February 11, 2023. Burnie Reynaert’s uncle, Lewis Wilkieson MARSH, of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, was one of 5 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who drowned in a tragic accident on the Leda River during the Battle of Leer in Germany on April 28, 1945. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/05/18/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-tragic-drowning-on-the-leda-river-in-germany-part-4/)
Recently, Burnie wrote to let us know that “…my best friend’s father, Pte. Harold Edward Martin, served in the army with the Essex Scottish Regiment, and is buried in The Netherlands…”
Burnie explained further, saying “…I have known June Anne Martin most of my life – in public school, high school. I was her maid of honour when she married Jack Andrews. She was my confidant and best friend. June Anne died November 25, 2002. She was so young….”
June Anne and Jack had three sons. “….Harold’s grandchildren do not have any information on his service…” Burnie said. Would Pieter add Harold to his research list?
Pieter’s initial investigation determined that Harold died on October 14, 1944 and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. The search was on!
The son of Herbert Edward and Harriet Jane (nee Leavesley) Martin, Harold Edward Roy MARTIN was born November 13, 1912 in Caradoc, Ontario, a rural area about 35 kms (21.75 miles) west of London, Ontario.
On April 15, 1939 he married Tilly Frances Dolney in Leamington, Ontario. Tilly had been born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
…Harold enlisted in 1940….
When he enlisted on July 28, 1940 with the No. 1 District Depot in London, Ontario, he stated in his Soldiers Qualification Card that he had been employed as a truck driver with Longfield Lumber Company in Mount Bridges, Ontario, and that his family owned the Martin’s Fruit Company in Leamington, Ontario. He expected to have his own fruit business after his military service. He also noted that he played hockey, in the position of goalie.
On August 21, 1940 he was transferred from No. 1 District Depot to join his unit of the Royal Canadian Engineers at the Thames Valley Camp in London, Ontario. At the beginning of 1941 he was assigned to the 9th Field Company.
On April 30, 1941 he was entitled to draw additional Trades Pay as a Carpenter Class ‘B’, and then on May 2, 1941 was transferred to #1 Canadian Base Units Construction Company (CBUCC) of the Royal Canadian Engineers in Petawawa, Ontario.
…Harold and Tilly welcome the birth of their daughter in 1941….
Tilly and Harold’s daughter June Anne was born July 3, 1941. Burnie submitted a photo of the new family unit, explaining that June Anne’s “…son Brad and his brother Jack found this amazing picture of her and her parents….”
…Harold was sent overseas shortly after his daughter’s birth….
Harold didn’t have much time with his daughter, as he was on his way overseas with the No. 1 Canadian Base Units Construction Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, arriving in the United Kingdom on July 19, 1941. He was stationed in Bramshott, as a Carpenter and Joiner Class ‘B’.
On May 1, 1942 the name of his unit was changed to 5 CCC (Canadian Construction Company), Royal Canadian Engineers. Important work was done by units such as 5 CCC, such as building defences that included beach obstacles, pill-boxes, anti-tank ditches, and minefields. They also improved British roadways to improve the movement of military traffic, constructed military and air bases, and even built the Canadian wing of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in East Grinstead.
On July 28, 1942, Harold was awarded a Good Conduct Badge, and then on August 21, 1942, he received a permanent grade of Sapper.
On May 1, 1944, Harold was transferred to #1 Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit (CERU). Then on August 25, 1944 he was assigned to the Winnipeg Grenadiers for a few weeks, before leaving for France on September 28, 1944, and being reassigned to the Canadian Infantry Corps the next day.
…Harold’s Regiment fought in the Battle of the Scheldt….
On October 10, 1944 Harold was transferred to the Essex Scottish Regiment, which had moved steadily from Antwerp, Belgium at the beginning of October into The Netherlands. The Regiment had positions on both sides of the border for the Battle of the Scheldt. (See https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canada-and-the-battle-of-the-scheldt and https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/holland-stories/liberation-route/the-battle-of-the-scheldt.htm)
To have an idea of what was faced by Canadian troops, you can watch a short, but excellent, YouTube video explaining about the Battle of the Scheldt (just under 13 minutes):
According to the war diary for the Essex Scottish Regiment for October 14, 1944, the Battalion was in position at Hoogerheide. “…The enemy continued to be fairly aggressive and some of the positions reported heavy mortaring…” At some point during the day, Harold Martin lost his life.
…Harold is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom….
Harold was initially buried at the Ossendrecht Roman Catholic Civil Cemetery in Ossendrecht, before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom in March 1946.
Thank you to Burnie Reynaert for telling us about Harold Edward Martin and to the sons of June Anne Andrews for sharing a family photo. If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at email@example.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
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