On The War Memorial Trail In North Bay….. Adventures In North Bay

CIMG5579 May 19 2022 Pieter and Daria by North Bay welcome sign (1)

We arrive in North Bay, Ontario!  (Photo credit: Don Coutts)

June 7, 2022. When we accepted an invitation from the North Bay Public Library in North Bay, Ontario to do an Author Talk, we never expected it to be such a thoroughly engaging and interesting few days.  The next few postings will highlight the events, but first here are a few adventures from our travels.

Our guide for the trip was Don Coutts, nephew of WWII pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART of Cape Traverse, Prince Edward Island, who is buried in The Netherlands, and whose story has been featured on this blog.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2017/07/28/the-elmer-bagnall-muttart-story/ and/or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Rzg07kPw0&list=PLaJcEVojJra-ZwR6rvb-THj8Zr2QbUXLT&index=2)

Of course, we visited many places related to the research being done on soldiers from the North Bay area who are buried in The Netherlands.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/05/15/on-the-war-memorial-trail-author-talks-in-north-bay/)  One of the stops was at the North Bay Museum.

20220518_165730 May 18 2022 Pieter and Don outside North Bay Museum

Don Coutts and Pieter outside the North Bay Museum. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

…Author Talk At North Bay-Nipissing Rotary Club….

May 19 2022 Rotary Club Nipissing Presentation Slideshow

Pieter and I were invited to the North Bay-Nipissing Rotary Club meeting in North Bay, where I gave a brief Author Talk, a prelude to the main event at the North Bay Public Library.  It was interesting that after I shared our challenges in finding St Sever Cemetery in Rouen, France, in spite of (or maybe because of?) GPS, one of the Rotary Club members came up and shared his own travel challenges in getting around Rouen.  It wasn’t just us!

May 19 2022 Rotary Club Jonathan Jolkowski, Daria, Pieter, Kevin Smith, Don

Jonathan Jolkowski, Daria, Pieter, Kevin Smith, Don Coutts.  (Photo credit: Shona Camirand)

…The North Bay Heritage Carousel….

For me, however, a stop on MY Must See list was the North Bay Heritage Carousel.  Fans of Hallmark Movies will find this carousel familiar if they saw ‘A Christmas Carousel’.  I was overjoyed when Don said we could not only see the carousel, but go for a ride.  My reluctant Hallmark hero gamely went along, but couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about!

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A ride on the North Bay Heritage Carousel made me feel like a Hallmark heroine!  (Photo credit: Don Coutts)

In this very short clip from the movie preview, you can see the carousel:

Thank you to Don Coutts for guiding us around North Bay and arranging for the events we were able to participate in.  More North Bay adventures are coming up in the next posting….

If you know of soldiers from the North Bay area that are buried in The Netherlands please let Pieter know. You can mail 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

 

 

We Hear From Readers About ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’

Front cover OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEurope

March 13, 2022. Once ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’ was published, we were delighted to receive a number of photos and emails.  And we were able to meet in person with a few people. (For the original posting about the book, see https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/02/19/new-book-no-soldier-buried-overseas-should-ever-be-forgotten/)

…Some of the feedback we’ve received….

PXL_20220221_163612516~3 Feb 21 2022 Brien Robertson with book photo by Moira

Brien Robertson reads the book.  (Photo credit: Moira Robertson)

Brien and Moira Robertson wrote “We received No Soldier… today and have been reading it ever since. Such a wonderful journey telling of your travels and memorializing those lost in the tragedy of wars. And here we go again, thinking about what could happen in Ukraine. Reading the book brings home the thought that all wars are really civil wars. Lives lost for nothing. Great job telling the story so not to forget those lost. We are proud to be your friends….

IMG_1581 Feb 18 2022 Mindy Patrick with Daria

Mindy Patrick and Daria with the book.  (Photo courtesy of Valkenburg family collection)

Mindy Patrick wanted a book for her father, a veteran who served in the US Coast Guard.

DSCN2378 Feb 22 2022 Don and Nora Coutts at North Bay Public Library

Don and Nora Coutts at the North Bay Public Library in Ontario. (Photo taken by Brad Jacobs)

Don Coutts, nephew of WW2 pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, who is featured in the book, explained he ordered copies for himself and for the North Bay Public Library in North Bay, Ontario, where his wife Nora is Head of Children’s Services and Deputy CEO.

(See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2019/10/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-presentations-at-hannemahuis-in-harlingen/ for comments made by Don during the presentation in The Netherlands in 2019 to honour his uncle and the crew of Halifax L9561.)

