On The War Memorial Trail….. The Search For A Photo Of Austin Havelock Munroe Is On YouTube

November 29, 2022. Sometimes uncovering a photo of a soldier leads to a much larger investigation. That’s what happened when Pieter looked into the service file of Charles Marshall CARSON of Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, one of the names on the photo wish list from the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

…Pieter was astonished to learn that 39 North Novies lost their lives on his 1st birthday….

…He died on my birthday! I was just one year old!…” Pieter exclaimed.  When he learned that Carson died during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945, he wondered if there were more Canadian soldiers who had lost their lives that day.

Pieter contacted Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves project and asked if there were more casualties.  To his surprise, Alice sent a list of 38 more soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment.  12 of these soldiers were on the cemetery’s photo wish list.

Over the past months, Pieter managed to find families of 11 of these soldiers, and has already received photos of 10.  One family is in the process of preparing a copy of a treasured photo.  In March 2023 a special series on several of these soldiers will be featured on this blog, in the lead up to March 25.

…One soldier’s photo still has not been found…

One soldier’s photo is still outstanding – Austin Havelock MUNROE.  Austin was born on December 2, 1919 in Little Dover, Nova Scotia, the son of Edward and Minnie Munroe.  He was married to Anna Elizabeth Munroe, nee Barry.

In the hope of reaching as many people as possible, Pieter sat down to help feature this photo quest on our YouTube Channel.  You can watch Photo Search-WW2 Soldier Austin Havelock Munroe (S3E2) here:

Pieters saying

…Pieter’s interview on CTV Atlantic News At 5 was successful….

In addition to the YouTube video, on Monday, November 7, 2022, Pieter was interviewed by Ceilidh Millar of CTV Atlantic News At 5 about the search for 4 soldiers of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who died during the Battle of Bienen on March 25, 2022.

You can read the article and watch the video.  See P.E.I. man identifying Canadian soldiers in the Netherlands | CTV News https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/maritime-man-appealing-to-public-for-help-identifying-lost-canadian-soldiers-1.6143236

Following this interview, family of one soldier immediately came forward with a photo.  Families of two other soldiers subsequently got in contact.

Thank you to post-production editor Wendy Nattress, who made this YouTube video a reality.  Thank you also to Ceilidh Millar, Jayson Baxter, Maria Panopalis, and CTV Atlantic News At 5 for publicizing the photo search of soldiers killed in Bienen, Germany.

If you have photos or information to share about Austin Havelock Munroe – or any of the soldiers killed during the Battle of Bienen -, please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

….The 38 Other North Novies Buried in Groesbeek….

  • Clifford BATEMAN of La Poile, Newfoundland
  • Vilhelm Kruuse BOGGILD of Lockeport, Nova Scotia
  • John Joseph BOHON (BOHONKO) of Montreal, Quebec
  • Ralph Schurman BOULTER of West Point, Prince Edward Island
  • Herbert Malcolm BRANNEN of Stony Island, Nova Scotia
  • Lawrence William BULGER of Foxley River, Prince Edward Island
  • Charles Marshall CARSON of Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick
  • Hugh Patterson CHRISTIE of English Town, Nova Scotia
  • Walter George COLEBOURNE of Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Roy Williams COLLINS of North Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • George Mitchell DASH of Sable River West, Nova Scotia
  • Harry William DOUCETTE of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
  • Charles Benjamin HAGERTY of Port Williams, Nova Scotia
  • Marven Glenroy HARVEY of North Noel Road, Nova Scotia
  • Granville Murray HEARABOUT of Truro, Nova Scotia
  • Gordon HENRY of North Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • Harold Charles JAMES of Springhill, Nova Scotia
  • Harold Lawrence KEDDY of Port Williams, Nova Scotia
  • Kitchener LANGILLE of North Glasgow, Nova Scotia
  • Stewart Rindress MACDONALD of Cape Dauphin, Nova Scotia
  • Norbert James MACINTYRE of Reserve Mines, Nova Scotia
  • Donald John MACKINNON of Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • Leo Joseph MACMULLAN of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia
  • Robert Bruce MACNEILL of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Marvin William MCGREGOR of West Jeddore, Nova Scotia
  • Gordon Robert MCLEOD of Toronto, Ontario
  • Harland Evender MITCHELL of East Jeddore, Nova Scotia
  • Edward John MUNRO of Quebec City, Quebec
  • Austin Havelock MUNROE of Little Dover, Nova Scotia
  • Laurie Douglas PAGE of Rawdon, Nova Scotia
  • Wilfred Joseph POWER of New Westminster, British Columbia
  • Wesley Levi ROBINSON of South Maitland, Nova Scotia
  • Louis Allan SEXTON of Saint-Jules, Quebec
  • Norman Alexander SHAW of Lochside, Nova Scotia
  • Edison Alexander SMITH of West Point, Prince Edward Island
  • William THOMPSON of Campbelltown, New Brunswick
  • Eric Herman THOMSON of Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • John Lewis WALLACE of Canning, Nova Scotia
  • Theodore George WARNELL of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

NOTE: These are not the only casualties from the Battle of Bienen, only the ones identified as being in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment.

…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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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….. Remembrance Day On The Island

RemembranceDayHeader

November 13, 2022. Remembrance Week is always busy at our place. This year was a bit different as we gave a presentation featuring a few of the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, at the Legion’s Remembrance Day indoor service – prior to the placing of wreaths and crosses at the Cenotaph.

RCL Nov 11 2022 Presentation They Arent Just Names On A Cenotaph

This was the title of our presentation.

…11 photos are still to be found for the names on the Cenotaph….

There are 48 names from WWI and WWII listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion.  Unfortunately, photos for 9 from WWI and 2 from WWII have not been found.  The story of each one has been told in previous postings on this blog.

Names still without faces from WWI

  • James CAIRNS, born in Kinkora
  • Leigh Hunt CAMERON, born in Albany
  • James Lymon CAMERON, born in Victoria
  • William Galen CAMPBELL, born in Wellington
  • Bazil CORMIER, born in Tignish
  • Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, born in Miscouche
  • Charles LOWTHER, born in North Carleton
  • Arthur Clinton ROBINSON, born in Tryon
  • Harry ROBINSON, born in Augustine Cove

Names still without faces from WWII

  • Leonard Stephen AVERY, born in Bedeque
  • Ernest Ramey GALLANT, born in Borden

 … We attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Borden-Carleton and Kinkora…..

November 11, 2022 was a cool day for the Remembrance Day service at the Legion in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island.

CIMG6027 Nov 11 2022 Borden Carleton Legion Ceremony Pieter and Danny Bernard

Pieter and Danny Bernard walk to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in Borden-Carleton on behalf of the Government of Canada. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG6028 Nov 11 2022 Borden Carleton Legion Ceremony Pieter lays wreath

Pieter placed the wreath on behalf of the Government of Canada at the Cenotaph in Borden-Carleton. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG6035 Nov 11 2022 Cenotaph at Borden Carleton Legion

Flag bearers Arthur Ranahan (left) and George Palmer (right) are flanked by representatives from the Fire Brigade and RCMP at the Cenotaph in Borden-Carleton. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In the afternoon, members of the Legion attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in Kinkora.

