On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 8: The WWII Soldier With 7 Brothers Who Also Served

March 26, 2023. On a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, photos were missing for 12 names. 

As mentioned in previous postings in this series, the date of the battle was very meaningful.  “…They died on my birthday! I was just one year old!…” Pieter exclaimed. 

One of the names on the list of missing photos was Marven Glenroy HARVEY.

…Marven was one of 8 brothers serving during WWII….

After being unsuccessful in contacting family, Pieter asked Carrie Hogan, Branch Manager of Royal Canadian Legion Hants County Branch No 9 in Windsor, Nova Scotia for help.  Carrie explained that she’d …. have to reach out to some of our older members here who seem to know everyone….”   

Shortly after sending that message, Carrie wrote back, saying that she reached “Victor Harvie, Marven’s nephew…” who came to the Legion in person with a photo and information.  “Please find attached photo of Marven Harvie/Harvey.  He was one of 8 brothers who were in the service during World War II. The brothers were Avard, Burrell, Ernest, Ervin, Edmond, Victor, Garnet and Marven.  I was told that this was the only family in the British Commonwealth to have 8 sons in the army during World War II….”   

Marven Glenroy Harvey

Marven Glenroy Harvey. (Photo courtesy of Victor Vernon Harvie and James Harvie)

…Marven enlisted at the age of 18….

Born October 2, 1925 in North Noel Road, Nova Scotia, Marven Glenroy HARVEY (surname also spelled HARVIE) was the son of Richard ‘Dick’ and Sarah ‘Pink’ (nee White) Harvie.  At the time he enlisted on May 3, 1944 at the No. 6 District Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he was working as a labourer for lumber merchant M. G. Anton in Kennetcook, Nova Scotia.

On May 19, 1944 he was transferred to No. 60 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre (CI (B) TC) in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  As he was under 19 years of age, the minimum age for overseas service, he was eligible for extended infantry training.

In an interview for his Personnel Selection Record, it was recorded that Marven was “…bashful… and states that he has stuttered since childhood…”  He liked to participate “…in the usual sports and personal recreations include reading adventure stories and attending the movies…

A few weeks later, on June 17, 1944, he was assessed as being …a particularly well motivated young man, anxious to serve, willing, conscientious…. Excellent deportment to date, is trying very hard – deserves every encouragement…

On August 13, 1944, he was sent to A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for additional training.  His examiner noted that he “…completed his basic infantry training, and his attitude toward overseas service is good….”  It was recommended that Marven go overseas with the Canadian Infantry Corps in a non-tradesman capacity.

…Marven was sent overseas shortly after his 19th birthday….

On November 21, 1944 he left Canada for the United Kingdom, arriving on November 28, 1944, most likely on the same transport as John Joseph BOHON and Kitchener ‘Kitty’ LANGILLE.  Upon arrival in the United Kingdom on November 28, 1944, like Bohon and Langille, he was assigned to No. 3 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CITR).

On January 8, 1945 he was sent to Northwest Europe as part of the 10th Battalion.  On February 22, 1945, Marven was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining the Regiment in Calcar, Germany, on a day in which they had many casualties – 9 killed and 31 wounded, according to the war diary for that day.

…Marven lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.

On March 25, 1945, the Regiment’s task was to pass through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen.  It was Palm Sunday, one week before Easter.

Aerial Bienen post-war

Post-war aerial of Bienen (view to the southeast towards Rees). The aerial clearly demonstrates the tactical importance of Bienen, laying astride the narrow neck of land. The main road from Rees to Emmerich (nowadays Emmericher Strasse) runs straight through Bienen. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

Two attempts were made that day to capture Bienen, Phase I in the morning, and, following heavy losses, Phase II began in the afternoon and ultimately cleared the village.

In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ author Will Bird explained that Major Lloyd C. Winhold, the commander of ‘C’ Company, “…knew his men had to cross a wide open area and was insistent on a smoke barrage.  So it was agreed that fifteen minutes of artillery fire and smoke would be put down and the time was arranged so that ‘C’ Company would get into the village just as the shelling stopped…”  

In the article ‘Too Close To The Guns!’ in Canadian Military History, Volume 12, Numbers 1& 2, Winter/Spring 2003, pp.5-28, author Lee Windsor noted that the afternoon attack began with covering fire. “… Winhold’s ‘C’ Company hurried across the dyke level-crossing and in behind Argyll Farm where they proceeded to form up with the Dragoon Guards tanks and Wasps…

Like Louis Sexton, Marven was in ‘C’ Company, which had a more exposed route to Bienen, going across 457 metres (500 yards) of open ground to reach the first houses at the edge of the village.  The Company reached Bienen but had 33 casualties within 15 minutes – 10 killed and 23 wounded.

