During the Allied advances during August and September 1944, all supplies and equipment were transported from ports in Normandy. On 4 September, the British 2nd Army had occupied the major Belgian port city of Antwerp, the only harbour capable of accommodating Allied supply ships. However, the main sea route to Antwerp was through the 45-mile (70-kilometre) estuary of the Scheldt River, which was still in German hands. American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in Europe, gave the 1st Canadian Army the task of ousting the German army from the Scheldt Estuary.
The German defenders broke many of the dikes along the Scheldt Estuary, and sea water inundated much of the land. The 1st Canadian Army slowly pushed back the German defenders in the sodden terrain. After a month of agonizingly slow and deliberate attacks, the 1st Canadian Army cleared the Scheldt Estuary, and the convoy route to Antwerp was secured by 8 November 1944.
On 28 November, the first Allied convoy, led by the Canadian-built merchant vessel Fort Cataraqui, sailed into Antwerp. The Allied forces could now accumulate the supplies, equipment, and reinforcements necessary for the final offensive into Germany.