CIMG6039 Nov 11 2022 Kinkora Pieter and Heath MacDonald

Pieter Valkenburg with The Honourable Heath MacDonald, MP for Malpeque after laying a wreath on behalf of the Government of Canada in Kinkora.

…Remembrance Day didn’t end with the two ceremonies!…

After we returned home in the late afternoon, cold and tired, we learned that CTV News wanted to interview Pieter during a live broadcast.  So, after a short rest, Pieter was interviewed by Todd van der Heyden of CTV news.  You can watch Military researcher identifies 200 fallen soldiers | CTV News at https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2561931

Remembrance Day may be over for another year, but Pieter’s research work continues.  If you have photos and information to share about Canadian soldiers, 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://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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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….. The Importance Of Remembrance

RemembranceDayHeader

November 9, 2022. On November 11, we will remember the memories and sacrifices made by those who did their best to answer the call to fight for freedom.

Those who sacrificed their lives in war are not just names on a Cenotaph or buried in a war grave.  They were children, siblings, spouses, parents, friends… Each one has a story that can be told and they should not be forgotten. That’s been the goal of this research blog over the years.

…Burnie Reynaert still remembers laying a wreath as a young girl….field-of-poppies300

Burnie Reynaert still remembers her uncle Lewis Wilkieson MARSH of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, 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/)

Last year, Burnie shared the telegrams her grandmother received, first saying that Lewis was believed to have drowned, and then the awful confirmation that he had died.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/11/10/on-the-war-memorial-trail-linking-the-past-with-the-present/)

This year, Burnie shared a photo of herself as a young girl, placing a wreath in honour of her uncle.

IMG_9994 Burnie Reynaert re Lewis Wilkieson Marsh

A very young Burnie placed a wreath in honour of her uncle, Lewis Wilkieson Marsh.  (Photo courtesy of B. Reynaert)

Even today, Burnie has not forgotten her uncle’s sacrifice.

IMG_0348 Burnie Reynaert with book

Burnie Reynaert with book.  (Photo courtesy of B.  Reynaert)

field-of-poppies300…We visited the memorial in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia…

20220912_123247 Sep 12 2022 Pieter beside Saulnierville Memorial

Pieter beside the memorial in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

This fall, while in Nova Scotia, we visited the memorial in Saulnierville.  Two soldiers that Pieter researched are listed on this monument.  Both are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.

Joseph ‘Ambroise’ COMEAU, from Lower Saulnierville, 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/2021/05/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-tragic-drowning-on-the-leda-river-in-germany-part-3/ and https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/11/10/on-the-war-memorial-trail-linking-the-past-with-the-present/)

Joseph E.  ROBICHAU, from Meteghan, Nova Scotia, lost his life on April 14, 1945 near Deventer, The Netherlands, while serving with the Royal 22nd Regiment.  His story will be told in an upcoming posting.

20220912_123347 Sep 12 2022 Saulnierville Memorial WW2 soldiers inc Comeau & Robichau

The WWII tribute on the memorial in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

…Pieter interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press….field-of-poppies300

20210220_111030 Feb 20 2021 Pieter with photo wish lists

Pieter surrounded by some of the photo wish lists from the Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Pieter was interviewed by Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press, about his request for help in finding photos of 12 soldiers from Manitoba who are buried in The Netherlands.  The article, ‘A name without a face’, ran online on November 4, 2022 and in the print edition on November 5, 2022. As of the date of this posting, the photo wish list remains unfulfilled. Here is the link in case you can help:  https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/2022/11/04/a-name-without-a-face

field-of-poppies300…Pieter interviewed on CTV Atlantic News At 5….

On Monday, November 7, 2022, Pieter was interviewed by Ceilidh Millar of CTV Atlantic News At 5 about the search for 4 soldiers of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who died during the Battle of Bienen on March 25, 2022.

You can read the article and watch the video.  See P.E.I. man identifying Canadian soldiers in the Netherlands | CTV News https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/maritime-man-appealing-to-public-for-help-identifying-lost-canadian-soldiers-1.6143236

The names of the soldiers mentioned in the interview were:

  1. Donald John MACKINNON, born October 8, 1925 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, son of Joseph and Catherine ( nee MacNeil) MacKinnon.
  2. Austin Havelock MUNROE, born December 2, 1919 in Little Dover, Nova Scotia, son of Edward and Minnie Munroe. He was married to Ana Elizabeth (nee Barry) Munroe.
  3. John Lewis WALLACE, born June 1, 1921 in Canning, Nova Scotia., son of William Edward and Amy Louise Wallace. He was married to Doris Avanelle (nee Crowe) Wallace. They had one son, William Lewis Wallace.
  4. Louis Allan SEXTON, son of  James E. and Ethel Sexton of Maria Est, Bonaventure County in Quebec, is also still on the photo wish list.

Incredibly, shortly after the broadcast we were contacted by Irene Doyle of Campbelltown, New Brunswick, who sent us a photo of Louis Sexton, which came from the Bay Chaleur Military Museum website.  The three soldiers from Nova Scotia are still on the photo wish list!

… ‘Il Silenzio’ to remember the fallen….field-of-poppies300

It seems fitting to end this Remembrance Week posting with music.  In a Dutch Liberation Day concert in Maastricht, The Netherlands, 13-year-old Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands), was the trumpet soloist in a haunting rendition of ‘Il Silenzio’ (The Silence). This piece, by Italian composer Nino Rossi, is based upon what we know as The Last Post. Watch

Thank you to Burnie Reynaert for sharing a childhood photo, Irene Doyle for sending the photo of Louis Sexton, Kevin Rollason and the Winnipeg Free Press for publicizing the photo search request of soldiers from Manitoba, and to Ceilidh Millar, Jayson Baxter, and CTV Atlantic News At 5 for publicizing the photo search of soldiers killed in Bienen, Germany.

If you can help with these photo requests, or have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

field-of-poppies300…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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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….. The WWII Soldier From Albion Who Died During The Defence Of The Nijmegen Salient

November 2, 2022. Once you visit a Canadian War Cemetery and place down a flag by the grave of a soldier from the province where you live, it stays with you, and makes you wonder about the young man who is buried there.  Over the years, Pieter has researched several of the soldiers from Prince Edward Island who are buried in The Netherlands, and he continues to do so. 

One of these WWII soldiers was George ‘Ivan’ MACKINNON, who was born September 16, 1917 in Albion, Prince Edward Island, the son of Wilbert and Catherine ‘Kattie’ (nee Acorn) MacKinnon (also spelled McKinnon).  Ivan’s birth record says he was born on September 16, but he recorded September 26 on his attestation form.

…The photo search began with media help….

In his quest to find a photo, Pieter contacted Charlotte MacAulay of the Eastern Graphic newspaper for help in publicizing his quest.  The article ran on September 21, 2022 and shortly afterwards, Pieter was contacted by Sandra Stephens, who explained that she had a photo.

EAG-A03-092122-K Eastern Graphic George Ivan MacKinnon with border

20221019_102847 Oct 19 2022 Pieter and Sandra Stephens

Sandra Stephens with Pieter. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

When we met, Sandra explained that “… Dad’s Aunt Chris married Nathaniel MacKinnon, Ivan’s uncle.  Their place was just up the road and we visited there…

George Ivan MacKinnon

George ‘Ivan’ MacKinnon. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Stephens)

When Ivan enlisted with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders in Charlottetown on August 15, 1940, he was living in Montague, Prince Edward Island, and had worked on his family’s mixed farm operation for the past 10 years.

