2021 Christmas Eve Candle Lighting In The Netherlands

December 26, 2021.  Social distancing and the threat posed by the omicron variant altered many of the activities we like to participate in during the holidays.  In The Netherlands, a Christmas Eve tradition is to light candles by the graves of Allied soldiers and Dutch resistance fighters who are buried in one of the War Cemeteries or in a municipal cemetery.  For the second year in a row, the annual event still occurred, but without the public.

…A corrected gravestone for Barney Reuben McGuigan….

Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Faces to Graves project for the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, wrote us that because of Covid no volunteers or children were allowed to place the candles. Instead, candles were placed by board members of the organization responsible for the Christmas candles.  (See https://www.lichtjesavondgroesbeek.nl/

Alice wanted to let us know that Fred Hulsman, a member of the Faces To Graves Research Team who lives near the cemetery, took a photo of the corrected gravestone for WW2 soldier Barney Reuben McGuigan, of Sturgeon, Prince Edward Island. 

Barney had lied about his age when enlisting and his original gravestone did not reflect his age of 16 years at the time of his death.  After Pieter and members of Barney’s family contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with proof of Barney’s birth record, the correction was made.

The correction was amazing timing (a Christmas miracle?) as a photo of Barney was recently uncovered! (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/12/23/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-photo-search-for-barney-mcguigan-is-successful/)

B R Mc Guigan with candle and corrected gravestone

Grave of Barney McGuigan with his correct age at death.  (Photo credit: Fred Hulsman)

…A candle placed at the Halifax L9561 memorial in Wons…

Remko de Jong, a resident of Makkum, coordinates the candle lighting ceremony in his village. He wrote to Pieter on December 24, and explained that “Unfortunately, again this year candles were placed without an audience…..”   Instead, candles were placed by Remko and his family and photos were taken by his son Robin.  (For the 2020 candle lighting in Makkum, see:  https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/christmas-eve-candle-lighting-in-makkum/)

Graves in Makkum

Candles placed at the graves of airmen buried in the Donia Protestant Church Cemetery in Makkum.  (Photo credit: Robin de Jong)

In addition to the candles placed at the graves at 38 airmen who are buried in the Donia Protestant Church Cemetery in Makkum, located by Lake Ijsselmeer in the province of Friesland, a candle was placed at the Halifax L9561 memorial in Wons. 

This memorial, unveiled in October 2019, honours the crew of Halifax L9561.  WW2 pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART of Cape Traverse, Prince Edward Island lost his life on October 12, 1941, but the rest of the crew were able to safely bail out of the burning plane.  (For a short documentary on the unveiling of the memorial panel and the crew of Halifax L9561, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Rzg07kPw0&list=PLaJcEVojJra-ZwR6rvb-THj8Zr2QbUXLT&index=2)

Candle placed at Wons memorial by Robin de Jong

Candle placed at the memorial panel in Wons, honouring the crew of Halifax L9561. (Photo credit: Robin de Jong)

…Over 7,600 Canadian soldiers are buried in The Netherlands!…

Kudos to the Dutch, who never forget the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers! There are over 7,600 Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands!  Thank you to Remco de Jong for sharing his son’s photos, and to Alice van Bekkum for advising about the correction to the gravestone for Barney McGuigan.

If you have a story or photo to share about Canadian military personnel buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1. 

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

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

Happy Holidays From The Valkenburgs!

multicolor-holiday-christmas-decorations-with-blue-silver-ribbon-snowflakes-header-background-hd-1920x720

December 24, 2021.  We’re nearing the end of another challenging and socially distanced year of Covid, but are thankful to have had our three Covid vaccine shots. 

Covid or not, we have been very busily working at home.  In spite of travel restrictions and social distancing, we nevertheless managed to do a lot, with the help of media, and families stepping forward with photos. This seems a good time to reflect on what happened in 2021 with this research project.

…Pieter Awarded Sovereign’s Medal For Volunteers….

On April 30, 2021, Pieter Valkenburg was presented with the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal For Volunteers, awarded in January 2020, for his ongoing research to uncover the stories and photos of those who served in WW1 and WW2, and sharing his research findings with the public.   The insignia was presented to him by the Hon. Catherine Callbeck, CM, OPEI, LLD, on behalf of the Administrator for Canada, via a virtual ceremony.   (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/recognition/)

…. WW2 Soldiers Listed On The Cenotaph Outside Borden-Carleton Legion …….

This year we told the story of 1 WW2 serviceman listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, and we added more information on a WW1 soldier whose story had previously been told:

  • Arthur Clinton ROBINSON
  • Arnold Dudley TAYLOR

 … WW1 Related Stories….

