OPERATION "WELLHIT" –

THE CAPTURE OF BOULOGNE (17-22 SEP)

 

1.       The fall of LE HAVRE released to 2 Cdn Corps the strong body of armour and artillery required for 3 Cdn Inf Div's assault on BOULOGNE, and made available for supporting air operations the services of R.A.F. Bomber Command. Top priority was given to the movement by transporter of the assault equipment -- crocodiles, A.V.R.E., flails and kangaroos used by 1 Brit Corps in Operation "ASTONIA" (G.O.C.-in-Cs. Morning Conference, 11 Sep 44; and W.D., 1 Cdn Armd Personnel Carrier Sqn, 13 Sep 44). At the same time R.A.f 51 (H) Inf Div and 9 A.G.R.A. were transferred to the BOULOGNE area to join 2 Cdn A.G.R.A. and R.C.A., 3 Cdn Inf Div, for the artillery's part in the coming operation (W.D., H.Q., 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., September 1944, Appx No. 3, Operation "WELLHIT").

2.       To capture the BOULOGNE fortress it was early recognized that a full-scale assault would have to be mounted. On 5 Sep, 7 Cdn Recce Regt leading 3 Cdn Inf Div's pursuit from the SEINE had found BOULOGNE and CALAIS very strongly held, and 9 Cdn Inf Bde, directed on the former port, was brought to a standstill some five miles from the city. In preparation for the coming siege, and while allowing time for a thorough study of enemy dispositions and strengths pending the availability of Bomber Command and the arrival of artillery and assault equipment from the LE HAVRE theatre, two brigades of the division took up positions covering BOULOGNE. 9 Cdn Inf Bde was extended southeast and east of the city from HARDELOT (6643) on the Channel round to the south edge of the FORT DE BOULOGNE (7647). It may be noted in passing that HARDELOT was the scene of the Canadian Army's first (and abortive) cross-Channel enterprise in April 1942, when a detachment of the Carleton and York Regiment participated in the combined operation "ABERCROMBIE", a smallscale reconnaissance raid designed to secure prisoners and information (see Historical Offr's Report No. 81, Canadian Participation in Operation "ABERCROMBIE", 22 Apr 42). 8 Cdn Inf Bde was concentrated across the eastern approaches to the port in the general area CONTEVILLE (7655) -- LA CAPELLE (7554). Further to the north 7 Cdn Inf Bde was placed astride the main BOULOGNE - CALAIS road in the vicinity of BONNINGUES-LES-CALAIS (8071) so as to dominate the high ground west of CALAIS, and in position for an attack on CAP GRIS-NEZ (7679) (3 Cdn Inf Div Hist Offr's Summary of Ops, 2-9 Sep 44). Active and carefully co-ordinated patrolling became the order of both day and night, as Intelligence Staffs at Division and Brigades started to collect and collate information from every source (Hist Sec file AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F, 21 Army Gp Report, Operation "WELLHIT").

3.       There developed the picture of a formidable fortress with strong outer defences built on a ring of high features that encircled the port and protected it against landward attack. The strong points in this system, which had originally been constructed by the French and further strengthened by the Germans during the occupation, were mutually supporting to a marked degree and commanded all the approaches to the city. All contained substantial reinforced concrete gun emplacements, dug-outs and underground passages, while on the surface they were hedged about with wire and linked by extensive minefields. In addition to these infantry Defended Localities, a number of Coast Defence Batteries and fortified Radar Stations strategically placed about the area combined to make BOULOGNE one of the most strongly defended ports on the Channel coast. (See Appx "F")

4.       By far the strongest links in the chain of defences were the MONT LAMBERT (7152) and HERQUELINGUE (7049) features which together covered the landward approaches to BOULOGNE from the east and southeast. The steep slopes of these two hills, each over 150 metres high, were studded with small fortresses made up of casemated guns and guns on open emplacements, trenches, weapon pits and pillboxes (see Defence Overprint, France 1:25,000, Parts of Sheets 49 N.W. and S.W., Edition of 12 Sep 44). It was from the commanding position of MONT LAMBERT, covering from 1,000 to 2,000 yards in all directions, that the German fortress commander, Lt.-Gen. Ferdinand Heim, directed the defence operations during the opening stages of the battle. The main belt of defences, each strong point in which was to become a Canadian objective during the assault, ran through FORT DE LA CR CHE (6765), BON SECOURS (6955) and ST MARTIN BOULOGNE (7054) in the north; MONT LAMBERT and HERQUELINGUE in the centre; then across the flooded LIANE R. to MONT ST ETIENNE (6848) and NOCQUET (6548) in the south. Well to the north, centred on LA TRESORERIE (7058) and WIMEREUX (6858), were more defences, while west of the LIANE, at the tip of the OUTREAU "Peninsula" was the fortress of LE PORTEL, eventually the final stronghold of the BOULOGNE garrison commander. The city itself was strongly defended by anti-tank and machine-gun positions, road blocks of all kinds and mines and booby traps. Headquarters of the garrison was in the CITADEL, an old French fort surrounded by a moat. It was estimated that the total German garrison defending BOULOGNE numbered 8700 all ranks. They were known to be of low morale (Hist Sec file AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F--II, 21 Army Group, No. 2 Operational Research Section Report, "Air and Group Support in the Assault on BOULOGNE").

