December 31, 2020. One of the pluses of being socially distanced and not going away for a winter holiday is that Pieter can concentrate on his research rather than basking in the Florida sunshine. Instead of snowbird get-togethers and running on a beach by the Gulf of Mexico, he has been digging into a list of WW2 soldiers from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that researchers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands sent him. The goal? To find photos of 40 soldiers from New Brunswick and 26 from Nova Scotia who are buried in The Netherlands.
Recently, with the help of Marc Comeau, President of the Royal Canadian Legion in Tracadie, New Brunswick and Marielle Arsenault, Executive Secretary at the Municipalité Régionale de Tracadie, the family of one soldier was found: Alderic BASQUE.
Alderic was born in St. Pons, New Brunswick on May 23, 1915, the son of Olivier and Tharzile Basque. A woodsman and farmer before enlistment in Fredericton on January 15, 1945, he spoke both French and English.
A few days after enlistment, he was on his way to the United Kingdom. By March 31, 1945 he was in North West Europe with Le Régiment de Chaudière, which was part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. (For more information, see https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/regiments/infantry/chaudiereregiment.htm)
On April 26, 1945, he was killed in action during a battle near the town of Weener, Germany, not far from the Dutch border. He was temporarily buried near Heide, Germany, before reburial in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands on March 27, 1946.
Alderic’s sister, Dorina Basque-St-Coeur, shared a few memories of her brother with her daughter, Exodia Austin.
Exodia was kind enough to share these with Pieter, giving us a picture of the man behind the uniform. “… My mother often told me that when her brother Alderic came for a visit he had a war medal on him. He was godfather to my oldest brother Denis who was just 1 or 2 years old. Denis liked to play with the medal and decoration when he sat on his knee. My Mother was so afraid that Alderic would be punished because nobody should touch the medal, but Alderic let my brother play with the medal….” This would likely have been the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp.
Exodia explained that her mother talked about some of the skills and interests that her brother had. “…Alderic was a good person. He made himself a pair of wooden skates. Imagine! He also wanted to learn how to step dance. He practiced often in his room but never learned. Probably he would have learned if he had survived the army…”
An all too familiar tale of heartache that many soldiers experienced was also recalled. “…. My mother also told me that Alderic had a girlfriend. But she saw another solder during that time. So when Alderic found out, he didn’t want to come back. And it was that year that he was killed….”
Thank you to Exodia Austin, her mother Dorina Basque-St-Couer, and her cousin Hermenegilde Basque for sharing a photo and memories of Alderic Basque. And thank you to Marc Comeau and Marielle Arsenault for caring enough about the memory of a soldier to help find his family.
While work continues on the list of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia soldiers, a reminder that photos of two soldiers from PEI buried in The Netherlands have yet to be found:
- Bernard ‘Barney’ Reuben MCGUIGAN (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-barney-reuben-mcguigan/
- John Clifford ROGERS (see https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-continuing-the-search-for-soldiers-killed-in-action-in-ww1-and-ww2/)
If anyone has a story or photo to share about any Canadian military personnel buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
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© Daria Valkenburg