American Water Weasel
From the collection of the Zeeland Liberation Museum
After the September 1944 defeat during the Battle of Arnhem, taking control of the mouth of the River Scheldt in Belgium was a priority for the Allies. This strategic move would give them access to the waterway leading to the city of Antwerp, which had already been liberated. Antwerp’s harbour was a very important supply point for the massive Allied effort. To help make this possible, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombed dykes at four different locations on Walcheren in the Dutch province of Zeeland, almost entirely submerging the peninsula.
Because this also flooded other parts of Zeeland, the Allies had to rely on amphibious vehicles, such as this Weasel. These American cargo carriers were used by British, Norwegian, Dutch, French and Belgian commando troops that landed on Walcheren on 1 November. Heavy fighting followed, until the last German unit on Walcheren surrendered a week later. The estuary of the River Scheldt was cleared of mines by late November and Allied ships could use the Port of Antwerp to supply the troops. The last breaks in the dykes were finally repaired in 1946.