1st French Armored Division [ (DCR, Divisions Cuirassées de Reserve)] Destruction

Panzer IVs and a T(38) roll through another small French town.

5th and 7th Pz.Div. May 15, 1940

When the 6th Panzer Division reached Montcornet on the evening of May 15, the 9th French Army was in disarray. Not only had Reinhardt broken through, but slightly further north, Hermann Hoth’s XV Corps, comprising the 5th and 7th Panzer Divisions, had also blasted a hole in the 9th French Army. Its commander, General Georges Corap, lacked the mobile units required to restore the situation. The 1st French Armored Division, commanded by Major-General Bruneau, had been diverted to Corap, but it fared no better as it met and clashed with German Panzer formations.

On the evening of May 14, the French armored division had advanced towards the bridgehead at Dinant captured by Major-General Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division. As the tanks had to be refueled, Bruneau ordered his division to halt in the Flavion area. He did not know that Rommel’s most advanced elements were only a few kilometers away. However, Rommel was just as ignorant about the presence of the French division.

In the engagement that followed on May 15, two different philosophies were pitted against each other. The French emphasized deliberate, well-planned and systematic action, but speed was not given priority. The German philosophy stressed mobility, combined arms and rapid decision-making and conduct.

On the morning of May 15, the German 25th Panzer Regiment, which was part of Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division, encountered French tanks at Flavion. A violent battle ensued for a few hours before Rommel decided to break off the action and send the 25th Panzer Regiment on an outflanking move towards Philippeville. At the same time, the German 5th Panzer Division, commanded by Major-General Max von Hartlieb, approached from the east and engaged Bruneau’s division.

NCO Nökel commanded a Panzer III that belonged to the 31st Panzer Regiment, one of the two Panzer regiments in the 5th Panzer Division. He moved near Flavion on the morning of May 15. The terrain was undulating and covered by thick vegetation. Abandoned French equipment littered the nearby woods and, in some places, also the road. Nökel proceeded calmly, but just east of Flavion he was interrupted by voices in his headset telling him that the lead tanks in the company had encountered French tanks at a range of 1,200 meters. The voice of the company commander immediately followed, ordering his tanks to take up firing positions.

While Nökel and the other tank commanders in the company maneuvered their tanks into firing positions, further French tanks were observed at the fringe of a wood. The range was approximately 1,400 meters. The enemy tanks had one gun in a revolving turret and also one mounted in the chassis front. They were of the type Char B1bis, a heavy French tank that was better armed and armored than the German models. The French crews did not seem to have spotted the German tanks, which held the advantage of higher ground.

Captain von Schönburg-Waldenburg, the company commander, ordered I Platoon to advance to a gentle crest around 300 meters away while II and III Platoons provided cover. Unfortunately for the Germans, the French saw the advancing tanks of I Platoon and opened fire. Nökel ordered his driver to take the tank to the crest as quickly as possible, as did the other tanks in the platoon. The Germans reached the crest unharmed, where they sought cover in copses. Nökel’s driver maneuvered the tank into a suitable firing position while the loader and gunner ensured that they could open fire. As soon as the tank had reached the intended position, Nökel ordered his crew to fire. The shell left the muzzle and could, due to the tracer, be followed during the good second it took to reach its target. To his dismay, Nökel saw the 3.7-cm shell bounce off the enemy tank as if it were a pea. The other tanks in the platoon were just as unsuccessful.

The Germans found themselves in a deteriorating situation. More French tanks appeared on the scene. They gradually reduced the distance to the German tanks, which awaited permission to fire. As the German guns had proved themselves wholly ineffective at longer range, there was no point in wasting ammunition. Nökel saw the silhouettes of the French tanks loom ever larger. He had not seen such large tanks before and had not even heard of them during training—not even during the session devoted to recognizing enemy vehicles. The tense situation made his pulse jump.

The company commander issued clear instructions on the radio, allocating targets for the platoons. When the range had shrunk to 250 meters, von Schönburg-Waldenburg ordered his tanks to open fire. Three French tanks were instantly hit and came to a halt. The crews bailed out and fled the scene. Other French tanks continued forward and exposed their sides. The Germans fired on the side armor, which proved to have a weak spot where a hatch for the radiator was located. This allowed the Germans to knock out some of the heavy enemy tanks. Over the radio, they informed the other German tanks about the weakness they had found in the enemy’s armor.

The excellent communications equipment allowed Nökel and the other soldiers in the German company to cooperate efficiently and compensate for the poor armament and weak armor of their tanks. The Germans were also aided by further advantages. Their tank turrets comprised a crew of three men—the commander, the gunner and the loader. This allowed the commander to focus on the terrain and the enemy and make suitable decisions. French commanders also had to aim and load the 4.7-cm gun mounted in the turret. Neither did they have the kind of turret hatch fitted to the German tanks, which allowed the commander to peek out and get a full view of the surrounding terrain. All this resulted in the French commanders being overburdened in battle, and they also suffered from inferior communication and means of observation.

In a way, the poor French radio communications are puzzling. As the French Army practiced a more centralized mode of decision-making, it was actually more dependent on good communication than the German Army, particularly in mobile operations. Considering their different doctrines, it would make more sense for the French to have devoted efforts to create robust communications. In fact, it was the Germans who possessed more and better means of communication. Additionally, the German emphasis on decentralized decision-making made them less prone to complete breakdown when communications failed.-*

The French 1st Armored Division suffered something that might be termed a breakdown near Flavion on May 15. Despite the fact that important elements of von Hartlieb’s division did not reach Flavion on that date, Bruneau’s division was outmaneuvered in a succession of small actions contributed to by German tanks and other arms of the 5th Panzer Division. At the end of the day, Bruneau ordered his men to retreat, but less than a quarter of his tanks remained operational. The 1st French Armored Division had ceased to be an effective formation.

Although the German losses were far smaller, they were not negligible. Nökel was one of the unlucky ones; his radio malfunctioned and he became separated from the company. He was also running dangerously low on ammunition. He caught sight of a few tanks from the company and ordered his driver to steer towards them. At this stage, Nökel was so disoriented that he did not know which direction he was driving in. Black smoke from burning vehicles obscured the sun to such an extent that it was of no help for orientation. Suddenly, Nökel’s tank was fired upon from the right. The driver immediately steered towards a building and managed to reach it before being hit. Nökel saw two enemy tanks firing on him. His gunner revolved the turret as rapidly as possible and fired a shell against one of the French tanks. The range was only 200 meters, and the first shot was a hit.

At the same time, another French tank fired upon Nökel’s Panzer III. The first shot landed in front of the target and the second behind. Nökel ordered his driver to reverse. At that moment, he saw a third muzzle flash. As the driver shifted to reverse gear, Nökel heard some kind of noise coming from the gearbox. It was the last sound he heard before a multicolored flame flashed before his eyes. The tank shuddered and sulfuric vapor reached his nose. He would never forget the smell. He could not remember how he managed to escape the tank, but once he was outside he realized that he had lost his hearing. He managed to find the crew, except for the driver, behind the tank. Still deaf, Nökel decided to check if the driver was still alive. He placed his fingers on the tank and could feel that the engine was still running.

When he reached the front of the tank, Nökel saw that the enemy shell had hit above and behind the driver’s position. The driver was still alive and halfway out through the hatch above his seat. He was laid on top of the tank’s rear together with the wounded gunner. Nökel crept into the tank, sat down on the driver’s bloody seat and turned the vehicle around. He drove to an asphalt road and turned left on it, hoping to find a dressing station.

Nökel drove as fast as he could down the road, but after 500 meters he could already see French vehicles in a nearby wood. They turned out to be horse-drawn baggage carts. Nökel promptly drove past them. A few minutes later, the German tank came near a small village where a bridge spanned a stream. It soon became clear that there were French soldiers in the village. However, their backs faced Nökel’s approaching tank. Without any deliberation, he gave full throttle and stormed across the bridge. Once on the other side of the river, Nökel again saw soldiers, but they wore German helmets.

Nökel and his crew had reached their goal. They received the medical treatment they needed and Nökel would slowly regain his hearing. However, almost four weeks would elapse before he could serve again.

Three Panzer corps comprised the spearhead of the German attack. After defeating the 1st French Armored Division, Hoth’s XV Corps advanced deep into the enemy territory. Similarly, Reinhardt’s XXXXI Corps headed west at high speed. Perhaps the most important attack was conducted by Guderian’s XIX Corps, which operated on the most southerly axis of the three Panzer corps in von Rundstedt’s Army group.


Tanks Against Forts at Różan

Captain Collin received the attack order just before noon on September 5. It was quite brief. His company was instructed to capture two old forts dating from World War I on the western outskirts of the small town of Różan in northern Poland. The mission was clear and did not require much elaboration. Instead, Collin could instruct his platoon commanders. In addition to Lieutenants Parow and Schnelle, who both were platoon commanders in Collin’s company, two more platoons, commanded by Lieutenants Friese and Stöhr, were attached for the mission.

From positions northwest of Sielun, situated approximately 5 km from Różan, Collin’s company and the battalion it formed part of would attack. The attack would unfold along the road to the west of Sielun and Różan. After crossing a creek, the battalion would advance to a point west of Różan, where Collin’s company would turn left and attack two forts numbered 2 and 3 by the Germans.