After completing his basic training, Ivan travelled to the United Kingdom with the Regiment, boarding the ship ‘Orion’ in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 18, 1941.  The ship left Halifax the next day, arriving in Bristol on July 29, 1941. Intensive training followed, in preparation for the upcoming battles in Normandy in 1944.

…Ivan survived D-Day….

The North Nova Scotia Highlanders left England for Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, after waiting in place in the English Channel on landing craft earlier.   The war diary for Sunday, June 4, 1944 noted that “…We are tied up with two other landing craft tank.   The Padre is on one, so he had a church service at 10:30 hours on the quarter deck of the middle craft…

On June 5, 1944 the war diary recorded that “…At 14:00 hours the flotilla moved out to the open sea and formed up with the other craft taking part in the invasion…

After landing on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the war diary noted that the Regiment had 10 casualties – 4 killed, 6 wounded.  Ivan had survived D-Day.

…The Regiment arrived near Nijmegen…

The North Nova Scotia Highlanders fought their way through Normandy.  On July 25, 1944, during ‘Operation Spring’, a battle in Tilly-La-Campagne, France, Ivan was slightly wounded by shell fragments to his face, legs, and neck.  (See https://www.dday-overlord.com/en/battle-of-normandy/cities/tilly-la-campagne)

From France, the Regiment travelled through Belgium, and then to The Netherlands for the Battle of the Scheldt. By November 1944 they had advanced to an area near Nijmegen.

Nijmegensalient

The North Nova Scotia Highlanders were posted near Nijmegen.  (Map source: http://www.canadiansoldiers.com)

In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ by Will Bird, he noted that on November 19, 1944, the North Novies would “…relieve the 7th Recce Regiment at Nijmegen Bridge…”  This was the bridge across the Waal River, a vital link to the Rhine River and into Germany.

The area known as the Nijmegen Salient had been established in September 1944, and was defended by Allied troops since then.  The First Canadian Army, of which the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were part of, was responsible for its defence between November 1944 and February 1945, when the advance into Germany began.  (See https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/campaigns/northwesteurope/nijmegensalient.htm)

Skirmishes with German troops were ongoing, with casualties on both sides.  On December 3, 1944, Will Bird recorded that “…temporary quarters was in the cellar of a smashed house.  Sgt Arnold Piers was in command, and along with him were Sgt Bud Tibbetts, Cpl I MacKinnon, Ptes Bill Smith, Conners, Scott, Campbell and Lantagan as well as four or five others. There was a German village 1000 yards ahead and until dark the carrier men fired at anyone who moved in the village….”  

When the men noticed activity in the nighttime and flares being sent up by the Germans, they reported it to officers at Artillery Headquarters, who ignored their observations.  Bird noted that “… the general feeling was that the carrier men, unused to such duties, were jittery…

…Ivan lost his life during a firefight…

It turned out that the officers were wrong and the men were right to be concerned.  There were several casualties, with two who paid with their lives, in the early hours of December 4, 1944.  “…Sentries were relieved at 2:00 am…” 

Six men were resting when Sgt Piers woke them up.  “…He had sighted a raiding party of the enemy coming toward the post. Pte A. J. Campbell rushed out with a Bren gun, and fell back dead, target for a dozen bullets…” 

In the firefight that followed, the Germans “… threw grenades and overwhelmed the … small garrison as the Brens on the parapet had been left on cock and would not fire.  Daylight came shortly after…

Ivan did not survive the attack. “…Cpl Ivan MacKinnon was seen lying out in front about 50 yards.  Pte Connors crawled out and dragged him back, but he had died, having been shot ….” 

The other casualty was Allan Joseph CAMPBELL, aged 24, son of Alex T. and Annie Campbell, of Centennial, Inverness County, Nova Scotia.

…Ivan is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek….

Ivan was initially buried in the Jonkers Bosch Temporary Military Cemetery in Nijmegen, before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

CIMG3317 Oct 5 2019 Groesbeek George MacKinnon

Grave of George ‘Ivan’ MacKinnon in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Thank you to Sandra Stephens for providing a photo, and to Charlotte MacAulay and the Eastern Graphic for publicizing the photo search request. If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him 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://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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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

Pieter Receives PEI Senior Islander Of The Year Award

October 23, 2022. On Friday afternoon, October 21, 2022, we were invited to the Loyalist Inn in Summerside for the 2022 PEI Senior Islander of the Year Awards.  Pieter was honoured for his volunteer work, with a particular emphasis on his research to uncover the stories and photos of Islanders who served in WW1 and WW2.  

20221021_142625 Oct 21 2022 Pieter receives award photo by Mike Smith

Left to right: Hon. Matthew Mackay, Pieter, Audrey Morris.  (Photo credit: Mike Smith)

The certificate was presented by the Hon. Matthew Mackay, Minister for the Department of Social Development and Housing, and Audrey Morris, Chairperson, PEI Seniors Secretariat, in a ceremony at the Loyalist Inn in Summerside. 

2022 Sr Islander of Year Certificate 1

The PEI Senior Islanders of the Year Award certificate.

….Excerpts from some of the letters of support for the nomination….

Excerpts from some of the letters in support of his nomination included:

….In 2015 Pieter began researching 46 names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, and in the process was involved in adding 2 more names, for a total of 48.  He not only researched the stories, and where possible, found photos and families of the soldiers, he publicly shared these stories through the media. 

In 2017, so much research had been compiled that he and his wife Daria started a dedicated research blog, which continues to this day.  He also undertook, at his own expense, a 6 week, 7,000 km war memorial tour through 4 European countries to visit cemeteries and memorials of those soldiers he had researched that were buried there…. and those stories were shared as well. 

Pieter continues to share stories of Islanders who served, a valued and immeasurable contribution to our Island’s history. His research has led to a renewed interest in our Island soldiers, and has informed many families and communities about the service and bravery of those who served. 

His research now has expanded to include soldiers from other parts of Canada, as requests come in for help from Dutch researchers. Being Dutch Pieter has a deep gratitude towards Canadians for liberating his birth country, which drives his passion to bring to the forefront the sacrifices of those who served….

…Pieter, assisted by his wife Daria, has voluntarily, passionately, and tirelessly worked to research the lives of close to eighty Island soldiers killed overseas in WW1 and WW2.

Pieter’s work has brought to life the personal stories of Island soldiers who gave their lives overseas, and until now were only names on plaques. Descendants of these brave men and women, many now seniors, are greatly appreciative and moved by the commemorative work he has done on behalf of their loved ones.

Whether pouring over documents and photos, meeting families of Island soldiers killed overseas, or boarding a plane for Europe to visit war graves and memorials, Pieter persevered, often tramping through fields in search of a Canadian soldier’s grave….

…Heritage and in particular a passion for the Veterans of this area led Pieter into the Borden-Legion Cenotaph Project, and I emphasize the contribution Pieter made as he undertook to complete a remarkable amount of research documenting information and faces of forty-eight names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton legion, and then continuing with stories of other WW1 and WW2 soldiers from the area.  Pieter met with families of these soldiers whenever possible, linking the past with the present, visiting graves and memorials in Canada and in Europe. Pieter continues this research to this present day…

How special is it for people to bring to life the personal histories of these brave men and women from their local communities who died in service. Pieter’s work reveals his community spirit in supporting Veterans families through his continued efforts. 

