On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WWII Soldier Stanley Owen Jones

September 5, 2022. Pieter continues to diligently work his way through photo wish lists from Dutch researchers at the Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands.  Two names on the lists from the cemetery in Holten were members of First Nations: William ‘Willie’ DANIELS, a Cree Nation member from Saskatchewan, and Stanley Owen JONES, a Haida Nation member of the Massett Band in British Columbia.

After an interview on APTN with Brett Forester, families of both soldiers provided photos.  (To read the 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/)  Willie Daniels was featured in a posting last year.

This posting is about Stanley Owen JONES, who was born September 29, 1924 in Massett, British Columbia, the son of David and Elizabeth Jones.

….A family member from Alaska gets in contact….

It took several months, but one day Michelle Eakman, granddaughter of Stanley’s youngest sister, contacted Pieter from her home in Alaska. “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.  My grandmother Marina was the last living sibling and she passed away on April 6, 2019...”  She included a photo, explaining that “this picture of the picture is all I’ve had…

Jones improved_photo(10) colourized

Stanley Owen Jones. (Photo submitted by Michelle Eakman.  Photo restoration and colourization by Pieter Valkenburg)

….Stanley enlisted in 1944….

Before enlisting at the No. 11 Recruiting Detachment in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 10, 1944, Stanley was employed as a fisherman for 4 years around the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii) with Nelson Brothers of Vancouver.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haida_Gwaii)

After his father had died in 1938, Stanley cut short his schooling in order to work.  He’d already lost one brother and five sisters during the 1930s. His mother and five siblings remained – one brother in a sanatorium due to tuberculosis, and four sisters.

An interviewer noted in his Personnel Selection Record that Stanley used to play football, lacrosse, baseball, and basketball.  He enjoyed reading westerns and could play the piano.

He was described as having a “…quiet nature, man of few words. Has self-confidence…”  He was recommended for an infantry unit since he told the interviewer that he “.…has done a lot of hunting.

Stanley was sent for basic training to the Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC) in Prince Albert Saskatchewan.  Once that was completed, he was transferred to the Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Shilo, Manitoba on May 28, 1944.

On October 13, 1944 he was transferred to the No. 1 Training Brigade in Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for overseas service.

….Stanley left Canada on Christmas Eve 1944….

On December 24, 1944, Stanley left Canada for the United Kingdom, arriving on December 31, 1944. Then, on February 12, 1945 he was sent to northwest Europe and transferred to the Regina Rifle Regiment for a few weeks.

On March 13, 1945 he was transferred to the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) which was stationed in Kleve, Germany, just across the border from The Netherlands.

….Stanley was wounded during the liberation of Wagenborgen….

finalphasecanscottish

Stanley Owen Jones was injured during the liberation of Wagenborgen.  (Map courtesy of http://www.canadiansoldiers.com)

In April 1945, the Regiment travelled back and forth between The Netherlands and Germany, encountering Germany opposition but pushing through successfully.  On April 21, 1945, the Battle of Delfzijl Pocket began in a fight to liberate the Dutch village of Wagenborgen, south of Delfzijl, and the surrounding area. German resistance was heavy, resulting in Canadian Scottish casualties of 23 killed and 41 wounded before Wagenborgen was liberated on April 24. (See https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northwesteurope/wagenborgen.htm)

Stanley was wounded in the early morning of April 24 in a blast that ruptured his right ear drum, resulting in ‘nerve deafness’.  Not only was his hearing impaired, but his balance would have been as well.

 ….Stanley drowned in an accident….

Stanley returned to the Canadian Scottish Regiment on May 24, 1945.  On September 8, 1945, while the Regiment was part of the Canadian Army Occupation Force (CAOF) in Germany, Stanley was on a duty run in a carrier that was carrying rations from the Supply Company to the detachment at Sengwarden Radio Station.  Sengwarden is a village north of Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

The driver, Pte Randle, testified that a track came off the carrier, causing it to lurch to the right and to overturn in a ditch.  Stanley and Pte Jaschinsky were the other occupants in the vehicle when it overturned.

Randle testified in a Court Of Inquiry that after freeing himself he called out to the other two men.  “…Pte Jaschinsky answered and told me he was all right but that Jones must be under the carrier. He had been riding in the front as my co-driver, so I felt around to see if I could locate him.  I felt his body under water and tried to lift him to my side but couldn’t budge him…

A vehicle from the Régiment de la Chaudière rescued Randle and Jaschinsky and pulled the carrier off Stanley, who had been pinned under the carrier, and tried unsuccessfully to revive him through artificial respiration.

In Jaschinsky’s testimony in the Court Of Inquiry, he explained that he was a cook at the Supply Company and had received a pass to travel to Sengwarden in order to see how the detachment was managing with rations.  “….We were proceeding down the Sengwarden Wilhelmshaven highway at approximately 1620 hours when I heard a strange noise and looked around and saw a carrier track lying on the road…. I saw we were heading toward a tree.  Just before colliding with the tree the remaining track dropped in a slit trench throwing the carrier at right angles. In the same motion it turned upside down….

The Court Of Inquiry ruled that Stanley’s death was due to accidental drowning.  The Jones family had suffered another loss in their family.

 ….Stanley was buried in The Netherlands….

Stanley was initially buried in Osterscheps, Germany and later reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

2227447_t1 Jones

Stanley Owen Jones in buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands.  (Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Thank you to Michelle Eakman for providing a photo.  If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about other Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog:

…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://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

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

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle

July 17, 2022. Before we travelled to North Bay, Ontario in May for an Author Talk at the North Bay Public Library we were given the name of a WWII soldier buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, who was listed as being from North Bay: John ‘Jack’ Richard MARACLE.

When Pieter began researching his story, he quickly saw that Jack Maracle was not from North Bay and had never lived there.  What was the connection?  It turned out that his maternal grandfather, Thomas Marshall, lived in North Bay, and his mother had grown up there. Mystery solved!

Jack Maracle from Brenda Baughman

John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle.  (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

Brenda Baughman submitted a photo on behalf of the Maracle Family, explaining that it was “…a photo of my cousin John Richard Maracle. Jack, as he was called by the family, is in his WWII uniform.  My grandmother Florence was the sister of Jack’s father, who was always called Elmer….”   