Alexander Tuinhout of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation: Original comment in Dutch: “…We hebben het boek “No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten” besteld en inmiddels ook al uit Canada ontvangen. Hoewel we nog geen tijd hebben gehad om alles te lezen is de eerste indruk voortreffelijk! Zo’n publicatie is een monument op zich en zeker een felicitatie waard!…

(English translation by Pieter: We ordered the book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’ and have already received it from Canada. Although we haven’t had time to read everything yet, the first impression is excellent! Such a publication is a monument in itself and certainly worth congratulating!…”)

The Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation organized the memorial panel to honour Elmer Bagnall MUTTART and the crew of Halifax L9561.  During the events in October 2019, Alexander gave a presentation on the crew and what happened on October 12, 1941.  You can watch part of his presentation in the documentary made about the events.

IMG_0360 Feb 23 2022 Henk Vincent

Henk Vincent, a volunteer at the Holten Cemetery Information Centre, with the book.  (Photo courtesy of H. Vincent)

The work done by the Holten Cemetery Information Centre to remember Canadian soldiers buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands is ongoing.  Pieter is one of the volunteers helping with photo wish lists for a digital archive.  (For more information on the Info Centre, see https://www.canadesebegraafplaatsholten.nl/en/home/)

IMG_6170 (1) Feb 25 2022 Alan McIvor

Alan McIvor, nephew of WW2 Flight Officer Joseph ‘Joe’ Charles McIver, wrote a book on his uncle’s service. (Photo courtesy of A. McIvor)

Alan McIvor wrote …Congratulations on your book, “NO SOLDIER BURIED OVERSEAS.”  Good work.  I am sure it was a labour of love but lots of work, research, writing and editing…

Alan’s uncle, WW2 Flight Officer Joseph ‘Joe’ Charles MCIVER of Kinkora, Prince Edward Island, was one of the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion – the research project that launched this blog.

(See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2019/08/17/the-ww2-flight-officer-whose-plane-went-down-while-on-patrol-near-the-arctic-circle/)

CIMG5511 Feb 25 2022 Daria with Susan & Charlie

Daria visits with Susan and Charlie Choi. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Last fall, Charlie CHOI, who was 4 years old when the Korean War started in June 1950, shared his memories in a 3 part series.  If you missed these postings, please see:

CIMG5506 Feb 21 2022 Daria with Mary Ann Greiner

Daria with Mary Ann Greiner.  (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Mary Ann Greiner has an abiding interest in military history. Pieter and I were able to meet with her and her husband Rick, a US army veteran.

20220303_202843 Mar 3 2022 John Davis photo by Susan

John Davis is the author of ‘Outside Time Looking In’, which features two alternative history stories.  (Photo credit: Susan Choi)

John Davis is the author of ‘Outside Time Looking In’, featuring two alternative history stories, and which I’ve read with great interest.  (See https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/john-davis/outside-time-looking-in/paperback/product-18rekkpk.html?page=1&pageSize=4)

Thank you to everyone who sent in comments and photos with themselves with the book, and for your support. Email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Book trailer and website….

Thanks to the amazing talents of Wendy Nattress, who does the post-production editing for the On The War Memorial Trail YouTube Channel, we have a book website: see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/.  The website has a book description, preview pages, and ordering information.

Wendy also prepared a short book trailer…

…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. 

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898Daria’s book No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten is now available.  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….. Sharing Of Remembrances Outside Prince Edward Island

November 16, 2021. After reading about the Remembrance events here on Prince Edward Island, we received some feedback. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2021/11/14/2021-remembrance-week-events/)

… A wreath was laid at the Dutch memorial outside Pier 21 in Halifax….

George Zwaagstra of Halifax, Nova Scotia sent a photo and email, explaining that “I had the honour of placing a wreath at the Dutch monument at Pier 21....” George, who was born in Friesland, The Netherlands in 1933, is a longtime volunteer at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.  (See https://pier21.ca/content/the-immigration-story-of-george-zwaagstra-dutch-immigrant)

20211111_091707 Nov 11 2021 George Zwaagstra by Dutch monument at Pier 21

George Zwaagstra in centre of photo.  Beside him, on the right, is The Honourable Peter Alexander ‘Andy’ Fillmore, MP for Halifax.  (Photo submitted by George Zwaagstra)

….Flowers laid in Harlingen General Cemetery….

Douwe Drijver, of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, wrote: “Last Thursday I visited the cemetery in Harlingen in the pouring rain.  I was there to put flowers on the grave of an English aviator, R.G. BOSWELL.  Boswell was killed on August 19, 1941. I also brought a rose for Elmer MUTTART….Both pilots are buried next to each other…”  (Translation from the original Dutch)

The story of Elmer Bagnall Muttart and the crew of Halifax L9561 has been extensively told on this blog.  Missed the story of our last visit there in 2019? Please see https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-visit-to-harlingen-general-cemetery/ .

