The inundation of Walcheren 1944
The fighting during the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944 particularly hit the Zeeland island of Walcheren hard. The Allies were concerned about the strong German defenses of the island and so flooded the entire area by bombing the sea dikes.
On October 2, 1944, thousands of pamphlets were scattered from an airplane over Walcheren, advising the population to leave as soon as possible, without further explanation. That was of course not allowed by the Germans. The next day the Allied Air Force bombed the seawall at Westkapelle. This bombing took the lives of 152 civilians and destroyed the entire village. The sea dikes at Veere, Vlissingen and Fort Rammekens were also bombed and seawater flowed into the land. More than 80% of Walcheren was below sea level and flooded within hours. Thousands of residents had to leave their belongings and fled to the few areas that remained dry.
Flooding Walcheren has always been a controversial decision. The plan to stop the German lines of communication and troop movements was quite disappointing in practice. The Germans now had no reserve troops, so that nothing could be moved. The Allies had assumed the worst scenario that the Germans would defend Walcheren tooth and nail to prevent the port of Antwerp from being used by the Allies via the Western Scheldt . The damage to the island was enormous. The repair of the dikes took until the beginning of 1946. After that, the reconstruction could begin.