Cinderella Campaign: First Canadian Army and the Channel Port Battles

They thought of themselves as the “Cinderella Army,” and international correspondents agreed. This was because First Canadian Army had been relegated to the left flank of the Allied advance toward Germany from the Normandy beaches and given the tough, thankless task of opening the Channel ports from Le Havre to Ostend in Belgium. Then suddenly in early September 1944, securing these ports became an Allied priority, as this would allow Field Marshal Montgomery to drive to the Rhine with Operation Market Garden and win the war before Christmas.

Given only scant access to the Allied supply chain, the Canadians and their British partners in I Corps tackled the task assigned. Just getting to the ports proved a terrific undertaking fought against brutal German resistance. And once there, they faced fortresses that had been prepared for years to defeat an attack. “Lost outposts,” the Allies called them, but the Germans within were not going to give up easily. And so over the month of September, the Canadians set about fighting for control of each port, scrambling for supplies while under constant military pressure to get those ports open now. For Canada this was the Cinderella Campaign, the battle for the Channel ports. For those who fought it, the sacrifice of comrades dead and wounded would never be forgotten. Read excerpt….