On The War Memorial Trail…..Our 2019 Visit To The Canadian War Cemetery In Bergen Op Zoom

December 7, 2019.  While in The Netherlands this fall, we visited the three Canadian War Cemeteries and laid down flags of Canada and PEI for the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, as well as other Islanders who have been identified by Dutch researchers. The third Canadian War Cemetery we visited on our 2019 trip was in Bergen Op Zoom, near the Belgian border.  As no one listed on the Cenotaph is buried in this cemetery, we had not visited it before.

On this trip, however, we decided to lay flags down at the graves of 6 soldiers from Prince Edward Island and 1 from Nova Scotia.  Our first surprise was that there are two war cemeteries, side by side, and of course we went to the wrong one, which turned out to be a British War Cemetery.  Luckily, a teacher visiting with a group of high school students noticed the bag we carried the flags in, and asked if we thought we were in the Canadian War Cemetery.  If so, it was further down the road.  Thank goodness the Dutch are not shy!

CIMG3382 Oct 7 2019 Bergen Op Zoom Pieter at Cdn War Cemetery

Pieter at the entrance to the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom.  Our Sobey’s bag saved us from wandering around the wrong cemetery!  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We weren’t alone in the cemetery as there were more teachers, supervising schoolchildren carrying roses.  With our Sobey’s bag filled with flags, we were easily picked out as visitors!  A teacher told us that 2,600 schoolchildren would be visiting the Canadian and British War Cemeteries, each carrying a rose to place at a designated grave, until October 28, the day of liberation for this part of The Netherlands.

One of the most recent photos Pieter received of PEI soldiers buried in The Netherlands was that of Lawrence Adolphus SWEENEY, provided by his nephew David Perry.  Placing flags by a grave when you have a photo of the person makes this small event more meaningful.

Lawrence Sweeney from David Perry

Lawrence Sweeney.  (Photo courtesy of David Perry)

CIMG3392 Oct 7 2019 Bergen Op Zoom Lawrence Sweeney

Pieter by the grave of Lawrence Sweeney, buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In alphabetical order, here are the known soldiers from PEI that are buried in the cemetery:

  • Pte James Walter AULD, Algonquin Regiment, from O’Leary Station
  • Tpr Alvah Ray LEARD, Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment – 27th Armoured Regiment, from Northam
  • Pte Milton Evangeline LIVINGSTONE, Lincoln and Welland Regiment, from Murray River
  • Bdr Hugh Allister MACDONALD, Royal Canadian Artillery – 02 Anti-Tank Regiment, from Georgetown
  • L/Cpl Roy SMITH, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, from O’Leary
  • Pte Lawrence Adolphus SWEENEY, Lincoln and Welland Regiment, from Souris

Canadian and Nova Scotia flags were placed at the grave of one soldier from Nova Scotia, who had mistakenly been recorded as being from PEI by the Cemetery:

  • Pte Elmer D. SCHOFIELD, Lincoln and Welland Regiment, from North Alton

Unfortunately, no photo has been found for one PEI soldier:

  • James Walter AULD, born in Glenwood, son of James and Margaret Auld of O’Leary Station. He died on November 1, 1944, aged 21.

The weather in Bergen Op Zoom was cloudy, but it was dry.  We had just missed a rainfall, as we found out while walking through the cemetery.  The ground was saturated and my shoes were soaking wet by the time we finished, giving me an excuse to go to the car and change my shoes and warm up.  In the meantime, Caroline Raajmakers of the Faces To Graves Bergen Op Zoom Project dropped by to invite us over for coffee and a stroopwafel (a delicious Dutch treat).

CIMG3411 Oct 7 2019 Bergen Op Zoom Pieter & Caroline Raaijmakers

Pieter with Caroline Raajmakers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Caroline explained that most of the burials in the British and Canadian War Cemeteries in Bergen Op Zoom are due to casualties from the Battle of the Scheldt (For more information, see https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/scheldt#scheldt03).  We learned that information on this battle, in which 6,300 Canadian lives were lost, is in the Liberation Museum Zeeland in nearby Nieuwdorp, which will be on our list of places to visit next trip.  (See https://liberationroute.com/the-netherlands/spots/l/liberation-museum-zeeland-(spot221))

CIMG3413 Oct 7 2019 Bergen Op Zoom holding up poster at Carolines house

Holding up a poster for the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the province of Brabant on October 28, 2019.  (Photo credit: Caroline Raajmakers)

Pieter gave Caroline a large Canadian flag, which was provided by Senator Mike Duffy for this war memorial trip.  Flags had also been provided for Pieter to give to the cemeteries in Harlingen, Holten, and Groesbeek, which he did.

