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Veterans join serving members down regimental history lane

Hasty Ps retrace 1945 route

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

VELSEN - A contingent of serving and retired members of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (also known by their nickname Hasty Ps) recently made a pilgrimage to the Netherlands to retrace their predecessors' campaign of 1945. The itinerary included a visit to Juno Beach and Vimy Ridge before crossing the French and Belgian borders into the Netherlands.

The regimental tour party visited their comradesí graves at the Groesbeek and Holten Canadian War Cemeteries, before calling on the former Royal Dutch Palace at Het Loo (Apeldoorn), which the Hasty Ps liberated on 17 April 1945. A highlight of this visit was an audience with Princess Margriet, an honour accorded very few regiments.

The regimental party also visited Amersfoort, Overveen, Sandpoort, Velsen, IJmuiden and Amsterdam, all places noted in the Hasty Ps history, before returning home.

Between July 10, 1943, and March 10, 1945, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, headquartered at Belleville, Ontario, inched its way through Sicily and Italy, winning no fewer than 29 battle honours.

Crossing France

On March 11, 1945, Hasty Ps troops boarded transport ships and sailed to Marseilles, France, from where they drove in convoy across France, arriving on March 20 in a concentration area in Westmalle, Belgium. The Regiment crossed into The Netherlands on April 3, arriving in a staging area in the Reichswald Forest on the German/Dutch border. Here the Regiment remained for nine days until they were ordered to take up positions near the town of Zutphen on April 12, where they crossed the IJssel River to launch their campaign towards Randstad Holland.

In all, 7,600 Canadians gave their lives for freedom in the Netherlands. In April 1945 alone, 1,191 Canadians were killed in action, 114 in the last five days of the war. The 1st Canadian Division's actions in the Netherlands registered 506 casualties, of which more than 100 of them were fatal. In six days of fighting in and around Apeldoorn, the 1st Brigade (Royal Canadian Regiment, 48th Highlanders of Canada and The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment) lost a total of 184 men.

For its actions in the Netherlands, the Hasty Ps was awarded its 30th and 31st battle honours; Apeldoorn and North-West Europe 1945, the latter of which is emblazoned proudly on their regimental colours. Eighteen Hasty Ps were killed in the Netherlands, with 36 wounded. During the Holland campaign, four Regiment members were decorated for bravery.