067 Nov 11 2021 Rose for Muttart by Douwe

On November 11, 2021, a rose was placed on the grave of Elmer Muttart at Harlingen General Cemetery in Harlingen, The Netherlands. (Photo credit: Douwe Drijver)

070 Nov 11 2021 Graves of Muttart and Boswell get flowers

On November 11, 2021, flowers were placed on the graves of Elmer Muttart and R.B. Boswell at Harlingen General Cemetery in Harlingen, The Netherlands. (Photo credit: Douwe Drijver)

You can also watch the short documentary we made about the commemoration events that took place on October 12, 2019 in The Netherlands:

….A 99 year old WW2 veteran shares recollections….

Donald Arsenault shared a video from Ontario in which a relative, 99 year old WW2 veteran Edmond ARSENAULT spoke about his experience during WW2 in Italy.  See https://www.chch.com/ww-ii-veteran-edmond-arsenault-recalls-countless-close-calls-while-serving/

2381550_6 Edmond and Hermas Gallant

Edmond Arsenault (right) and his friend Hermas Gallant (left) who was later killed in a minefield in Italy during the war. Both Mr. Arsenault and Mr. Gallant hailed from neighbouring small towns in Prince Edward Island. (Photo from Canadian Virtual War Memorial and their source indicates courtesy of the Memory Project: http://www.thememoryproject.com)

In the video clip, Edmond mentions the loss of his friend Antoine Hermas GALLANT of Cape Egmont, Prince Edward Island, son of Sylvain and Matilda Gallant.  Hermas lost his life in Italy on August 31, 1944 when he stepped on a mine.  He’s buried in Montecchio War Cemetery in Italy.

Thank you to Donald Arsenault, Douwe Drijver, and George Zwaagstra for sharing these acts of remembrance. If you can help with a photo or information about Canadian soldiers, please email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

…Want to follow our research?….

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

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

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 Last Flight Of Halifax L9561’ Video

October 28, 2021.  On October 12, 2021, it was 80 years ago that an eyewitness in the Wons area in The Netherlands saw Halifax L9561 ‘burning, sliding, and zigzagging through the cloud cover’. The bomber with a crew of eight people had left the English airport in Middleton Saint George an hour and a half earlier for a bombing of the port city of Bremen, but it never reached its target.

7 crew members were able to bail out, but the Canadian pilot, Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, of Cape Traverse, Prince Edward Island, lost his life, after safely steering the plane over the village of Wons before crashing in a nearby field.  Over the past few years, the story of Elmer Muttart and the project of installing a memorial panel near the crash site have been told.

CIMG3565 Oct 13 2019 Pieter by memorial panel

A remembrance project that has come full circle for Pieter with the permanent recognition given to the crew of Halifax L9561. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

…A video by the Hunt brothers….

The memorial panel was installed on October 12, 2019, and among the attendees were Barry and Terry Hunt, two sons of the crew’s wireless operator, William Herbert HUNT.  Over the past few years, Barry and Terry worked on preparing a documentary, which was finished in time for the 80th anniversary.

The film recounts the events of October 12, 1941, as Halifax L9561 flies over the North Sea into danger in the skies above Friesland in The Netherlands, with the heroism and self-sacrifice displayed by its young pilot. It also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Halifax itself.  With the additional use of archival footage, the film gives an impression of what life was like for the men and women stationed at Middleton St. George, and the roles they played.

Barry left & Terry right 13.10.19

Barry Hunt, left, with Terry Hunt, right.  (Photo courtesy of Barry Hunt)

The Last Flight Of Halifax L9561’ runs for 1 hr 18 minutes and can be watched here:

….Previous videos about Halifax L9561 made by the Valkenburgs….

As so many Canadians were not aware of the efforts of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in The Netherlands, we had invited them to explain a bit about their organization in a short video clip just before the memorial panel was installed on October 12, 2019.  See Honouring The Crew Of Halifax L9561 here:

poster He Died That We Might Live

Poster design by Olli Nattress.

We also made a short documentary about the events on October 12, 2019, entitled “He Died That We Might Live … the story of Halifax L9561” which commemorates one event during WW2 that changed the lives of so many people.

…Previous postings about Halifax L9561…

Missed the stories about Elmer Muttart and the memorial panel to honour the crew of Halifax L9561?  See

Thank you to Barry and Terry Hunt for sharing their video and giving permission to post the video on this blog.   The story of Halifax L9561 will never be forgotten by us.

If you have photos and information to share about Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands, 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.

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….. The WW1 Letters Of Arthur Clinton Robinson

July 4, 2021. In 2017 we visited the grave of Arthur Clinton ROBINSON, a WW1 soldier with the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion, from Tryon, Prince Edward Island, who is buried in Belgium, (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/on-the-war-memorial-trail-in-belgium-and-a-visit-to-la-laiterie-military-cemetery/)  Up to today, we have not found of a photo of him, and neither has his family.