Major Winhold had anticipated this, as Will Bird noted that before the attack “…Winhold asked for ‘Crocodiles’, which would have saved the heavy casualties, but none were available. He asked for a longer barrage but was informed that it had been difficult enough to have the shoot for fifteen minutes…

Bienen 2 D Company's attack along the dyke

‘D’ Company attacked along the dyke on western edge of Bienen, while ‘C’ Company proceeded across open ground. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)


Bienen 1 C Company NNSH moved along the road in the direction of the crossroads

‘C’ Company moved towards Bienen along the road in the direction of the crossroads. The brick building identifies the location of Argyll Farm. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

The Regimental War Diary recorded that after the second phase of the battle started at 2 pm, the “…next report received at 1445 hours was that ‘C’ Company was in the first houses on the fringe of the town after suffering heavy losses….

The one day battle was devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded, including Marven Glenroy Harvey.

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

Like Clifford BATEMAN, John Joseph BOHON, Ralph Schurman BOULTER, and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, Marven Glenroy HARVEY, Kitchener ‘Kitty’ LANGILLE, and Louis SEXTON, Marven was temporarily buried on Monday, March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

grave stone harvey from find a grave

Grave of Marven Glenroy Harvey at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. (Photo source: http://www.findagrave.com)

Besides losing Marven, the family lost another son, James ‘Burrell’ Harvie, on October 27, 1942.

Thank you to Carrie Hogan for helping in the search for family and a photo.  Thank you to Victor Vernon Harvie and James Harvie for providing a photo and information, and to Sandra Harvey. 

Thank you to all who have helped Pieter to find family members of North Novies killed in this battle. Coming up in Part 9: Marvin William McGregor.

If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com comment on the blog, or tweet to . 

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…Want to follow our research?….

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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 see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/

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On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 7: The WWII Soldier From Quebec Who Has Never Been Forgotten By His Family

March 23, 2023. On a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during Hthe Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, photos were missing for 12 names.  By the end of October 2022, Pieter had managed to find photos or family for 8 of them. 

Then, after Pieter was interviewed by Ceilidh Millar of CTV Atlantic News At 5 on Monday, November 7, 2022, about the search for the other 4 soldiers, a viewer contacted him about Louis Allan SEXTON. (To 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)

…. An interview quickly resulted in a photo ….

Shortly after the broadcast, we were contacted by Irene Doyle of Campbelltown, New Brunswick, saying she saw …the story about your search on CTV and I have found a photo of Louis A. Sexton… How very nice of you to undertake this project. Thank you for what you are doing. Lest We Forget…” She then sent us a photo of Louis Sexton, which came from the Bay Chaleur Military Museum website.

photo louis sexton cropped 2

Louis Sexton. (Photo submitted by Irene Doyle, Courtesy of Bay Chaleur Military Museum)

Then we heard from Leo Allen in Baie des Chaleurs, advising he’d contacted a nephew of the soldier.   We also heard from many viewers, several of whom had found the same photo, or advised they had notified family members.  It was heartening to hear from so many people about one soldier.  

Sexton reunion book coverAfter that, Judy Sexton wrote, saying “…I am Louis Sexton’s niece. My brother and my cousin have been given his name. We have been loving and honouring his memory since he died… We would be honoured and proud to share any information about his life and family…”  And they did.  Judy also included an excerpt on her uncle from a history booklet prepared for a 1997 Sexton Reunion.

Born January 21, 1923 in Maria East, Quebec, Louis Allan SEXTON was the son of James E. Sexton and Ethel Foran. After completing Grade 6, he left school to work.  

In a section of the Sexton History, contributed by Velson and Darlene Sexton, it was noted that Louis “…was a hard worker, even at a young age.  For a couple of summers, he worked in Maria for 50 cents a day…A little later, he went to live in Nouvelle with his Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Jack Gough.  He worked in the woods and in the mill in Nouvelle….

…. Louis enlisted in the fall of 1943 ….

Like many young men, Louis “…moved around and found work in the Maritimes…”  While working as a carpenter with Silvers Agencies in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, he was called up for service under the National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA). (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Resources_Mobilization_Act)

Louis registered at the No. 6 NRMA Clearing Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 14, 1943, but was “…dismissed for a month due to medical reasons….” according to his service file. He returned on November 15, 1943 and assigned to No. 6 District Depot in Halifax.