  • We told the story of trying to solve the mystery of a WW1 German ‘letter’ found amongst the possessions of Earle DAVISON, which turned out to be an anti-war song dating back to the 19th
  • We shared more observations that WW1 soldier Harold Keith HOWATT made in the post WW1 period when he was waiting to be demobilized. The history books are filled with official accounts from officers and politicians. Howatt’s observations came from the viewpoint of an ordinary soldier caught up in extraordinary circumstances. 

 … WW2 Related Stories….

  • We shared a story about a research into the soldiers who died in Wommelgem, Belgium in the fall of 1944.
  • We shared our experience at the Woudenberg General Cemetery in The Netherlands, to visit the grave of WW2 pilot Leonard Arthur UNWIN, who had been a flying instructor at the 9 Service Flying Training School RCAF in Summerside.
  • We shared a story about the photo tributes by the graves of soldiers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, during the first two weeks of May.
  • We shared the story of how five Canadian soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945, one of the final actions to end WW2 in Europe. All 5 soldiers are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.
  • We shared a story from Willy van Ee of The Netherlands, whose father was Indigenous soldier Walter MEKAJI, who let us know that 7 Indigenous soldiers are buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium.
  • After reading about the 7 Indigenous soldiers buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, Edwin van der Wolf reported that he and his son have adopted the graves of 2 Canadian Scottish Regiment soldiers. We shared his account and learned about the grave adoption program in Belgium.
  • We shared the story of the search for a photo of Allan ‘Gordon’ COUTTS, who lost his life in Germany and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.
  • We shared the story of the successful request for a headstone from the Last Post Fund for WW2 veteran Alexander McGregor DEANS, who died in 2010 and is buried at the Tryon People’s Cemetery in Prince Edward Island.
  • We shared the link for a video ‘The Last Flight Of Halifax L9561’ made by Barry and Terry Hunt, sons of the crew’s wireless operator, William Herbert HUNT. Shot down over The Netherlands on October 12, 1941, Canadian pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART managed to save his crew and steer the burning plane away from the Dutch village of Wons before losing his own life.  Two previous videos made by us about this event were made in 2019 and 2020.

…Indigenous Soldiers….

We were able to tell the stories of the service by several WW2 Indigenous soldiers, after an APTN article was published.

  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Thomas Beresford BIG CANOE from Ontario, who was killed in Germany.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier William ‘Willie’ DANIELS from Saskatchewan, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Alfred Louis PITAWANAKWAT (PITWANAKWAT) from Ontario, who was killed in Germany.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Eli Ambrose SNAKE from Ontario, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Leo Francis TONEY from Nova Scotia, who was killed in The Netherlands.

…. Stories About Servicemen From The Maritimes…

We also featured stories about servicemen from The Maritimes:

  • WW2 soldier Alderic BASQUE, from New Brunswick, who was killed in Germany.
  • WW2 soldier Joseph ‘Ambroise’ COMEAU, from Nova Scotia, one of the 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Gerald Burnell COOLEN, from Nova Scotia, who was killed in Germany during the Battle of Hochwald Gap.
  • WW2 airman Robert ‘Bob’ James DICKIE, from Prince Edward Island, who lost his life when Lancaster Flight JB312 crashed on the runway as it returned to England from Germany.
  • WW1 soldier Maynard FOY from Prince Edward Island, who served with the 26th Overseas (New Brunswick) Battalion, and was injured in France during the Battle of Amiens.
  • WW2 soldier Armand GIONET from New Brunswick, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier Gordon Frederick JOHNSON from Nova Scotia, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 mariner William (Bill) Arnold JOHNSTON from Prince Edward Island, but was born in New Brunswick, who was killed when HMS Itchen, the ship he was serving on, was torpedoed in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • WW2 soldier Gilles LANTEIGNE from New Brunswick, who was killed in Germany.
  • WW1 soldier Heath Ward MACQUARRIE from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in France.
  • WW2 pilot Lorne MACFARLANE from Prince Edward Island, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew 40 missions and survived the war.
  • WW2 soldier George Edward MAHAR from New Brunswick, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier Lewis Wilkieson MARSH, from Nova Scotia, one of the 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Ruel Kitchener MATHESON, from Prince Edward Island, one of the 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Lloyd William MURRAY, from Nova Scotia, one of the 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Norman James NIXON from New Brunswick, who was killed in The Netherlands during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket.
  • WW2 soldier Samuel Glazier PORTER from New Brunswick, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier Alphonse ROBERT from New Brunswick, who was killed in The Netherlands when a grenade exploded.
  • WW2 soldier John ‘Clifford’ ROGERS from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in Germany in the Balberger Wald on March 3, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Gordon James ROGERSON from Prince Edward Island, who served with the West Nova Scotia Regiment and was injured in Italy.
  • WW2 Chaplain William ‘Alfred’ SEAMAN from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in France during the Battle of Caen.
  • WW2 soldier Charles ‘Charlie’ Borden TUPLIN from Prince Edward Island, who served with the Black Watch and was fatally wounded in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier Ronald Sidney WATERHOUSE from Nova Scotia, who lost his life in The Netherlands during the Battle of the Scheldt.