Even more importantly is the knowledge that family members of these soldiers have someone who has taken the initiative to ensure the families heroes are not forgotten.  Through his thorough research it also communicates to the families many facts that they would not have otherwise known about their war heroes…

….What are the Senior Islanders of the Year Awards?….

The Senior Islanders of the Year Awards have been presented since 2010 to celebrate the work of Island seniors in areas like volunteering, artistic achievement, leadership, mentorship, fundraising, community participation and career achievement. 

These awards are about recognizing and celebrating the significant contributions of Island seniors, through employment, volunteerism and community activities. I cannot think of a more deserving group of Islanders to receive this honour.” – Social Development and Housing Minister Matthew Mackay

Pieter was one of six Island Seniors who were awarded the Senior Islander of the Year for 2022.  (See P.E.I. presents Senior Islanders of the Year awards for 2022 | SaltWire https://www.saltwire.com/prince-edward-island/news/local/pei-presents-senior-islanders-of-the-year-awards-for-2022-100786273/)

…Pieter with his guests….

CIMG5962 Oct 21 2022 Pieter & guests after Sr Islander Of Year award ceremony

Pieter was allowed to invite 5 guests.  From left to right: Mike Smith, the Hon. Matthew Mackay, Daria and Pieter, Annie Lee and Elmer MacDonald.  Missing from the photo: Isabel Smith.  (Photo courtesy of Valkenburg Family Collection)

A huge thank you to those who nominated and supported Pieter for this award, and to the PEI Seniors Secretariat for affirming that seniors continue to play a vital role in our society.

As his very proud wife, I was delighted that Pieter received this recognition.  I’m extremely proud of him for his incredible work in bringing history to life by telling the stories of individuals who served in WW1 and WW2. 

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

…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 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….. The WWII Soldier From Glenwood Killed During The Battle Of The Delfzijl Pocket

October 22, 2022.  In November 2014, Pieter began helping researchers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten to find photos of soldiers buried there who were from Prince Edward Island. It wasn’t until a year later that newspaper articles were published with stories related to Pieter’s research, and three years before this blog began.

Back in 2014, Pieter was initially sent a list of 9 names, one of which was Carman Edward GILLCASH, who was born November 6, 1916 in Glenwood.  As Carman’s story has not yet been told on this blog, we thought it was time to do so.

Photo 1 Carman Gillcash in uniform

Carman Edward Gillcash.  (Photo courtesy of Stewart Gillcash)

Stewart Gillcash submitted photos, and explained that he was the son of Carman’s brother Leland.  “…Carman Edward Gillcash, born and raised on a farm in Glenwood, Prince Edward Island in Canada, was the son of Stewart and Mae (nee Boulter) Gillcash. He had two brothers, Elton and Leland. 

Carman went to school in a one room schoolhouse not far from his home, and, as his father died when Carman was a young boy, he later worked with farmers in his community to help out at home. 

Carman and his younger brother Leland joined the army at a young age, when Leland was only 16 or 17 years of age.  Leland returned from the war, but Carman died there…

Carman enlisted with the PEI Highlanders in Charlottetown on July 15, 1940.  In his Occupational History Form, dated April 8, 1941, Carman stated that he had been working as a fisherman for Wilfred Hickey of O’Leary.

Photo 2 Carman Gillcash on right unknown on left

Carman Gillcash, right, with unidentified soldier. (Photo courtesy of Stewart Gillcash)

… Carman was sent to Newfoundland….

NFLD Map shows Botwood

Location of Botwood Military Base in Newfoundland. (Map source: http://postalhistorycorner.blogspot.com/2012/12/wwii-canadian-forces-in-newfoundland.html)

Carman was sent to Halifax with the PEI Highlanders.  In June 1941, he went to Valcartier, Quebec, and then the Regiment went to Newfoundland in July 1941. An RCAF base in Botwood had aircraft patrolling the east coast of the Atlantic. Canadian Army personnel based at Botwood were charged with protection of military facilities that had been installed there, as well as in Gander. (See https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/botwood-base.php)

On June 4, 1942 he was sent to Gander, and then in April 1943 he was posted to Saint John, New Brunswick.  While serving in Newfoundland, Carman was promoted twice, first to Lance Corporal, and then to Corporal.

…..Two other soldiers were in Botwood…..

Carman was in Botwood at the same time as two other soldiers whose stories have been told on this blog:

…Carman was sent overseas….

On June 1, 1943, he was transferred to No 1 Transit Camp in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Just over a week later, along with fellow Islander James ‘Frank’ Mossey, he was on his way to the United Kingdom, arriving there on June 18, 1943, part of the Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).

On August 13, 1943, at his own request, Carman was demoted to private.  He then transferred to the Cape Breton Highlanders.  On October 24, 1943 the Regiment went to Italy.

On May 14, 1944 Carman was wounded, but returned to service two weeks later.

On February 19, 1945 he left Italy as part of Operation Goldflake, arriving in Marseilles, France two days later.  Operation Goldflake was the codename for moving troops from Italy to North-West Europe.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Goldflake)

From France, troops were moved up to the Belgian front, into The Netherlands, through the Reichswald Forest in Germany, and then back into The Netherlands.

…The Regiment participated in the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket….

The Cape Breton Highlanders relieved The Essex Regiment in the area of Nijmegen, before going towards Dokkum. On April 21, 1945, the Regiment relieved the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.

The next objective was to liberate Delfzijl, which was strategically important to the Germans as it and the surrounding area had batteries with cannons to defend the coastline and the German port of Emden against Allied bombers.

The April 28, 1945 war diary entry for the Cape Breton Highlanders recorded that “…We received word from Brigade this morning that the Perth Regiment did not do so well last night on account of mines. We will likely relieve them tonight so we are to move to another concentration area this afternoon…

The Regiment was on the move quickly in preparation to relieve the Perth Regiment.  “…At 13:50 hours the marching personnel were on the move and half an hour later the vehicles moved. Tactical HQ and B Company were set up in the town of Bierum while the remainder of the Battalion are in the area of Spijk...

The war diary went on to report that “….At 20:00 hours the Observation Post reported very dense smoke coming from the town of Delfzijl, which is our objective. This could be caused by either demolitions by the enemy or our artillery which has been firing on that area.

At 23:55 hours ‘A’ Company moved off to relieve ‘A’ Company of the Perth Regiment. They will likely be the only Company moving tonight…

…Carman lost his life in the wee hours of April 29, 1945….

On April 29, 1945 the war diary reported that “….The first report received from ‘A’ Company was at 01:15 hours when they called for the Medical Officer’s carrier. As the Company was going forward it was met by a large group of P.O.Ws. being escorted back by the Perth Regiment, and as they were passing each other one of the enemy stepped on a mine, killing one of our men and wounding two more…

The fatality in the early morning of April 29, 1945 was Carman.

…Carman was temporarily buried in Wirdum…

Carman was initially buried in 15 Divisional Cemetery in Wirdum, The Netherlands.

Photo 4 Leland brother of Carman Gillcash at the gravesite

Carman’s brother Leland visited his grave.  (Photo courtesy of Stewart Gillcash)

.…Carman was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten….