In an interview for his Personnel Selection Record, it was noted that Louis “…plays hockey.  Likes cards and pool.  Reads quite a lot – mostly stories and light reading…”  Louis made a positive impression, described as “…alert, frank and cooperative, with a pleasant manner…” It was also recorded that he spoke both English and French. 

On December 10, 1943, he was transferred to No. 60 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre (CI (B) TC) in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. 

After successfully completing basic training, on February 12, 1944, he was sent to A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for ordnance training.

…. Louis was sent overseas ….

On April 13, 1944, Louis was granted a week’s leave prior to being sent overseas.  The Sexton History recorded that he went home for that week, visiting family for what would be the last time.  “…After the week was over, he left home, alone, with one small blue suitcase, and many memories…

Louis didn’t have much time for reflection, as he left Canada on May 1, 1944.  Upon arrival in the United Kingdom on May 7, 1944 he was assigned to No. 4 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CITR).

On June 15, 1944, he was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.  On July 18, 1944 he joined them in Les Buissons, France as part of a reinforcement group.

He was with the Regiment through Northwest Europe: for the Battle of the Scheldt (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Scheldt), and Operation Blockbuster (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster), receiving promotions to Lance Corporal in the fall of 1944, and then Corporal on January 14, 1945.

…Louis lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.

On March 25, 1945, the Regiment’s task was to pass through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen.  It was Palm Sunday, one week before Easter.

The problem with Bienen was that the road through it was the only access point.  In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ author Will Bird explained that it was “… an isthmus of solid land about half a mile wide with one road, the main Rees-Emmerich highway, which passed through Bienen exactly at the narrowest point…” 

Aerial Bienen post-war

Post-war aerial of Bienen (view to the southeast towards Rees). The aerial clearly demonstrates the tactical importance of Bienen, laying astride the narrow neck of land. The main road from Rees to Emmerich (nowadays Emmericher Strasse) runs straight through Bienen. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

There was a dyke which led to the left side of the village.  However, “…inside the dyke there was a series of farms from 400 to 800 yards apart, and between these farms and the highway there was no cover of any sort…”  For this reason, capturing Bienen was vital, the task now assigned to the North Novies.

Two attempts were made that day to capture Bienen, Phase I in the morning, and, following heavy losses, Phase II began in the afternoon and ultimately cleared the village.

In the article ‘Too Close To The Guns!’ in Canadian Military History, Volume 12, Numbers 1& 2, Winter/Spring 2003, pp.5-28, author Lee Windsor recorded the reason that the first attack stalled.  “….What made the situation so difficult was the proximity of Argyll Farm to Bienen. The main German positions were close enough to pour accurate fire into the farm complex as well as anyone venturing north…

Hard lessons had been learned, and there was hope due to being able to secure what was known as Argyll Farm into a base for further action.  “….Unlike the first attack, the new North Nova assault was planned in detail taking into consideration valuable intelligence paid for that morning with ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies’ blood….

The plan was to “…take advantage of …secure left and the winter dyke by moving Major Dave Dickson’s ‘D’ Company to the west edge of town by slipping it up the left side of the dyke in the minutes before H-Hour….” H-hour was set for 1430 hours.  One account noted that the dyke was just over 3 metres (10 feet) high.

Bienen 2 D Company's attack along the dyke

‘D’ Company attacked along the dyke on western edge of Bienen, while ‘C’ Company proceeded across open ground. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)


Bienen 1 C Company NNSH moved along the road in the direction of the crossroads

‘C’ Company moved towards Bienen along the road in the direction of the crossroads. The brick building identifies the location of Argyll Farm. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

… Major Lloyd Winhold’s ‘C’ Company would form up behind Argyll Farm….” Louis was in ‘C’ Company, which had a more exposed route to Bienen, going across 457 metres (500 yards) of open ground to reach the first houses at the edge of the village.  The Company reached Bienen but had 33 casualties within 15 minutes.

The one day battle was devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded, including Louis Sexton.  In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ author Will Bird recorded the heroic actions of Louis:  “…Cpl Sexton exposed himself time after time in encouraging his men until at last he was shot down…

Among the documents in the Sexton History was a June 25, 1945 letter to the parents of Louis, from Honorary Major Donald A. Kerr, Senior Chaplain (R.C.) in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, who wrote that he knew Louis as he “…was the Priest in charge of his brigade for over four years…I can truthfully say he was a very fine soldier – well liked and highly thought of by his officers and men…

He went on to explain that Louis “…was killed on a Sunday afternoon – the Feast of the Annunciation – while crossing a dyke and an open field to attack the vital town of Bunner in Germany, the day after we crossed the Rhine…”  Bunner is incorrect, as the town was Bienen.