…. Stories About Servicemen From Outside The Maritimes…

  • WW2 soldier Edmond COULOMBE, from Manitoba, who was killed in The Netherlands when a grenade exploded.
  • WW2 soldier Howard Milo NICHOLLS, from Ontario, one of the 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident in the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945.

…In Conversation And More….

Not everyone we wrote about this year served in WW1 or WW2!

  • We interviewed RCAF pilot Captain Scott NANTES of Prince Edward Island, who is in active service.
  • We enjoyed a fascinating conversation with Dr Tim Cook, Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum on the importance of remembrance.
  • We wrote about a very special luncheon hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea for PEI Korean War Veterans, as a thank you for their service.
  • We did a 3 part series of postings on the childhood recollections of the Korean War by Korean-born Charlie CHOI, whose family had a harrowing and dangerous journey to safety once the war began.
  • We reported on the research done to ensure that WW2 veteran Alexander McGregor DEANS received a headstone at his grave in the Tryon People’s Cemetery on Prince Edward Island.
  • We reported on how volunteers at the Borden-Carleton Legion in Prince Edward Island honour deceased veterans by placing flags at the graves and monuments in the area served by the Legion.
  • We described the Cenotaph Wall Of Remembrance at the Borden-Carleton Legion on Prince Edward Island, the last phase of the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project. All that is missing are some photos out of the 48 soldiers listed on the Cenotaph, and whose stories have been researched and told over the past years.

…. Interviews To Highlight Search For Photos….

Pieter did several interviews in his quest for photos for:

…. Letters To The Editor For Photo Searches….

Letters to the editor in various newspapers were written in the quest for a photo for:

  • WW2 soldier Gordon Frederick JOHNSON, who is buried in The Netherlands.  On June 24, 2021, Pieter’s letter to the editor was published in the Truro News. This search was successful.
  • WW2 soldier Alexander James MILLER, who is buried in The Netherlands. On October 29, 2021, Pieter’s letter to the editor was published in the High River Times. This was at the request of Edwin van der Wolf, who wanted the family to know about a planned memorial plaque being placed in April 2022 in The Netherlands. This search was successful.
  • WW1 soldier Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, who is buried in Ligny-St-Flochel British Cemetery in Averdoingt, France.  On November 9, 2021 Pieter’s letter to the editor was published in The Guardian.  This is not the first time that a media request has been made in the search for family and a photo.  Up to now the search remains unsuccessful.

… Successful Search For Photos …..

Many WW2 soldiers are buried in cemeteries in Europe.  After an appeal by Pieter on CTV’s Atlantic Live At Five in early January for photos and information, photos and information came in for WW2 soldiers buried in The Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Italy.  Their stories were featured on the blog either as separate postings or in a series entitled Atlantic Canada Remembers.  No one was forgotten, and photos of soldiers buried in Dutch cemeteries were forwarded to researchers there for their digital archive. Photos were found for:

Buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. James Grant ANNINGSON
  2. Howard W. ARMSTRONG
  3. Alderic BASQUE
  4. John Angus BEATON
  5. William Herbert “Billy’ BELLAMY
  6. William Harold BROOME
  7. Robert Theodore COLE
  8. Melvin COLLINS
  9. Alexis D.  DAIGLE
  10. Allan Gordon COUTTS
  11. William ‘Willie’ DANIELS
  12. Nelson DESROCHES
  13. Francis ‘Frank’ Ivan DOUGAN
  14. Joseph ‘Gerald’ FOUGERE
  15. George Albert FRYDAY
  16. Armand GIONET
  17. Ernest Robert HAYNES
  18. Percy Dexter HIGGINS
  19. Gordon ‘Gordie’ Frederick JOHNSON
  20. Stanley Owen JONES
  21. Douglas JURY
  22. James Gordon KING
  23. Philip LAFORTE
  24. Donald Charles MACKENZIE
  25. George Edward MAHAR
  26. Mathieu MICHAUD
  27. John ‘James’ MURRAY
  28. Daniel PEARO
  29. Goldwin Marven POLLICK
  30. Richard Joseph RANEY
  31. Louis Graham RICHARD
  32. Brenton Leroy RINGER
  33. Ford Hilton SPIDLE
  34. Frederick Joseph TAIT
  35. Leo Francis TONEY
  36. Charles ‘Charlie’ Borden TUPLIN
  37. Frederick Christian VAN IDOUR

 Buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. Thomas Beresford BIG CANOE
  2. Gerald Burnell COOLEN
  3. Edmond COULOMBE
  4. Percy Clayton CROMWELL
  5. Harry William DOUCETTE
  6. Arnold F. HUPMAN
  7. Gilles LANTEIGNE
  8. Francis ‘Frank’ Lewis LIBBY
  9. Hiram Albion LORD
  10. Barney Reuben MCGUIGAN
  11. Elbridge Wellington MILLER
  12. Jeff McIntosh Robert (Bobby) NICKERSON
  13. Alfred Louis PITAWANAKWAT (PITWANAKWAT)
  14. Burgess Allison PORTER
  15. Alphonse ROBERT
  16. John ‘Clifford’ ROGERS
  17. Eli Ambrose SNAKE
  18. Stanley SPRAY
  19. William Francis STEWART
  20. Benjamin James WITHERALL

 Buried in Bergen Op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. Austin Ephraim BOUTILIER
  2. Gordon Thomas BREWER
  3. Dennis HOARE
  4. Gregory Philip Anthony MCCARTHY
  5. Clayton Wilfred SHANNON
  6. Russell Richard SOBLE
  7. Arnold Ernest “Ernie” THORNTON

 Buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium:

  1. Bruce W. CHURCHILL
  2. Alexander Fraser MACDONALD
  3. Edison Reynolds SMITH
  4. Arthur Brambel ‘Jack’ TAYLOR

Buried in Montecchio War Cemetery in Italy:

  1. Felix GAUDET

 Buried in Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France:

  1. William ‘Alfred’ SEAMAN

… The Search For Photos On YouTube….

2020 began with a documentary that was posted on YouTube, and ended with a dedicated YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw

In 2021 the following videos were posted on the channel:

  • S2E1 Remembering Lt Norman Nixon
  • S2E2 Photo Search – WW2 Soldier Frank McGuigan
  • S2E3 Photo Search – WW1 Soldier James Cairns
  • S2E4 Photo Search – WW2 Soldier John Clifford Rogers
  • S2E5 Thank You Atlantic Canada
  • S2E6 Photo Search – WW1 Soldier James Lymon Cameron
  • S2E7 Photo Search – WW1 Soldier Leigh Hunt Cameron
  • S2E8 Photo Search – WW2 Soldier Gordon Frederick Johnson
  • S3E1 In Remembrance

Thank you for your support and encouragement of this research project!

As 2021 comes to an end, we would like to thank all who helped with researching these stories and contributed photos. We also thank readers of this blog and the On The War Memorial Trail column in The County Line Courier who suggested some of stories you’ve read.  A big thank you goes to Mike and Isabel Smith, owners of The County Line Courier. 

Thank you to the media who helped publicize the search for photos and information – APTN, CTV Live At 5’s Atlantic, CBC Radio’s Mainstreet PEI,  CKFM Radio, Truro News, High River Times, The Guardian, and Winnipeg Free Press.

Last, but not least, the YouTube videos and channel would not be possible without the invaluable support of post-production editor Wendy Nattress.

….Happy Holidays

Pieter and I wish you all the best for the holidays and in 2022. May we never forget those who gave their lives for their freedom.

Merry Xmas from the Valkenburgs 2021

Pieter’s research work continues. If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.  

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. The Successful Search For A Photo Of WW2 Soldier Edmond Coulombe

December 24, 2021. Occasionally, a posting on this blog leads to information that adds to the original story, giving a ripple effect.  This spring a story about a soldier from New Brunswick, Alphonse ROBERT of Caraquet, New Brunswick, led a volunteer researcher in a small Dutch village along the German border to contact us with eyewitness accounts of how Robert and 4 other members of his Regiment lost their lives when a shell exploded. 

The soldiers were identified, and one of them was Edmond COULOMBE, listed as being from Pine Falls, Manitoba.  I’m from Manitoba and Pine Falls was very familiar to both Pieter and me, as it was near where my parents had lived. 