In June 2018, Arthur’s nephew, Arthur ‘John’ Robinson and his wife Hazel visited the grave with their son, dentist Dr. Alan Robinson, and Alan’s son, William Robinson.

2018-06-16 Arthur C Robinson grave (1)

At La Laiterie Military Cemetery in Belgium.  Left to right: Dr Alan Robinson, William Robinson, Hazel Robinson.  (Photo credit: John Robinson)

While no photo has yet been found, the Robinsons were able to find two letters that Arthur wrote to his aunts. 

In an August 30, 1915 letter to his aunt, Robbie Blanchard, written in England just before travelling to France,  he describes the composition of men in his platoon from the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion: … You should just see the bunch of men … in this 26th alone. They are a magnificent body of fellows….and this Platoon I am in is a corker… there are, I don’t know how many different nationalities in it… Indian, French, Russians, Belgians, English, Irish, Scotch, Americans and Canadians.  Some mob, eh? You can hear nearly any language around here any time of day….” 

While in England, Arthur saw injured troops arriving back from the front and reflected that “…when you see the hundreds of maimed soldiers, some far worse off than if they were dead, and when nearly daily train loads of freshly wounded men pass right before your eyes, it makes you wonder at the ups and downs of this human life…” 

It was a miracle that the August 30 letter arrived in Canada, as the ship the mail had been travelling on, the Hesperian, was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Plymouth, England on September 4, 1915! Luckily it was one of the items salvaged from the wreckage. (See https://www.rmslusitania.info/related-ships/hesperian/ for more information) 

In a September 16, 1915 letter, written in France to his aunt, Carrie Robinson, he outlines life in a trench: …I am quite comfortable here in our cosy little dugout, out of reach of all the Germans in Europe.  I must tell you about the nice dugout and the 4 fellows who are in it with me.  It is a kind of a tunnel running into the side of a loamy hill, with rubber sheets and blankets hung over the mouth of it….” 

There was no electricity in the trench, as Arthur goes on to mention that …We have niches in the back, where we keep our equipment, and we put candles in them at night so we won’t be too lonesome…” 

He then describes how the equipment is turned into a bed for the night. “…On the floor we have straw, stolen from a stack near by, and all over our kits, which make excellent beds, when you know how to arrange them…” 

Although he doesn’t identify them by name, Arthur mentions his 4 trench companions: …1st They are all six footers. 2nd They all wear a seven cap or larger. 3rd They cannot get their feet into smaller boots than nines, and 4th They all weigh over one hundred and seventy pounds each…”  He goes on to say that he weighs over 170 pounds himself and is well fed.  

The saying goes that an army marches on its stomach, and Arthur’s account of his dinner indicates the importance of food.  “…We had potatoes and meat, bread and butter, and tea of course.  We could have had cheese and jam too if we wanted to, but we always try and keep it over for tea.  The bread and butter is great and the cooks of our company seem to have a natural gift of making good tea so we are lucky in that line…” 

One of the challenges in writing letters from the front during wartime is censorship so as not to divulge any information that might be used by the enemy.  Arthur writes about that: …I find it hard to write a letter here for they are so particular about what a person tells that if you write anything you are not supposed to tell they destroy the whole shooting match…

It’s wonderful that these letters survived so that we get a glimpse into Arthur Robinson’s thoughts and experiences.  Sadly, he lost his life on March 27, 1916 when shellfire hit the trenches southeast of Kemmel, Belgium. 

IMG_3466 Hazel and John Robinson

Hazel and John Robinson. (Photo courtesy of the Robinson Family)

Hazel Robinson explained that their 2018 trip was a war memorial tour.  “…Besides visiting Arthur’s grave on this trip, we followed in the footsteps of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers from England to France, Belgium, Germany, ending in the area of Wons. The Sherbrooke Fusiliers was my father’s unit. We also visited Vimy Ridge where my great-uncle is buried….

Hazel’s great-uncle was “William John HILL from Cassius on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick…”  He lost his life on April 9, 1917 and is buried in Canadian Cemetery No 2 in Pas de Calais, France.

During the trip, Hazel noted two coincidences.  “… A member of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers was buried beside Elmer Muttart in 1945….”  Elmer Bagnall MUTTART of Cape Traverse, Prince Edward Island is buried at Harlingen General Cemetery in The Netherlands. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/the-elmer-bagnall-muttart-story/ and https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-visit-to-harlingen-general-cemetery/)

Most likely, Hazel is referring to Thomas ‘Tommy’ Clayton REID.  We’d placed flags on his grave when we visited in October 2019.