After instructing his subordinates, Collin mounted a tank. The regiment had been in action from the very first day of the war and had suffered losses; several tanks had either been knocked out by enemy fire or suffered breakdowns. Usually, Collin commanded from a specifically designed command tank based on the Panzer I chassis. A fixed super-structure had replaced the revolving turret to accommodate a radio operator and sets for receiving and transmitting radio messages. In the original Panzer I, the interior was so crammed that only a receiving set could be accommodated. Such a limitation was, of course, wholly unacceptable to a commander, but it had sufficed for basic training and the Panzer I had been envisaged for such purposes. However, Collin’s command tank had been damaged and taken to a workshop. He thus chose to lead from a Panzer II, whose vexed commander had to climb into a Panzer I.

Like Collin’s normal command tank, the Panzer II had a crew of three, including the commander. The driver was positioned forward in the hull in both vehicles, but the tasks to be performed in the turret differed. In the Panzer II, the commander had to aim the gun in addition to his other duties. The radio operator doubled as loader of the 2-cm gun. This was far from ideal, but the small size of the Panzer I and Panzer II precluded better solutions.

Favorable fall weather had characterized the previous days. Except for some mist at dawn, visibility had been very good and the ground remained dry. Good weather reigned on September 5 too, when Collin’s company began to move south. The commanders saw the sun ahead as they moved with their heads up through the turret hatches. They proceeded somewhat cautiously, perhaps remembering the debacle near Mława on the first day of the war.

After advancing slightly more than 1 km, Collin’s company reached higher ground, where a halt was ordered. He observed the terrain closely through his field glasses. No sign of the enemy was seen, but fires were evidently raging in Różan. The church had been spared up to now, but Collin saw the flames reach it. Some of the villages closer to Collin’s company were also ablaze.

While Collin considered what might lie ahead, he also glanced at the flanks. To the right, he could see tanks from Captain Hoheisel’s company move forward into positions in line with his. Hoheisel’s unit was also mainly equipped with Panzer Is and IIs, supplemented by a few heavier tanks. Crackling voices in the headphones interrupted Collin’s thoughts. The battalion commander, Major von Gersdorff, had called for Hoheisel, but as all the company commanders used the same frequency, Collin overheard the conversation. The problem discussed was the poor reconnaissance, which meant that it was not clear where the creek ahead could be crossed. After a brief conversation, von Gersdorff decided to send the heavy tanks—Panzer IIIs and IVs—forward to reconnoiter the creek, which was difficult to see due to its wooded banks.

Perhaps the Germans had hoped to reach the creek undetected, but the large dust clouds created by the tanks would almost certainly arouse the suspicion of the Poles. No fire was directed at the Germans, but the dust must have been visible from a great distance. To make matters worse, the German commander began to despair as no ford had been found, and thus the entire attack might stall.

It was too early to call off the attack. As they were not fired upon, the German commanders dismounted from their tanks and reconnoitered the creek on foot. Collin instructed Second Lieutenant Stöhr to guard the flank with his platoon while the search for a ford proceeded. Despite their efforts, the Germans could not find a suitable ford, but there was perhaps still one chance. Collin believed the creek could be crossed at a particular spot provided the muddy banks were reinforced. The tankers quickly had to stand in as lumberjacks. Armed with axes, they attacked the trees along the creek. The heat and sunshine made them sweat as the strenuous work proceeded, but after one hour they had reinforced the banks sufficiently to allow the tanks to cross the water barrier.

The men were allowed a rest before the tanks crossed, while some of the officers crossed the creek on foot and approached a haystack to observe the terrain ahead. Major von Gersdorff, Captain Hoheisel and Captain Collin could clearly see the landscape in front of them. They saw the two windmills that marked the entrance to the town on their maps, thus concluding that they were on the right track. Forts number 1 and 2 were supposed to be located close to the windmills, according to the information available to the German officers. When looking to the left, they could also see infantry from the SS-Regiment Deutschland advancing towards Różan. Artillery shells began to explode around the windmills.

Major von Gersdorff issued attack orders. Collin’s company would attack on the left wing. There was still time for Collin to personally instruct his platoon commanders, except Stöhr, whose flanking mission had taken him too far away. At the haystack, Collin gave the necessary orders and pointed out the targets that could be seen from there.

Supported by the tree trunks, Collin’s tanks negotiated the muddy banks and took up positions south of the creek, waiting for the final attack order. They did not have to wait for long. At around 2 p.m., the order “Forward!” was heard in the headsets. The drivers revved the engines, which roared loudly. The squeaking sound from the tracks indicated that the attack had begun. The terrain ahead was rather open, but undulating. The tankers had to navigate carefully to avoid exposing their vehicles unnecessarily.

The German formation successfully reached a position west of the forts they were to capture. They stopped here as buildings, haystacks and vegetation might have been concealing Polish defenders. There were no friendly forces ahead of the German tanks and so there was no risk of fratricide as they opened fire against suspected targets. Collin tried to observe the effectiveness of the fire, but it was difficult to judge if it had had the intended effect. Unfortunately, Collin’s gun malfunctioned. Evidently dust had caused some part of the mechanism to jam.

Suddenly Collin was ordered to attack immediately. The intractable gun had not yet been attended to; armed only with a machine gun, Collin moved forward with the other tanks in his company. Very soon, a Polish antitank gun opened fire on the German left flank. Lieutenant Schelle immediately ordered his gunner to return fire. The dull and yet sharp sound from the gun revealed that a 7.5-cm shell left the barrel. The exploding shell threw up earth, stones and debris, but, as is common in war, it was difficult to know with certainty what effect the bursting shell had resulted in. Schelle remained stationary and continued to fire while the other tanks thrust forward.

Soon, von Gersdorff countermanded the attack order. Instead, Collin was to disengage and attack further south. Such a maneuver was not uncomplicated, but Collin managed to assemble his company and set it in motion southwards. The tanks crossed the northernmost of the two roads that ran west from Różan. At that moment, they took fire from Polish positions closer to the town.

Lieutenant Parow drove past Collin and took up a firing position. Collin watched as Parow fired three or four rounds before ordering his driver to continue forward. With the malfunctioning gun pointing straight forward, Collin’s tank began to move, but almost immediately Collin saw a shell hit the turret of Parow’s tank. Collin had hardly grasped what had happened before four men bailed out of the stricken tank and took cover. Another shell hit Parow’s tank within a second. Collin drove closer to the damaged tank to identify the men who had abandoned it. He first saw the loader, then the radio operator. Slightly later, he saw Private Köhler bandaging a bleeding man who Collin recognized as Private Boehlke. At this moment, Collin realized that Parow had been killed.

The sight of Parow’s damaged tank, as well as the men who had abandoned it, paralyzed Collin. Köhler, who attended the wounded Boehlke, had the presence of mind to wave Collin forward as his tank was in the line of fire of the Polish antitank weapons. Despite this, Collin remained numb until he had somehow absorbed the sight of Parow’s tank and the four crewmen. Not until then could he bring himself to order the driver forward, thereby continuing the attack past the second of the two roads from Różan.

Suddenly, an NCO from the SS-Regiment Deutschland and a few of his men jumped aboard the tank. Collin warned them against this, but they took no notice of his advice; instead, the NCO asked Collin to close the hatch so he could obtain an unobstructed field of fire. “Madmen but brave,” Collin and the radio operator, Guhl, said to each other.

An extended period of firing and short movements followed. Collin cursed the machine gun that malfunctioned. Guhl provided some consolation by handing Collin a lit cigarette, and the driver, Dörfle, offered him schnapps from his hip flask. Subsequently, Collin realized that the SS-NCO had disappeared. Guhl believed that he had been hit.

Collins finally passed fort 3 and approached fort 4, which meant that he and several other German tankers reached a point where they could look down into the depression where the river Narew flowed. They could see the road bridge and the open terrain on the eastern side of the river. Collin opened the turret hatch and found an SS-lieutenant on his tank. Except for four other SS-men on board a Panzer IV, no other infantry seemed to have accompanied Collin’s tanks.

Collin’s thoughts were abruptly interrupted by Polish fire. Despite the crammed interior of the tank, Collin ensured that the SS-officer came into the protection afforded by the thin armor of the Panzer III. The exhausted infantry officer was offered a cigarette and some schnapps. Unfortunately, he became entangled in the cable to Collin’s headset and pulled it off. Collin had hardly managed to get his equipment in order before another order crackled in the headphones; his company was ordered to attack towards Różan, northward along the river—a mission he deemed unsuitable.

It was quite late, and the sun had begun to set. It was so low that Collin was blinded when he turned his face west. Despite the poor visibility, the attack would continue. Collin’s company proceeded, passing an obstacle, but then Polish antitank weapons opened up at long range. Fortunately for Collin, the Polish fire was short. He turned the turret clockwise, but suddenly he heard the SS-officer behind him moan. The officer was being squeezed by the revolving turret basket. At that same moment, the engine coughed and died. Collin was nearly overwhelmed by his rising fears, but he and his crew managed to connect the reserve fuel.

The battalion commander, Major von Gersdorff, drove along side Collin’s stationary tank and shouted, “Why don’t you move?” A moment later, Collin’s driver started the engine and received orders from Collin to drive towards the dust cloud surrounding the other tanks. He objected as the dust made visibility very poor; at most, the driver would accept moving forward at a very slow pace. Collin urged him on and said that he would give the driver ample warning of obstacles as he could see more easily from his position in the turret. The tank resembled a drunken elephant staggering forward, but the attack was effectively aborted. Collin had to drive hard to catch up with his platoons, which headed east. Thus the German unit passed along the Polish forts, which began to fire at the flank of the tanks.