…We have to find a photo of this soldier…” we both decided, and that led us on a photo quest that soon proved that ‘Friendly Manitoba’ on the province’s licence plates was not just a slogan.

The first ‘surprise’ was when Pieter’s research found that Edmond was born on February 15, 1923, the son of Ulric and Yvonne Coulombe in Fannystelle, Manitoba, NOT in Pine Falls.  To Pieter’s amusement, I had a childhood memory of Fannystelle, a small community not far from Winnipeg.  My father travelled a lot in his business, and sometimes he had to work on weeknights and weekends.  Quite often all of us would be loaded in the car and travel with him.   I was in Fannystelle many times as a child.

Edmond’s father was from Quebec, his mother from Manitoba.  By 1943, Edmond was working at the paper mill in Pine Falls, and the family was living in nearby St.-Georges.  When he enlisted on May 7, 1943, his service file noted that he spoke both French and English.

On January 3, 1945 Edmond was sent overseas to the United Kingdom as part of the Oxford Rifles.  By March 3, 1945 he was in Northwest Europe and transferred to Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal.  He lost his life a few weeks later, at the age of 22.

…The Winnipeg Free Press publicizes the quest for a photo….

While Pieter could find information on Edmond’s military service, he had little luck finding family members or a photo.  So we asked Winnipeg Free Press reporter Kevin Rollason for help. 

On November 6, 2021, Kevin’s interview with Pieter ran in the Winnipeg Free Press: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/hunting-for-photo-to-honour-manitoban-575687592.html  (If you can’t access the article, let me know and I’ll send a PDF.)

As soon as people began reading the newspaper, replies came in. Diane Dube of the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum in St.-Georges wrote: “…Good Morning. I am reading the Winnipeg Free Press and have just now come across the article that you are looking for photos of Coulombe. I will be looking in the archives this afternoon as I think I may have a photo of him visiting his family in Pine Falls during the war. These photos were donated to the museum last year…

By the afternoon, Diane had sent us 4 photos.  “We are very thankful for all of the work you have put into this project recognizing our fallen soldiers and very pleased that we had some photos to share….

Edmond Coulombe with kit bag

Edmond Coulombe with his kit bag.  (Photo courtesy Winnipeg River Heritage Museum)

Kevin Rollason lost no time in interviewing Diane for a follow-up article, which ran on November 11, 2021, with the 4 photos: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/photo-found-to-honour-manitoba-war-casualty-575714042.html   (If you can’t access the article, let me know and I’ll send a PDF.)

… Family of Edmond Coulombe contact us….

Family of Edmond also contacted us.  Niece Lauri Romaniuk explained that “ My Dad Lionel was one of the youngest of the 12 children of Ulric and Yvonne Coulombe and he was a child when Ed was killed in the war. None of the siblings are alive now….

Edmond Coulombe siblings and parents from Lauri Romaniuk

The Coulombe family in the 1950s.  (Photo courtesy of Lauri Romaniuk)

Lauri shared a photo that she received from her mother of …. the siblings in the early 1950s. Edmond’s picture is on the wall behind the group. There was another brother missing that died as a child.  Mrs. Coulombe is in this picture but Mr. C already passed at this point. My Dad is the youngest male – on the far right. He passed in 1992 at age 57…”  Edmond’s father died in 1946.  It was wonderful to see that Edmond himself had not been forgotten.

Another niece, Linda Cyr, wrote “I’m beyond grateful for the work you both are doing to honour our Canadian soldiers especially my uncle Edmond Coulombe.  Edmond was my Mother’s brother…” 

Edmond Coulombe 2 from Linda Cyr cropped

Edmond Coulombe.  (Photo courtesy of Linda Cyr)

 .…Other reactions….

In addition to family of Edmond Coulombe, and the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum, we heard from interested readers, many offering help regarding the search for a photo and several sharing photos and stories of family members buried in The Netherlands. 

Vic Mollot wrote that he was researching the history of Fannystelle, which “was founded in 1889 by a French Countess by the name of ‘La Comtesse d’Albufera’ who was a Parisian philanthropist.

There were 3 waves of settlers who came to settle in Fannystelle, the 1st from France in 1892, the 2nd from Quebec in 1895 and the third from the British Isles and central Europe. The Coulombes were part of the second wave from Quebec…

Leah Boulet and Marcel Pitre let us know that Marcel’s 94 year old father Marcel put together a book of soldiers from the Pine Falls area, and sent the page about Edmond.  “…When the Royal Canadian Legion put together the books about the soldiers a number of years back, Dad did a lot of legwork gathering info and submitting it for their book.  He also put together his own version for this area…”  

…How 5 members of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal lost their lives….