CIMG3450 Oct 12 2019 Harlingen General Cemetery

Grave of T.C. Reid at Harlingen General Cemetery in The Netherlands.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Hazel found another coincidence in France. “…When we visited the cemetery in Vimy where my great-uncle is buried, the last family to sign the guest book was a family from my home town, Douglastown, in New Brunswick, and whose parents I knew well and who lived a few houses from my parents!…” 

Thank you to Hazel and John Robinson for sharing Arthur’s letters and information about their 2018 trip. If you have photos or information to share, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1

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 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

“He Died That We Might Live” Documentary Is Now On YouTube

January 31, 2020. Over the past few years, readers of this blog will be familiar with the story of one name on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion – that of WW2 pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, who lost his life on October 12, 1941 when the bomber he was piloting was shot down over Wons, The Netherlands. Muttart was the only casualty, as he was able to keep the plane in the air and steady long enough for the crew of Halifax L9561 to parachute out, and to avoid the village of Wons.  On October 12, 2019, a memorial panel to honour the crew on their last flight together was unveiled in Wons.  (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Memorial Panel In Wons Is Unveiled!)

Pieter had brought his video camera for the events of October 12, 2019 to document the events. His cousin François Breugelmans took over the filming whenever Pieter was engaged in one of the events.  Several of us took photos.

Wendy Nattress

Wendy Nattress.  (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

All this footage was turned over to post-production editor Wendy Nattress, a volunteer who spent countless hours editing our raw material and turned it into a short documentary, which can be seen on YouTube.  Wendy told us that “It has been a real honour working on this project.  Thank you for the work you are doing and for letting me be a part of it!

Wendy’s young son Oli did several illustrations depicting the events of the night of October 12, 1941, and volunteered his time and talent for this documentary.

Oli Nattress

Oli Nattress painting one of the illustrations used in the video.  (Photo credit: Wendy Nattress)

We would not have been able to produce the video “He Died That We Might Live … the story of Halifax L9561” without the goodwill and support of volunteers like Wendy and Oli for this project.  We hope you enjoy the video which commemorates one event during WW2 that changed the lives of so many people.

For a short video of the story behind the memorial panel see:

If anyone has a story or photo to share about any of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Ceremonies In The Netherlands

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(Photo courtesy of The Battlefield Explorer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Iq24t768C8)

December 26, 2019.  One of the wonderful ways that The Netherlands honours Allied soldiers who lost their lives during WWII and are buried in one of the War Cemeteries or in a municipal cemetery is to light candles by the graves on Christmas Eve.  In some cemeteries children place the candles, in others adults place them.

During our visit to The Netherlands for the unveiling of the memorial panel for the crew of Halifax L9561, Pieter met Remko de Jong, one of the Dutch residents who attended the ceremonies.  Remko lives in Makkum and coordinates the candle lighting ceremony in his village.  Was Pieter aware that Canadians are buried in the Donia Church Cemetery in Makkum? he asked.  “No” was the reply.  Remko explained that he was looking for Canadian flags, like the ones we had placed by the graves of Canadians at Harlingen General Cemetery, for their Christmas Eve ceremony.  Where could he get them?

After we had made all of our visits to the various cemeteries to place flags at the graves of Islanders, we had a few flags left over.  Pieter mailed them to Remko for the Christmas Eve candle lighting ceremony.  We thought no more of it, but sure enough, on Christmas Eve, a number of photos appeared, two of which are shown here……

Makkum 2019 Gerben van der Weerd facebook.

Canadian flags and candles at the graves of Canadian soldiers buried in the Donia Church Cemetery in Makkum. (Photo courtesy of Gerben van der Weerd and Remko de Jong)

Makkum can flags 2019 facebook

Canadian flags and candles at the graves of Canadian soldiers buried in the Donia Church Cemetery in Makkum. (Photo courtesy of Gerben van der Weerd and Remko de Jong)

At the Donia Church Cemetery in Makkum, candles were placed at the graves of all the war dead, including those of Dutch citizens who had lost their lives during the war.

In a very thoughtful gesture, Remko also contacted the organizers of the candle lighting ceremony at Harlingen General Cemetery and asked them for a photo of the candle placed at the grave of Flight Sgt Elmer Muttart.

Lichtjes op oorlogsgraven Harlingen (1)

Candles placed in the Commonwealth Graves section of Harlingen General Cemetery.  Elmer Muttart’s grave is in the front row at the very far right. (Photo courtesy of Harlingen General Cemetery)

Lichtjes op oorlogsgraven Harlingen (2)

Candle placed at the grave of Flight Sgt Elmer Muttart at Harlingen General Cemetery on Christmas Eve.  (Photo courtesy of Harlingen General Cemetery)

The Christmas Eve candle lighting ceremony took place at over 400 cemeteries in The Netherlands, including the three Canadian War Cemeteries…..