Collin finally caught up with one of his light platoons, but he had no idea where to find the rest of his company. He saw a few heavy tanks, but he did not know whether they belonged to his company or another. There was also a risk of friendly fire as the dust accumulated on the tanks to such an extent that the white crosses of the German tanks were hard to see. Collin’s fears were soon realized, but not as he had anticipated; one of the heavy German tanks opened fire on German infantry, but the shell did not hit. Collin raised his fist and drove in front of the muzzle of the other tank to stop it from firing.

At this stage, Collin and his company had again reached the two roads running west from Różan, which clearly showed that they were heading back. The dust made it impossible to see Parow’s damaged tank, but Collin could at least see the battalion commander’s tank driving down into a depression and disappearing. Collin ordered one of his platoon commanders, Lieutenant Stöhr, to follow the battalion commander. One moment later, the ground shuddered as artillery shells exploded around the tanks. The tanks increased their speed in an attempt to escape north.

When Collin let his eyes drift to the right, he suddenly saw something that made him doubt the accuracy of his senses—German tanks formed up as if they were on a peacetime parade. Collin tried to make them move by using the radio, but this was met without any apparent success. The tanks finally assumed a formation better-suited to the realities of war and proceeded to the area where the creek could be forded.

As the evening became ever darker, Collin reached the creek and realized how exhausted he was after more than five hours of uninterrupted action. Gradually, he came to realize that the battalion had suffered dearly. Some of the light tanks were towed by their heavy brothers, but eleven tanks that had been hit were left behind. Additionally, some that had suffered mechanical breakdowns or had become stuck in difficult terrain remained behind. Those still capable of moving forded the creek in the light from burning houses. Some exhausted SS-infantry rode on the tanks.

After crossing the creek, the battalion created a hedgehog defense, but it soon received orders to move to the area west of Sielun, from where the attack had begun. Collin found the path to the staging area far too winding—his tank was very low on fuel—but eventually they reached it. When the arduous journey had been completed, the officers gathered and discussed the casualties and the pointlessness of the attack while the men bivouacked. Food was offered, but few of the officers and soldiers had much of an appetite after the depressing experience. The exhausted tankers were sent to some barns to sleep, while the baggage men defended the area during the night.

The Battle of Różan featured but one of the many examples of a German army that went into war without being properly prepared. At Różan, light tanks attacked fortifications, while the coordination between tanks, infantry and artillery was very poor. In this particular case, the Panzer division had been formed at very short notice by putting together components from the Army as well as the SS. This did not facilitate coordination, but Army divisions also suffered from shortcomings.

The Fall of the Bastille

Storming of The Bastile and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789, by Jean-Pierre Houël.

On the morning of 14 July 1789 some 900 Parisians gathered in front of the Bastille prison; some were soldiers who had deserted from Louis XVI’s army and a few were men of property. But most were minor tradesmen whose businesses had long since been concentrated in the area of the faubourg Saint-Antoine which surrounded the Bastille. These people were convinced, correctly, that the king had decided to renege on his earlier promise to reform the government of France. They also knew that the governor of the Bastille, Bernard-René de Launay, was guarding 250 barrels of gunpowder. The crowd’s aim was to seize the gunpowder and somehow to neutralize the fifteen cannon which were mounted on the Bastille’s eight towers, three of which were in the inner courtyard, and also to disarm the twelve guns on the ramparts. Eighty-two retired soldiers lived in the fortress and they had been reinforced, seven days previously, by thirty-two Swiss soldiers as the threat of a riot increased. Morning negotiations resulted in the removal of the guns but by 2.30 the other demands, made in the name of the citizens’ militia representing the people of Paris, had been rejected. The governor’s authority, he reminded them, came not from the people below but from the king above.

Louis himself had by now embarked on a day’s hunting in the countryside surrounding his palace of Versailles thirty miles and a three-hour coach drive south-west of Paris. The crowd’s negotiators, needing further instructions, went to the Hôtel de Ville. The sixty Paris districts, formed for the recent elections to the national Estates-General, had produced a college of 470 electors. This assembly met at the Hôtel de Ville and was now the effective popular government of Paris. But at about 1.30 p.m. the restless crowd took matters into their own hands and pushed their way across the drawbridge, which had suddenly come crashing down. Shooting now began in the inner courtyard. The drawbridge chains had been cut by some of the crowd themselves but, unaware of that fact, most of the insurgents had assumed that they were being allowed into the Bastille. The shooting therefore seemed further confirmation of a royalist pattern of lying and plotting. By 3.30 p.m. experienced soldiers and officers, armed with guns seized from the barracks of the Invalides, had joined the crowd and were now organizing them for victory. Two cannon were aimed directly at the wooden gate of the Bastille. At 5 p.m. de Launay pushed a note through a chink in the drawbridge wall of the inner courtyard; he wanted an honourable evacuation otherwise he would light the gunpowder and so destroy most of the immediate area. His ploy failed and the request was refused. At which point, with all hope of defence abandoned, the inner drawbridge came down.

The Bastille had surrendered. Inside just seven prisoners were discovered, but eighty-three insurgents had been killed and a further fifteen would die of their wounds. Only one of the defenders had died and just one was wounded. Popular justice demanded a suitable revenge. The governor was marched through the streets of Paris filled now with crowds who abused him. Outside the Hôtel de Ville the procession stopped as the excitable crowd debated the governor’s fate. De Launay invited his own end. He kicked a pastry cook named Desnot in the groin and fell to the ground under a hail of blows as the swords of his enemies hacked him to death. Desnot then took out his pocket knife and sawed off the former governor’s head. It was the French revolution’s first political beheading and the beginning of its pursuit of the politics of atrocity.

Early July was always a particularly bad time not just for the French urban poor but also for the not-so-poor. Bread prices, just before the harvest grain became available, were then at their highest and some three-quarters of the average wageearner’s disposable income was invariably spent on bread. It was also the time when the quarterly bills, including rent, were due. The price of a loaf had hit an all-time high in Paris on that morning of the 14th and many of those who attacked the Bastille would have been very hungry. But it was also the capital’s political climate which caused them to act.

Money had always been a problem for the cash-strapped French monarchy with its tradition of aggressive, expansionist and expensive foreign wars. Need for money, rather than any genuine desire for reform, was the reason why Louis XVI decided to summon the Estates General for May 1789 – the first time it had met since 1614. Once assembled, however, that body proved less ready to grant the king his taxes than to express its own ideas about how France should be run; and its most critical element was determined to assert its own authority. On 6 May the Third Estate, the part which represented the commoners, refused to meet as a body separate from the First Estate representing the nobles and the Second representing the clergy. It went on to call itself the National Assembly and supportive members of the other two estates joined the new body. On 17 June the Assembly members took an oath not to dissolve until France had been given a constitution guaranteeing individual rights and liberties. This was an ambition which had surfaced regularly among those critical of the ancien régime – the system of inherited privilege and feudal order. It had been expressed by dissident intellectuals such as Voltaire and Diderot who were instrumental in disseminating the values of the Enlightenment in France. The constitutional agenda was no longer just chatter and pamphleteering; by the summer of 1789 it had become a sustained political challenge to the monarchy.

The Bastille was an appropriate, if not a planned, point of revolutionary departure. Although in 1789 it contained so few actual prisoners, it remained a place of immense symbolic power because it represented the ambition and the ability of the French monarchy to govern secretively and without reference to written law. For over a century and a half, ever since Cardinal Richelieu had first used it as a place of incarceration, the Bastille’s prisoners had been detained non-judicially because of a lettre de cachet issued by the king. Most of the prisoners were there because their views and writings were considered dangerous. This therefore was one of the most politically charged places in all of France.

It was the king’s sudden decision to dismiss his finance minister Necker on 11 July which created the crisis in Parisian public order. Necker’s appointment, just a year previously, had carried with it a commitment to the reform of taxation and of governmental corruption, since he had a deserved reputation for personal honesty. The fear of the Parisian streets, shared by a broad body of opinion among the respectable and propertied classes, was of a royalist coup d’état. Louis XVI’s own reputation for indecisiveness and double-dealing was another factor. Foreign troops, including the much-hated Austrian ones, had been ordered into Paris to maintain order. The French monarchy was losing its grip because it was forfeiting its claim to the affections and loyalty of the people. The decision of Louis XIV to leave Paris and the Louvre for his new court at Versailles had created over a century of disaffection and distance between Paris and the monarchy. In addition by 1789 newly volatile public opinion also thought the crown was unpatriotic – a judgement vindicated by Louis’ Austrian queen, Marie-Antoinette, and her reputation for spendthrift arrogance.

In the days immediately following 14 July the king had to withdraw his forces from Paris, dismiss his reactionary ministry, and then reappoint Necker. On 17 July he travelled to Paris where, on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville, he accepted the blue and red cockade which represented the city of Paris and then fixed this rosette to his hat. French kingship was no longer a sacred power and subjects were becoming citizens.