How did Edmond Coulombe lose his life?  Dutch researcher Maarten Koudijs, who initially wrote about Alphonse Robert, explained that 5 members of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal died during an attack on Gendringen, The Netherlands on March 30, 1945.  Four of them, including Edmond Coulombe, were initially buried in Megchelen, The Netherlands, just across the border with Germany. 

Map Megchelen

Maarten explained that “…during the attack on Gendringen, a number of infantrymen were following a tank. A German shell exploded behind the tank and 5 infantry soldiers were killed.   

The soldiers who immediately lost their lives were Roland Alfred Barry, Edmond Coulombe, Jacques Fortin, and Alphonse Robert. They were temporarily buried, next to each other, in a field grave in Megchelen.  

Bernard Gaston Pilon was seriously injured and was transferred to Bedburg Military Hospital, where he died and was also temporarily buried there….”  Bedburg is in Germany. 

All 5 infantrymen from Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal were later reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Edmonde Coulombe

Grave of Edmond Coulombe in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.  (Photo taken by Wouter van Dijken)

… We were overwhelmed and delighted at the response….

We are grateful to Kevin Rollason and the Winnipeg Free Press for publicizing the appeal for a photo of WW2 soldier Edmond Coulombe. 

Diane Dube of the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum in St.-Georges went above and beyond to look in the archives on a Saturday afternoon, find photos, and forward them.  We are often successful with media appeals for photos, but Diane’s quick response was done with ‘supersonic speed’.  We are heartened by the interest and care she took, a true act of research kindness.

We thank family members Linda Cyr and Lauri Romaniuk for sharing photos, and Maarten Koudijs for providing the additional information on the 5 soldiers from Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal.

We also thank the many Winnipeg Free Press readers who submitted photos and stories of relatives buried in The Netherlands.  Pieter has his research projects for the winter months lined up and we look forward to sharing those stories. 

If you have photos and information to share about Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1

… Alphonse Robert’s Story….

To read the postings about Alphonse Robert, see:

…Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

© Daria Valkenburg

 

 

On The War Memorial Trail….. The Photo Search For Barney McGuigan Is Successful

December 23, 2021. Sometimes you just get plain lucky. That’s the only explanation we have over the outcome of a several years long search for a photo of WW2 soldier BernardBarney’ Reuben MCGUIGAN of Sturgeon, Prince Edward Island, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Barney enlisted in 1943, claiming to be 18 years old, but was actually only 15, and was 16 when he lost his life on February 26, 1945 in Germany, just over the Dutch border, during Operation Blockbuster.  He’s believed to be the youngest soldier buried in Groesbeek.

This story so tugged at Pieter’s heartstrings that he did media interviews in the hope of finding a photo.  Family members came forward, but no one had a photo of this remarkable young man.  (Read Barney’s story at https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-barney-reuben-mcguigan/)

….WW2 soldier John ‘Clifford’ Rogers was the key….

In 2021 the very long search for another WW2 soldier from the Island, John ‘Clifford’ ROGERS, was successful when the family of his sister, Gladys O’Reilly, contacted us.  (Read Clifford’s story at https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/08/24/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-a-photo-of-john-clifford-rogers-is-successful/)

In addition to having a photo of her brother, Gladys explained that in 1944, Clifford had received training at Coldstream Ranch in Vernon, British Columbia, and was there with 3 other Islanders.  One of them was Barney McGuigan!

How did she know that? Pieter asked. Clifford had sent a platoon photo home and on the back he had written down everyone’s names.

With a bit of photoshopping magic, Barney’s image was extracted from the photo by Earle MacDonald and was now visible.  Restoration by Earle and Pieter did the rest.

improved_photo in colour Barney McGuigan

Barney McGuigan. (Original group photo courtesy of Gladys O’Reilly.  Photo extraction and restoration courtesy of Earle MacDonald and Pieter Valkenburg. Colourization by Pieter Valkenburg.)

….The Coldstream Ranch photo sent home by John ‘Clifford’ Rogers ….

John ‘Clifford’ Rogers was diligent in labelling this Coldstream Ranch photo he sent home, allowing for the photo identification of Barney McGuigan.