Jack Maracle and his cousin, Freda Maracle (2)

Jack Maracle with Brenda Baughman’s mother Freda Maracle in Toronto, circa 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

…Jack Maracle had deep Mohawk roots….

Jack was born March 29, 1925 in Midland, Ontario, the son of Henry ‘Elmer’ and Irene Mildred (nee Marshall) Maracle.  He had deep Mohawk roots on his paternal side through Elmer’s parents. 

Elmer’s father, Albert Maracle, was born on the Tyendinaga Reserve in Ontario.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyendinaga_Mohawk_Territory and https://mbq-tmt.org/) Elmer’s mother Elsie (nee Hill) was born on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Nations_of_the_Grand_River)

…Jack’s father was a professional hockey player….

Jack’s father Elmer was a professional hockey player, playing in six leagues across North America over the course of his 20 year career.  He was one of the first Indigenous players in the National Hockey League (NHL) when he was with the New York Rangers in the early 1930s. 

Elmer Maracle, North Bay - 1925

Elmer Maracle with the North Bay Trappers, circa 1925. (Photo courtesy of the Jack Maracle Family)

And there was a North Bay connection, as he played for the North Bay Trappers.  (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Maracle)

Because of his father’s career, Jack and his sister Betty lived in several places throughout North America, returning to Ontario with their mother only once their parents’ marriage broke up.

…Jack had an aptitude for motor mechanics….

Jack worked in several jobs as a teenager, including bicycle delivery with a printing company, telegram delivery, press operator helper with lithography, and a shop man with the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Before Jack enlisted with the #2 District Depot in Toronto, Ontario on March 29, 1943 – his 18th birthday – he was an elevator operator with the Robert Simpson Company, a department store that later became known as Sears. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpsons_(department_store)) 

The self-operated automatic elevators we know today replaced manually operated elevators, which required an operator to be able to regulate speed and have a good sense of timing to ensure the elevator stopped level with a floor. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_operator)  These skills were a good preparation for Jack’s army career.

His Personnel Selection Record with the Canadian Army recorded that Jack was “… a neat, well-dressed young man of slim build… who is keen to get into the army… In each of his frequent job changes he has bettered himself…..”  It went on to note that he had “….well above average learning ability...” His aptitude and interest in motor mechanics was noted, including that he “…prefers the ‘Tank’ corps….” 

The Personnel Selection Record noted that Jack’s “… only sporting interest is roller-skating...” (not hockey!) and that he liked “…social events, and, for a hobby, collects photographs of locomotives…

…Jack’s army career began with armoured tank training ….

Jack’s medical exam noted that he had a hernia and a heart murmur, so he was placed in Category ‘D’ (temporarily unfit for service) and sent first to the Camp Petawawa Military Hospital (CPMH), then to Toronto Convalescent Hospital (TCH) for a hernia operation.

On August 20, 1943 he was transferred to #26 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC) in Orillia, Ontario, where he stayed until October 18, 1943.  From Orillia he was sent to Borden, Ontario to the Canadian Armoured Corps Training Centre (CACTC) for advanced training in tanks, becoming a Qualified Driver i/c Class III Wheeled on November 25, 1943.  It was noted that he could not proceed overseas before his 19th birthday on March 29, 1944.

On April 30, 1944, he left sailed to the United Kingdom, arriving on May 7, 1944, where he was transferred to the Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit (CACRU).  He was sent for further training, and qualified as Gunner Operator ‘C’ on August 1, 1944.

…Jack arrived in northwest Europe and joined the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment ….

On September 25, 1944 he arrived in France as part of the Canadian Armoured Corps reinforcement.    On October 31, 1944 he was transferred to the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), which was in Breda, The Netherlands.

The November 1, 1944 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…This section of the country has received us exceptionally well but they are almost destitute for food as is evidenced by the number of civilians around our cook lorry…

On November 9, 1944 the Regiment moved towards the northeast to Groesbeek, near the German border, in preparation for upcoming operations in the Rhineland.

…Armoured tanks helped win the war…..

If you wondered what an armoured tank regiment did and the difficulties and dangers that were faced, you can take a look at this 47 minute documentary: ‘How Canada’s Blockbuster Tank Operation Won The Allies WW2

…Jack’s Regiment prepared for the upcoming battles in Germany…..

Christmas found the Regiment still in The Netherlands. The December 25, 1944 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…To-day the regiment, less one squadron, came under command of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division….

On February 7, 1945, War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…Morale is at a high peak as it is evident by the flow of equipment on the roads that we are soon to witness our first real thrust into Germany….

The February 11, 1945 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…Now that Operation Veritable is in full swing traffic has been resumed to normal….” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Veritable)

On February 19, 1945, the Regiment was informed that they would be going into Germany.  The War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…This morning we were warned that the Regiment would be moving very shortly to the CLEVE area. The prisoners taken on operation Veritable have now risen to nine thousand one hundred…”  Kleve, Germany is just a few short kms from Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

On February 25, 1945, the War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that “…. The crews are checking on all equipment and making minor repairs to make the tanks battle worthy as we have learned of a coming operation…”  This was for the Battle of Keppeln, fought between February 26 and March 3, 1945.  This was the start of Operation Blockbuster. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster)

After Keppeln came the Battle of Balberger Wald, the southern section of the Hochwald Forest, southeast of Keppeln and part of the Schlieffen Line that protected the approach to the Rhine River. It took “two more days to complete clearing … after Le Régiment de la Chaudière had secured the Tüschen Wald on 2 March. As they probed southward and then eastward through the woods, the Queen’s Own Rifles and the North Shore Regiment encountered persistent resistance by small enemy bands…. Every advance was counter-attacked…. and the 1st Hussars, held up by numerous anti-tank mines, could only give supporting fire through the trees from stationary positions….” (See https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Victory/Victory-19.html, page 513)

…The final phase of Operation Blockbuster began on March 5, 1945 ….

In ‘A History of the First Hussars Regiment 1856-1980’ by Brandon Conron, published in 1981, explained that “… The final part of ‘Blockbuster’, in which the Regiment took an active part, was on March 5th… the plan was to attack east from the Hochwald and seize the high ground between Xanten and Sonsbeck...