5.       With so formidable a task confronting our forces the Army Commander fully realized the need for the most careful and comprehensive preparations for the impending assault. The rapid reduction of LE HAVRE was bound to have struck a shattering blow at the none-too-high morale of the German defenders of the remaining Channel ports. It was important that this effect should not now be neutralized by an unsuccessful attack on BOULOGNE. General Simonds, commanding 2 Cdn Corps, was therefore instructed to take extra time if necessary in planning and mounting the operation in order to ensure a decisive assault (C/1-0, Operations 21 Army Group, General Crerar to JC.-in-C. 21 Army Group, 13 Sep 44). At that time (13 Sep) General Crerar contemplated a period of two weeks being required for the Canadian Corps to finish its allotted tasks and clear the coast up to the west bank of the SCHELDT.

6.       The plan for Operation "WELLHIT" (the code name given to 3 Cdn Inf Div's assault on the BOULOGNE fortress) called for a sudden heavy blow by two infantry brigades supported by an unusually great concentration of fire power. The ground attack would be preceded by heavy bombing on a long strip of enemy's most formidable defences from MONT LAMBERT to BON SECOURS. Coinciding with a comprehensive programme of timed artillery fire, 9 Cdn Inf Bde would then attack in the southern sector, with one battalion (Nth N.S. Highrs) on ST. MARTIN BOULOGNE. The brigade would then send three armoured columns straight through to capture the river bridges and cross to secure the OUTREAU "Peninsula" (Hist Sec File AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F, Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'X', 9 Cdn Inf Bde O.O.). To the north the battalions of 8 Cdn Inf Bde were to attack against MARLBOROUGH (6955) (R. de Chaud) and the northern half of ST MARTIN BOULOGNE (Q.O.R. of C.). In subsequent phases of the operation, the brigade would swing to the right to secure the northern part of BOULOGNE and reduce the defences at FORT DE LA CR CHE and WIMEREUX. Prior to H-House, N. Shore R. was to capture LA TRESORERIE, whose existence in enemy hands constituted a menacing factor to the northern assaulting brigade (Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'W', 8 Cdn Inf Bde O.O.). During the attacks by the two brigades, the southern flank was to be held by C.H. of O. (M.G.) and attached troops used by 1 Brit Corps in Operation "ASTONIA" (G.O.C.-in-Cs. Morning Conference, 11 Sep 44; and W.D., 1 Cdn Armd Personnel Carrier Sqn, 13 Sep 44). At the same time R.A. 51 (H) Inf Div and 9 A.G.R.A. were transferred to the BOULOGNE area to join 2 Cdn A.G.R.A. and R.C.A., 3 Cdn Inf Div, for the artillery's part in the coming operation (W.D., H.Q., 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., September 1944, Appx No. 3, Operation "WELLHIT").