The National Assembly had wanted a peaceful reform process and one which would guarantee liberty, the rights of property and freedom of expression. Those goals were expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen which was adopted on 26 August 1789. The document finished the ancien régime in France and its influence spread to most of continental Europe. But revolutionary dynamism would have its own inner, uncontrollable and totalitarian logic. New leaders such as Robespierre emerged – men who were ready to use violence to achieve political goals. Divisions between the democratic towns and the more conservative countryside led to civil war in the south and west of France. The extreme revolution also launched a brutal campaign of de-Christianization because its aim was not just a new French government but also a new revolutionary humanity. This bloody process was consumed by its own violence amidst the guillotines and murders of 1793–4, the Year of Terror. In the damp morning fog of 21 January 1793 the deposed king was taken from his prison in the mediaeval keep of the Temple and escorted by 1,200 guards to the guillotine. France had been officially a republic since the previous September and Louis XVI was now ‘Louis Capet’ – one citizen among millions. The newly elected National Convention had been both judge and jury in his trial and, by a majority of 75 among the 721 members who voted, condemned Louis to death on account of his deceitful plotting against the revolution. A twelve-inch blade fell and the executioner took the bleeding head out of the basket to show it to the people. Some dipped their fingers in the flowing blood, others used their handkerchiefs to mop it up. Kingship, as well as a king, had been slaughtered.

Nineteenth-century European politics would be shaped by the fear of the liberal and propertied classes that democracy, though inevitable and even desirable, had to be controlled. Otherwise it would lead to bloodshed followed by a dictatorship whose powers would exceed any of the abuses that had originally led to revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte, the general of genius who was thrown up by the revolution, rose from humble Corsican origins because of the new and meritocratic opportunities that were created in the 1790s. The fact that he established a military despotism which closed down French democracy was the final and sardonic culmination of the events unleashed by those who had stormed the Bastille.

The German perspective of the coming Allied operations to clear the Scheldt Estuary. I

One of the questions, is why did the Germans put up such a difficult, hard defence when at this late stage in the war most of the German generals probably knew the war could not be won by Germany. So why keep fighting? The cost to the Allies and the Germans in terms of men and materiel was very high. This is probably something we shall never really know for sure. What we do know is that Hitler ordered the Germans to fight to the last man. We know that von Rundstedt issued this same directive to his troops in the Scheldt. This order was passed down the line, from the high-ranking officer to the private soldier.

However, in many cases the Germans would not fight to the last man, but surrender to the advancing Allies. In other cases, fanatical German officers forced their men to keep fighting or face being shot if they tried to surrender. Many believed that their families back in Germany would be killed if they didn’t keep on fighting.

The Germans knew they would be fighting a defensive battle. Also, they must have realised there was no way that they were going to win that battle. All they could do was stave off the inevitable collapse and surrender for as long as possible.

Prior to, and immediately after, the fall of Antwerp to the Allies on 4 September, Montgomery’s attention was on Operation Market Garden, the ill-fated airborne assault on Arnhem. Approved by Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, Operation Market Garden was a compromise for Montgomery. As we have already seen, Montgomery wanted a massive force of forty divisions punching a narrow front across the northern part of Germany all the way to Berlin. He believed that the Germans had nothing that could stop such a massive force. To achieve this plan, US General George S. Patton, commanding the US 3rd Army, would have to stop where he was and the 1st Army, commanded by General Hodges, would have to come under the command of 21st Army Group, or Montgomery. However, Eisenhower wanted an advance across a much broader front and so the two men clashed. Days went by as they argued. Finally, Eisenhower approved Montgomery’s plan for the assault on Arnhem but he would not sanction diverting much-needed supplies, ammunition and fuel away from Patton who was continuing to drive across France.

History has recorded that Operation Market Garden, which took place from 17–25 September 1944, was a failure. Yet, for two weeks after this debacle Montgomery continued to order attacks on Arnhem ‘in futile attempts to rescue the situation’, giving precious supplies to the British 2nd Army while the Canadian 1st Army had to make do.

On 9 October the situation exploded when British naval officers told Eisenhower that the Canadians had an acute shortage of ammunition and would not be able to move until 1 November. In a flash of anger, Eisenhower cabled Montgomery and demanded that he put his personal attention onto immediate operations to clear the Scheldt and get the port facilities at Antwerp up and running. According to Rawling, this cable from Eisenhower enraged Montgomery, who suspected the report about shortages of ammunition had come from the British Naval Commander-in-Chief at SHAEF, Admiral Ramsay. Monty’s reply to Eisenhower stated in no uncertain terms that there was no shortage of ammunition and that the Canadians were, in fact, advancing.

While the British were desperately trying to save the debacle of Operation Market Garden, and the bickering between Montgomery and Eisenhower continued, the Germans, specifically General Gustav von Zangen commanding the Fifteenth Army, took advantage of the breathing space and began reorganising and withdrawing. ‘At the moment, however, the nearly sixty miles wide area between Antwerp and Maastricht lay almost undefended within Allied grasp. Moving up forces to the Albert Canal between the two cities might make it possible to stem or delay the enemy’s advance.’

The Germans had positioned powerful, strong garrisons in the Channel ports they still held, Le Havre, Dieppe, Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk. To guard the approaches to the south bank of the West Scheldt, von Zangen set up a strong defensive line along the Leopold Canal that would be known by the Allies as the ‘Breskens Pocket’.

On the morning of 4 September Army Group B (German) gave orders to rush the bulk of the formation to Antwerp. At that time substantial elements of 347 Infantry Division were already returning from the northern outskirts of Brussels to Antwerp by rail. They were supposed to detrain at Antwerp and take part in defence under 719 Infantry Division, but the trains rolled on to Capelles (7 miles north of Antwerp). Army Group B had been anxious to defend the city. At 0915hrs it even demanded the use of every type of civilian vehicle to rush all available naval and air force fighters to the defence of Antwerp. But the British had moved very fast, the slow moving coastal divisions had been pulled out too late, and all chance of holding Antwerp had been lost.

In the Woensdrecht area, von Zangen established another powerful defensive force to stop the Allies from entering South Beveland via its isthmus. The rest of his forces were moved across the Scheldt to Walcheren Island.

70 Infantry Division was placed directly under Fifteenth Army and set in motion from Walcheren to the area of Ghent to form a blocking line and screen off towards Antwerp. 67 and 86 Corps were withdrawing as planned. The advance party of Fifteenth Army Headquarters reached Walcheren and by the next day Army Headquarters would be complete at Middelburg. At 1800hrs Field Marshal von Rundstedt arrived at the Headquarters O.B. West, at Arenberg (near Coblenz), and resumed his former command as O.B. West and O.B. Army Group D. The opponent had used the day to close up and regroup his forces.

When General von Zangen was taken prisoner in late 1944 he was interviewed by Major General D.C. Spry DSO, who commanded the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division. Von Zangen provided his perspective of the month of September 1944 during his interrogation. It was von Zangen who commanded the German forces on the southern shore of the Scheldt. This covered the area north of Antwerp up to the Leopold Canal and onto the port towns of Breskens and Terneuzen to Woensdrecht and beyond. He was in charge of the withdrawal of German forces behind the Leopold Canal that lead to the evacuation from Breskens across the Scheldt to Flushing on Walcheren Island. Therefore, his account is especially important in providing an overall look at the plight of the Germans during this crucial time. He thought the Allies had made a great strategic mistake when they failed to push northwards out of Antwerp immediately after they had captured the city. Indeed, von Zangen believed that if the Allies had taken the opportunity and covered the relatively short distance north, between Antwerp and up to the entrance to the Beveland isthmus, much of the German Fifteenth Army would have been trapped. He stated in his interview with Major General Spry that during the evacuation from Breskens to Flushing he and his staff were constantly worried that the Allies would, indeed, push north. ‘89 Corps at first regarded the operation as a forlorn hope and for once we do not read the usual protestations that everything would have gone well but for the interference of the High Command’.

In the area north of Antwerp there was only one weak and untried German infantry division defending the area.

Although von Zangen realized that the Allies were relatively weak in Antwerp, he felt that a greater effort should have been made to advance north. By the Allies not covering this distance of about fifteen miles, he was able to bring out 62,000 men and 580 guns. This force was thus able to take up positions south of the Maas and play an important part in frustrating the object of the Allied airborne landings at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem.

In his interview, von Zangen stated that the sudden fall of Antwerp had placed the Germans in a very awkward position because they had very few available troops in this region. Because of the scarcity of information on Allied progress, individual German officers had to act on their own initiative. One such officer was Lieutenant General Chill, commanding 85 Infantry Division. When he realised the Allies were approaching Brussels, on 2 September he positioned his division along the lines of the Escaut and Albert Canals through Henenthals to Hasselt. When Antwerp fell to the Allies on 4 September, Chill’s troops, reinforced with German police, security troops and stragglers, held this thin line behind the canals. The following day, the German High Command, realising how precarious their line east of Antwerp was, ordered General Reinhardt, commanding 88 Corps, to move into the sector held by Chill. In addition, 719 Infantry Division was sent from Holland to bolster Reinhardt’s force. After slowly making its way southwards, 719 managed to take up positions north and east of Antwerp. Reinhardt was able to hold the canals with this inexperienced and weak force while the Fifteenth Army made its escape to Walcheren Island. As the divisions made their appearance on the mainland they reassembled and then thickened the line being held by Reinhardt. During this period 88 Corps was under General Kurt Student’s First Parachute Army.

With all hope gone for a breakout, and with pressure from the South increasing steadily, Fifteenth Army’s situation had become precarious. Enemy spearheads were at Poperinghe, Ypres, Cruyshautem and Deynze. There was heavy fighting at Bevers and Eyne, German forces at Ghent had been thrown back to the northern outskirts of the city. Battle Group 226 Infantry Division had reached Dunkirk, 5 Sec Regiment Boulogne. Further east First Parachute Army had assumed command in the Antwerp Hasselt sector.