After the war ended, Carman was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.  We visited his grave twice – in 2017 and again in 2019.

CIMG3219 Oct 3 2019 Holten Carmen Gillcash

Pieter (right) at the grave of Carman Gillcash with researchers Edwin van der Wolf (left) and Henk Vincent (centre) in October 2019.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

 …A plaque commemorates Canadian soldiers who died during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket….

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.

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)

…We had a chance to meet Stewart Gillcash….

CIMG2610 Sep 8 2018 Pieter with Stewart Gillcash at The Catch

Pieter (left) with Stewart Gillcash.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Thank you to Stewart Gillcash for sharing photos and information on his uncle.  We were able to meet him in September 2018.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2018/09/11/on-the-war-memorial-trail-in-prince-county-pei/)

If you know who the unidentified soldier is in the photo, or have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

….. Other Soldiers Mentioned On The Plaque In The Church In Holwierde….

…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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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

‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’ Is Not Forgotten By Readers

October 17, 2022. We very much appreciate hearing from readers of ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’.  We love seeing the photos that you send, your feedback, and where possible, having the opportunity to meet you.

…We love meeting readers of our book!….

Janet Fitzgerald with book

Janet FitzGerald with book. (Photo courtesy of Janet FitzGerald)

Janet FitzGerald wrote to say that ….the work you two are doing is so important and amazing.  I am reading your book and loving every story in it.  May you both be blessed for the precious work you are doing….

Janet’s uncle, WW2 airman Rowan Charles ‘Bunky’ FITZGERALD of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was on the last flight of Halifax W1175 of the 405th Squadron when it was hit by shellfire and crashed onto a sandbank in the Wadden Sea off the Dutch coast on June 28, 1942.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/10/12/on-the-war-memorial-trail-well-never-forget-uncle-bunky/)

CIMG5812 Sep 12 2022 Simone Comeau and Daria with book

Simone Comeau with book. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We first met Simone Comeau and her sister Jacqueline in 2018 while researching a tragic drowning in which her uncle lost his life.  On a recent trip to Nova Scotia, we had a chance to meet up with Simone again.

Simone’s uncle, WW2 soldier Joseph ‘Ambroise’ COMEAU, from Lower Saulnierville, 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/2021/05/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-tragic-drowning-on-the-leda-river-in-germany-part-3/ and https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/11/10/on-the-war-memorial-trail-linking-the-past-with-the-present/)

…A short interview in North Bay….

In May we were in North Bay, Ontario for an Author Talk. I was interviewed by Clarke Heipel of YOUR TV North Bay prior to the talk I gave at the North Bay Public Library in North Bay, Ontario on May 19, 2022.

The Author Talk resulted in several postings about our North Bay visit and stories of several soldiers. Each posting in the North Bay series has links to previous stories. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/07/27/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-wwii-stretcher-bearer-whose-compassion-cost-him-his-life/)

At the time we hadn’t seen the interview, so we were very happy when Don Coutts received a copy of the interview clip.

Thank you to Simone Comeau and Janet FitzGerald for taking the time to share photos and comments.  Thank you to Don Coutts and YOUR TV North Bay for sharing the interview about the presentation in North Bay, Ontario.  Photos or information to share? Email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…..Upcoming Presentation….

  • Friday, November 11, 2022 – Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island, short presentation ‘They Aren’t Just Names On A Cenotaph’ during the Inter-Faith Remembrance Day service at the Borden-Carleton Legion. Time: Service begins at 9:55 am.

…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.  Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information on the book, please 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….. ‘We’ll Never Forget Uncle Bunky’

October 12, 2022. Recently, Douwe Drijver, a researcher at the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, a non-profit volunteer organization based in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, asked if Pieter could help find family of a WWII airman from Prince Edward Island. (For more information – in Dutch – on the Foundation, see www.luchtoorlogfriesland.nl )

This organization organized the unveiling of a memorial panel in Wons, The Netherlands to honour WWII pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART of Cape Traverse, Prince Edward Island, who is buried in Harlingen General Cemetery, and the crew of Halifax L9561.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2019/10/06/unveiling-of-the-memorial-panel-for-downed-ww2-plane-halifax-l9561-in-wons/)

Douwe asked if Pieter could find family of Rowan Charles FITZGERALD….who was born in Charlottetown on July 12, 1915 and has been missing since June 28, 1942….”  The plane he was on, “… Halifax W1175 of the 405th Vancouver Squadron RCAF came down in the Wadden Sea at 03:00 that morning. Only one crew member has a known grave….

Then Douwe surprised us by saying that the crew member with a known grave, Murray Ralph KLEISDORFF of Australia, “…. found his final resting place in Harlingen….” His grave is between 3 unknown graves, one of which may just contain the remains of Rowan Charles FitzGerald.  All four graves are in the row right behind Elmer Muttart!

…We meet family of Rowan Charles ‘Bunky’ FitzGerald….

Shortly after this request came in, retired music teacher Rowan FitzGerald got in contact, explaining that Rowan Charles, known in the family as ‘Bunky’, was his uncle.  Rowan’s sister Janet was visiting from Alberta and the two of them would like to meet to share photos and stories of their uncle.

CIMG5743 Aug 7 2022 Rowan Janet Fitzgerald Pieter

Pieter, left, with Janet FitzGerald and her brother Rowan FitzGerald.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

… ‘Bunky’ was born in Charlottetown….

Janet had prepared a summary of her uncle’s life. “Rowan Charles FitzGerald was the middle son of Geoffrey David FitzGerald and Flora Hope Wiggins.  He was born on July 12, 1915 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where he attended West Kent School and Prince of Wales College.  Rowan was active in sports. He played football, was a competitive speed skater, and played hockey with the Charlottetown Abbies and with a farm team in Colorado…..

Bunky Fitzgerald hockey picture

Bunky played hockey before enlistment.  (Photo courtesy of the FitzGerald Family)

… Bunky’s true character shone through in an anecdote….

In addition to hockey, Bunky was a keen speed skater.  Janet shared an anecdote that showed the true character of her uncle.  “The FitzGerald family loved competitive sports, but winning was never the most important thing.  I remember our father, T. L. ‘Babs’ FitzGerald, illustrating this with a story about his brother Bunky.  He was in a speed skating championship race.  He and one other contender were way out in front of the pack, neck in neck, as they rounded the turn beginning their last lap. 

The other man fell, and instead of skating on to victory, Uncle Bunky stopped, waited for his opponent to get back up on his skates, and then raced him to the finish line, winning by only a few strides.  When asked why he stopped when his opponent fell, he replied that he wanted to win fairly because he was the faster skater, not because his competition had an accident….

… Bunky enlisted with the RCAF in 1940….

From 1934 to 1935, Bunky was a signaller with the 8th Medium Battery Militia in Charlottetown. He later moved to Ontario, where he worked as a prospector for Kirkland Hudson Bay Mining in New Liskeard, an area rich in cobalt.

On July 1, 1940, Bunky enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in Toronto, Ontario.  Janet noted that he “….began training in July 1940 ...

From January 5, 1941 to March 31, 1941 he attended an Air Observers course in Malton, Ontario.

