Appendix E: Field-Marshal Montgomery’s Directive, 16 October 1944
(from General Crerar’s file GOC-in-C 1-0)
TOP SECRET, M 532, 16-10-44, Copy No. 3
21 Army Group, General Operational Situation and Directive
1. The free use of the port of Antwerp is vital to the Allied cause, and we must be able to use the port soon.
2. Operations designed to open the port will therefore be given complete priority over all other offensive operations in 21 Army Group, without any qualification whatsoever.
3. The immediate task of opening up the approaches to the port of Antwerp is already being undertaken by Canadian Army and good progress has been made. The whole of the available offensive power of Second Army will now be brought to bear also.
First Canadian Army
4. Will concentrate all available resources on the operations designed to give us free use of the port of Antwerp.
5. The right wing of the Army will he pulled over towards Antwerp, so that its operations can exert a more direct influence on the battle for possession of the area Bergen op Zoom–Roosendaal–Antwerp. Possession of this area is necessary in order to enable us to operate freely westwards along the Beveland isthmus.
6. At 0100 hrs on Wednesday 18 October, Canadian Army will transfer to Second Army responsibility for that part of the front running from inclusive Hilvarenbeek eastwards to Best and thence northwards to the Meuse about Megen. The following formations and units will be transferred in situ to Second Army:–
7 Armd Div
34 Armd Bde
One Med Regt
R Netherland Bde
7. On Thursday 19 October, Canadian Army will be relieved by Second Army on the front between Hilvarenbeek and incl. the road Tilburg–Turnhout. The exact time of this relief will be settled and notified by Second Army. On conclusion of the relief the boundary between the Armies will be: Incl. Second Army:—the road Tilburg–Turnhout.
8. The following incoming formations are allotted to Canadian Army:
52 (Lowland) Division
104 US Inf Division
9. Para 13 of M 530 dated 9-10-44 is cancelled.
10. Will hold securely the ground already in possession.
11. The whole available offensive power of the Army will be employed in a strong thrust westwards on the general axis Hertogenbosch–Breda, with the right flank on the Meuse. The objective of this thrust will be the general line Moerdijk–Breda–Poppel, thus cutting the communication routes over the Meuse of all enemy troops south of that river.
12. The Army will take over from Canadian Army operational frontage, and troops, as laid down in paras 6 and 7 above.
13. The boundary between Second British and First US Armies will remain as at present, vide para. 9 of M.530. Para. 10 of M.530 remains in force.
14. In order to allow of operations being developed quickly as in para. 11 above, all other large scale offensive operations in Second Army will be closed down. Every available resource will be put into the thrust westwards vide para. 11 above. Paras. 8 and 11 of M. 530 are therefore cancelled.
15. First Canadian Army and Second British Army will be re-grouped in accordance with the above instructions.
16. I must impress on Army Commanders that the early use of Antwerp is absolutely vital. The operations now ordered by me must be begun at the earliest possible moment; they must be pressed with the greatest energy and determination; and we must accept heavy casualties to get quick success.
17. It will be obvious that once we have cleared the enemy from the area south of the Meuse from Hertogenbosch westwards, we can hold the line of the Meuse with about two divisions and have gained about five for operations elsewhere. Therefore we must do this with all speed.
18. I hope that the Second Army attack vide para. 11 above will begin on Friday 20 October. I shall myself move to my main HQ at Brussels on Sunday 22 October, so as to be nearer to the vital point of Antwerp. My Tac HQ will remain at Eindhoven, but I will exercise command from my Main HQ from 22 October until Antwerp is captured.
B. L. Montgomery
21 Army Group