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

In his letter to the parents of Louis, Father Kerr explained that he presided over the service of 15 soldiers, including Louis.  …I buried him the next Monday afternoon, in a small temporary Canadian cemetery – not very far from the spot where he died – to the lee of this same dyke I already mentioned….

Like Clifford BATEMAN, John Joseph BOHON, Ralph Schurman BOULTER, and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, and Kitchener ‘Kitty’ LANGILLE, Louis was temporarily buried on Monday, March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Louis Sexton from FindAGrave

Grave of Louis Allan Sexton at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (Photo source: http://www.findagrave.com)

 …Louis had written a letter the day before he died ….

Another document in the Sexton History was a March 24, 1945 letter written by Louis to his mother.  “…I am well and doing OK.  I had quite a disappointment yesterday.  I was …ready to go on my seven days leave and at the last minute it was cancelled on account I was a Corporal and doing a Sergeant’s job these last few weeks so I couldn’t go. I guess there must be something big coming up….”  If only Louis had been able to go on his leave!

Thank you to Irene Doyle for submitting a photo from the Bay Chaleur Military Museum.  Many thanks to Judy Sexton for sending a photo and information about Louis Sexton, to Leo Allen for notifying a family member, and to all who got in contact.  Thank you to Ceilidh Millar and Jayson Baxter of CTV Atlantic Live At 5 for featuring the photo search request.

Pieter has been successfully finding family members of other North Novies killed in this battle. Coming up in Part 8: Marven Glenroy HARVEY.

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

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 6: The WWII Soldier From New Glasgow Nicknamed Kitty

March 21, 2023. On a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, photos were missing for 12 names.  Kitchener LANGILLE was one of these soldiers.

….We hoped a film would provide a clue to family….

Just as Pieter was looking into the file for Kitchener Langille, Matt Rainnie of CBC’s Mainstreet PEI interviewed Jackie Torrens, who’d made a film ‘Bernie Langille Wants To Know What Happened To Bernie Langille‘.  Was this another moment of serendipity?  Was Bernie Langille related to Kitchener  Langille? (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Langille_Wants_to_Know_What_Happened_to_Bernie_Langille)

An inquiry to Matt soon resulted in an email from Jackie Torrens.  “…Matt Rainnie forwarded your email onto me about Kitty Langille – I can’t say I came across the name when working with Bernie Langille and his family about their grandfather Corporal Bernard L. Langille but I am forwarding your email onto Bernie, his grandson. It might ring a bell with him…”  

Unfortunately, we never heard from Bernie Langille so we have no idea if he is related.  Not every line of inquiry proves successful.

….Kitchener’s nickname was Kitty ….

Langille with kitty

Kitchener Langille.  (Photo courtesy of Ivy Warner)

Luckily, another lead led Pieter to Ivy Warner of New Brunswick, who explained that “My Mother’s first husband was Kitchener Langille…”  Among the photos she included was one of him with a kitten.  “…He was nicknamed ‘Kitty’. I’m assuming this is why his pic was taken with a kitten…

Born April 10, 1916 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Kitchener Langille was the son of Daniel and Lydia (Dewyer) Langille. He was one of 11 children, with 4 brothers and 6 sisters.  One of those brothers, Clarence, would be killed in Italy on May 31, 1944.

Before enlisting with the No. 6 District Depot on January 31, 1942 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, he was a labourer at Maritime Steel and Foundries Ltd., mixing sand for core markers. 

“Kitty” Kitchener found on ancestry2

Kitchener Langille with his wife Queenie, who was pregnant with their son Junior. (Photo courtesy of Ivy Warner)

Kitty had married Queenie Eloise Harper in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on January 23, 1939.  At the time of his enlistment, Queenie was pregnant with their first child, William ‘Junior’ Robert, who was born on June 4, 1942.  But that date was still several months away.

…. Kitty was part of ‘W’ Force in Newfoundland ….

After enlisting, Kitty was sent to No. 60 Canadian Army Basic Training Camp (CA (B) TC) in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on February 6, 1942.

On April 8, 1942 he was transferred to the A-1 Canadian Artillery Training Camp in Petawawa, Ontario to train as a gunner.  Then, on May 4, 1942, he was assigned to the 16th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery.