The March 5, 1945 War Diary entry for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment noted that it was “…Cloudy with sleet and rain...

Conron’s Regimental history provides a bit more information.  “…Although first light was at 0645 hours, zero hour was set for 0615 hours. Despite the darkness the tanks moved forward with the infantry… By daylight it became quite evident that the buildings in the rear where not clear, for a continuous stream of German machine gun fire from that direction harassed everyone…” 

Jack was hit in the abdomen by a bullet from machine gun fire and quickly taken to a Casualty Clearing Post by the 23rd Canadian Field Ambulance, reaching it shortly after 7 am.  By noon he had been admitted to #3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in Bedburg, Germany. Despite efforts to save him, he unfortunately died on March 12, 1945.

map showing Reichswald forest and Bedburg

 …Jack is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek…

Maracle gravestone from Find A Grave

Grave of John ‘Jack’ Richard Maracle at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo source: http://www.findagrave.com)

Jack was temporarily buried at the Bedburg Canadian Military Cemetery before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Brenda Baughman, Lynda Wink, Gordon Cooper - July 12, 2022 resized

Brenda Baughman with her sister and brother. Left to right: Brenda Baughman, Lynda Wink, Gordon Cooper. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Baughman)

Thank you to Brenda Baughman for sending photos and sharing information on her cousin, Jack Maracle.  Our North Bay adventure concludes in the next posting. If you know of any soldiers from the North Bay area that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.  

…Missed the previous postings about our North Bay Memorial Trail visit?…

….Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about other Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog:

…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://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog. 

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEuropeDaria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

Upcoming Author Talk: Thursday, August 11, 2022 – Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island, part of the ‘Our Island Talks’ series, and hosted by Victoria Playhouse and Victoria Historical Association. Time: 2:00 pm.

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

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier Philip Laforte

March 22, 2022. Sometimes a story takes you in directions that you never expected.  After the success in finding a photo of WW2 soldier Edmond COULOMBE of Manitoba (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/12/24/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-successful-search-for-a-photo-of-ww2-soldier-edmond-coulombe/), we hoped to have similar success with a photo wish list of WW2 soldiers from Manitoba who are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

One soldier, who came from an area near where Edmond Coloumbe lived, was Philip LAFORTE.  With the help Philip’s niece Michelle Wazny, Diane Dube of the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum in St.-Georges, and genealogy researcher Judie Klassen, a photo was found, as was information on his Métis roots.

Philip was born September 12, 1911 in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba, the son of Napoleon and Rosalie (nee Mainville) LaForte.  His mother’s Métis status meant that Philip too was Métis.

A trapper before he enlisted in Winnipeg with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on July 31, 1941, Philip was married to Eva Jane (nee Johnston) and they had one son, Felix Joseph.  Another son, Donald Philip, was born shortly after he enlisted. Philip had previously been married to Sarah Louise Bird, who had died of tuberculosis.  Their son Leon was brought up by his grandparents, Mr and Mrs Joseph Daniels, of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Philip Laforte 3

Philip Laforte. (Photo courtesy of the Laforte family)

Philip’s service file noted that he was fluent in English, French, and Cree, and had trapped furs for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and worked as a bush labourer for Brown and Rutherford.

As a new recruit, Philip was sent to Fort William (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario for two months of basic training.  Then he was attached to the Infantry Advanced Training Centre (Rifle) in Winnipeg, Manitoba..

On December 12, 1941, he became part of the 3rd Division Infantry Reinforcement Unit (DIRU) as a Rifleman, and was on his way to the United Kingdom, arriving on December 23, 1941.

On May 28, 1942, Philip was transferred to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.  Still in the United Kingdom, he was taken on strength to the #1 Educational Company on November 1, 1942, and stayed in that unit until February 1943, when he was transferred to the #2 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).

…. Philip is involved in the liberation of North-West Europe….

On April 12, 1943, Philip was reassigned to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. On September 1, 1944 he arrived in France as reinforcement for troops lost during the Battle of Caen and the Battle of Falaise Gap.

He participated in the fight to clear the Scheldt Estuary to allow the re-opening of the Antwerp harbour. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Scheldt) By January 1945 the Royal Winnipeg Rifles were in The Netherlands, and spent the New Year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

On February 1, 1945, the war diary recorded that the Regiment was informed of the part that the men “…would play in Operation Veritable…” This would take them into Germany. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Veritable)  The Regiment arrived in Millingen, Germany on February 9, 1945.

By February 16, 1945 the Regiment was based in Essen, Germany, as they cleared German positions in flooded areas of the Rhine flood plain and the Reichswald forest, which is close to the Dutch-German border.

On March 11, 1945 the Regiment began moving back towards ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands and the greater battle towards liberating the country.

A short video produced by the Canadian Army gives an idea of what troops faced in this period:

….The battle for Deventer involved crossing the Schipbeek ….

CIMG9306 Sep 25 2017 map of Deventer liberation from Edwin

Movement of Canadian troops towards Deventer.  Note that all first had to cross the Schipbeek.  (Map provided by Edwin van der Wolf)

On April 7, 1945 the Royal Winnipeg Rifles were ordered to cross the Schipbeek and establish a bridgehead as preparation for an assault on the city of Deventer by the 7th Canadian Brigade.

Crossing the Schipbeek was vital to the success of the bridge operation, not an easy feat as the Bridge was strongly defended by the Germans.

Lt Donald Charles MACKENZIE of Springhill, Nova Scotia received a Military Cross for his actions in ensuring the bridgehead was secured.  The citation explained how the Regiment was surrounded by enemy troops and soldiers faced intense fire. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/01/23/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-ww2-soldier-from-springhill-who-received-a-memorial-cross/)

Unfortunately, one of the casualties during the events of April 7, 1945 was Philip Laforte, and it seems most likely that he lost his life during the crossing of the Schipbeek.

Along with 45 other soldiers, he was temporarily buried beside an estate in Oxe, which had been the site of the murder of Dutch resistance fighters.

On April 6, 1945, just before the Schipbeek, Royal Winnipeg Rifles troops arrived at an estate in Oxe (Oxerhof). This had been taken over as Gestapo Headquarters, but had been hastily vacated ahead of the Regiment.

