News Articles

Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan still celebrate their Leeuwarden Day

Deployment of troops cancels parade

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

CAMP JULIEN, Afghanistan – The B Squadron of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) recently cancelled their Leeuwarden Day when they were redeployed deeper into Afghanistan. The Dragoons had planned a parade and luncheon at the Kabul area camp, inviting other soldiers from their regiment, representatives from the Dutch embassy, and Dutch soldiers serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). On every April 15, for sixty years, B Squadron has celebrated a Leeuwarden Day.

In the spring of 1945, the RCD served as the reconnaissance regiment leading the 2nd Canadian Corps as they advanced northwards through the province of Friesland. By April 15, after several cold days, the Dragoons had consolidated near Leeuwarden. B Sqn, stretched out to the northeast in the area of Dokkum, discovered that the Germans had left Leeuwarden and quickly alerted the regiment’s headquarters. The Dragoons’ C Sqn pushed into Leeuwarden, receiving a tumultuous welcome while B Sqn patrolled the Dokkum area.

Sixty years later, a B Sqn officer lamented that most of the troops spent a dusty, sweaty and exhausting Leeuwarden Day in Afghani hinterland. The few soldiers left at the camp went ahead and still held their Leeuwarden parade, albeit greatly reduced in size. They also unveiled a new Camp Julien street sign, marking ”Leeuwarden Lane.”

According to the Regiment, Leeuwarden on April 15 flies its regimental colours from city hall.