The big anniversaries of the world wars in Europe are just about over, and it has provided another opportunity to cherish that amazing bond that exists between Canada and the Netherlands. Once again this past week, and possibly for the last time, Canadian men in their 90’s were celebrated in the streets of Appledoorn and other communities. As much younger men in Canadian uniforms, they defeated the Germans and accepted their surrender, barely 48 hours before VE Day.
It’s a story that somehow got lost in the bigger story. I never learned it in any classroom when I went to school, but Dutch children certainly do hear the story. Close to 2,000 Canadian men paid the ultimate price for the liberation of Holland, and they are buried on Dutch soil.
Those numbers might have been even higher, were it not for an American General who went on to be the U.S. President. It was Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander of the D Day invasion, who intervened with Bernard Montgomery. The Canadians were getting clobbered in Holland, partly because the British under Monty were not giving them enough air support and other help. Heaven knows Ike had enough to worry about with the Berlin campaign, but he made a point of giving Monty what for, and our boys got better help before it was over.
The love that the Dutch have shown for Canada ever since has to be seen to be believed. My father saw it. He made friends there during the liberation campaign, and they were friendships he cherished for the rest of his life.
We are also remembering the words of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, the doctor who wrote In Flanders Field on the back of an ambulance in Belgium, one hundred years ago. May all who served on behalf of every nation, rest easy where-ever they may be.
I’m Roger Currie