A month later, on June 5, 1942, he was transferred to the 14th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery in Debert, Nova Scotia, in preparation for overseas service in Newfoundland, with ‘W’ Force.

‘W’ Force was a Canadian garrison force responsible for defending Newfoundland against enemy incursions and providing security for existing and proposed defence facilities during WWII. Established in 1940 to defend Newfoundland during World War II, it included infantry, artillery, and anti-aircraft units.

In February 1943, while still stationed in Newfoundland, Kitty was given leave upon the birth of his daughter, Doris Eloise, on January 22, 1943.

In an interview in St. John’s, Newfoundland for his Personnel Selection Record on June 30, 1943, it was noted that Kitty “….left school at age 12…., lived on a farm and too much to do at home…”  He was “…fond of hunting and fishing and likes the movies…”  It was also recommended that he continue in the army as a gunner as he “…was satisfied with his duties as a machine gunner…

His Newfoundland tour of duty ended on December 18, 1943 when he was transferred to No. 6 District Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

…. Kitty was transferred to the Canadian Infantry Corps ….

Kitty spent a month in Halifax Military Hospital from January 27 to February 29, 1944. On March 28, 1944, Kitty was re-interviewed for his Personnel Selection Record.  Because “…his particular liking is for machine guns…” he was recommended for a transfer to the Canadian Infantry Corps and more training.

On April 9, 1944, he was transferred to A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for ordnance training for a few weeks before being transferred to No. 60 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre (CI (B) TC) in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on April 14, 1944. 

Kitty was interviewed again on July 28, 1944.  After stating he “…had a good attitude towards overseas service…” he returned to Aldershot a few days later for further training, this time for a 6 pounder course.  A 6 pounder was an anti-tank gun.  (For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnance_QF_6-pounder )

After completing the course on September 29, 1944, he was transferred to No. 1 Training Brigade Group and sent to Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas. 

…. Kitty was sent overseas ….

On November 21, 1944 he left Canada for the United Kingdom, arriving on November 28, 1944, most likely on the same transport as John Joseph BOHON.  Upon arrival in the United Kingdom on November 28, 1944, like Bohon, he was assigned to No. 3 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CITR).

On January 25, 1945 he was sent to Northwest Europe as part of 21 Army Group, and then on February 28, 1945, was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining the Regiment in Udem, Germany.

He was a needed addition to the Regiment, as the day before the war diary had reported “…2 other ranks killed, Major F. A. Sparks and Lieutenant J. D. Campbell and 12 other ranks wounded, and 3 other ranks missing, believed to have been taken prisoner by the enemy…

…Kitty lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.

Plunder 015 Aerial of Bienen from 23 March 45, just prior to the Rhine Crossing (Courtesy Becker) ww2talk

Aerial view of Bienen taken on March 23, 1945, just prior to the Rhine Crossing (Map source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

On March 25, 1945, the Regiment’s task was to pass through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen.  The problem with Bienen was that the road through it was the only access point.  In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ author Will Bird explained that it was “… an isthmus of solid land about half a mile wide with one road, the main Rees-Emmerich highway, which passed through Bienen exactly at the narrowest point…

Sketch Bienen WD NNSH

Trace map for the attack phases.  The initials S. L. refer to ‘start line’.  (Map source:  North Nova Scotia Highlanders war diary for March 1945)

It was Palm Sunday, one week before Easter. The war diary for the North Nova Scotia Highlanders for March 25, 1945 explained that “The actual ground attack was split into two phases. Phase I – ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were to attack CLAW and BEAK respectively… along a very narrow two-company front. In support ‘A’ Company was to have a troop of D.D. tanks from the Essex Yoemanry. A section of engineers was to go with each of the forward companies and also two of our six-pounder guns, with a Forward Observation Officer each. They were to exploit road to take CLAW and BEAK as quickly as possible….

Then, in “…Phase II – ‘C’ Company on the right was to pass through ‘A’ Company onto its objective WING and “D” Company on the left was to pass through ‘B’ Company onto its objective HEAD, reference Appendix 8. Each company was to pick up the section of sappers and the two Forward Observation Officers. Two six pounders were to go in with ‘C’ Company and ‘D’ Company was to pick up the two six-pounders from ‘B’ Company…

The one day battle was devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded.  Among those who lost their lives was Kitchener ‘Kitty’ Langille, who would have been in the group with the six-pounder guns.

