A Perfectly Engineered Killing Ground: Calgary Highlanders and the Walcheren Causeway Battle

Mark Zuehlke


On October 31, 1944, the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to force a crossing over the Walcheren Causeway and establish a foothold on the eastern flank of Walcheren Island. Only 40 yards wide and stretching 1,200 yards with sodden reed-grown mud-flats on either side the causeway was a deadly killing ground. An attempted advance up the gun-barrel straight causeway by the Black Watch was shredded. On the night of October 31, the Calgary Highlanders stepped out into the open in a valiant effort that won a shallow bridgehead on the far end that the Germans fiercely counterattacked throughout the ensuing day. Author Mark Zuehlke’s 2015 Ross Ellis Memorial Lecture, A Perfectly Engineered Killing Ground: The Calgary Highlanders and the Walcheren Causeway Battle, pays tribute to the regiment’s gallantry and also the key role that Major Ross Ellis played in this battle.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

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