February 13, 2021. After WW2 soldier Arnold Ernest “Ernie” THORNTON was featured in a recent Atlantic Canada Remembers posting, we were contacted by Niko Van Kerckhoven, of Antwerp, Belgium. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/01/16/on-the-war-memorial-trail-atlantic-canada-remembers-part-3/)
Niko wrote that “…I am a member of the local historical society and I am doing some research about our Canadian liberators here in my hometown of Wommelgem, Belgium, in 1944.
Fort2, one of the Antwerp forts located here, housed the 9th Canadian Field Dressing Station, and as a consequence, about 40 Canadian casualties were buried in our civilian cemetery, but after the war reburied in Bergen Op Zoom Canadian Cemetery, just across the border in Holland. I visit them regularly with my son.
One of the soldiers buried here in Wommelgem was Arnold Ernest Thornton from Yarmouth. This Calgary Highlander died during the building of a bridgehead over the Albert Canal at Wijnegem. His body, together with several others, was transferred to Wommelgem to be buried, just 500m from where I live nowadays.
I have been searching for a picture of this soldier for several years, but this week, thanks to the Yarmouth Library, they gave me the link to your site. Another search ended with a face to a name carved in stone. Every time very moving!….”
Niko submitted a photo “…of the field grave of 11 Calgary Highlanders buried here in Wommelgem before their transfer to Bergen-Op-Zoom Cemetery. My research started in fact by seeing this picture, and it became a bit like an avalanche with new names and information….”
The events in Wommelgem occurred in the fall of 1944 during the Battle of the Scheldt. (See https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/scheldt)
Niko noted that his goal is to find a photo of each soldier initially buried in Wommelgem, but is “…still struggling with the last 5 names on my list…”
We know how Niko feels! In the spirit of remembrance, let’s hope that this posting will help him in his quest! Here are the five names on his wish list…
- George Scott Fraser COULSON, K/2209, Calgary Highlanders from Oak Bay, British Columbia, but born July 21, 1916 in Victoria, British Columbia. Died September 22, 1944.
- Simon HOULE, M/101291, Royal Canadian Artillery, born June 18, 1922 in Saddle Lake, Alberta. Died October 1, 1944.
- Michael SHERBANUIK, M/105737, Calgary Highlanders from Vegreville, Alberta, but born December 12, 1920 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Died September 22, 1944.
- Paul Alan SKLUT, K/51951, Calgary Highlanders, born April 15, 1924 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Died October 8, 1944.
- Donald Charles SUTHERLAND, F/16788, Calgary Highlanders, born January 7, 1923 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Died September 22, 1944.
If you can help with a photo or information on any of these 5 soldiers or the 9th Canadian Field Dressing Station, please let Pieter know. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.
© Daria Valkenburg