To the horror of the Canadian soldier who first approached, he found the graves of ten Dutch resistance fighters, who had been shot just before the Gestapo withdrew. (For more information on De Oxerhof and the murder of 10 Dutch prisoners, see https://www.tracesofwar.com/articles/5041/Estate-The-Oxerhof-in-Deventer.htm and https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/56914/Memorial-Execution-5-April-1945.htm)

In January 1946, all 46 Canadian soldiers were reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

laforte, philip gravestone

Grave of Philip Laforte in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of the Information Centre Canadian Cemetery Holten)

…The Colmschate Memorial commemorates 46 Canadians….

On April 8, 2015, a memorial was placed in Colmschate to commemorate the 46 Canadians who had been temporarily buried on the Oxe estate.

Gedenkbord Colmschate, 8-04-2015

Memorial in Colmschate, commemorating 46 Canadians, including Philip Laforte. (Photo courtesy of Edwin van der Wolf)

Memorial plaque placed Apr 8 2015 Colmschate

Text of Memorial in Colmschate, commemorating 46 Canadians, including Philip Laforte.  (Photo courtesy of Edwin van der Wolf)

Translation of the Dutch text was prepared by Pieter Valkenburg:

They Gave Their Lives

The liberation of Colmschate

During their advance from the Achterhoek, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the Regina Rifle Regiment, and the Canadian Scottish Regiment, led by Brigadier General T G Gibson reached the neighborhood of Oxe on Friday April 6, 1945. Next to the house on the Oxe estate (Oxerhof), the liberators discovered the bodies of ten Dutchmen who had been murdered in cold blood by the occupiers the day before. The Canadians passed the Schipbeek via a quickly struck bailey bridge, which replaced the destroyed Swormertoren Bridge.

Despite heavy German resistance, they continued north. Many farms went up in flames and houses were badly damaged. Many families sought refuge in the already liberated Oxe. Some residents lost their lives.

On April 8, 1945, the liberators captured (a small part of) the Snippeling, Colmschate, and the Bannink. Via the Vijfhoek they reached the Crödden Bridge over the Overijssels Canal. Schalkhaar and Deventer were then liberated and with the help of the Queen’s Own Rifles the remaining part of the Snippeling.

Many Canadians lost their lives in the battle in this area. In April 1945, the bodies of 46 fallen Canadians were buried in a temporary resting place opposite the Oxerhof house. In January 1946 they were transferred to the Canadian Cemetery in Holten (Plot I and II).

…..Philip is listed on the National Métis Veterans Memorial Monument….

Judie Klassen let us know that Philip is listed on the National Métis Veterans Memorial Monument just outside of Batoche, Saskatchewan.  (See https://www.metismuseum.ca/metisveteransmonument/)

His name can be found on Column 4 on the inside.  Row 58 https://www.metismuseum.ca/metisveteransmonument/column.php?c=4&s=i

Judie also noted that Philip and his father Napoleon (a WW1 veteran) are listed on the Sagkeeng First Nation website (see http://www.sagkeeng.ca/our-veterans/) and on their memorial in Fort Alexander (see http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/sagkeengwarmemorial.shtml)

Thank you to Philip’s niece Michelle Wazny, Diane Dube of the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum in St.-Georges, and genealogy researcher Judie Klassen. It can be a challenge to find family and photos, and we appreciate the help we receive!  If you have photos or information to share, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

….Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about other Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog:

…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://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at dariadv@yahoo.ca and ask for an invitation to the blog.

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEurope

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898Daria’s bookNo Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgottenis available in print and e-book formats.  For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

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

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.

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

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© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier Thomas Beresford Big Canoe

October 7, 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 Pat Stewart about Thomas Beresford BIG CANOE of Georgina Island, Ontario, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Pat wrote “I live in southwest Saskatchewan now but came from Ontario 20 years ago. I worked as a journalist for the Georgina Advocate back then. Thank you for what you are doing. It is so very important to remember….” In 1999, Pat had written an article about a Dutch couple, Bill and Ellie Gertzen, who had adopted the grave of Thomas Big Canoe.  Bill had been an interpreter for the Canadian and American armies during WW2.

Thomas Beresford Big Canoe from Cdn Virtual War Memorial

Thomas Beresford Big Canoe.  (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

….Thomas was a member of the Chippewas Georgina Island First Nation….

Thomas Beresford BIG CANOE was born on Georgina Island, Ontario on October 13, 1925, the son of Thomas and Hannah (nee Porte) Big Canoe.  Georgina Island, located on Lake Simcoe, is an Indigenous reserve of the Chippewas Georgina Island First Nation, an Ojibwa (or Anishinaabeg) band.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chippewas_of_Georgina_Island_First_Nation)

Thomas had begun work as a labourer at T.A. Wilson Lumber Company in Denbigh, Ontario when he enlisted at the #2 District Depot in Toronto on June 12, 1944.

He had keen eyesight and his medical exam noted he had 20/20 vision.  He was sent to the #26 Canadian Armoured Corps Basic Training Centre (CACBTC) in Orillia, Ontario.  On October 6, 1944 he was transferred to the A-10 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Camp Borden, Ontario.

After his basic training, and once he  turned 19 years old (the minimum age for overseas service), Thomas left for United Kingdom just before Christmas 1944. He remained in the United Kingdom until February 9, 1945, after which he was sent to Northwest Europe as part of the contingent of troops needed for the Battle of the Rhineland. The goal of this battle? Occupy the Rhineland and cross the Rhine River.

Thomas was assigned to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, where he was a member of the Scout Platoon.  The Scout Platoon’s role was to gain information on German activity through advance patrols, quite often behind enemy lines.

….Thomas lost his life during Operation Blockbuster….

In the push for the Battle of the Rhineland, Thomas was in the midst of Operation Blockbuster, which aimed to clear the Rhine River in Xanten, Germany, a battle that was fought between February 8 and March 10, 1945, and followed Operation Veritable.  These two Operations took 31 days.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster)

On March 8, 1945, Phase II of Operation Blockbuster began. According to the war diary of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, of which the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry was part of, “…At 0530 this morning Op BLOCKBUSTER II began, designed to capture XANTEN and the ground to the SE. By last light 4 Cdn Inf Bde had reached all their objectives, after some very heavy fighting...” (Source: https://map.project44.ca/)

Operation Blockbuster II

It was dark that early in the morning, and raining heavily.  In Pat Stewart’s article, she quotes Bill Gertzen as explaining that on the morning of March 8, 1945, Thomas and his group from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry had been “…directed to shape a bridgehead over the Rhine…But the Germans were expecting them and, in the battle that followed, there were only 26 survivors out of a company of 200….