Bergen op Zoom 2019 from Jolanda Danse on Facebook

Candles at the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom. (Photo courtesy of Jolanda Danse Facebook page)

Holten 2019 Wouter van Dijken facebook

Candles at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten. (Photo courtesy of Wouter van Dijken Facebook page)

Groesbeek 2019 foto Albert de Valk facebook

Candles at the Cross of Remembrance at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (Photo courtesy of Albert de Valk Facebook page)

Groesbeek 2019 Albert de Valk Facebook

Candles at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (Photo courtesy of Albert de Valk Facebook page)

There are over 7,600 Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands!

Kudos to the Dutch, who never forget the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers!  For a listing of the Canadians buried in Harlingen General Cemetery, please see the earlier posting On The War Memorial Trail…..The Visit To Harlingen General CemeteryTo see accounts of our visit to the three Canadian War Cemeteries this fall, please see On The War Memorial Trail…..Our 2019 Visit To The Canadian War Cemetery In Holten,On The War Memorial Trail…..Our 2019 Visit To The Canadian War Cemetery In Groesbeek, andOn The War Memorial Trail…..Our 2019 Visit To The Canadian War Cemetery In Bergen Op Zoom)

Our thanks again to the office of Malpeque MP Wayne Easter and the office of PEI Senator Mike Duffy who provided the flags used during our trip to The Netherlands, making it possible to also give flags for the candle lighting ceremony at the cemetery in Makkum.  If anyone has a story or photo to share about any of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

“He Died That We Might Live” Pamphlet Presented To Tryon & Area Historical Society

December 23, 2019.  The Tryon & Area Historical Society helped us to raise funds in Canada towards the Halifax L9561 Memorial Panel that was unveiled in the Dutch village of Wons on October 12, 2019.  (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Memorial Panel In Wons Is Unveiled!)

Pieter presented Jack Sorensen, Chair of the Tryon & Area Historical Society with a copy of the pamphlet, prepared by the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation of Friesland in The Netherlands. The pamphlet describes the last flight of Halifax L9561, a WWII bomber piloted by Flight Sgt Elmer Bagnall MUTTART of Cape Traverse, which was shot down on October 12, 1941.

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Jack Sorensen, left, and Pieter Valkenburg, right, with the Dutch and English versions of the pamphlet commemorating the last flight of Halifax L9561 on October 12, 1941. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

With 2019 almost at an end, Pieter and I wish all of you the very happiest of holidays as we prepare for new stories and continued research related to the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project.

Happy Holidays from Daria and Pieter

If anyone has a story or photo to share about any of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

“The Memory of Elmer Muttart Lives On”

December 2, 2019.  This posting will be a guest posting by Robert O’Brien, who attended the unveiling of the memorial panel in Wons to honour Flight Sgt Elmer Muttart and the crew of the Halifax L9561.  Robert is involved with a charity, The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (see https://www.churchillsociety.org/home/about-us/). On Friday, November 29, at its Annual Dinner, he shared the story of his recent trip to The Netherlands with the President and CEO of Historica Canada and actor RH Thomson, and presented them both with an English brochure, excerpted from the Dutch language booklet  about the last flight of Halifax L9561 that was prepared by the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation (see On The War Memorial Trail…..The Reception In Wons).

If you live in Canada, you will have seen one of the many Heritage Moments on TV, each one a short glimpse into an aspect of Canadian history (see https://www.historicacanada.ca/heritageminutes).  R. H. Thomson (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._H._Thomson) is involved in The World Remembers 1914-1918 project (see https://www.everythingzoomer.com/arts-entertainment/2018/11/08/rh-thomson-the-world-remembers/).

Here is what Robert wrote in a report he entitled ‘The Memory of Elmer Muttart Lives On’:  “The significance of Flight Sergeant Elmer Bagnall Muttart and the crew of Halifax 9561 who sacrificed so much so that others might live on October 12, 1941 continues to live on and be remembered.   In Toronto on Friday November 29, 2019, at the 36th Annual Dinner of The Churchill Society, the story of Elmer Muttart and Halifax L9561 was shared again and remembered.  The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy holds its annual black tie dinner in Toronto to celebrate Churchill’s life and legacy and to reflect on the contributions countless men and women who fought and contributed to preserving democracy in World Wars I and II.

I was part of the delegation in Holland just seven weeks ago in Holland and as a Past President and director of The Churchill Society I shared and presented the special tribute brochure about Elmer Muttart and the crew of the Halifax bomber at the Dinner, which had been sent by Pieter and Daria Valkenburg.   The brochure was presented to the keynote speaker Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada and noted Canadian political journalist and foreign correspondent.

