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B.C. regiments to receive commemorative plaque from Dutch Canadians
Reflection on sixty years of freedom
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The six regiments of B.C., which helped liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945 from its brutal oppressor, each will receive an oak-mounted plaque commemorating the country’s regained freedom. Dutch-born sculptor Geert Maas will make twelve such bronze plaques. The other six will become the property of sponsors.
Organizer J. Herman van Wermeskerken of the Dutch Canadians Enjoying 60 Years of Freedom also announced that his group plans to hold a “Host a Veteran” dinner party. Ten years ago, a similar event was held at a Vancouver armory. Interested members of the community could order tickets, in even multiples, one for a veteran and one for themselves. The dinner will be preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony and a symposium.
Attendees could take a veteran friend along but also opt for one from the pool of available names. A campaign soon will be launched to enlist support from the community. The 2005 anniversary is viewed as the last collective opportunity to echo the sentiment “Thank You, Liberators.”
Canadian veterans earned lasting gratitude from the Dutch, which in 1944/5 welcomed them in an unprecedented outburst of joy and happiness. The drive to push out the enemy succeeded at the expense of many lives, some Canadian soldiers who had survived years of fighting the Nazis and their supporters fell on the eve of the German surrender. Particularly hard-fought were the last stands in various pockets in Groningen, in early May 1945.
Many Canadians however paid with their lives clearing the very opposite area in the country, in Zeeland in Fall 1944, where German troops employed a brilliant but very costly withdrawal strategy. While the Canadians pushed forward to gain control of the Scheldt estuary, the enemy relinquished its territory slowly creating a precarious situation for the Allies who had extendedto make do with long supply lines. Dutch territory north of the rivers firmly remained under German control.
Over 7,000 Canadians are buried in Dutch soil, numerous others were wounded in the Netherlands.
Following the May 1945 surrender, a massive Allied repatriation campaign was launched but it took many months before the last Canadian soldiers left the Netherlands. The command of the Canadian army during that time was located in Apeldoorn.