Rowan Charles Fitzgerald in uniform in snow in Malton ON 1941

Bunky beside an Avro Anson plane in Malton, Ontario while attending an Air Observers course in 1941.  (Photo courtesy of the FitzGerald Family)

Once the Air Observers course was completed, Bunky was sent to the No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School in Jarvis, Ontario where he took the AB Initio Bombing and AB Initio Gunnery courses.  Both were completed on May 12, 1941.

From Jarvis, Bunky went to the No. 1 Air Navigation School in Rivers, Manitoba for an Air Observers Advanced Navigation Course, which he completed on June 9, 1941.

improved_photo Bunky Fitzgerald

Bunky in uniform after receiving his Air Observer wings. (Photo courtesy of the FitzGerald Family.  Photo colourization by Pieter Valkenburg)

… Bunky was sent overseas and joined the RAF pool….

On June 29, 1941 Bunky left for the United Kingdom, and was ‘attached to the RAF from the RCAF’ as of July 28, 1941.  (RAF referred to Royal Air Force.)

Janet recorded that Bunky was “first with the 77th Squadron and in March 1942 was assigned to the 405 Squadron at Pocklington Air Force Base near York, England…

… Bunky’s father and brother also served ….

Among the treasures that Janet shared were letters that Bunky’s mother had saved.  In a May 9, 1942 letter written from Pocklington, Bunky wrote about a reunion with his father and brother Babs, who were both in the army and in England at the time.

… Dear Mother,

As you probably guessed from our telegram the three of us have finally gotten together.  In my last letter I told you about missing them when I was on leave.  Well, they got leave when they came back from their maneuvers and came up to see me.  I parked them in York and got to see them for the last three nights.  They left for London this morning.  We had a lot of fun.  It was sure good to get together again…

Unfortunately, it was the last time they met.

 … The last flight of Halifax W1175 LQ-Q ….

Janet’s account noted that “On June 27, 1942, flight W1175 LQ-Q left RAF Pocklington, piloted by Canadian F/Sgt William Field, at 23:32 hours on a mission to Bremen, Germany. Rowan FitzGerald was the navigator on the flight….

As the plane was returning from Bremen in the morning of June 28, 1942, it was hit by shellfire (flak) and crashed into a sandbank called ‘De Waard’ in the Wadden Sea, off the Dutch coast between the Island of Texel and the mainland, 15.5 km from Harlingen, in the province of Friesland.  There were no survivors.

The-Dutch-Wadden-Sea-Area

The Wadden Sea off the Dutch coast near Harlingen.  (Map source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-Dutch-Wadden-Sea-Area_fig3_309826242)

The crew members were 3 Canadians, 1 Australian, and 3 British:

  • RCAF Flt Sgt W E N FIELD Captain (Pilot) – Canadian
  • RAF Sgt R F ANSELL (Flight Engineer) – British
  • RCAF Rowan Charles FITZGERALD (Navigator) – Canadian
  • RAAF Flt Sgt Murray Ralph KLEISDORFF (Air Bomber) – Australian
  • RAF Sgt E O SMITH (Wireless Air Gunner) – British
  • RCAF Flt Sgt J D AILEY (Air Gunner) – Canadian
  • RAF Sgt A DANBY (Air Gunner) – British

Douwe Drijver had explained in his request that only one crew member had been identified – Murray Ralph Kleisdorff of Australia.  For the next part of the story we had to look at records in the National Archives of Australia.

….Four bodies were buried in Harlingen General Cemetery…

The trail had run out for the information in Bunky’s service file, but reports related to the Australian crew member were available at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.  The reports were not digitized, but when we asked Phillip Shovk of Sydney for help, he contacted Rod Covell, who lived in Canberra.  Rod and his wife Kaylene agreed to look into the files.

An investigation into the crash, based on German records, verified that a Halifax bomber matching the serial number of the plane used by W1175 crashed into the Wadden Sea on the night of June 27 into June 28, 1942.  “…Two days later, 4 corpses were recovered and as they possessed no identity, they were buried as unknown in Harlingen General Cemetery, Plot E, Row 1, Graves 3, 4, 5, 6...

After the war, the four graves were opened.  A December 29, 1948 report stated that “…only one of these could be identified….The six remaining crew members were therefore either lost at sea or at Harlingen as unidentified airmen in graves 3, 5, and 6….

What about Grave 4?  A June 22, 1948 report noted that “…the presence of RAAF dark blue material in Grave 4 indicates that ….Sgt M. R. Kleisdorff is buried there….”  Murray Kleisdorff’s headstone was amended.  The other 3 burials remain unknown.  Perhaps one holds Bunky’s remains?

Foto`s genomen op de begraafplaats van Harlingen (Harns) Prov Friesland (Fryslân). Door Remko de Jong (7)(1)

Harlingen General Cemetery in Harlingen, The Netherlands.  Murray Ralph Kleisdorff is second from the left in the front row.  The other 3 headstones are unmarked graves of airmen believed to be from the same flight.  (Photo credit: Remco de Jong)

The 6 men with no known grave are listed on the Runnymede Memorial, situated at Englefield Green, near Egham, 32 kms west of London, England. The memorial lists 20,450 members of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth with no known grave.  (See https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/second-world-war/england/runnymede)

Janet ended her summary about her uncle’s life with “…Rowan Charles FitzGerald died 2 weeks prior to his 27th birthday. His descendants still hope to gain closure by locating his final resting place and ensuring his memory is preserved…

A few weeks after we met, Janet wrote us to say “…Rowan and I are so very grateful for your interest and time spent in piecing together Uncle Bunky’s story.  Thank you for all you are doing for our fallen boys and ensuring they are never forgotten….

Thank you to Rowan FitzGerald and Janet FitzGerald for sharing photos and information on their uncle, Remco de Jong for the photo from Harlingen General Cemetery, Angela Walker for contacting the FitzGerald family, Don Smith for identifying the Avro Anson plane in the photo of Bunky in Malton, Phillip Shovk for contacting Rod Covell, and Rod and Kaylene Covell for researching the crash report in the National Archives in Canberra, Australia.

If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him 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://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….. The WWII Soldier From Port Lorne Who Lost His Life During The Advance To The Apeldoorn Canal

IMG_20220913_144658413_HDR Posterenk photo from John Hetherington

Posterenk town sign. (Photo credit: John Hetherington)

October 8, 2022. When Pieter and I visited the village of Posterenk in The Netherlands in 2017, with Edwin van der Wolf, one of the research volunteers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, we never realized that we would be telling stories about soldiers from the Carleton & York Regiment who lost their lives during the liberation of the village in April 1945!

CIMG9296 Sep 25 2017 Edwin and Pieter by Posterenk windmill

Edwin van der Wolf (left) and Pieter in Posterenk.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….The Atlantic Canada connection to Posterenk…..

Edwin wanted us to visit the village because it had an Island connection.  Frank GALLANT, son of Anthony and Eleanor Gallant of Mount Carmel, Prince Edward Island, was one of the Carleton & York soldiers who died during there on April 13, 1945 at the age of 32.

Over the next years, two more Island soldiers were identified: Daniel Peter MACKENZIE, of Victoria Cross, and James Frank MOSSEY of Souris.