DSC_0548 Platoon photo taken at Coldstream Camp Vernon BC

1944 platoon photo at Coldstream Ranch, Vernon, BC.  (Photo courtesy of Gladys O’Reilly)

Photo identification per John ‘Clifford’ Rogers:

Top row, left to right: Pte MACRAE of Sydney, Nova Scotia; Pte HAMILTON of Hamilton, Ontario; Pte SINCLAIR of Selkirk, Manitoba; Pte FANCY of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Pte UNDERHILL of New Westminster, British Columbia; Pte YORK of Goose Lake, Alberta; Pte BODDY of Maidstone, Saskatchewan; Pte MCLELLAN of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Pte AHL of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte FAULKNER of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Pte BRUNELLE of Montreal, Quebec.

Second row from the top, left to right: Pte BUCKLAN of Calgary, Alberta; Pte WEBE of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte ROBERTSON of St Mary’s, Nova Scotia; Pte GOWER of River Hebert, Nova Scotia; Pte TOEWS of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte John ‘Clifford’ ROGERS of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Pte Barney Reuben MCGUIGAN of Montague, Prince Edward Island; Pte BAILEY of Niagara Falls, Ontario; Pte STARCHUK of Kamploops, British Columbia; Pte NOLAN of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte GOODRICH of Ottawa, Ontario.

Third row from the top, left to right: Pte JONES of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte PHYLIPALE of Moosehead, Saskatchewan; Pte BLANCHARD of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Pte LAFRANCE of Ottawa, Ontario; Pte LAFONTAINE of Big River, Saskatchewan; Pte BRIMICOMBE of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Pte LAFONTAINE of The Pas, Manitoba; Pte CHARLES of Regina, Saskatchewan; Pte GALLANT of Hope River, Prince Edward Island; Pte ROBISON of Fort William, Manitoba; Pte SMITH of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Pte PALMQUIST of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte DUPLACEY of Jacquet River, New Brunswick; Pte JUSTICE of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Bottom row, left to right: Pte YOUNG of Vancouver, British Columbia; L/Cpl SQUARK of Winnipeg, Manitoba; L/Cpl HOLLOWAY of Vancouver, British Columbia; Pte AUPINER of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Pte THOMAS of Calgary, Alberta; Pte FLUHE of Chiliwack, British Columbia; Lt CASEY of Brantford, Ontario; Sgt CLARK of Toronto, Ontario; Cpl MELVIN of Edmonton, Alberta; Cpl GRAHAM of Vancouver, British Columbia; Pte ECHEMSMILLER of Galt, Ontario; Pte MERRIMAN of Ottawa, Ontario; L/Cpl WARD of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Cpl RENARD of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba; Cpl WHITLIDGE of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pte PIKE of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Thank you to Jan and Gladys O’Reilly for sharing the Coldstream Ranch photo, and to Earle MacDonald for help in photo extraction and restoration.  If you have photos to share, or recognize any of the names listed in the photo identification, please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

….Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

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© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. The Cenotaph Wall Of Remembrance

CIMG7978 Cenotaph Borden

Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 15, 2021. The Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project….. one Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion….. 48 names from WW1 and WW2. …. Visits made to the graves and memorials of many of these men in Canada and in Europe ….  Almost 6 years in which Pieter researched and we documented the stories of those 48 names.

The final phase of this project was a Cenotaph Wall Of Remembrance inside the Legion.  Organized by Kathy Henry, photos were framed, labelled, and placed on one entire wall in the Legion, with soldiers from WW1 on one side, and WW2 on the other side.

….The Cenotaph Wall Of Remembrance Is Prepared….

20210729_163208 Jul 29 2021 Pieter and Kathy with photo of Buxton

Pieter Valkenburg and Kathy Henry frame photos of the men listed on the Cenotaph. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)


20211103_192444 Nov 3 2021 Kathy Henry puts up WW1 photos

Kathy Henry begins putting up WW1 photos on the wall. If a photo is not available, a silhouette was placed in the frame in the hope that a photo will be found at some point.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In addition to placing the photos on the wall, there is a photograph of the Cenotaph, plus a stand built by Mario Henry, which holds a binder in which Pieter prepared a short summary about each of the 48 men.

20211103_194856 Nov 3 2021 Kathy & Mario Henry by table

Kathy and Mario Henry by the stand and binder. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The pictures were hung, with the stand and binder in place in time for Remembrance Day.  On November 11, 2021, Pieter and Mario, two proud veterans, stood beside this completed wall that honours the memories of 48 men from WW1 and WW2.

48 names from WW1 & WW2 honoured on Nov 11 2021

….The Veterans Christmas tree includes the names from the Cenotaph….