Although we don’t know exactly what happened, Thomas unfortunately lost his life at some point in the March 8, 1945 battle.  He was only 19 years old.

To learn more about Operation Blockbuster, you can watch a 30 minute video.  You’ll see footage of what the army encountered, an overview of the complexity of the battle, and, at the end, an assessment made in 1982 by two members of a Rhineland Battle Study Group, one British, one German.

Thomas was temporarily buried in Xanten, Germany before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

IMG_8567-AVB Grave of Thomas Big Canoe in Groesbeek

Grave of Thomas Beresford Big Canoe at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo credit: Ad Scheepers)

Thank you to Pat Stewart for contacting us about Thomas Beresford Big Canoe, and to Ad Scheepers for taking the photo of Thomas’s grave at the cemetery.  If you have information to share about Thomas Beresford Big Canoe or other Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

 ….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 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

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier Alfred Louis Pitawanakwat (Pitwanakwat)

September 6, 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 Joshua Manitowabi, who explained that Alfred Pitawanakwat’s “…brothers were Thomas Pitawanakwat and Valentine Pitawanakwat and all three fought in WW2. Two returned home, but Alfred is buried overseas in Holland. Alfred was my grandfather’s brother. He was my Great-Uncle on my mom’s side. ..

2232439_1 Alfred Pitwanakwat from Cdn Virtual War Memorial

Alfred Louis Pitawanakwat (Pitwanakwat) (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Alfred Louis PITAWANAKWAT (PITWANAKWAT) was born September 12, 1924 in Little Current, Ontario, son of Samuel and Agatha Pitwanakwat, of Wikwemikong, Ontario. Like Clarence Wilfred WAKEGIJIG, he was from the Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. (For more information on the Wiikwemkoong First Nation, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiikwemkoong_First_Nation.  A link to an earlier posting on Clarence Wilfred Wakegijig is near the end of this account. )

Alfred enlisted on August 23, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario.  At the time, he had been working for 2 months as a farmer’s helper for George McCluny of Caledonia, Ontario.  His two older brothers were already serving overseas with the Canadian Army.  Thomas was with the #14 Company of the Canadian Forestry Corps, and William ‘Valentine’ was with the #24 Anti-Tank Battery.

In an interview with the Personnel Selection Board, it was noted that he was “…able to express himself clearly….He gives the impression of being shy, but proved a very interesting character, when encouraged to talk about himself...”  The interviewer also remarked that Alfred was good with his hands as he was “…in the habit of carving miniature boats...

Someone in the recruitment office was paying attention as a note on his attestation form was stamped with the warning that he wouldn’t be 19 years old until September 12.  This was a caution as enlistees were not to be sent overseas before the age of 19.

Alfred’s service file also noted that as he was both underage and underweight at the time of enlistment he was sent to the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and took basic and advanced infantry training.

On June 6, 1944 he was sent to the No 1 Transit Camp in Windsor, Ontario for ‘rations and quarters’, in preparation for going overseas with #24 Canadian General Hospital.  By June 26, 1944 he was on board a ship bound for the United Kingdom, arriving in early July 1944.

He was a runner with the hospital, but in September 1944 Alfred requested a transfer to an anti-tank battery or the infantry, explaining that as he was now fit he wanted more active employment.

The transfer request was granted and Alfred joined the Royal Winnipeg Rifles as a rifleman.  He was wounded on October 23, 1944 by a gunshot wound during the Battle of the Breskens Pocket in Belgium, but returned to his Regiment after being discharged from hospital on November 15, 1944. (See https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northwesteurope/breskenspocket.htm)

On November 2, 1944, the Regiment was sent to Ghent, Belgium for a rest period before the Rhineland Campaign began.  From Ghent they moved into The Netherlands, stopping near the Dutch-German border.

The Regimental history, ‘Little Black Devils: a history of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles’, by Bruce Tascona and Eric Wells, describes the movement of the Regiment as it moved from The Netherlands across the border into Germany, beginning on February 8, 1945.  “… After heavy artillery and bombardment, the tanks moved in, followed by infantry. Their assignment was to push south-east from the salient at Nijmegen, clearing a corridor between the Rhine and Maas Rivers…

A salient is a piece of land or section of fortification that juts out to form an angle. Nijmegen is in The Netherlands, not far from the German border.  This area had been cleared by December 1944.  Canadian troops were kept busy here, clearing the ice on the Waal River to protect bridges further downstream, and as you can see in the short video clip (there is no audio), they had time to show a sense of humour in various signs.

The Regimental history account continued as the Regiment moved into Germany, “… approaching the village of Louisendorf in ‘Kangaroos’, armoured personnel carriers converted from Ram tanks. Getting within 50 yards of the enemy, the Rifles charged the remaining distance, and in close combat took 240 prisoners and occupied the village. The next day the Regiment joined the Regina Rifles and the Canadian Scottish in the attack on Moyland Wood….

They advanced into an area “…beset with booby traps, mines, snipers, and machine guns….

Moyland Woods map from Little Black Devils

Map source: ‘Little Black Devils: a history of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles’ by Bruce Tascona and Eric Wells.

An account by Terry Copp in the article ‘Clearing Moyland Wood: Army Part 43’ in the November 2002 issue of Legion Magazine explained that: “…The Royal Winnipeg Rifles left their slit trenches near Louisendorf and moved into position south of Moyland Wood. Brig. E.R. Suttie, who had replaced Brig. Stanley Todd in command of the divisional artillery, prepared an elaborate fire plan involving medium and field artillery plus mortars, anti-tank guns, machine-guns and the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse….

Lt Col Alan Gregory, temporary commander of the Regina Rifles, “….and Lt.-Col. Lockie Fulton, the aggressive young commander of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles or Little Black Devils, devised a plan to clear the eastern end of the wood combining Wasps with tank support and air attacks. …

The plan was successful, but came at a cost. “…The Royal Winnipeg Rifles displayed outstanding skill as well as courage in the day-long battle that cost the battalion more than 100 casualties, 26 of them fatal….”  (See https://legionmagazine.com/en/2002/11/clearing-moyland-wood/0 ) Alfred was one of the fatalities, losing his life on February 21, 1945.

Map

Alfred was initially buried in Bedburg, Germany before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Alfred Pitwanakwat

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

Thank you to Joshua Manitowabi for contacting us about his great-uncle, and to Ad Scheepers for taking the photo of Alfred’s grave at the cemetery.  If you have information to share about Alfred Louis PITAWANAKWAT (PITWANAKWAT) or other Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

 ….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.

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

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© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail….. Adopting A Grave In Adegem

August 29, 2021. After reading about the 7 Indigenous soldiers buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem, Belgium, Edwin van der Wolf, a volunteer researcher at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands contacted Pieter. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/08/18/on-the-war-memorial-trail-7-indigenous-soldiers-buried-in-adegem-canadian-war-cemetery/)

In a translation from the original Dutch, Edwin wrote that “On your interesting blog I read about the 7 First Nations, who are buried in the Canadian cemetery in Adegem, Belgium.

At the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten I also happen to have about 13 First Nations and three Métis, who are buried with us, as a focus area.….” 

Two of the Indigenous soldiers buried in Holten have been featured on this blog:

P1370203 Edwin by Pte Allan Trelford

Edwin van der Wolf by the grave of Allan Trelford in the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem.  (Photo courtesy Edwin van der Wolf)

Edwin went on to say …In addition, I am also involved in the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem, where 38 fallen / killed soldiers of the Canadian Scottish Regiment are buried and of which I have also adopted two with my son….”  Edwin has done extensive research into the Canadian Scottish Regiment and last year began a website on them.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/new-website-on-canadian-scottish-regiment-during-ww2/)

P1370323 May 12 2018 of the certificate of Pte Allan Trelford

On May 12, 2018, Edwin van der Wolf received his certificate for adopting the grave of Allan Homer Trelford. (Photo courtesy Edwin van der Wolf)

Edwin adopted the grave of Allan Homer TRELFORD, son of Homer A. and Eleanora Jane Trelford, of Toronto, Ontario and husband of Mildred Verna Trelford, of Toronto, who died on October 18, 1944 at the age of 23. 

On May 11, 2019, Edwin’s son Breyten adopted the grave of Joseph H. PALLISTER, son of Guy and Evelyn M. Pallister, of Turner Valley, Alberta, who died on October 6, 1944 at the age of 21.

Adoptie Certifikaat J.H. Pallister, 11-5-019

The adoption certificate issued to Breyten van der Wolf.  (Photo courtesy Edwin van der Wolf)

I asked Edwin what was involved in adopting a grave, since the upkeep of the graves and cemeteries for our Canadian war dead is the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  My guess was that it involved visiting the grave and perhaps being in contact with family members back in Canada.  Edwin confirmed this and went on to explain that “...You are supposed to lay flowers at the adopted grave now and then and I also ask my Belgian contact person there to do so for me sometimes. There can also be contact with family members….

Pieter and I have been to several cemeteries in Europe and in many of the smaller ones we were the only visitors in a long while, according to the visitors log book.  So, the adoption of graves is a great idea.  

No soldier buried overseas should be forgotten

Edwin explained that, unlike in The Netherlands, “If you adopt a grave at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery you receive a certificate of this adoption during a yearly ceremony in May…  The Dutch War Graves Commission no longer issues certificates, “…not since the 1960s...” 

Thank you to Edwin van der Wolf for sharing photos and information about the grave adoption at the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem.  If you have information to share about Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, 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….. 7 Indigenous Soldiers Buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery

August 18, 2021. After reading the posting about WW2 Soldier Clarence Wilfred Wakegijig, Pieter was contacted by Willy van Ee of Sas-van-Gent, The Netherlands, who explained that he is the son of Indigenous soldier Walter MEKAJI of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and Hendrike Herber of The Netherlands.  “My father also came from Wikwemikong and met my mother in Utrecht during the liberation of The Netherlands…

Willy’s compelling story has been extensively told.  See:

In a translation of Willy’s email exchange with Pieter, he wrote “…I live 20 km from the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium.  Every year, on the second weekend of September, there is a ceremony with many VIPs, and a lot of people.  This year it’s on September 12. I’ve been going there for about 40 years, because of a veteran from Vancouver Island, Art BRIDGE, who has visited us a number of times.  His friend L MORGAN is buried there....”   Most likely, Willy is referring to Lionel Albert MORGAN, son of Reuben and Pearl Morgan, of Toronto, Ontario, who died on September 8, 1944 while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s).

Map showing Adegem Canadian War Cemetery

Willy wanted to let Pieter know that he believed that 7 Indigenous soldiers are buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery.  He visited the cemetery and sent the names:

No photo available

  • Maurice BELLEGARDE, son of Moise and Margaret Bellegarde, of Abernethy, Saskatchewan. Died November 3, 1944 while serving with the Regina Rifle Regiment.

Jacob Shelby Brant

Jacob Shelby Brant. (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

  • Jacob Shelby BRANT, born February 12, 1925 in Hagersville, Ontario, son of Austin and Bessie Brant.  Died September 11, 1944 while serving with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, aged 19.

Harvey Dreaver

Harvey Dreaver. (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

  • Harvey DREAVER, born November 29, 1914 in Leask, Saskatchewan, son of Joseph and Evelyn Dreaver of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Husband of Mary Dreaver of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Died October 6, 1944 while serving with the Regina Rifle Regiment, aged 29.

No photo available

  • Joseph HENRY, son of Thomas and Philomene Henry. Husband of Alice Henry, of Roseau River Reserve, Manitoba.  Died October 2, 1944 while serving with the Algonquin Regiment, aged 22.

Roland David Riel

Roland David Riel. (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

  • Roland David RIEL, born December 8, 1925 in St Vital (now Winnipeg), Manitoba, son of Henry and Yvonne Mary Eugenie Riel.   Died October 15, 1944 while serving with the Regina Rifle Regiment, aged 18.

