All Glasgow Highlanders cadets will recognise Walcheren Barracks as the name of the Reserve Forces centre they are based at in Hotspur Street, Glasgow. Some may also know that Walcheren is an island off the coast of Holland where the Glasgow Highlanders (as part of 52 Lowland Division along with other Scottish regiments that now form the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland 2 SCOTS RHF) as well as English, Welsh and Canadian servicemen, landed at Walcheren in November 1944 as part of the allied push towards Germany.
The Commandant and Deputy Commandant recently joined Col Kevin Connor, the Commandant of West Lowland Battalion and two Reserve colonels on the 70th anniversary of the battle, to follow the route taken.
Walcheren was said to be the most fortified island in Europe. Getting hold of it would mean that the allies had access to Antwerp (a massive port in Belgium) and that meant that the armies marching towards Berlin could get the supplies of fuel, ammunition and food they needed. As a result, the fighting was hard and bloody. Many civilians also died as they could not be evacuated.
In January 1945, at the border of Holland and Germany, a Private Dennis Donnini was killed bravely fighting through a village. He had only been in the Army for six months and was only 4 foot 6 tall. He was also the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross in WW2. During the trip Colonel O’Meara and Lt Col McNamee stood at the farm where he died and later the five colonels laid a poppy cross at his grave, seventy years to the day of his death. Private Donnini was 19 years old.
Col O’Meara, Col Doyle, Lt Col McNamee, Col Carroll, Col Connor at Sittard Cemetery, Netherlands at the grave of Pte Donnini VC. Uncle Beach, Flushing, Walcheren. Echt, Netherlands during the fighting in 1945 and today.