Initially, von Zangen crossed to Walcheren Island with his troops during the evacuation but he soon returned to Breskens where he remained until he was captured.

When von Zangen left Walcheren he left two lastditch garrisons holding north and south of the Scheldt. He thereby deprived the Allies of the use of the port facilities in Antwerp until these garrisons were eliminated. Although Walcheren had been designated as a fortress long before the fall of Antwerp, von Zangen received his orders to hold south of the Scheldt only about 12 September. He therefore ordered 64 Infantry Division to defend to the last in the Breskens area, while 70 Infantry Division held Walcheren Island. In von Zangen’s opinion the object of these fortress troops was two-fold. First, to deny port facilities and second, to hold down as many Allied troops as possible. Von Zangen claims he did not have any definite idea as to how long Walcheren would hold, but he did believe that it would last at least three to four weeks after a serious attack against it was begun.

During his interview with Major General Spry von Zangen talked about the effect that Operation Market Garden had on the disposition of his forces and the difficulties he faced.

The air landings had placed the Army Group in a most precarious position, particularly so in the Eindhoven area, where First Parachute Army was under attack from north and south. The severity of this crisis, however, did not diminish Hitler’s interest in the defence of the Scheldt estuary. Again he demanded that the entrance to the river be kept in German hands at all events.

According to the author of The Campaign In North West Europe, Information From German Sources, Part 3, the German Naval Special Staff Knuth reported on 24 September that 86,100 men, 616 guns, 6,200 horses, 6,200 vehicles and 6,500 bicycles had been ferried from Terneuzen and Breskens across the Scheldt. The report does not say exactly where this materiel was sent but one can assume that it was dispersed throughout South Beveland, North Beveland and Walcheren Island, as well as some of the smaller islands further up the Dutch coast beyond the Waal River. Those German defences left behind took up positions from Antwerp to the area north west of Hertogenbosch. The 67 Infantry Corps was responsible for the area from Antwerp to Turnhout, while 88 Infantry Corps took over the rest of the Army area. The 67 Infantry Corps had under command 711, 346 and 29 Infantry Divisions, while 88 Infantry Corps was composed of 245, 59, 89 and 712 Infantry Divisions.

Of course, re-taking Antwerp was out of the question for the Germans. Von Zangen knew his force wasn’t equal to the task and that there was very little chance of him being reinforced with any more troops.

The High Command order of 4 September had clothed the commander of Walcheren Island with the powers of a fortress commander. Instructions to such commanders were strict and simple. They were to hold out to the last. According to General von Zangen the High Command now designated Walcheren as ‘Scheldt Fortress North’, and the Breskens area north of the Leopold Canal as ‘Scheldt Fortress South’, and selected 70 Infantry Division to defend the former and 64 Infantry Division the latter. Neither Walcheren nor Breskens were fortresses in the strict sense of the word, of course, but they were called so to define and stress the concomitant obligations of the troops and commanders.

So, as September 1944 came to a close, the Germans were defensively ready for whatever the Allies could throw at them. The flat waterlogged land, with dykes and canals acting as natural defensive barriers to any assault, led the Germans to believe they had every reason to feel they were secure. However, they would soon discover what the Allies were made of. October would prove to be a disaster for the Germans.

Having looked a little at the perspective of General Gustav von Zangen, as commander of the Fifteenth Army and the man responsible for the defences on the south shore of the West Scheldt, it is worth taking a look at another German point of view. This time, that perspective comes from Lieutenant General William Daser, commander of 70 Infantry Division and in charge of the German defenders on Walcheren Island. Interrogated after the war by the Allies, what follows is his viewpoint as recounted by the author of The Campaign in North West Europe Information From German Sources, Part 3.

Lieutenant General Daser knew the islands of Walcheren, South Beveland and North Beveland quite well. His first encounter with them was as commander of 165 Reserve Infantry Division, a post he took up in the winter of 1943. The First Battalion of 89 Festungs Stamm Regiment, made up of about 1,000 men either recovering from wounds or unfit for front-line duty, augmented his garrison on the island of Walcheren. In 1944, shortly after the Normandy landings, Daser was given intelligence that another Allied landing might take place in the Antwerp area. The Normandy campaign was less than a week old when 165 Reserve Division began moving units out of their island positions to fight in France. Daser was then notified by High Command that his training division was to be given a new designation and the status of a fighting formation.

Daser’s command was a curious one. The troops who made up 70 Infantry Division largely consisted of men with digestive problems severe enough to make them liabilities in their original units. The German High Command decided to concentrate all these sick men into special Magen (Stomach) battalions where their tasks could be made lighter and their feeding better supervised. By putting all the men with stomach problems into special battalions the Germans were able to ensure the original units from where the unfit men came from remained fighting fit, while treatment of the men in the stomach battalions continued apace in order to return them to a state of full fitness. That, at least, was the theory.

The original units of fit, healthy troops under Daser’s command moved back across the Scheldt to fight in France. The invalids took their place. A dispirited General Daser soon realised that his command now consisted largely of men recovering from wounds in the stomach, or complaining of stomach ulcers or nursing stomachs that were abnormally sensitive or nervous. Daser managed to retain the original healthy staffs of his divisional and regimental headquarters, a few healthy engineers, a troop of normal artillerymen and a fit complement of company commanders. However, all of the platoon officers under his command were fellow invalids along with their men. This division was nicknamed the ‘White Bread’ division reflecting their dietary needs. Three regiments were created out of this motley division of invalids – 1018, 1019 and 1020, each of two battalions. They were supported by a fusilier battalion, their artillery regiment with three batteries of about twelve guns each along with their signalers and engineers. Outwardly, they could have been mistaken for a fighting division.

What of Daser himself? The Canadian historian provides a small glimpse of the man’s character in the report he wrote.

Daser was a well-meaning man from the Palatinate. He had shown little emotion in the earlier phases of the war and would show little on Walcheren. Quite likely, however, he received just as much or more cooperation from his tired dyspeptics than any driving Prussian could have obtained. How much longer better troops might have held out is hard to say. The main mistake of the German defence of Walcheren seems to have been faulty use of the artillery, which raises the question whether or not more competent infantry officers could and would have demanded the kind of artillery support that might have defeated the Westkapelle landings.

While Daser had a certain amount of sympathy with the High Command’s decision in creating a division like his own to provide a reasonable solution to a difficult administrative problem, he could not understand why this formation would be tasked with defending what was one of the most vital sectors in Europe – the approaches to the port of Antwerp.

He knew his division was of low fighting value, at least it appeared that way on paper, but he did not agree that even though Walcheren Island was in a part of Holland where there was an abundance of white bread, fresh vegetables, eggs and milk they should be defending the mouth of the Scheldt. Where Daser did agree with the High Command was that put into concrete defensive positions such as bunkers, pillboxes, gun emplacements and behind walls his ‘stomach’ men could probably fire a gun as well as any fit soldier.

The German perspective of the coming Allied operations to clear the Scheldt Estuary. II

With millions of men under arms, and the incidence of gastric cases high, it was inevitable that ultimately there would be a veritable little army of stomach sufferers on the borderline of employability. For various medical and administrative reasons these men were gradually separated from other categories and bonded together in ‘Stomach’ companies and battalions. In step with the progressive deterioration of the manpower situation their leisured life comes soon to an end; at first they were used for light tasks, later for heavier tasks and finally for combat duty.

Despite the disabilities of the troops in Daser’s command they were not spared the rigours of full combat. In early September the fusiliers were ordered into Belgium, in the sector around Ghent, and in a single day they lost some 300 casualties.

On 9 September, Daser reported to von Zangen at Headquarters Fifteenth Army, which was at this time in Middelburg on Walcheren. Daser was yet to move into these headquarters and von Zangen was yet to move back across to Breskens. Indeed, it was at this meeting that von Zangen told Daser that he would have to transfer command to Walcheren Island. General von Zangen explained to Daser that 712 Infantry Division would be responsible for South Beveland while 64 Infantry Division would be defending the mainland behind the line of the Leopold Canal, the Breskens Pocket, while 70 Infantry Division would take on the responsibility of defending Walcheren itself.

As our Intelligence soon became aware, these three divisions were to be controlled by 89 Corps under General von Gilsa. Although the enemy’s arrangements for defending the approaches to Antwerp were completed before the port had fallen, Daser corroborates the other evidence that the sudden capture of the city came as a complete surprise. The forces opposing our farther advance to the north had to be strengthened, and by the time that 70 Infantry Division returned to Walcheren, about 19 Sep, the original plan had been considerably modified. This meant that 712 Infantry Division having made its escape from Breskens to Flushing, had to be rushed out into Brabant, leaving the devoted 70 Infantry Division to defend both Walcheren and the two Bevelands.

After a fortnight of bitter fighting on the mainland around Wettern and Laerne, Daser’s ‘stomach’ troops were down by 700 men. In his interview, Daser related how, shortly after they landed on the mainland (prior to going back to Walcheren), he lost 1018 Infantry Regiment from his command as it was attached to 346 Infantry Division, ‘then holding a sector from Lille to Merxem, and was never seen by Daser again’. He was left with the uncomfortable realisation that he would be called upon to make a last-ditch stand on the island with what troops he had left.