7.       To capture the BOULOGNE fortress it was early recognized that a full-scale assault would have to be mounted. On 5 Sep, 7 Cdn Recce Regt leading 3 Cdn Inf Div's pursuit from the SEINE had found BOULOGNE and CALAIS very strongly held, and 9 Cdn Inf Bde, directed on the former port, was brought to a standstill some five miles from the city. In preparation for the coming siege, and while allowing time for a thorough study of enemy dispositions and strengths pending the availability of Bomber Command and the arrival of artillery and assault equipment from the LE HAVRE theatre, two brigades of the division took up positions covering BOULOGNE. 9 Cdn Inf Bde was extended southeast and east of the city from HARDELOT (6443) on the Channel round to the south edge of the FORT DE BOULOGNE (7647). It may be noted in passing that HARDELOT was the scene of the Canadian Army's first (and abortive) cross-Channel enterprise in April 1942, when a detachment of the Carleton and York Regiment participated in the combined operation "ABERCROMBIE", a smallscale reconnaissance raid designed to secure prisoners and information (see Historical Offr's Report No. 81, Canada Participation in Operation "ABERCROMBIE", 22 Apr 42). 8 Cdn Inf Bde was concentrated across the eastern approaches to the port in the general area CONTEVILLE (7655) -- LA CAPELLE (7554). Further to the north 7 Cdn Inf Bde was placed astride the main BOULOGNE - CALAIS road in the vicinity of BONNINGUESLES- CALAIS (8071) so as to dominate the high ground west of CALAIS, and in position for an attack on CAP GRIS-NEZ (7679) (3 Cdn Inf Div Hist Offr's Summary of Ops, 2-9 Sep 44). Active and carefully co-ordinated patrolling became the order of both day and night, as Intelligence Staffs at Division and Brigades started to collect and collate information from every source (Hist Sec file AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F, 21 Army Gp. Report, Operation "WELLHIT").

8.       There developed the picture of a formidable fortress with strong outer defences built on a ring of high features that encircled the port and protected it against landward attack. The strong points in this system, which had originally been constructed by the French and further strengthened by the Germans during the occupation, were mutually supporting to a marked degree and commanded all the approaches to the city. All contained substantial reinforced concrete gun emplacements, dug-outs and underground passages, while on the surface they were hedged about with wire and linked by extensive minefields. In addition to these infantry Defended Localities, a number of Coast Defence Batteries and fortified Radar Stations strategically placed about the area combined to make BOULOGNE one of the most strongly defended ports on the Channel coast. (See Appx "F").

9.       By far the strongest links in the chain of defences were the MONT LAMBERT (7152) and HERQUELINGUE (7049) features which together covered the landward approaches to BOULOGNE from the east and southeast. The steep slopes of these two hills, each over 150 metres high, were studded with small fortresses made up of casemated guns and guns on open emplacements, trenches, weapon pits and pillboxes (see Defence Overprint, France 1:24,000, Parts of Sheets 49 N.W. and S.W., Edition of 12 Sep 44). It was from the commanding position of MONT LAMBERT, covering from 1,000 to 2,000 yards in all directions, that the German fortress commander, Lt.-Gen. Ferdinand Heim, directed the defence operations during the opening stages of the battle. The main belt of defences, each strong point in which was to become a Canadian objective during the assault, ran through FORT DE LA CRECHE (6765), BON SECOURS (6955) and ST MARTIN BOULOGNE (7054) in the north; MONT LAMBERT and HERQUELINGUE in the centre; then across the flooded LIANE R. to MONT ST яя TIENNE (6848) and NOCQUET (6548) in the south. Well to the north, centred on LA TRESORERIE (7058) and WIMEREUX (6858), were more defences, while west of the LIANE, at the tip of the OUTREAU "Peninsula" was the fortress of LE PORTEL, eventually the final stronghold of the BOULOGNE garrison commander. The city itself was strongly defended by anti-tank and machine-gun positions, road blocks of all kinds and mines and booby traps. Headquarters of the garrison was in the CITADEL, an old French fort surrounded by a moat. It was estimated that the total German garrison defending BOULOGNE numbered 8700 all ranks. They were known to be of low morale (Hist Sec file AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F--II, 21 Army Group, No. 2 Operational Research Section Report, "Air and Group Support in the Assault on BOULOGNE").

10.    With so formidable a task confronting our forces the Army Commander fully realized the need for the most careful comprehensive preparations for the impending assault. The rapid reduction of LE HAVRE was bound to have struck a shattering blow at the none-too-high morale of the German defenders of the remaining Channel ports. It was important that this effect should not now be neutralized by an unsuccessful attack on BOULOGNE. General Simonds, commanding 2 Cdn Corps, was therefore instructed to take extra time if necessary in planning and mounting the operation in order to ensure a decisive assault (C/1-0, Operations 21 Army Group, General Crerar to C.-in-C. 21 Army Group, 13 Sep 44). At that time (13 Sep) General Crerar contemplated a period of two weeks being required for the Canadian Corps to finish its allotted tasks and clear the coast up to the west bank of the SCHELDT.