Kenneth Scribe

Kenneth Scribe. (Photo source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

  • Kenneth SCRIBE, son of John and Jessie Scribe, of Norway House, Manitoba. Died October 11, 1944 while serving with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, aged 23.

No photo available

  • Charles William Myers ST GERMAINE, son of John and Lillian St. Germaine, of Rama, Ontario. Died September 16, 1944 while serving with the South Saskatchewan Regiment, aged 23.

Thank you to Willy van Ee for sharing his story and letting us know about the soldiers buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery.  If you have photo or information to share about any of the men mentioned in this posting, or other Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

.….Soldiers buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery featured on this blog….

To read about other soldiers buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, see:

….Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog….

To read about Indigenous soldiers featured on this blog, see

To read an APTN article on Pieter’s search, 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.

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

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier Clarence Wilfred Wakegijig

August 9, 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 Annelind Wakegijig.

She sent us a photo of Clarence Wilfred WAKEGIJIG, and wrote that “…I recently saw your story featured on APTN. My great-uncle, Clarence WAKEGIJIG was from the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. He died in Holland on March 2, 1945. He is buried in Groesbeek…”  (For more information on the Wiikwemkoong First Nation, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiikwemkoong_First_Nation )

Annelind explained that “… He was the youngest son of Josephine (Shawanda) Wakegijig and Joachim Wakegijig. His siblings were:

  • Victoria Corbiere 
  • Christine Wakegijig 
  • Ethel Wakegijig –  who had suffered a childhood illness and died at 5 years of age 
  • John Wakegijig -also a veteran of WWII, who died in 1971 in a motor vehicle accident 

and 

  • Raymond Wakegijig – who drowned in his late 20s 

 Clarence was a Guardsman with the Canadian Grenadier Guards…. 

Clarence Wakegijig

Clarence Wilfred WAKEGIJIG.  (Photo Courtesy of Clarence Wakegijig Family)

Clarence was born January 9, 1925 in Cutler, Ontario, the son of Joachim and Josephine Wakegijig (nee Shawanda), of Krugersdorf, Ontario. He enlisted on September 25, 1941 with the Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury Regiment in Sudbury, Ontario, giving his birth year as 1922 and birthplace as Wikwemikong (Wiikwemkoong in Ojibwe).  The fact that he was only 16 years old, not 19, doesn’t seem to have been discovered.

He was sent to the Basic Training Centre in North Bay, Ontario.  In February 1942 Clarence was sent to the Driving and Maintenance Training School in Woodstock, Ontario, where he learned driver mechanics and how to drive a motorcycle.

On April 22, 1942 he was posted to Trois-Rivières, Quebec as reinforcement to Infantry (MG) TC A-17 – a Machine Gun Training Centre.

….Clarence arrived in Europe in 1942….

 By the end of September 1942, Clarence was on his way to the United Kingdom, arriving on October 9, 1942 and assigned to the Machine Gun Reinforcement Unit (MGRU), where he underwent additional training.

By June 1943 he had received a promotion to Trooper and was assigned to the 32nd Reconnaissance Regiment.  On September 18, 1943 he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge.

On March 19, 1944 he was assigned to the 22nd Armoured Regiment, known as the Canadian Grenadier Guards, taking further training as a driver mechanic in preparation for the Regiment moving into action in France.

The Regiment arrived in France on July 23, 1944, and underwent heavy fighting in Normandy during Operation Totalize and Operation Tractable, which led to the capture of Falaise. (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Totalize and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tractable)

Clarence survived these actions, and continued on with the Regiment as they left Normandy, France for North West Europe, fighting in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany.

….The Battle of Hochwald Gap was a fierce tank battle….

According to the war diary for the Canadian Grenadier Guards, the Regiment had travelled from The Netherlands just over the border into Germany, to participate in the Battle of Hochwald Gap, part of Operation Blockbuster, the final push towards the Rhine River, along with several other Canadian Regiments. (For more information, see https://canadianbattlefieldtours.ca/operation-blockbuster/ and https://civilianmilitaryintelligencegroup.com/10742/the-battle-of-hochwald-gap-one-of-the-largest-armor-engagements-you-probably-have-never-heard-of)

On February 26, 1945 they were travelling southeast from Kalkar, Germany, getting bogged down in mud and clay, and through farm fields in which mines had been hidden by the Germans, causing many casualties.

Map showing route thru Hochwald Gap

The Regiment’s objective was to reach Xanten, the last town on the western side of the Rhine, but first they had to get through the very narrow Hochwald Gap. They reached the west end of the Hochwald Gap just after dawn on February 28, 1945.

The weather continued to be uncooperative. An early thaw meant that the tanks got bogged down in mud, making them ‘sitting ducks’ for German troops who were positioned to pick them off, one by one.

The Canadian Grenadier Guards war diary entry for March 2, 1945 noted “… Weather – cloudy, gusts of rain. ...” Artillery fire had caused a temporary halt before starting up again.

…Charge was successful and the 1st objective taken, despite the fact that 6 tanks bogged before then. Confused fighting took place from here on – Lt Ferris (2 tanks) and C Company passed through, but ran into opposition in the form of a Tiger….” Clarence was in C Company.  A Tiger was a German tank.

The war diary entry continued.  “…Somewhere in here, Lt Ferris and his other tank were knocked out, and Lt Ferris was wounded by a sniper...

At some point in this chaos, Clarence lost his life, most likely when one of the tanks was hit by German fire. A 46 minute YouTube video on the Battle of Hochwald Gap explained the fierce battle that took place.  Watching it made it clear to us that it was a miracle that anyone survived at all, a testament to the determination and courage of those who were in the midst of it.

Clarence was temporarily buried in Xanten, Germany before being reburied in 1946 in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Clarence Wakegijig

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

Thank you to Annelind Wakegijig for sharing a photo and information about her great-uncle.  If you have information to share about Clarence Wilfred WAKEGIJIG or other Canadian soldiers, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

….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.