In April 2022, 8 names were commemorated in Posterenk. However, photos of two men were missing: James Frank MOSSEY and Harold Gordon SABEAN. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/04/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-posterenk-commemorates-its-liberation-by-the-carleton-and-york-regiment/)

…The search for a photo of Harold Gordon Sabean is successful…

Family of James Frank Mossey came forward this summer, leaving one last Carleton & York soldier whose photo was missing.  A wide-reaching effort was made to uncover a photo, which was successful when Harold E. Wright of Saint John, New Brunswick, received a photo from Harold Gordon SABEAN’s niece, Pam Godsoe.

colourized_photo(12) Sabean

Harold Gordon Sabean. (Photo courtesy of Pam Godsoe. Photo colourization by Pieter Valkenburg.)

Harold was born on March 19, 1918 in Port Lorne, Nova Scotia, son of Solomon ‘Saul’ and Susan ‘Susie’ Alice (nee Hibbard) Sabean.

… After enlistment Harold was quickly sent overseas…

Before enlisting in St John, New Brunswick on March 9, 1940 with the Carleton & York Regiment, Harold was a machinist with T. McAvity & Sons (now Clow Canada) a foundry and valve casting company.  (See https://www.clowcanada.com/about-us/company-history/)

He was initially sent to Woodstock, New Brunswick and went for infantry training in Aldershot, Nova Scotia on March 19, 1940.

On May 4, 1940 he married Josephine Marie Gray at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St. John, New Brunswick.  A month later, on June 8, 1940, he left Halifax, Nova Scotia for the United Kingdom, arriving in Liverpool on June 20, 1940.

He was sent for a number of training courses while in England – Regimental Gas Instructors Course, Gunner Wing, Qualification Level Motor Transport, Camouflage Course, and Spigot Mortar Course.  He became an Instructor.

… Harold was seconded to Canada as an Instructor…

On March 19, 1943, Harold returned to Canada as an Instructor, and was attached to A-12 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC). A report stated he was a good instructor and hard working.

In July 1943 he was sent to the Battle Drill School in Vernon, British Columbia for further training.

In February 1944, he was sent to No. 1 Transit Camp in Windsor, Nova Scotia prior to returning for overseas service.  A report in his Personnel Selection Record, dated February 9, 1944, recorded that Harold was “…Married- no children.  Sabean is an only child whose parents are deceased...”  It went on to note that he was “… interested in all team sports.  His hobby is wood carving. Reads mechanical magazines. Enjoys usual social pastimes….

He was assessed as being “…suitable for overseas service on operational duties…” and that he was “…mature, willing, and cooperative…

… Harold returned overseas…

On February 16, 1944, he embarked for the United Kingdom, arriving on February 25, 1944.  A month later, on March 26, 1944, he was in Italy with the Regiment.

On August 11, 1944 he left Italy and was sent to France to a Special Services unit.  In December 1944, he left France and was back in Italy on December 9, 1944.  A few days later, on December 12, 1944, he was promoted to Sergeant.

…The Carleton & York Regiment left Italy for North-West Europe…

On March 19, 1945, Harold and his Regiment left Italy for North-West Europe as part of Operation Goldflake, arriving in Marseilles, France on March 21, 1945.  Operation Goldflake was the codename for moving troops from Italy to North-West Europe.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Goldflake)

From France, troops were moved up to the Belgian front, into The Netherlands, through the Reichswald Forest in Germany, and then back into The Netherlands, arriving near Zutphen on April 10, 1945.

According to the April 12, 1945 war diary entry of the Carleton & York Regiment, they “…moved across the Ijssel River at 14:30 hours….” to relieve the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. The Regiment’s new objective was to liberate the village of Posterenk which was done on April 13, 1945.

Map western holland showing Posterenk

….Harold was originally buried near Posterenk….

Unfortunately, on April 15, 1945, Harold lost his life as the unit advanced to the Apeldoorn Canal in The Netherlands.  He was one of 6 soldiers initially buried along the main road to Posterenk, a village near Zutphen.

Posterenk list of 6 CYR members

The 6 soldiers buried near Posterenk.

On January 24, 1946, Harold was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.

sabean, harold gordon gravestone from ICB

Grave of Harold Gordon Sabean in Holten, The Netherlands.  (Photo courtesy of the Information Centre Canadian Cemetery Holten)

Thank you to Pam Godsoe, Harold E. Wright of Saint John Heritage, and Kent Caldwell of the Royal Canadian Legion in New Brunswick.  If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. You can email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Previous stories about soldiers commemorated in Posterenk….

…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….. The WWII Soldier From Prince Edward Island Killed During The Battle Of Rha

September 22, 2022. When we did a story on Joseph ‘Joe’ Edmund HENNEBERY, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, his niece, Teresa Hennebery, mentioned that “My mother Mary and I were in Holland in May 2001 for a commemoration ceremony for her brother (also named Joe) who was killed in Rha a couple of weeks before my other Uncle Joe died.  It was so beautiful and the people of Rha treated us like Royalty….

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Teresa Hennebery (left) shared information on her uncle, Joe McKenna.  (Photo courtesy Valkenburg Family Collection)

Teresa was referring to her mother’s brother, Michael Joseph ‘Joe’ MCKENNA, who also lost his life during WWII.  In addition to visiting the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, Teresa and her late mother “… visited Holten Cemetery where Joe McKenna is buried…” (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2020/05/31/on-the-war-memorial-trail-a-face-for-joseph-hennebery/)

Joe McKenna

Joe McKenna (Photo courtesy Hennebery Family Collection.)

Joe McKenna was born August 22, 1917 in Newton Cross, Prince Edward Island, the son of Patrick Joseph and Laura Josephine McKenna. 

…Joe began basic training in the summer of 1942…

At the time of his enrollment on August 28, 1942 with the #62 Basic Training Centre in Charlottetown, under the National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA), he had been working on his father’s farm since he left school.  Joe’s mother had died in 1932, and he was the oldest son with two brothers and four sisters.  

The NRMA was a compulsory national registration for military service, originally for home defence, but later for service overseas as WWII continued. (See https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/national-resources-mobilization-act)

On October 28, 1942, he was sent for advanced training to A23TC in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a month, then sent to the #22 Anti Aircraft Battery in St. John, New Brunswick. 

Joe remained there until March 1, 1943, when he formally enlisted for active service in Saint John, New Brunswick and was transferred to the 8th Anti Aircraft Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, which was also in St. John.

… Joe transferred to the Canadian Infantry….

On January 27, 1944, Joe was transferred to the No. 1 Transit Camp in Windsor, Nova Scotia.  Then, a decision was made to ‘reallocate’ Joe to an infantry regiment, and on February 13, 1944 he was transferred to No. 60 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia for further training.

After completing basic training, Joe was transferred to the A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia on June 11, 1944.

On August 31, 1944 Joe was sent to Debert, Nova Scotia, the final staging and training area for troops going overseas.

… Joe left Canada in October 1944….

Joe’s overseas service began when he boarded a troop ship on October 14, 1944, arriving in the United Kingdom on October 20, 1944.  Upon arrival he was assigned to #4 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).

On November 24, 1944 he went to Northwest Europe as part of a reinforcement unit, then was assigned to the Headquarters of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade on January 26, 1945.