11.    The plan for Operation "WELLHIT" (the code name given to 3 Cdn Inf Div's assault on the BOULOGNE fortress) called for a sudden heavy blow by two infantry brigades supported by an unusually great concentration of fire power. The ground attack would be preceded by heavy bombing on a long strip of enemy's most formidable defences from MONT LAMBERT to BON SECOURS. Coinciding with a comprehensive programme of timed artillery fire, 9 Cdn Inf Bde would then attack in the southern sector, with one battalion (Nth N.S. Highrs) directed on MONT LAMBERT, and another (S.D. & G Highrs) on ST. MARTIN BOULOGNE. The brigade would then send three armoured columns straight through the capture the river bridges and cross to secure the OUTREAU "Peninsula" (Hist Sec File AEF/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F, Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'X', 9 Cdn Inf Bde O.O.). To the north the battalions of 8 Cdn Inf Bde were to attack against MARLBOROUGH (6955) (R. de Chaud). In subsequent phases of the operation, the brigade would swing to the right to secure the northern part of BOULOGNE and reduce the defences at FORT DE LA CRECHE and WIMEREUX. Prior to H-Hour, N. Shore R. was to capture LA TRESORERIE, whose existence in enemy hands constituted a menacing factor to the northern assaulting brigade (Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'W', 8 Cdn Inf Bde O.O.). During the attacks by the two brigades, the southern flank was to be held by C.H. of O. (M.G.) and attached troops simulating a brigade group. The enemy would be contained to the north by two battalions of 7 Cdn Inf Bde in the CAP GRIS NEZ area, and by 7 Cdn Recce Regt south of CALAIS. The remaining battalion of 7 Cdn Inf Bde (1 C. Scot R.) was placed in divisional reserve on the main BOULOGNE - ST OMER highway at the crossroads (8254) west of COLEMBERT (Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'V', 3 Cdn Inf Div O.O.).

12.    Arrangements for the air aspect of Operation "WELLHIT" (and the attack on CALAIS) were completed at a meeting held at H.Q. A.E.A.F. on 15 Sep, and attended by C. of S. and S.A.S.O. First Cdn Army, the Commander and C. of S. 2 Cdn Corps, and representatives of A.E.A.F. and R.A.F. Bomber Command (W.D., G.S., H.Q., 2 Cdn Corps, 15 Sep 44). It was agreed that air support should be given in full measure. Five targets were selected for attack by heavy bombers. No. 1 in the MONT LAMBERT - BON SECOURS area, was to be bombed for 90 minutes (0825 - 0955 hrs). The fall of the last bomb on this target would mark H-Hour, the signal for the ground troops to cross their start lines (Operation "WELLHIT", Annx 'Z', 3 Cdn Inf Div Ops Log, Ser 1). The remaining four targets, all of them on the west side of the LIANE R., on the ST яя TIENNE - NOCQUET - LE PORTEL positions, would be bombed from H-plus -1 to H-plus-3 hours (W.D., G.S., H.Q., 2 Cdn Corps, September 1944, Appx 12, Op "WELLHIT", "Heavy Bomber Effort"). It was hoped that this bombardment would effectively deal with the enemy gun positions across the river and thus relieve the artillery of counter battery commitments in that area. The heavy bombers effort thus planned was to be in addition to support given by R.P. Typhoons, fighter bombers and medium bombers of Second Tactical Air force (84 Group and 2 Group). (W.D., G. Air, H.Q., First Cdn Army, 12-19 Sep 44). These were on call at short notice (engagement of R.P. targets could be expected within 30 minutes) for attacks mainly on enemy batteries both prior to and during the actual assault (W.D., G.S., H.Q., 3 Cdn Inf Div, September 1944, Appx 21, Op "WELLHIT", "R/P and Fighter Bomber Air Support"; see also 21 Army Group O.R.S. Report, 2).