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

Like Clifford BATEMAN, John Joseph BOHON, Ralph Schurman BOULTER, and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, Kitty was temporarily buried on March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Grave of Kitchener Langille

Grave of Kitchener Langille in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. (Photo source: https://www.findagrave.com)

Kitty’s obituary noted that his wife Queenie was notified of his death on April 4, 1945, but “…it was only a few days before that she received a letter from her husband, written on March 22nd.  It was a cheerful letter and he was optimistic about seeing her and the children before long…

Poignantly, the obituary went on to mention Kitty’s two children, “…Billy, who will be four in June, and Doris, two years old…

In his obituary he was described as a “…quiet, industrious man, highly thought of by his associates and all who knew him…

Thank you to Ivy Warner for providing photos and information.  Pieter has been successfully finding family members of other North Novies killed in this battle. Coming up in Part 7: Louis A. Sexton.

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

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 5: The WWII Soldier Whose Parents Immigrated To Save Their Family From War

March 18, 2023. Last fall, after Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, sent Pieter a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands, Pieter saw that photos were missing for 12.  One of these was John Joseph BOHON.

…Bohon?  Isn’t that a Ukrainian name?…” Pieter asked.  “…Maybe, in a shortened form…” I replied.

That short conversation ultimately led to successfully unlocking a search for family. After finding no family named Bohon who could be related, Pieter finally discovered that when he enlisted, this soldier shortened his surname from BOHONKO to BOHON!

Searching for Bohonko led to obituaries of John’s brother and sister-in-law, which finally led Pieter to Debbie Mierau of Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

….John was born in present-day Ukraine….

Map Velykyi Bereznyi

Debbie confirmed that the family was of Ukrainian heritage, with roots in the Zakarpattia (Sub-Carpathian) region in Czechoslovakia, but now part of Ukraine. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakarpattia_Oblast)

 “My grandparents, John Bohonko and Nanca Kohut (who I called Dido and Baba) were from the village of Velykyi Bereznyi in Ukraine where they were born, raised and married….” Debbie explained. A literal translation of the village name is Big Birch. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velykyi_Bereznyi)

Debbie wrote that after the birth of their son Johnny “…Dido made a decision to go to Canada so his son would know a life without wars and rumours of wars….”  John was born February 12, 1925 in Velykyi Berznyi.

….He left in 1927 and spent … long, hard years away from his family trying to make a life for them. He rode the rails from one side of the country to the other looking for a good job (almost freezing to death in Weyburn, Saskatchewan) to make a home for them in Canada. Finally … he sent for Nanca and Johnny. Baba, who had never been out of her village, made the trek with young Johnny in tow … to catch a ship to Canada…. 

PC-NI04 SS Nieuw Amsterdam

S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam.  (Photo source: https://greatships.net/nieuwamsterdam)

John and his mother Nanca sailed from Rotterdam, The Netherlands aboard the S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam, and arrived as landed immigrants in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 29, 1929.

Baba_UncleJohn

John with his mother Nanca in 1929.  (Photo courtesy of Debbie Mierau)

John’s mother, who became known as Ann in Canada, “… did not speak English but managed to make her way by train to Toronto where Dido was waiting for her at the station. He proudly took them to the house he had constructed and where they lived until the 1970s. Baba grew much of her own food and Dido worked hard for CN Rail, supporting his family throughout the Depression.  Five more children joined the brood. Dido never looked back. He loved Canada so much and insisted his children be raised as Canadians. Baba always missed her family and country very much but understood her family was much safer in Canada….

After finishing Grade 9 and a year in high school, John studied art for a year at the Ontario College of Art.   “He … painted murals on his bedroom walls…” but art was not his career at this point.

….John enlisted in Halifax….

He did bush, forestry, and carpentry work for 2 years before enlisting with No. 6 District Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 13, 1943.  At the time, he had been employed for two years by Foundation Maritime in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia as a carpenter’s helper. (See https://hazegray.org/navhist/canada/fm/)

In an interview for his Personnel Selection Record, John was described as having “…a neat, pleasing appearance…”  An adventurous soul, he “….left home and has done considerable wandering, taking whatever jobs he could find….