During his interview, Daser was asked what he thought of the term ‘Fortress Island’, as it applied to Walcheren Island as a whole. His conception of fortress was a very limited area with sufficient supplies, ammunition, weapons, cement and so forth for enduring a lengthy siege. He thought that it initially referred to the port of Flushing on Walcheren because it had a moat and the anti-tank wall gave the town the resemblance of a proper fortress. However, von Zangen had designated the entire island as a fortress. He also referred to the area south of Scheldt in the same terms, which meant for Daser that the term no longer had any tactical meaning. Instead, it merely defined the area the Germans were going to use to make their final stand and fight to the last man and the end of their ammunition. Daser, therefore, had to fortify Walcheren in this way. ‘There was sufficient ammunition to last for eight weeks, and food for six weeks, after the Isthmus had been sealed off. Daser estimated that his troops might be able to hold out for about four weeks against a direct attack.’

It took the Allies a week to fight their way up the South Beveland isthmus to the causeway connecting the isthmus with Walcheren Island. On the sixth day after the Allied amphibious assault on the island itself, Daser surrendered the island and all his men. By that time, the vast majority of the island had been flooded by the RAF breeching the dykes that run around the coast of the island, essentially ringing it, keeping the interior of the island dry.

For late in the afternoon of 01 October the German Air Force strongpoint northeast of Domburg was bombed from the air and lost two major pieces of sea-searching and coast-watching radar equipment (one ‘Mammut’ and one ‘Wurzburg Riese’). A much more serious development occurred on 03 October, when O.B. West recorded that two waves of Allied aircraft had carried out heavy bombing attacks on Walcheren and South Beveland and had succeeded in breeching the dyke on the south coast of Walcheren. There was now danger of flooding.

If the Germans counted on gaining valuable time by defending Walcheren gun by gun and ditch by ditch, they must have been sorely disappointed to see the inundations on the island grow from day to day until there was not enough dry land to put up any kind of effective defence. By 23 October all areas lying open to flooding were covered with water. A map showing the extent of the inundations at that time was submitted to the Naval Operations Staff early in November.

However, for the Allies to get to the ‘Fortress Island’ they had to clear the south shore of the Scheldt, the Breskens coast, of German defenders. This would take four weeks of bitter, harsh fighting.

But while it is true that the small infantry forces on Walcheren could do little to protect the batteries, it is also true that larger forces would hardly have been able to postpone for long the elimination of artillery positions that were exposed to unhindered bombardment from the air, sea and land. The real strength and substance of the German defence of Walcheren was embodied in the various Naval Coast Artillery and Antiaircraft Batteries.

In March 1944, the Germans laid down the policy for defending Walcheren Island and South and North Beveland. At that time Field Marshal Rommel believed that the Allied invasion had to be defended on the beaches and as such ordered that all coastal divisions were to be positioned within a 5km strip of the beaches along the coast in order to concentrate their defensive power. Essentially, all troops, reserves as well, were to be situated within this defensive zone. However, for Daser such a scheme was impractical because of the nature of the islands under his command so he asked for, and received, permission to modify his defences accordingly to fit in with the particular geographical conditions in this area. The dykes, for instance, and canals that permeate the region posed unique challenges.

On the island of Walcheren, Daser placed a 5km ring of troops that circled the island as per Rommel’s instructions in March. On the western side of North Beveland island, facing east, strongpoints were built, while on South Beveland on the southern and western coasts several field positions were dug. Some towns were designated as strongpoints such as Goes, which had defensive positions of gun emplacements, bunkers and so forth to give it all-around protection. The Beveland Canal, which cuts across the isthmus and having been designated as a second line of defence, had several defensive positions dug that faced eastwards. In order to protect against a land attack by the Allies striking from Woensdrecht or Bergen Op Zoom, another set of defensive positions was built at the very edge of the Beveland isthmus.

In his interview as a prisoner of war Daser described to his Allied captors the way in which he deployed his troops:

1020 Infantry Brigade manned the Isthmus from Woensdrecht to the Beveland Canal; 2nd Battalion 89 Festungs Stamm along the southern coast of South Beveland facing the West Scheldt; 1st Battalion 1019 G.R. in the port of Flushing; 2nd Battalion 1019 G .R. along the eastern shore of Walcheren Island and defending the causeway between Walcheren and Beveland; 1st Battalion 89 Festungs Stamm along the northwest shore to Walcheren; 3rd Battalion 89 Festungs Stamm along the southwest shore of Walcheren.

Daser also provided details of the flooding that resulted from the Allied bombing campaign on Walcheren:

In the middle of October the concrete floodwall in the northwest corner of Flushing, and at the time the narrow dam one kilometer southwest of Fort Rammekens were destroyed, each with 500–600 aerial mines with time fuses. The flood surging in immediately inundated the areas in the vicinity of the gaps, later in a part of Flushing and the district as far as West and East Souburg and finally the whole area as far as the anti-tank ditch and wall.

Daser gave information about the state of the German defences on Walcheren Island prior to the Allied amphibious assault. These details, highlighted in the appendix of the The Campaign In North-West Europe, Information From German Sources, Part 3, follow:

In accordance with the principal combat mission: ‘To repel any enemy attack from the West, and in particular in combination with the neighbouring division to the South to block the Scheldt Estuary and the port of Flushing’, the west coast of Walcheren from Vrouwenpolder to Fort Rammekens (both included) was built up ‘fort-like’ as far as possible – by a number of concrete strongpoints and resistance nests that were reinforced by field works. The northwest coast of North Beveland and the southwest coast of South Beveland were provided with field works sited in the main between individual minor strongpoints.

Organized for defence by field works were: facing east: the isthmus of Bath and a line about 3km east of the west coasts of North and South Beveland, facing both ways: the Walcheren Canal north of Middelburg, and the South Beveland Canal, for all-round defence: the town of Goes.

The northern limit of the ‘Fortress Area Flushing’ was a line of field works and individual bunkers connected by antitank ditches and walls.

a) Strongpoints:

On the main coastal points and in the rear area there were, accommodated in a series or group of concrete gun emplacements and bunkers, proof against shell fragments, and shell-proof against calibres up to 15 cm;

• all naval coast batteries (With the exception of the 22 cm battery east of Domburg),

• three heavy (15 cm) batteries and some of the light batteries of the Divisional artillery [while on the island],

• nearly all anti-landing guns, anti-tank guns, infantry guns and mortars at the coast,

• anti-tank weapons and heavy infantry weapons at the anti-tank ditch,

• crews of guns and heavy infantry weapons, observers, radio and telephone posts,

• Divisional command posts, the infantry and artillery regiments, the Senior Naval Officer, the naval coast artillery and flak unit, a part of the reserves, ammunition and food.

The walls of the bunkers were up to one metre thick, while the roofs were up to 2.5 metres. Some were covered with armour plates, many with revolving panzer cupolas, a great many were provided with panzer doors, all with heating and air conditioning installations and gas traps (air locks). All strong points were prepared for close and all-round defence by reinforced field works and were surrounded by wire entanglements and mine belts.

b) Resistance Nests:

Field fortification type resistance nests were established between individual strongpoints and at the other positions. The resistance nests were surrounded by ditches and provided with bunkers and machine gun positions, splinter-proofed with iron rails, wood, stones and earth.

c) Wire Obstacles:

All strongpoints and resistance nests, as well as entire batteries and individual positions for guns and heavy infantry weapons were encircled by wire 50 metres wide.

d) Off-shore Obstacles the Germans used:

At first individual pylons 20–30 cm thick, iron posts and rails were embedded, later on, only triangular jacks of 30 cm and thicker wood, rammed in and fastened together with iron clamps. Waterproof anti-tank mines, or grenades, were attached to the obstacles. As far as they were available, wire cables as broad as a finger were stretched between them. Concrete boxes loaded with mines or explosives were set up at different elevations from the ground.

e) Anti-tank Ditches and Anti-tank Wall:

Connecting up with existing water courses, a water ditch was dredged out from the coastal road from halfway between Flushing–Zoutelande via Koudekerke Klein Abeele (1.5 km south of Middelburg) towards Fort Rammeken. The ditch was 10 km long, 8–10 metres wide and 1.5– 2 metres deep. Beginning at the end of the ditch, a concrete anti-tank wall, 1.3 km long, 2.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide was erected.

f) Mine Obstacles:

Consisted of:

• mine belts around the individual strongpoints and resistance nests,

• lines of mines forward of the main line of resistance on the northwest and southwest coast of Walcheren,

• large fields of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in the rear area, principally east of Westkapelle. They were fenced in and marked with warning signs,

• dummy mine fields on fairly large stretches of ground in the rear area.

g) Anti Landing Obstacles:

On all surfaces suitable for the descent of paratroops or air-landing troops, especially on Walcheren and South Beveland, strong tree trunks were dug in and pounded in firmly at intervals of 15 metres. They were between 15 cm and 30 cm thick, were inserted 1.5 metres below ground and protruded 3 metres above ground; some were wired and equipped with anti -personnel or improvised mines. The lumber for this was taken to some extent from the roads with several rows of trees right on the spot, but to a greater extent from the wooded areas south of Bergen op Zoom and from outside of the divisional sector. They were moved in by rail, vehicle convoy and ship. In addition to this, the former airfield 2 km south of Middelburg was made unserviceable for landings by ditches and earth cast up.

The ‘fort-type’ installations (concrete constructions, anti-tank ditches and anti-tank wall) were created in accordance with a building programme of the Fortress Construction Staff at 89 Corps Headquarters under the direction and supervision of a Special Construction Staff of the Division by the Todt Organization and civilian construction firms. At the time of the invasion on 06 June 1944, the installations were 75% completed; by the time of the attack on the island group itself in October 1944 they had been completed.