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Robert O’Brien, left, presents brochure about Halifax L9561, prepared by the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, to Anthony Wilson Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada at the 36th Annual Churchill Society Dinner Toronto on November 29 2019. (Photo courtesy of Robert O’Brien)

Historica Canada has produced 98 ‘Heritage Moments’ which tell the story of important moments in Canadian history and each year reaches an audience of 27 million people.   Mr. Smith showed the 250 in attendance at the Dinner three from the collection of Heritage Moments—a special tribute to Lucy Maud Montgomery filmed in PEI narrated by Past Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, the D-Day Tribute released this past June narrated by Peter Mansbridge, and finally a sneak preview of never seen before footage of a brand new special Heritage Moment commemorating the Liberation of the Netherlands on May 8, 1945.    The video is still being edited and developed but the images the audience was able to see on November 29 were powerful—the struggle of the Dutch people, the arrest and detention of Jews and dissenters during the Occupation, the citizens gazing skyward to see Allied planes flying in the air to assist in taking back Holland, the bravery of the soldiers, the liberation of parades and presentation of tulips by grateful citizenry to the Dutch and the warm hospitality extended by the Dutch people to the Canadian soldiers.   The video will not be completed and officially released until May 2020 and will be a film to look forward to.  

Anthony, who was attending ceremonies at Hill 70 in Northern France last October when the Muttart commemoration was held, was appreciative to receive the special brochure and to hear the story of the bravery of Muttart and the crew of the Halifax L9561 bomber.

I also presented the brochure to talented and award-winning Canadian actor R H Thomson (well known for his roles as Matthew Cuthbert, Jasper Dale, and Dr Banting among many others) and the founder of a special project ‘The World Remembers 1914-1918’ whose mission for the past ten years has been to commemorate the men and women who died during World War I and to preserve their memory in Canada, throughout Europe, in schools and capitols around the world.

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Robert O’Brien (left), Past President of The Churchill Society, presenting brochure to noted Canadian actor R H Thomson and founder of The World Remembers at the 36th Annual Churchill Society Dinner Toronto on November 29. (Photo courtesy of Robert O’Brien)

RH Thomson wrote the following day to express how much he appreciated reading the extraordinary story of Halifax L9561 and Elmer Muttart.   

One last connection: The recipient of the annual Award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy was former popular Mayor of Toronto and Member of Parliament for ten years, the Honourable David Crombie, who knew Elmer Muttart’s brother-in-law, the late Elgin Evans Coutts, also a pilot during World War II, who married Elmer’s sister Helen Muttart.

Thank you to Robert O’Brien for sharing the story of Halifax L9561 at The Churchill Dinner and for taking the time to write the posting and send photos. It’s wonderful that one story about a name on the Cenotaph has resulted in so many remembrances.  We look forward to seeing the Heritage Minute video about the Liberation of Holland.  If you have photos or stories to share on the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail…..Media Coverage On The Memorial Panel In Wons

November 28, 2019. On October 12, 2019, the memorial panel in The Netherlands to honour the crew of Halifax L9561 was unveiled.  (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Memorial Panel In Wons Is Unveiled!) Two regional Dutch newspapers reported on the event in their October 16, 2019 publications: ‘Bolswarder Niewsblad’ and ‘Makkumer Belboei’.

Pieter has provided a translation of both articles:

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Bolswarder Niewsblad’  (See a PDF of the article in Dutch Bolswarder Nieuwsblad – 16-10-2019-1)

Unveiling of a Panel about a Plane Crash Near Wons

Wons.  On Saturday, October 12, 2019, it was 78 years ago that a witness in the area of Wons saw the Halifax L9561, which was ‘on fire, come gliding and zigzagging though the clouds.’ The bomber, with a crew of 8, had departed one and a half hours earlier from the English airport, Middleton Saint George, for a bombing mission on the port city of Bremen, but it never reached its target. On Saturday, an information panel was unveiled at the site of the crash. 

The plane had been spotted above the North Sea by the German radar station ‘Tiger’ at Terschelling.  A short time later, the experienced fighter pilot, Leopold ‘Poldi’ Fellerer, succeeded in shooting down the Halifax.  The plane crashed near the Weersterweg, just outside Wons, at 22 hours 17 minutes.

The next morning, it became clear that the 23 year old pilot, Elmer Bagnall Muttart, did not survive the crash. Later, co-pilot Norman Trayler said about Muttart that ‘He was a gallant captain and he died that we might live’.  The fact that the pilot was able to control the damaged plane long enough gave the remaining 7 crew members the chance to escape out of the burning bomber.  All survivors ended up in German prisoner of war camps and got their freedom back in 1945.