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

On The War Memorial Trail….. Remembering WW2 Soldier William (Willie) Daniels

July 23, 2021. Over the past months, Pieter has been diligently working his way through photo wish lists from Dutch researchers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.  Two names on the lists were members of First Nations: William ‘Willie’ DANIELS, a Cree Nation member from Saskatchewan, and Stanley Owen JONES, a Haida Nation member from British Columbia.  Both men are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.

Pieter had no luck in finding family so, as he has done over the past years, he turned to the media for help, this time from APTN, where he was interviewed by Brett Forester.  (To read the 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/)

CIMG5084 Mar 17 2021 Pieter Valkenburg

Pieter on a Zoom interview with Brett Forester of APTN.  (Photo credit:  Daria Valkenburg)

Several readers of the article came forward to share photos and information about Indigenous soldiers, and these will be featured in future postings as Pieter completes his research.  (The story of Leo Francis TONEY was told previously.  See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/05/22/on-the-war-memorial-trail-remembering-ww2-soldier-leo-francis-toney/)

… William Daniels was a member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation…

What about the two soldiers mentioned in the article?  A photo of William ‘Willie’ DANIELS was sent by Dakota Ballantyne on behalf of Vince Daniels, with a note saying that “Willie Daniels from Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan was his uncle….

William Daniels

William ‘Willie’ Daniels. (Photo courtesy of Vince Daniels)

The son of John Daniels, Willie was born March 20, 1925 on the Big River Reserve in Depton, Saskatchewan.  On September 24, 1941, he enlisted in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, stating that he was born in 1922.  He was sent for training as a Sapper with the Royal Canadian Engineers, until it was discovered he was underage. He was discharged in March 1942 for being “…under 17 years of age at date of application….

On October 19, 1943, Willie re-enlisted.  According to his military records, his parents were dead and he listed a brother, Narcisse Daniels, as his next-of-kin.  He also noted that he spoke English and Cree. This time he was allowed to stay in the army, but on Canadian soil as soldiers under 19 years of age were not to be sent overseas.

It wasn’t until May 1, 1944 that he left for the United Kingdom, arriving on May 8 for additional training.  On July 7, 1944 he was transferred to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles as a Rifleman and sent to Northwest Europe.

… The Royal Winnipeg Rifles were in Germany and The Netherlands in 1945…

The war diary of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles gives an indication of what Willie Daniels and his fellow soldiers experienced in 1945. By January 1945 the Royal Winnipeg Rifles were in The Netherlands, and spent the New Year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  The war diary for January 1, 1945 states that “…the Germans precipitated the New Year by opening up with considerable SA and mortar fire a few minutes before midnight.  Our artillery answered directly at midnight…..

On February 1, 1945, the war diary recorded that the Regiment was informed of the part that the men “…would play in Operation Veritable…” This would take them into Germany. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Veritable)

The Regiment arrived in Millingen, Germany on February 9, 1945.  The weather was uncooperative “…cloudy with rain….” and led to flooding.  In one area, the water rose “…another six feet, the only high ground in the area being in and near Keeken…

They were ordered to move further back, but some of the men were stranded due to a shortage of equipment to get them out, or because the equipment itself got “…bogged down or diverted for other purposes….

By February 16, 1945 the Regiment was based in Essen, Germany, as they cleared German positions in flooded areas of the Rhine flood plain and the Reichswald forest, which is close to the Dutch-German border.

On March 11, 1945 the Regiment began moving back towards ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  “…The whole day was spent in building the new camp….”  There were some peaceful days and time for training before the men moved back towards a base in Essen to participate in Operation Plunder. (See https://canadianbattlefieldtours.ca/operation-plunder/)

The war diary for March 27, 1945 reported that “…Orders to move came through in the early hours of the morning ….. and after many starts and stops we finally crossed the Rhine River at 1700 hours…

On April 10, 1945 the war diary noted that the Regiment “….would take over from the Regina Rifle Regiment…” and returned to The Netherlands, this time based in Almelo.  Then, on April 18, they were ordered to Groningen.

Map showing Appingedam

Purple arrow on the map indicates movement from Groningen towards Delfzijl, and Appingedam, where Willie Daniels lost his life.  The map also indicates the location of Loppersum, where he was initially buried.

On April 21, 1945 the Regiment was ordered to move towards Appingedam.  The war diary noted that on April 21, 1945 “…civilian reports claim mines set in cement….Blown bridges, snipers, and machine guns make the going very difficult.  Our casualties are becoming very heavy….

At some point on April 22, 1945, a few weeks after his 20th birthday, Willie Daniels lost his life.  The movement of troops through Appingedam was the very beginning of the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket.  Willie was initially buried in Loppersum General Cemetery in Groningen.  After the war Willie was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.

initial gravemarker for Willie Daniels

Initial burial marker for Willie Daniels.  (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, service file for William Daniels)

In March 1948, Mrs. W.G. Verbeek-Hermans of Enschede sent a letter to Veterans Affairs, asking that her letter be forwarded to a family member of Willie.  She wanted to let the family know that she had adopted Willie’s grave, a volunteer program that was organized by the Netherlands War Graves Committee. A separate letter for the family was enclosed, explaining that she was the mother of 4 children and felt it was her duty to look after the grave.  She also offered to send a photo of his grave.

This was not unusual. Many family members of soldiers that we have met over the years have explained that their families had been in contact with Dutch citizens who adopted a grave.

In 1995, the Stefanus Church in Holwierde placed a plaque to commemorate Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket.  Willie Daniels was one of the men commemorated.

Plaque at Stefanus Church in Holwierde

Plaque at Stefanus Church in Holwierde, The Netherlands.  (Source: https://www.tracesofwar.nl/sights/40531/Herinneringsplaquette-Stefanus-Kerk.htm)

Current grave of Willie Daniels

Grave of Willie Daniels at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.  (Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War  Memorial)

Thank you to Dakota Ballantyne and Vince Daniels for sharing a photo of William ‘Willie’ Daniels.  Thank you also to Brett Forester and APTN for the article on the search for photos of Indigenous soldiers buried in The Netherlands.

If you have information to share about William ‘Willie’ Daniels or other Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Help needed to find another photo …..

Your help is needed to find a photo of Stanley Owen JONES of the Haida Nation in British Columbia.

…Other soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket …..

For previous stories on soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket, please see:

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