All obstructions and field-type installations were built by the troops themselves. All mines were laid by engineers. The blocking and destruction of the ports and the preparatory work were the task of the Navy.

These were the German defences the Allies would have to deal with when they began operations to clear the Scheldt. The Germans knew the Allies were coming and they were ready for them.

The Channel Islands

The Death of Major Peirson by John Singleton Copley

The Battle of Jersey (6 January 1781) was an attempt by French forces to invade Jersey and remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the Anglo-French War. Jersey provided a base for British privateers, and France, engaged in the war as an ally of the United States, sent an expedition to gain control of the island.

The Channel Islands – in Norman Îles d’la Manche, in French Îles Anglo-Normandes or Îles de la Manche – are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks, that of Guernsey and Jersey, with their respective capitals of St Peter Port and St Helier.

The main islands of the Channel Islands are Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm, the smaller inhabited islands being Jethou, Brecqhou (Brechou) and Lihou; all except Jersey are in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. There are also uninhabited islets: the Minquiers, Ecréhous, Les Dirouilles and Les Pierres de Lecq, also known as the Paternosters, part of the Bailiwick of Jersey; and Burhou and the Casquets, which lie off Alderney. These uninhabited islands can be visited but are a valued nature reserve and secure stopover point for migrating birds.

The Channel Islands were originally part of the Dukedom of Normandy; after 1066, when the Norman prince William conquered Anglo-Saxon Britain, the islands became part of this larger domain. With the passage of time, England won and lost portions of France but the islands remained secure, protected by the fast currents, rocky coastlines and difficult seas that surround them. The advent of steam power in the nineteenth century saw this protection diminished and, with France still the main enemy, forts, barracks and batteries were built to cover the harbours and protect the coastline.

War first came to the Channel Islands on 1 May 1779 when, in support of the American colonists then in rebellion against the British, the French attempted a landing on Jersey at St Ouen’s Bay. Early that morning, British lookouts sighted five large vessels and a large number of smaller craft 9 nautical miles off the coast, on a course that made it obvious that they were intent on making a landing. Cutters and small craft supporting the landing fired grapeshot at soldiers of the 78th Regiment Highlanders and Jersey Militia who, together with some field artillery that they had dragged through the sand, had arrived in time to oppose the landing. The defenders suffered a few men wounded when a cannon burst but prevented the landing. The French vessels withdrew, first holding off 3 nautical miles from the coast before leaving the area entirely.

They would be back.

Two years later, on 5 January 1781, a new, more powerful force set out for Jersey. It consisted of 2,000 soldiers in four formations loosely called ‘divisions’. Like later commando operations against the islands, the force commander, Baron Phillipe de Rullecourt, was relying on surprise. He held the rank of colonel in the French Army, but was seen in France as an adventurer and the sort of renegade that professional soldiers despise. However, the Baron knew that citizens and soldiers on Jersey would be off their guard celebrating ‘Old Christmas Night’ on 6 January.

French officers with a more rational approach saw an attack on Jersey as a waste of resources and believed that any lodgement on the island would be short-lived – there would be echoes of this in the assessment by the Chiefs of Staff of Admiral Mountbatten’s plans for landings by the British in the Second World War.

Despite this, King Louis XVI was keen to embarrass the British in any way possible and promised de Rullecourt that if he succeeded and captured St Helier he would be promoted to general and awarded the Order of St Louis – better known as the Cordon Rouge because of its distinctive red sash. His second in command was an Indian prince known as Prince Emir, who had been captured by the British during the Anglo-French wars in India. He had been sent to France as a repatriated prisoner of war and remained in French service. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, a British veteran recalled that: ‘He looked quite barbarian, as much as his discourse; if our fate has depended on him, it would not have been of the most pleasant; he advised the French General to ransack everything and to put the town to fire and to blood.’

What makes the expedition sound very modern was that it was not officially sanctioned by the French government, and so if it failed it was ‘deniable’. Though it had no official backing, funding, equipment, transport and troops were provided by the government. In order to conceal its involvement, the government went so far as to order the ‘desertion’ of several hundred regular troops to de Rullecourt’s forces.

It looked as if the plan might work when 800 men of the First Division landed undetected by the local guard post on the night of 6 January at La Rocque, Grouville. A subsequent trial by the British authorities found that the guards had deserted their post to go drinking. The First Division remained in place during the night awaiting reinforcements. Now the plan began to unravel; 400 men of the Second Division did not make landfall when their ships were lost among the rocks – in British accounts the ships were listed as four transports escorted by a privateer. The winter weather also played a part when the shipping for the Third Division – some 600 men – became separated from the main body and so was unable to land. However, the Fourth Division of 200 men landed early the next morning at La Rocque, bringing the total strength of the French force to only 1,000 – but they still had surprise on their side.

On the morning of 6 January the First Division moved stealthily into St Helier and established defensive positions while the population were still asleep. At 8 a.m. a French patrol entered Le Manoir de la Motte and captured the governor, Major (Maj) Moses Corbet, in bed. De Rullecourt tried to bluff the governor that the French were on the island in overwhelming strength, and threatened to sack the town if the governor did not sign a capitulation. Under the circumstances, Corbet showed considerable moral courage when he said that, as a prisoner, he had no authority and that any signature would be ‘of no avail’. However, under pressure from de Rullecourt he eventually signed.

The bluff looked as if it might work when, under escort, Corbet was then pressurised to order Captains Aylward and Mulcaster, the young officers in command at Elizabeth Castle, to surrender. If the castle was secured, St Helier would be under French control. However, not only would Aylward and Mulcaster not surrender, but they opened fire, causing two or three French casualties. The French withdrew.

Though the governor was a prisoner, 24-year-old Maj. Francis Peirson, in command of the garrison at St Peter’s Barracks, was beginning to build up a picture of the strength of the invading forces – in modern terminology the information was coming in from ‘Humint’, or human intelligence: what the locals had seen and heard. Peirson had joined the army in 1772 and was a veteran of the American War of Independence. As he assembled his force at Mont es Pendus (now known more prosaically as Westmount), he knew that his mixed force of regular soldiers and militia had grown to 2,000 men and outnumbered the French two-to-one. He would counter-attack.

In St Helier, the French had camped in the market and positioned captured British guns to cover the likely approaches. Though these guns were a valuable enhancement to their firepower, they had not located the British howitzers that were later to play a significant part in the Battle of Jersey.

Peirson worked fast. He sent the 78th Highland Regiment of Foot, who were part of the Regular Army garrison, to secure Mont de la Ville (now Fort Regent) to block any French withdrawal. When he reckoned they were in position, he ordered the main body to attack. Bluffing, and trying to play for time, de Rullecourt sent the governor to offer capitulation terms, with the threat that if the British did not sign in sixty minutes St Helier would be put to fire and the sword.

He had not reckoned with Peirson and Captain Campbell, commanding the Grenadier Company of the 83rd Regiment of Foot, who simply gave the French commander twenty minutes to surrender.

In Grouville, the 83rd Regiment of Foot had also refused to surrender, and in a somewhat overdramatic but prescient outburst, de Rullecourt is reported to have said: ‘Since they do not want to surrender, I have come here to die.’

The French were outnumbered, but would also be outfought. Though they were able to fire the captured cannon once or twice, the British howitzer crew in the Grande Rue directly opposite the market, in the words of an eyewitness, ‘cleaned all the surroundings of French’.

If men had not died in the action that followed, the Battle of Jersey would be remembered as a slightly farcical episode. It lasted about fifteen minutes. Many of the British soldiers were so confined in the streets of St Helier that, with no clear view of their enemies, they fired their muskets into the air. Finally, while some of the British regiments, such as the 78th Regiment, 95th Regiment of Foot and South-East, had obviously ‘British’ titles, the Battalion of St Lawrence and the Compagnies de Saint-Jean sound as if they should have been in the French order of battle.

Using Corbet as an intermediary, de Rullecourt tried bluffing the British commander, saying that the French had two battalions of infantry supported by a company of artillery at La Rocque, only fifteen minutes’ march away. Through local intelligence, the British knew the true strength of the French forces. Forty-five elite grenadiers from the 83rd Regiment of Foot held off 140 French soldiers until reinforcements from the South-East Regiment arrived, and this proved to be the tipping point. The French broke, suffering thirty dead and wounded and seventy prisoners. Survivors fled through the countryside, trying to reach their boats, but many were caught.

The fight went out of the French when, through the clouds of gun smoke, they saw de Rullecourt tumble to the ground, hit by a musket ball. Some of the invaders threw down their weapons and ran, but others took up positions in the houses around the market and continued to trade shots.

For de Rullecourt, it was perhaps for the best that his fatal wish was granted and he died from his wounds on 7 January. Earlier, Maj. Peirson, leading from the front, had also been fatally wounded by a sniper in the battle in the square, but his troops, led by Lieutenant Dumaresq, had held their nerve and fought on. Peirson’s servant, Pompey, located the sniper and shot him dead. The British took 600 prisoners, who were shipped to England. British Regular Army losses were eleven dead and thirty-six wounded, among them Captain Charlton of the Royal Artillery, wounded while he was a prisoner of the French. The Jersey Militia suffered four dead and twenty-nine wounded.

To forestall similar attacks during the Napoleonic Wars, Martello Towers were constructed along the coast. Twenty were built on Jersey and fifteen on Guernsey. They were intended both as lookouts and gun platforms to prevent landings, and can be found at St Ouen’s Bay, St Aubin’s Bay and Grouville Bay on Jersey and the northern part of Guernsey. One tower, at L’Etacq on Jersey, was demolished by the German occupation force to give a better field of fire for more modern weapons.

Older fortifications were improved, among the most imposing of which is Castle Cornet on Guernsey, which covers the approaches to St Peter Port. The castle used to be the residence of the governor, and indeed during the last throws of the English Civil War, it was the final remaining Royalist stronghold, having in the process lobbed cannonballs into the town. Partly for that reason, apart from the town church, many of today’s buildings are of eighteenth-century origin. It was superseded by Fort George, which was completed in 1812, during the Napoleonic Wars.

The castle occupies such a tactically significant location that the Georgians built a barracks and battery close by and incorporated the castle into these defences. In surveying many of the existing fortifications in 1940, the Germans pronounced them tactically soundly positioned and went on to improve them further.

Covenanters Arise! Part II

Rullion Green 1666

The prevailing conditions during the march from Lanark were appalling; it was the onset of winter with incessant freezing rain which made the dirt roads almost impassable. Not surprisingly, there were defections along the way, especially when James Wallace learnt that General Tam Dalyell was close on his heels. Vague promises were made; if the rebels laid down their arms, their lives would be spared. The Covenanter leaders had been led to believe that the townspeople of Edinburgh and the surrounding district were favourably disposed to their grievances which, sadly, was very far from the truth; the countryfolk on the outskirts of Edinburgh were at best sullen, at worst aggressive. Reaching Colinton Village about three miles west of Edinburgh, the dissidents conceded defeat; their only safe retreat to Ayrshire lay by way of the Pentland Hills, an area of bleak, inhospitable moors and boggy terrain. On 28 November they camped at Rullion Green; it was a frosty day and snow had fallen the night before. Wallace had intelligence that Dalyell was advancing from the west; messengers from the Duke of Hamilton arrived, pleading that Wallace and his men should surrender; Wallace responded, copying his reply to Dalyell saying that that he would surrender but only on condition that the Covenanters’ grievances would be addressed. Nothing was agreed. By now Wallace commanded only 900 wet, hungry and dispirited men, many of them lacking proper weapons. He formed his force to withstand Dalyell’s attack, expected at any minute; the horse were deployed on each wing, the right commanded by himself, the left by a Major Learmont. The largely unarmed infantry were placed in the centre. With this meagre force how could Wallace hope to defeat Dalyell’s 3,000 well armed, well disciplined and well fed men? Then suddenly Dalyell appeared, forming his dragoons up for the attack.

Hunger and the appalling weather had already sapped the strength and morale of the dissident Covenanters. Wallace had placed his men on Bell’s Hill, a favourable position to confront Dalyell’s troops; Major Learmont managed to repulse the first cavalry charge on the left wing, then a second. Fresh troops were brought up and Dalyell advanced steadily, then he ordered simultaneous attacks on both wings which were successful, bringing his troopers face-to-face with Wallace’s dispirited infantry. The outcome was never in any doubt; as that dreary November day drew to a close, the Covenanters broke and fled, leaving at least fifty dead on the field with about the same number taken prisoner. Dalyell’s losses were negligible. Many of those who escaped death or capture never made it home; some perished in the treacherous Pentland Hills bogs, others were reputedly despatched by the local peasantry. There is a single grave monument which might be said to refute the latter accusation. Near Cauldstane Slap, about twelve miles from Rullion Green, a solitary tombstone existed in 1913 bearing the following inscription:

Sacred To the memory of A Covenanter Who fought and was wounded at Rullion Green November 28, 1666 And who died at Oaken Bush the day after the battle And was buried here by Adam Sanderson of Blackhill.

The site of Rullion Green is commemorated by a single small stone fashioned in the shape of a common and popular seventeenth century headstone; known as the Martyrs’ Stone, it marks the last resting place of ‘fifty true Covenanter Presbyterians’.

Dalyell led the sorry survivors of Rullion Green to Edinburgh where his troopers combed the streets for sympathizers; those who paused to watch the captives being led into the High Street Tolbooth no doubt did so in silence lest they might be implicated and taken into custody. The prisoners were subsequently brought before the High Court of Justiciary where they were interrogated by two formidable lawyers, Sir George Lockhart and Sir George Mackenzie (later known as ‘Bluidy Mackenzie’). Mackenzie put a case for clemency on that occasion as the captives had been granted quarter at Rullion Green. Mackenzie argued that if clemency were denied, no one would ever again trust a promise of quarter. He was overruled on the grounds that the Rullion Green prisoners were not participants in a war, but guilty of an act of sedition. This manipulation of the facts was deliberate on the part of the prosecution which demanded nothing less than blood; the Pentland Rising, the alternative name for Rullion Green, had been proclaimed a rebellion, now it was reduced to a seditious act, punishable by imprisonment and even death. The argument was that the rules of war were inappropriate in this case. Ten of the prisoners were hanged on 7 December 1666; another five shared the same fate on 14 December. After execution the victims’ right arms were cut off, these being the arms with which they had saluted the Covenant at Lanark; the severed limbs were sent to that town for public exhibition. During the subsequent witch-hunt, another twenty-five men were hanged – four in Glasgow and a large number in Ayr. A further fifty were transported in prison ships to Barbados. Rullion Green only served to stiffen resistance; the slaughter on a dismal November morning of men who had followed the dictates of their conscience would not be forgotten.

Even Charles II, the implacable enemy of Scottish Presbyterianism in general and the ‘irreconcilable’ Covenanters in particular, admitted that the Pentland Rising had been clumsily managed; the cruelty meted out only served to create martyrs. So the King made concessions to those who resided in the centre of anarchy in south-west Scotland; prayer meetings could be held as long as they were conducted indoors. Charles hoped that this concession would bring back the stray sheep to a church run by bishops subservient to himself. The hard-core radicals refused to comply. The open air Conventicles increased in number and size until they took on the appearance of military musters rather than prayer meetings. Charles was incensed by this flagrant disobedience; he was determined to bring the irreconcilables to heel with force. Between 1666 and 1673 several of the ringleaders, hellfire preachers like Alexander ‘Prophet’ Peden, minister of the parish of New Luce in Galloway, refused to sign Charles’s Oath of Allegiance to the bishops and by extension the King himself. (The concept of ‘loyal opposition’ had not yet become accepted.) Of the 1,000 Presbyterian ministers preaching in Scotland, Peden and 260 others refused to comply. Peden was obliged to take to the heather, always one step ahead of his pursuers until he was captured in 1673 and thrown into the dank dungeon on the Bass Rock, off North Berwick, East Lothian. In time the Rock would become a prison for others of the same stamp, men like John Blacader, or Blackadder, who died on the Bass Rock for his principles.

At least one positive result from Rullion Green was the appointment of the Earl of Lauderdale as virtual governor of Scotland in 1667; Lauderdale replaced the bitter enemy of the Covenanters, James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews known as Judas Sharp to the irreconcilables. Lauderdale pursued a more conciliatory policy towards the irreconcilables and for the moment, peace was restored. However, in 1667, a propagandist book entitled Naphtali was published in support of the Covenanter cause. (Naphtali was the son of Jacob; in the Book of Genesis, he is described as ‘a hound let loose; he giveth goodly words’.) The book listed all the fines that the government’s agent Sir James Turner had exacted from the dissidents; not surprisingly, Turner disputed the facts. Although the author of Naphtali was our old friend Anonymous, the book was written by two men – James Goodtrees, son of a former Edinburgh provost and James Stirling, a Paisley minister. The book was immediately banned and publicly burned. Anyone caught in possession of a copy was subject to a fine of £10,000; it was described as ‘a damned book that came to Scotland from beyond the sea’. Naphtali so incensed Andrew Honeyman, Bishop of Orkney, a prelate in the same mould as Archbishop Sharp that he was moved to publish a counter-blast. In 1668 Honeyman and Sharp were shot at in their coach in Edinburgh; Sharp escaped unscathed, Honeyman was wounded. Their would-be assassin, the Reverend James Mitchell, a minister who had taken part in the Pentland Rising walked away free; he would remain at large until 1678.

During the next three years, Lauderdale’s lenient policy towards the recalcitrant Covenanters grew harsher. Open air Conventicles had become more numerous; what was worse, those who attended them had begun to carry weapons as well as their Bibles. This produced an understandable knee-jerk from Lauderdale; every year of his administration of Scotland from 1670 was marked by ever-increasing severity towards the irreconcilables. For this and other achievements, Lauderdale was elevated to the rank of Duke in 1672. No matter, Conventicles spread from the south-west to Fife, the coastal farmlands of Moray and Easter Ross as well as East Lothian and Berwickshire. In 1677 the Privy Council ordered a half-company (about thirty troopers) of the Earl of Linlithgow’s Regiment to be quartered at Dunbar ready to act against Conventicles being held in the vicinity.

In 1678 the would-be assassin of Archbishop Sharp, James Mitchell was brought to justice. Lauderdale would have spared Mitchell but Sharp insisted that Mitchell be despatched on the gallows in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, a demand which was duly carried out, making another martyr for the cause of the Covenanters. By way of revenge for Mitchell’s execution Sharp was murdered on 3 May 1679 at Magus Muir, two miles from St Andrews. This episode brought a dismal close to Lauderdale’s administration and caused yet another armed conflict between the government forces and the Covenanters.