Exceptional is the story of rear gunner John Duffield of Oxford, who was hospitalized with severe injuries in the German section of the Boniface Hospital in Leeuwarden.  He was regularly visited by Poldi Fellerer and his gunner, Georg Lotze.  In 1955, 14 years after the crash of L9561, Lotze made an attempt from Germany to get in touch again with Duffield.

In his homeland, the deceased pilot Elmer Muttart has never been forgotten.  His name is mentioned on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph, a monument close to his birthplace of Cape Traverse on Prince Edward Island.  For a long time, the exact story behind Muttart’s death was not known.  In Canada, Dutchman Pieter Valkenburg, who resides there, has delved into the history of all the deceased names on the monument, and as of 2016 also researched the life of Sgt Muttart.  Very quickly, collaboration began with the Frisian Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation (SMAMF), which has done research into the aerial war above the province since the 1970s. 

The idea of Valkenburg and SMAMF to honour, in perpetuity, Muttart’s last flight with an information panel at the crash site was realized on the 12th of October, thanks to the cooperation of Dorpsbelang Wons and financial support from within and outside The Netherlands.

About 30 relatives were present, as well as Deputy Mayor Maarten Offinga. Before the unveiling there was a reception at the museum Het Hannemahuis in Harlingen, where a short presentation about the history of Halifax L9561 was given.

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Makkumer Belboei’ (See a PDF of the article in Dutch Makkumer Belboei – 16-10-2019-1) by Sjoukje Steinhouden.

Information Panel on 1941 Crash Unveiled

On the evening of the 12th of October 1941, the Canadian pilot Elmer Muttart, with 7 British crew members, was on his way in Halifax L9561 towards Bremen, Germany, to take part in an aerial attack.  However, over Harlingen, they were shot at and hit by a German nightfighter and the plane caught fire.  Muttart quickly came to the conclusion that he couldn’t save the plane, and while holding the plane level, he ordered his crew out.  Thanks to him, they survived the crash.  The plane crashed just outside Wons and the 23 year old pilot was killed by the crash.  One of his crew members later said ‘he gave his life so that we might live’.

Exactly 78 years later, there again were Canadians and British in and around Wons.  This time they were relatives of the afore-mentioned crew.  They were invited for the unveiling of an information panel on the Weersterweg that will ensure that this event will never be forgotten.  The idea for this panel was made possible by collaboration between the Frisian Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation (SMAMF, see https://www.luchtoorlogfriesland.nl/) and Pieter Valkenburg, a Dutchman residing in Canada.  Already for years he has been doing research on Canadians who were killed during the Second World War. 

Under the billowing flags of Canada, Great Britain, and The Netherlands, Councillor Offinga from Súdwest Fryslân, Mr. Elgersma from Dorpsbelang Wons, and Mr. Pieter Valkenburg unveiled the panel with information about what happened on that autumn evening in 1941.  After that, the ‘Last Post’ was played, followed by a respectful minute of silence.  Wreaths and flowers were laid by local and international organizations, such as the Canadian and British embassies in The Netherlands.  Families were then invited to be the first to view the panel.  A daughter-in-law and grandson of one of the crew members reacted with the words ‘You know the stories about what happened.  Now it’s become real.’

After everybody had taken in the information and surroundings, the group left for Wons and stopped, for a few moments, at the war memorial there.  The SMAMF had put together a nice, informative program for them.  Earlier that day, they visited Het Hannemahuis in Harlingen where, according to one guest, a great presentation was given.  Of course, they also had visited the grave of the deceased Elmer Muttart in Harlingen. According to Sietse Kuiper of the SMAMF, ‘They were honoured that we have remembered, and therefore they made the trip’.

CIMG3634 Nov 6 2019 With Matt Rainie at CBC

Pieter (left) with CBC PEI’s Matt Rainnie at the CBC studio in Charlottetown. They are holding up a copy of the English language transcript of the “He Died That We Might Live’ booklet. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Pieter was interviewed by Jonna Brewer of CBC Moncton for the special regional Maritime Remembrance Day broadcast on November 11, 2019.  The interview about the events in Wons was suggested and organized by Matt Rainnie of CBC PEI and was done in the CBC studio in Charlottetown.  You can listen to this interview here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ho24lfnzhfhyjxmpW4qUo00p1IjyiwJ-/view?usp=sharing

A big thank you to Pieter for taking the time to translate the articles!  Thank you also to the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation for sending us the articles, to Matt Rainnie and Jonna Brewer for featuring the Halifax L9561 story and memorial panel for the Remembrance Day broadcast, and thank you to Jane Scott for converting the MP3 file that CBC sent us into a link for this blog.  If you know of any more media stories, or have stories or photos to share about the crew or the events of October 12, 2019, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg