Commemorating Liberation Day At The Canadian War Cemetery In Groesbeek

20210505_091943 May 5 2021 Dutch flag on Liberation Day

The Dutch flag flies proudly at the Valkenburg household on Liberation Day. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

May 5, 2021.  Last year, one of the events planned for the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of The Netherlands was to place photos by the graves of soldiers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  Unfortunately, due to social distancing measures, this had to be cancelled.  Instead, white tulips were placed at each grave.  (See   https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/05/05/tulips-placed-at-each-grave-at-the-canadian-war-cemetery-in-groesbeek/)

This year, the planned photo tribute was possible, with photos placed at more than 1,600 graves. They will remain in place until May 17. Readers of this blog are aware that Pieter has been working towards finding as many photos as possible from the Atlantic region over the past few years.  Here on PEI, all but two soldiers buried in this cemetery have their photo tributes.  We asked Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Faces to Graves Committee,  to take photos of 4 soldiers whose stories have been previously told here.

….Graves of 4 PEI soldiers ….

IMG_8528 Grave of Willie Cannon

Grave of William ‘Willie’ Alfred Cannon. (Photo courtesy of Alice van Bekkum)

To read about William ‘Willie’ Alfred CANNON of Mt Mellick, please see https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/canadian-war-graves-netherlands-foundation-project/

IMG_8522 Grave of Joe Hennebery

Grave of Joseph ‘Joe’ Edmund Hennebery. (Photo courtesy of Alice van Bekkum)

To read about Joseph ‘Joe’ Edmund HENNEBERY of Morell, please see https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-face-for-joseph-hennebery/

IMG_8526 Grave of George Preston Smith

Grave of George Preston Smith.  (Photo courtesy of Alice van Bekkum)

To read about George Preston SMITH of Kinkora, please see:

IMG_8523 Grave of William Weatherbie

Grave of William Weatherbie.  (Photo courtesy of Alice van Bekkum)

To read about William WEATHERBIE of Charlottetown, please see https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/a-face-for-ww2-soldier-william-weatherbie/

Alice shared a short video in which she is interviewed, and volunteers can be seen placing the photos by the graves.  The photos were printed onto an aluminum backing, making them impervious to rain.  Whether you understand Dutch or not, the video is wonderful as it shows the care and precision taken for this photo tribute.

….Graves of 3 Indigenous soldiers….

Recently, several photos have come in for soldiers whose stories Pieter is still researching.  Three of these are of Indigenous soldiers, which came about after an article about Pieter’s search for photos was written by Brett Forester of APTN News.  (See https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/dutch-born-p-e-i-man-on-a-mission-to-find-photos-of-first-nations-soldiers-killed-overseas-in-wwii/) Their stories will be told in a future posting.

Pieter asked his friend and former colleague, Ad Scheepers, if he would take photos of 3 graves at the cemetery in Groesbeek.  Ad visited the cemetery and placed an orange flower beside each grave he took a photo of.

Grave of Alfred Pitwanakwat

Grave of Alfred Louis Pitwanakat.  (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Alfred Louis PITAWANAKWAT (PITWANAKWAT) was born September 12, 1924 in Little Current, Ontario, son of Agatha Pitwanakwat, of Wikwemikong, Ontario.

Grave of Eli Snake

Grave of Eli Snake. (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Eli SNAKE was born November 29, 1919 on the Muncey Reserve, the son of Eli and Marjorie Snake.

Grave of Clarence Wakegijig

Grave of Clarence Wilfred Wakegijig.  (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Clarence Wilfred WAKEGIJIG was born January 9, 1925 in Wikemwikong, Ontario, the son of Joachim and Josephine Wakegijig (nee Shawanda), of Krugersdorf, Ontario.

Ad wrote that while he was near the grave of Alfred Pitwanakat, “….a boy visiting the site with his family put a Canadian flag in front of the grave of Alfred….

Child places flag by Alfreds grave

A young boy places a flag by the grave of Alfred Pitwanakat. (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Child by Alfreds grave

A young boy inspects the flag he placed by the grave of Alfred Pitwanakat.  (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

It’s clear that the Dutch pass on the importance of remembrance to the next generation so they can continue to remember those who lost their lives in WW2!

Thank you to Alice van Bekkum and Ad Scheepers for their kindness in taking the photos of the graves.  If you have information to share about any Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

Screenshot_2021-02-27 On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg

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

8 thoughts on “Commemorating Liberation Day At The Canadian War Cemetery In Groesbeek

  1. Hi Daria and Pieter, Very touching and impressive to see the photos of Canadian soldiers being placed at the beautifully maintained graves in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery on Liberation Day. Very nice to see the 4 soldiers from PEI as well as the 3 indigenous soldiers having their photos placed as well.

    Thanks so much for all the work you both are doing!

    Barb and Steve

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Thank you for your comments, Barb and Steve. The photo tributes at Groesbeek are a great initiative. All but two soldiers from PEI are included in this tribute. One photo has yet to be found, and the other was submitted too late to be included.
      Pieter and Daria

      Like

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