingen
- Storming the batteries II: Dishoek
- Bridgehead logistics
- The surrender of Middelburg
- Last stand in the north
- After The Battle
- The Battlefield Today
- Further Reading
The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through it. Author Brooks covers the planning and execution off the attack, as well as an account of the fighting for Walcheren very well. It is obvious that he has gone to great lengths to research the campaign, and provides a very well-written and accurate history of it. The text and the accompanying photographs are in a correct chronological order, making the account easy to follow. Also included is a key to military symbols which will make ready military maps much easier. Anyone interested in the Walcheren operations will find this book very informative and interesting.
There are a total of 54 black & white photographs, and 12 color ones throughout the book. Most of the photos are clear, however there are some that have an out-of-focus look, while some appear to be too dark. I have seen several military photographs that have this look to them, so maybe that is just typical. I do know that several photographs are actually stills taken from films, so that could be one reason. With that said, the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author.
There are three color illustrations and three black & white ones Graham Turner. All are very well-done, nicely detailed and cover actions in:
- Landing Craft off Walcheren
- D-Day at Westkapelle
- Streetfighting in Vlissingen
The black & white illustrations are copies of the color illustrations, but have detailed captions describing the illustration and point out different items of interest.
THE COLOR MAPS:
There are 9 color maps throughout the book and they show operations in:
- The opening of the Schelde,, September – November 1944
- Fortress Walcheren
- Infatuate I: assault landing at Vlissingen, 1 November
- Infatuate II: assault on Westkapelle
- Assault landing at Westkapelle, 1 November 1944
- Breakout from the Vlissingen beachhead
- Advance through the dunes
- Operation Mallard: crossing the Sloe, 3 November
- Walcheren falls: the British follow-up, 3-8 November
There are 10 charts throughout the book, and they provide information about things such as British landing craft numbers and losses, numbers of troops, type of aircraft used and the number of bombs dropped by each, as well as their targets, beach code names and a casualty list. The charts are very informative and give exact numbers of the above-mentioned items, which helps the reader put everything into perspective.
The captions are well-written, and are very detailed, explaining the accompanying photographs nicely. Again, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors.
All in all, I am very impressed with the book. It details the military operations at Walcheren in 1944 very well, and I would have no hesitation adding other Osprey titles to my personal library, nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on Armorama when you make your purchase.
The Commandos of World War II, Hooding Carter (Landmark Books)
The Second World War: A Complete History, by Martin Gilbert (Henry Holt and Company, Inc)
The American Heritage Picture History of World War II, by C.L. Sulzberger (American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc.)