His enthusiasm and artistic talent were noted.  “…Enthusiastic and aggressive… Having a natural talent for Art he has made this his hobby…

John made a good impression.  “…As this recruit is keen and willing, has a good physique, and is anxious to see action, he should be suitable for Infantry training….”  However, as John was under 19 years of age – and therefore ineligible to be sent overseas – he was recommended for “…enriched training during basic training…

John Bohonko

Portrait of John Joseph Bohon.  (Image courtesy of Debbie Mierau)

Just as John turned 19 in February 1944, he was transferred to No. 60 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre (CI (B) TC) in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

On July 2, 1944, he was sent to A14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for further ordnance training in 3 inch mortars. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ML_3-inch_mortar)  As he was there at the same time as Clifford BATEMAN, perhaps they trained together.

After passing the mortar course he was attached to S-5 Canadian Driving and Maintenance School (CD & M School) in Woodstock, Ontario on September 8, 1944, for a 3 week carrier driving course for 3 inch mortarmen.

After successfully completing the course, John was rated suitable “…for overseas operational duty in Canadian Infantry Corps as specialist to armoury…

He was reassigned back to A14 CITC in Aldershot in preparation for overseas service, but first allowed special leave of 96 hours before leaving Ontario to travel back to Nova Scotia.  Per Debbie, John “went home to visit his family before being sent to Europe. My mother remembers him walking down the road with his gear and rifle on his back. He turned and waved to his little sister, who adored him, and she watched him walk away….

….John was sent overseas….

John returned to Aldershot, but was not there long.  On November 7, 1944 he was sent to No. 2 Training Camp in Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas.  He left Canada for the United Kingdom on November 21, 1944 – from Halifax, the same city in which he arrived in Canada at the end of 1929.

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom on November 28, 1944 he was assigned to No. 3 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CITR).

On January 8, 1945 he was sent to Northwest Europe as part of 21 Army Group, and then on January 26, 1945, was assigned to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining them in Holthurnsche, The Netherlands, located near Berg en Dal, and very close to the German border.

The Regiment reached Kellen, Germany near Kleve, just on the other side of the border with The Netherlands, on February 12, 1945.  On February 14, using amphibious vehicles, the North Novies evacuated Warbergen as they made their way to Emmerich.

Next, the Regiment participated in Operation Blockbuster.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster).

…John lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.

In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ by Will Bird, he noted that the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had made “three attempts …. to capture the village, but they were turned back by very heavy machine gun fire from the front of the village, supported by heavy mortar fire…

On March 25, 1945 the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were tasked with passing through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen during the night.

Mar 24 1945 Position showing Rosau farm

Map shows position of North Novies on March 24, 1945, as they made their way towards Bienen, with the Battalion HQ set up at Rosau Farm just outside the village.  (Map source: Project ’44)

In the article ‘Too Close To The Guns!’ in Canadian Military History, Volume 12, Numbers 1& 2, Winter/Spring 2003, pp.5-28, author Lee Windsor recorded that “At 7:45 am, Lt Colonel Forbes established his tactical headquarters near a great windmill at Rosau Farmon the outskirts of Bienen.

…The battalion’s 3 inch mortar platoon and attached Cameron heavy mortars set up behind the farm while the rifle companies formed up to advance….” A and B Companies moved up to their start line at what became known as Argyll Farm.  Cameron referred to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regiment.

Rees-Bienen_Zur_Rosau_PM19-01

Former windmill at Rosau farm. (Photo source: Pieter Delicaat, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

The war diary for the North Nova Scotia Highlanders for March 25, 1945, explained the plan of attack.  The Plan adopted was to use a fire plan of a series of concs and stonks, with one gun per troop firing smoke. Thus the whole open approach was hoped to be shielded from the enemy. As the troops reached initial objectives, the guns were to lift onto further stonks in the rear covering the approaches along the EMMERICH road and MILLINGEN road. The platoon of medium machine guns of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa was to take on targets …. of the medium machine gun attack…”  ‘Concs and stonks’ referred to concentrated artillery.

What Debbie wrote mirrored the war diary information. “….Johnny’s platoon was assigned to relieve an exhausted Scottish platoon trapped and under fire in a farmhouse near Bienen, Germany. On the way to the farm, the North Novies came under German machine gun fire. Johnny was killed on March 25th, 1945 – one month away from liberation….” The Scottish platoon she refers to would be the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a Canadian Regiment.

A war casualty never ends with the death of a soldier.  “My mother remembers when the telegram came to the house to tell Baba and Dido of the loss of their first born child.…” Their pain was felt by so many families in similar circumstances.

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

Like Clifford BATEMAN, Ralph Schurman BOULTER, and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, John was temporarily buried on March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Bohon Gravestone

Grave of John Joseph Bohon (Bohonko) at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.  (Photo source: http://www.findagrave.com)

…Reflections by John’s niece ….