13.    The supporting artillery provided for Operation "WELLHIT" consisted of R.C.A. 3 Cdn Inf Div, R.A. 51 (H) Inf Div, 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., 9 A.G.R.A. and two H.A.A. regiments. In these formations were five field regiments (25 pdr), eight medium (5.5 inch), three heavy (7.2 inch and 155mm) and two heavy anti-air-craft (3.7 inch) regiments, making a total of 368 guns (W.D., H.Q., 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., September 1944, Appx 3, "Notes on Planning Op "WELLHIT"). It became clear at an early stage that for the artillery the most important aspect of the battle would be the destruction and neutralization of hostile batteries, as it was thought that there were about 90 enemy guns of 75-mm calibre or greater in BOULOGNE (21 Army Group O.R.S. Report, P.7). To this end a comprehensive counter-battery fire plan was formulated by C.B.O. 2 Cdn Corps. Included in this task was the neutralization of enemy antiaircraft fire against R.A.F. heavy bombers by the employment of three medium batteries in a counter flak ("Apple Pie") programme against known heavy A.A. hostile batteries (W.D., H.Q., 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., September 1944, Appx 3, C.B. Int Sum No. 6, 18 Sep 44). Control of artillery support for the actual assault was in the hands of C.R.A., 3 Cdn Inf Div (W.D., H.Q., 2 Cdn A.G.R.A., September 1944, Appx 3, "Notes on Planning Op "WELLHIT"). Heavy and intense timed concentrations were to be brought down on the enemy's F.D.Ls. At H-minus-5 minutes in the hope that these would be hard to distinguish from the R.A.F. bombing, and would thus create the impression that the air bombardment was still going on (Operation "WELLHIT", P. 12). At the conclusion of the timed concentrations, support would be given by grouped concentrations and "stonks" on call, for which purpose all potential tasks were plotted and surveyed before the operation. A major factor for the preparations for the artillery attack was the problem of the movement of approximately 8,500 tons of ammunition into the area. All supplies of heavy calibre had to be drawn from BAYEUX (NORMANDY), a seven-day round trip, and all others from DIEPPE, a three-day turn-round (ibid., p. 7).

14.    While preliminary arrangements for such a strongly supported assault were thus being made, the opportunity for attacking the enemy through the weakest part of his defences -- his low morale -- was not neglected. It was considered, and rightly, as subsequent results proved; that the assemblage of so much force in bombers, artillery and assaulting armour would render the BOULOGNE garrison particularly susceptible to Psychological Warfare. On 14-15 Sep, 420,000 leaflets, "The Lesson of LE HAVRE for the Defenders of BOULOGNE", were dropped upon the city by medium bombers, and some 40,000 safe conducts were fired by 25-pdr into the perimeter defences of the garrison. From four scout cars equipped with loud-speakers several broadcasts were directed on opportunity targets during the period 19-22 Sep. The surrender of over 900 prisoners of war was officially credited to this form of propaganda along (21 Army Group O.R.S. Report, Appx "D").

15.    Not the least important of the problems that had to be met during the period of preparation for Operation "WELLHIT" was that of dealing with the civilian population of greater BOULOGNE, numbering approximately 10,000. When the city was isolated by our troops, these people became a source of concern to the German garrison, both on account of the shortage of food and water and because of their hostile potentialities. On 10 Sep the commander of BOULOGNE ordered all civilians out of the city and its suburbs, both to rid himself of a dangerous element and also to present us with an unpleasantly large evacuation situation.

16.    3 Cdn Inf Div acted promptly. Immediately evacuation started all civilians were warned through Civil Affairs to be clear of BOULOGNE within 36 hours (W.D., H.Q., 9 Cdn Inf Bde, September 1944, Appx 9, "Notice to Civilian Population BOULOGNE"). They were directed to move to certain rendezvous, about ten miles from the city, where they were met by military transport and carried to camps organized by Civil Affairs some 30 kilometres from the battle area. By 16 Sep over 8,000 civilians had been evacuated, of whom 5,000 were handled in the first 36 hours. Thus a potential source of danger and confusion that might have impeded our operations and jeopardized the successful outcome was removed before the assault started. There seems little doubt that the civilians for the most part were extremely grateful to the Canadian Army for the arrangements thus made for their welfare and personal safety (Operation "WELLHIT", p. 6).

