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Search by family confirms the unknown soldier remains to be theirs

Wim Brummelhuis missing since May 1940

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

RHENEN, the Netherlands - Memorial services at the Grebbeberg Dutch military honour field will no longer include remembrances for an unknown soldier. Earlier this month, the remains of the only unknown soldier at the cemetery were reburied after its DNA was matched with that of a nephew, who for the past eight years worked tirelessly to solve the mysterious disappearance of his uncle Wim.

The soldier was one of about 3,000 men who defended the Grebbeberg line against a vastly superior invading German army. For decades Dutch military analysts tended to be very critical of their own poorly equipped troops but in recent years new research has shown that the Dutch troops frustrated the German commanders immensely with their stubborn resistance.

Wim F. Brummelhuis, one of the Grebbeberg defenders, was the youngest of a Bornerbroek farmerís family of 14 children. The 21-year-old man had volunteered for the army and served with the infantry. On May 13, 1940, he disappeared without a trace. Only his jacket was found hanging from a shovel standing in the dirt near Rhenenís Ouwehand Zoo.


His parents hoped for years that Wim would return home one day, even speculating that he might have been in a prisoner of war camp overrun by the Russians and taken further east, perhaps as far as Siberia. They died, never knowing what had happened to their son.

With the aid of new identification techniques, the remains of a number of unknown soldiers buried in Dutch soil have been identified in recent years. It pushed Winterswijk-resident Victor Brummelhuis to try and solve the lingering uncertainty surrounding his uncle.

This search also solved the identity of the only unknown remains buried at the Grebbeberg. The DNA results matched perfectly with the sample provided by nephew Vincent Brummelhuis.

Canadian connection

Earlier this month, about 150 onlookers, including 50 family members, watched in silence as the remains of Wim Brummelhuis were given their official burial by the military, nearly 71 years after the soldier died under unknown circumstances. A very short notice of the ceremony ruled out the presence of the Canadian branch of the family. Three of Wimís siblings emigrated to Alberta, Canada in the 1950s, but they and their families will have to make do with video footage of the reburial.

There are still four Dutch soldiers of the May 1940 hostilities whose remains have never been found. All others have now been identified.