Joe had his final transfer on March 14, 1945, when he joined the Queen’s Own Rifles as a rifleman in ‘A’ Company.  The Regiment was in the Reichswald Forest in Germany where Operation Blockbuster had ended.  Reinforcements were needed as preparations began for Operation Plunder

Operation Plunder, which began March 21, 1945 and ended April 1, 1945, involved the crossing of the Rhine River to the north of the Ruhr industrial region in western Germany.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder)

…Joe’s Regiment left Germany and entered The Netherlands…

After crossing the Rhine River in Germany, the Queen’s Own Rifles entered The Netherlands.  Their new objective was to capture the town of Rha.  The town was near a bridge crossing.  In ‘Battle Diary’ author Charles Cromwell Martin explains its importance. “…The enemy command headquarters for the remaining part of Holland was located at Appeldoorn, and the bridge was the approach that led there…

Martin was the Company Sergeant-Major, ‘A’ Company, in the Queen’s Own Rifles.  He noted there were difficulties due to “…the complete changeover of our men and leaders.  We had received about thirty reinforcements….. But everything was too new, too untried, and this included our new company commander…

…The Regiment prepared to liberate the municipality of Steenderen….

On the afternoon of April 4, 1945, the Queen’s Own Rifles travelled along the IJssel River.  They had already liberated the villages of Steenderen and Toldijk the day before.

The war diary for April 4, 1945 recorded that “… ‘C’ Company was to occupy Rodenburg… and ‘D’ Company to go to Hoefken. ‘A’ Company to Eekhorn and ‘B’ Company to Zwaarte  Schar… The only trouble encountered on the move was by ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies, who came under fire from an enemy S.P. gun on the other side of the IJssel river and mortar fire from Rha….” S.P refers to self-propelled artillery.

On April 5, 1945 the war diary stated that …plans were laid for an attack that afternoon on the bulge of the east bank of the IJssel…”  Around 3:30 pm, they occupied “…enemy trench systems that had been abandoned…” 

‘A’ Company’s assignment was to occupy Rha. Led by 9 platoon, they “…went into their series of trenches, which were full of water, and followed them around to the outskirts of Rha.  There was quite a lot of sniping and mortaring but the trenches gave them good cover…” 

By 8:00 pm “… the end of the trenches was reached….” and they began their way towards the town.  “….It was getting night time but there was plenty of light from burning buildings…”  They encountered “…furious resistance…” from bazookas.  “…Our own weapons were in very bad shape from the mud encountered in the trenches…

In the midst of counterattacks, two sections of 7 platoon got cut off from the rest. They “…got into a house near the centre of the village…” This was the Berendsen farm. 

By the time the night was over, the war diary reported that “…the final count of casualties was 5 wounded, 5 killed, and 6 missing…”  Four were found killed in the barn on the Berendsen farm.

…The Battle of Rha was deadly….

One of the men killed during the Battle of Rha, and found in the barn, was Joe McKenna. In the 2001 Special Edition of ‘De Zwerfsteen’ (The Boulder), a publication from the Historical Society of Steenderen, a bit more information was provided.  The Berendsen farm was located at 5 Rhabergseweg, and had German troops billeted on the farm.  During the evening of April 5, the family hid in the cellar.

One daughter, Be Helmerhorst-Berendsen, who was 20 years old at the time, gave an eyewitness report.  “…The Germans were not present at the time we came under fire. They must have been in the trenches in the surrounding area….

While they were in the cellar the hatch opened and two Canadians came down the steps.  “…One was injured on the leg and the other one had severe injuries on the head…”  The next morning, the Germans opened the hatch and ordered them to come out.  The Canadians were taken prisoner, the rest allowed to leave.

…As we were leaving the building through the barn, we saw the Canadians lying there, dead.  One lay behind the cows in the gutter.  The second lay in the cows’ trough, still holding the rope of the cow’s neck in his hands, and the third one lay near the back door…

….Joe was initially buried in Rha….

The official death report of the military authorities noted that the helmets of the soldiers had holes in them, likely caused by grenade fragments. They had been killed by Germans who were in trenches about 20 metres in front of the farmhouse. 

The date of deaths on this report was recorded as April 5, 1945 for each soldier.  The date of April 6, 1945 in the service file and on the gravestones was likely due to when the bodies were found and the notice of deaths were received and recorded.

Dutch explanation of deaths

Rha burial

Burial of 4 soldiers in Rha.  (Photo courtesy Hennebery Family Collection, but sent to the family by Henk Dykman.)

One of the organizers of the May 4, 2001 commemoration events in Rha, Reverend Hendrik ‘Henk’ Jan Dykman, wrote to explain that “…Joe died with three comrades in or near the farm of J Berendsen on April 5 1945. He was buried in front of it by German soldiers, with his name carefully put on the grave. The farmer’s daughter took care of the graves till the men were moved to Holten a year later….

The other three soldiers were:

  • James Earl AIKEN, aged 19, son of Basil E. and Alice A. Aiken, of Toronto, Ontario.
  • Thomas ‘Ted’ Edward Cornelius CRAWFORD, aged 31, son of Thomas A. and Nellie Crawford; husband of Marie Edmee Crawford, of Kapuskasing, Ontario. 
  • George Clifford WOODRUFF, aged 23, son of George and Jane Woodruff, of Langstaff, Ontario.

All 4 were reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands. 

The 5th casualty mentioned in the war diary was John George KAVANAGH, aged 23, son of Cora Kavanagh and husband of Emily Jean (née Haddleton) of Toronto, Ontario.  He is buried in the Steenderen General Cemetery in Steenderen, The Netherlands.

…Confusion about where Joe McKenna had been originally buried….

20210717_105714 McKenna parents grave in Montague

Grave of Joe McKenna’s parents in Montague, Prince Edward Island. (Photo courtesy Hennebery Family Collection.)

Teresa Hennebery explained that there was confusion about where her uncle was initially buried. “… I was at the graveyard at St. Mary’s church in Montague.  Here is a photo of my grandparents’ gravestone which also recognizes my Uncle Joe McKenna….please note reference to Doesburg. For many years his family thought he was buried in Doesburg….

Screenshot 2022-09-17 at 11-13-37 Doesburg to Rha

Map shows the short distance between Doesburg and Rha.  (Map source: Google)

The confusion wasn’t just on the part of Teresa’s grandparents.  A Field Service Report dated June 7, 1945 recorded that Joe McKenna had died in Germany and been buried in West Bocholt, Germany!  The coordinates of the burial location were recorded as 911850.

… Joe was reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten….

We asked Henk Vincent from the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten if he could look up where Joe’s body had been before arriving for reburial, as we had a report that he had been buried in Rha. 

A translation of his reply confirmed that Rha was where he was initially buried.  “The East Gelderland area, where Rha is located, is often referred to as West Bocholt in the Canadian War Diaries. If I enter the coordinates QE911850 on the Nord de Guerre map I end up exactly in… Rha, so the report is correct, he was first temporarily buried in Rha….

CIMG3292 Oct 3 2019 Holten Michael McKenna

Grave of Joe McKenna in Holten.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Teresa kindly wrote to say “… Thank you for all you are doing to keep the memory of soldiers buried in Holland alive.  I am so grateful for your work and dedication to this project…” It’s an honour to tell these stories, and we are very appreciative of the effort that families put into remembrance and are willing to share photos and information.

Thank you to Teresa Hennebery for sharing photos and information on her uncle, and to Henk Dykman for sharing a photo and initial burial information.  Thank you also to Henk Vincent for confirming Joe’s original burial location. 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

…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