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Grandnephew pays tribute to WWII casualty Gaele Visser

Dutch Canadian buried at Holten

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

A Dutch Canadian immigrant who in 1942 at the age of 21 enlisted with the Dufferin Haldimand Rifles will be remembered at the Burlington City Hall flag raising ceremony on April 29. Gaele Visserís grandnephew Jordan Slump in various ways has raised the legacy of the soldier who was shot and killed near Wilhelmshaven in Germany on April 23, 1945, two weeks short of the end of WWII in Europe. Visser is one of the thousands of Canadians buried at the Holten war cemetery in the Netherlands.

Slump, now a 14-year old elementary school student, earned praise from his teacher for his paper titled A Heroís Story he wrote two years ago. He will use parts of his paper as an address to the assembly at city hall.

Visser was one of many Dutch Canadians who joined the army. Some chose to serve in the Prinses Irene Brigade, then being formed in Stratford, Ontario, consisting mostly of Dutch nationals who were away from the Netherlands when it was invaded on May 10, 1940. Among them were also second and third generation descendents of Dutch settlers who made their home in countries such as Argentine, Canada, Morocco, Turkey and the U.S.A. and who spoke no Dutch. Others, such as Visser, instead joined the Canadian or U.S. armed forces. A very incomplete list of fellow casualties of the Canadian army were Abe Bruinsma, Lacombe; Henry Bernard Ebbers, Edmonton, Alberta; and George Esser, Sarnia, Ontario; Jim Antonides of Sarnia had joined the Dutch army. Hundreds of Dutch Americans did not come home from service in the U.S. armed forces.

In his paper, Slump quotes from letters Visser wrote to his parents and siblings. While the correspondence was being censored and Visser carefully avoided giving clues to his unitís whereabouts, his father, who had served in the Dutch army during WWI some times could tell where his son was based on terrain descriptions.

Born in Haskerhorne, Visser who knew also German and French, frequently was an interpreter on reconnaissance missions. On April 13, 1945 he wrote home about his unitís liberation of a concentration camp in Germany. Three days later he wrote his last letter, ending it with the promise, ďIf God wills, Iíll write a little more next time. Until then, under His wings my soul shall abide.Ē

Visserís Dutch hometown mayor paid a tribute to him at Holten, on May 4, 2002.