This year’s Veterans Christmas tree in the Borden-Carleton Legion has tags for each of the 48 names from the Cenotaph.  As was done last year, veterans from the area were invited to place the tag with their name on the tree. (See last year’s story about this special tree: https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/the-veterans-tree-at-borden-carleton-legion/)

20211208_162016 Dec 8 2021 Pieter places tag on Legion Veterans tree

Pieter places the tag with his name on the Veterans Christmas tree.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….Which photos are still missing?….

From WW1:

From WW2:

Thank you to the Borden-Carleton Legion, with special thanks to Kathy and Mario Henry for preparing the Cenotaph Wall of Remembrance.  If you have photos to share, please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1

….Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

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© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier Eli Ambrose Snake

December 13, 2021. After an interview about the photo quest for soldiers buried in the Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands ran on APTN, Pieter was contacted by Carolyn Henry about her great-uncle Eli SNAKE, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Carolyn explained that “….I saw your article on the APTN Facebook page. Here is a picture of my great-uncle Eli Snake (my dad’s mother’s brother) from Munsee Delaware First Nation. My dad spoke about him often as if he was a hero in our family….

Eli Snake family

Eli Snake (circled) in 1937 with his family, including his brother Gordon (far left), sister Rose Ann (seated) and brother William (far right).  Children are Rose’s children Marilyn, Bruce, Arnold, and Leo.  (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Henry).

Eli Ambrose SNAKE was born November 29, 1919 on the Munsee Reserve, the son of Eli and Marjorie (nee Peters) Snake.  Munsee-Delaware Nation, also known as Lenni Lenape, is one of several subgroups of Delaware, the Unalachtigo, the Unami, and the Minisink (later known as the Munsee), located in southwest Ontario. (For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsee-Delaware_Nation)

Prior to joining the Canadian Army, Eli worked as a farm labourer.  He enlisted on May 6, 1942 at the No.1 District Depot in Chatham, Ontario, after having earlier completed 60 days of basic training at the #12 Basic Training Centre, also in Chatham.  Eli had originally enlisted on November 15, 1941 in London, Ontario, under the National Resources Mobilization Act.

In October 1943, he was described in his Personnel Selection Record as “… quiet and well-built…” and who “…likes the Army… and gets along well with other fellows...

On November 3, 1943 he was transferred to the No 1 Training Brigade in Debert, Nova Scotia, in preparation for being sent for overseas service the following month.  On December 21, 1943 he arrived in the United Kingdom and taken on strength as part of No 3 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).

On January 11, 1944 he was transferred to the Lincoln & Welland Regiment. By July 25, 1944 he was with his Regiment in France and then later further into Northwest Europe.

…Operation Elephant was a battle to capture the island of Kapelsche Veer….

By January 1945 the Regiment was in The Netherlands, preparing for Operation Elephant on January 25, 1945.  The objective of this battle, also known as the Battle of Kapelsche Veer, was to clear a small island, Kapelsche Veer, north of the Maas River in The Netherlands.

The island was flat, cold, windy, and water-logged during a January winter, and offered no cover against German paratroopers who already held a defensive position between two brick houses (codenamed ‘Grapes’ and ‘Raspberry’) there.  Troops were issued white snowsuits and trained in French-built canoes in preparation for an attack to capture the island.

A short Canadian Army newsreel gives an idea of what allied soldiers faced…

…Eli Snake lost his life on January 28, 1945….

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment war diary for January 28, 1945 noted that it was “….clear and cold…

The struggle to clear the island was continuing from the day before with no respite. Rising temperatures had turned ice into mud.  At 23:50 on January 27, the war diary noted that “…one tank was reported bogged down….” blocking the tank behind it.

At 1 am in the morning of January 28, there was “…heavy mortaring of forward company positions from the north bank of the River Maas…”  One tank had moved forward, but ran into heavy fire with many casualties.

At noon the war diary noted that “… ‘D’ Company came under heavy mortar fire but continued to advance…” At 12:30 pm Lt Thompson “…took 30 rafts to relieve the situation…. where the enemy was making an effort to split our forces…

At some point in all this on January 28, 1945, Eli was killed in action.  He was initially buried in ‘s’Hertogenbosch before his reburial in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Eli Snake

Grave of Eli Snake at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Thank you to Carolyn Henry for contacting us about Eli Snake, and to Ad Scheepers for taking the photo of Eli’s grave at the cemetery.  If you have information to share about Eli SNAKE or other Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

… More about Operation Elephant…

To learn more about Operation Elephant, see:

 ….Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog:

To read the APTN article, 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/

….Want to follow our research?….

If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

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You are 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