Thank you to Senator Mike Duffy for the large Canadian flag, to the office of Malpeque MP Wayne Easter for the small Canadian flags placed by the graves, and to John Wales of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum in Amherst for the Nova Scotia flag. If anyone has more information to share on any of the soldiers listed above, or know of more Islanders buried in the cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Photos and Info Requested For WW2 Soldiers From PEI Buried In The Netherlands

June 27, 2019.  As blog readers know, Pieter has been researching the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion over the last few years.  As well, he’s been asked by the three Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands for help in getting photos and personal information on Island soldiers buried in their cemeteries.  This is part of their Faces To Graves project, where they are working towards a digital memorial archive on all Canadian soldiers buried on Dutch soil.

Recently, Dutch researchers have identified more soldiers from PEI.  CBC PEI’s Angela Walker interviewed Pieter on a few of these names, and the interview ran on June 21, 2019 during the program Mainstreet PEI.  We thank CBC for sending us the audio clip of the interview, and Jane Scott for turning the clip into a web link so that we can post it on this blog.  To listen to the interview, click here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lcLHurGAsgmYpk9pGBZHj-dzX7WOc7I1/view

Here is the complete list given by the three cemeteries:


Bergen Op Zoom, not far from the Belgian border, identified 6 soldiers, all of whom died in 1944:

Hugh Allister MACDONALD, born in Georgetown, son of H. Allister and Elizabeth (Bessie) MacDonald, was with the Royal Canadian Artillery – 02 Anti Tank Unit. He died on October 10, 1944, aged 31.

Lawrence Adolphus SWEENEY, born in Souris, son of Ralph and Celina Sweeney, was with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. He died on October 27, 1944, aged 23.

Milton Evangeline LIVINGSTONE, born in Gladstone, son of Joseph and Agnes Livingstone of Murray River, and husband of Mae Isabel Livingstone, was with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. He died on November 6, 1944, aged 26

Alvah Ray LEARD, born in Alberton, son of Lloyd and Margaret Leard of Northam, was with the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment – 27th Armed Regiment. He died on September 26, 1944, aged 23.

Roy SMITH, born in O’Leary, son of James and Clara Smith, was with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He died on September 30, 1944, aged 24.

James Walter AULD, born in Glenwood, son of James and Margaret Auld of O’Leary Station, was with the Algonquin Regiment. He died on November 1, 1944, aged 21.


The cemetery in Groesbeek identified 5 soldiers for whom they are missing photos or other information, and who all died in 1945:

Joseph E. HENNEBERY, born in Morell, was with the Royal Canadian Engineers -33rd Field Company. He died on April 20, 1945, aged 25.

Barney Ruben MCGUIGAN, born in St. Peter’s, son of Thomas and Sadie McGuigan, was with the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. He died on February 26, 1945, aged 17.

Stephen A. MCKINNON, born in St. Peter’s Bay, was with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. He died on March 2, 1945, aged 27.

Ralph K. SILLIKER, born in O’Leary, was with the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor). He died March 2, 1945, aged 27.

William L. WEATHERBIE, born in Charlottetown, was with the Royal Regiment of Canada. He died on March 8, 1945, aged 18.


The Canadian War Cemetery in Holten identified 1 soldier:

Maurice J HUGHES, F/26373 served with Royal Canadian Corps, killed on May 2, 1945 in Leer, Germany. He was 27 years old and came from Charlottetown.

Did you know that most soldiers who died in Germany during WW2 were later reburied in The Netherlands? The only time a soldier wasn’t reburied was if the family specifically requested the body not be disinterred.

All three cemeteries have put in a request for photos, personal stories, letters or postcards, etc.  Can you help the Dutch to remember these men buried on their soil?  Perhaps you know family or friends of these men?  If so, please contact them.  Information and photos can be emailed to Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca who will forward to the appropriate cemetery.

We will be in The Netherlands this fall and Pieter will visit each of these graves and place flags.  Pieter notes that “It means so much more when I’m standing at a grave if I know what the soldier looked like and a bit about him.”

© Daria Valkenburg