17.    The battle for BOULOGNE started exactly at the planned time, 0825 hrs 17 Sep 44, as heavy and accurate bombing began over the MONT LAMBERT - BON SECOURS target. Before the last bomb fell, at 0955 hrs, the supporting artillery opened fire, and under this cover the assaulting companies moved forward towards their initial objectives. But the heavy bombardment had failed to neutralize the hostile batteries. Almost immediately the bombing stopped the enemy started laying down heavy shellfire, covering villages, roads and crossroads on the lines of advance. Progress was slow. The two battalions of 9 Cdn Inf Bde, attacking south of the BOULOGNE - LA CAPELLE highway, were carried in kangaroos and armoured half-tracks as far forward as mines and cratering permitted. By this means they got well up the lower slopes of MONT LAMBERT before debussing. The S.D.&G. Highrs captured their part of ST MARTIN BOULOGNE comparatively quickly, but were then heavily shelled and held for the rest of the day. Further south, the Nth N.S. Highrs found MONT LAMBERT very strongly held. It was a case of tackling concrete pillboxes and casemates one by one with the very effective aid of crocodiles and life-buoys (portable one-man flame throwers). It was a slow and exacting business as the Germans were by this time putting down fire on their own positions, and the clearing up in this region was not completed until the next day (W.D., H.Q., 9 Cdn Inf Bde, 17 Sep 44). During the afternoon two mixed armoured columns of special devices of 30 Aslt Armd Bde (flails, crocodiles, A.V.R.E. and bulldozers), supported by a company of infantry in kangaroos, pushed forward into the city to secure the river crossings. By nightfall one column was at the LIANE and the other had reached and surrounded the walled Citadel (Operation "WELLHIT", p. 19). Meanwhile, on 8 Cdn Inf Bde's sector in the north, events had followed a similar pattern. By early afternoon, N. Shore R., after having been considerably held up by shelling, had reached LA TRESCRERIE and commenced mopping-up operations. Q.O.R. of C. and R. de Chaud, gaining some protection fro this engagement of the enemy on their right flank, and fought their way forward on foot to ST MARTIN BOULOGNE and BON SECOURS. Here they were held, and nightfall found all three battalions closely engaged in street fighting and dealing with pockets of enemy resistance (W.D., H.Q., 8 Cdn Inf Bde, 17 Sep 44).

18.    For five more days the battle continued as step by step the Canadian troops overcame enemy opposition. On D-plus-1 Nth N.S. Highrs, having cleared MONT LAMBERT, captured the battery position at LE CHEMIN VERT (6951) southeast of the city, and the Citadel fell to S.D. & G. Highrs (W.D., H.Q., 9 Cdn Inf Bde, 18 Sep 44). Two bridges across the LIANE were secured on 19 Sep. H.L.I. of C., moving up from brigade reserve, made a surprise crossing of the river under cover of a withering blast of fire from our men in houses on the near side using every conceivable kind of weapons from 3" mortars down to small arms (21 Army Group O.R.S. Report, Appx "A"). By evening all three battalions of 9 Cdn Inf Bde were of the OUTREAU "Peninsula" and the brigade's total of prisoners had passed the 4,000 mark (W.D., H.Q., 9 Cdn Inf Bde, 19 Sep 44). At that time, on 8 Cdn Inf Bde's front, N. Shore R. having finally cleared LA TRESORERIE had managed to gain a foothold in WIMEREUX and WIMILLE (7057). Q.O.R. of C. was fighting in the northern outskirts of BOULOGNE, and R. de Chaud was still clearing its original objective of MARLBOROUGH. By the morning of the sixth day of the operation, 22 Sep, most objectives had been taken and enemy resistance was continuing at only three points. In the north, Q.O.R. of C. was preparing to attack FORT DE LA CRECHE, while N. Shore R. was still engaged with WIMEREUX. The forest had been heavily bombed by R.A.F. mediums on the previous night, and as the ground attack was about to start the garrison surrendered. Shortly afterwards the defenders of WIMEREUX followed suit (W.D., H.Q., 8 Cdn Inf Bde, 22 Sep 44). In the southern sector as S.D. & G. Highrs and H.L.I. of C. formed up for a final assault on LE PORTEL this fortress also surrendered, and with it the BOULOGNE garrison commander, General Heim. By late afternoon all resistance as at an end (W.D., H.Q., 9 Cdn Inf Bde, 22 Sep 44).

19.    The reduction of BOULOGNE with its garrison of approximately 10,000 men in all fortified positions had been accomplished by two under-strength brigades at a cost of only 600 casualties (21 Army Group O.R.S. Report, p.9). The actual number of prisoners taken was 9,535 (First Cdn Army Int Summaries Nos. 87-88, 25-26 Sep 44). The success of the operation may be attributed chiefly to two factors,-- the effective employment of a great force of supporting arms of all kinds in a skilfully conceived and boldly executed plan, and the lack of the enemy's will to resist to the last man, brought about mainly by the isolation imposed upon the garrison by the march of events in our larger strategy. That the attack had taken four days longer than anticipated was chiefly because of the innumerable obstacles encountered and the heavy shelling from enemy batteries. In spite of the terrific bombardment from the air, (690 aircraft dropped 3356 tons of bombs on the five targets) and the expenditure by the artillery of some 80,000 rounds on counter-battery tasks, shelling from the heavily reinforced gun positions persisted throughout the entire operation, holding up our advance and causing the majority of our casualties (21 Army Group O.R.S. Report).