John’s niece Debbie shared her reflections.  “…It has always been a wonder to me how much my grandparents had been through to save my Uncle Johnny from wars only to have a war reach across the ocean to take him anyway. Although I never met him and he died nine years before I was born, I have always felt a connection to him and wish I had met him. I grew up in a family dedicated to sports. I was an artist and creative. War had taken away a mentor to myself and my children, who inherited his talents.

This is only one story of the 104,685 Canadians who died in the 20th century wars. One of them may have cured cancer. One of them might have found a cure for Covid. All of them would probably tell you that war is cruel and destructive. That being said, I am proud that my Uncle John died fighting Nazis, but he is missed by all who knew him and some that didn’t….

Thank you to Debbie Mierau for providing photos and information on her uncle, plus her thoughtful reflections. Thank you to Shawn Rainville for researching the newspaper archives that provided the lead to find living family members.

Pieter has been successfully working his way through the list of soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders killed in Bienen whose photos were missing. Coming up in Part 6: Kitchener Langille.

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.

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 4: The WWII Soldier From A Small Fishing Village In Newfoundland Who Lost His Life In Germany

March 16, 2023. Last fall, Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, sent Pieter a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.  Pieter noted that photos were missing for 12.  One of these was Clifford BATEMAN.

th-399703060 Map Rose Blanche to La Poile

Map showing location of La Poile, Newfoundland. (Map source: https://www.gov.nl.ca)

Born June 4, 1924 in La Poile, Newfoundland, Clifford BATEMAN, was the foster son of Thomas and Julia Bateman.  Located on La Poile Bay, La Poile, a small fishing village on the south coast, is inaccessible by road and is served by a ferry via a port in Rose Blanche.

….Serendipity led to a photo of Clifford….

Pieter thought he might have difficulty with finding a photo of Clifford, given that the community he came from was small, and he was a foster son.  A search of Batemans led to Glenn Bateman, an engineer from Rose Blanche.

Sometimes, research leads to a moment of serendipity.  Pieter called him. Glenn answered the phone call from a number unknown to him. After Pieter explained why he was calling, Glenn said “…I’m not related….” Pieter’s heart sank.  Then Glenn went on to say “…but I have a picture of him…” Ten minutes later, the photo was emailed to us.

Clifford Bateman

Clifford Bateman.  (Photo courtesy of Glenn Bateman)

After leaving school at age 14, Clifford worked as a fish cutter in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for several years before enlisting with the No. 6 District Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on January 25, 1944.  Prior to enlistment, he had worked at Leonard Brothers in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

An interviewer for his Personnel Selection Record in Halifax noted that Clifford was “…a friendly Newfoundlander of good build and fair appearance…”   and that he “…likes to read, play games, etc…

While Clifford’s lack of education was noted, the interviewer found that “…he is a surprising man in some ways.  He is very quick at some simple problems and is poor at doing others…

Clifford made a good impression as a “…steady, dependable youth, used to hard work, and capable of sustained determined effort. He states that he will make good if given a chance in the army. In view of his good motivation, ambition, and determination….” it was recommended that Clifford be sent to the Canadian Army Engineer Basic Training Centre (CAE (B)TC) in North Bay, Ontario.

…. Clifford was sent to North Bay for basic training ….

On February 9, 1944, Clifford was transferred to North Bay for training, where he thrived.  After 16 weeks of training, he was re-interviewed for an update to his Personnel Selection Record.  The Army Examiner noted that in Clifford’s “…home community in a sparsely settled part of Newfoundland, educational advantages were very meagre, and he did not attend school regularly…

The report went on to say that Clifford “…entered into all training with enthusiasm and showed stamina in physical activities.  His platoon officer qualified him in all subjects…

However, “…he seemed nervous with the Bren gun…” Clifford felt this was due to “…weak eyes, especially when fixed on any object for any length of time….

In spite of the challenge he faced with weaponry, Clifford was considered “…suitable for general overseas duty in the Canadian Infantry Corps….

On July 1, 1944, Clifford was transferred to A-14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for ordnance training.

On October 4, 1944, he was on his way to the United Kingdom, arriving on October 12, 1944, where he was assigned to No. 4 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).

On November 10, 1944, Clifford left the United Kingdom for Northwest Europe, where he was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining the Regiment in Graves, The Netherlands as some battalions prepared to enter Germany for the upcoming battles there.

The Regiment reached Kellen, Germany near Kleve, just on the other side of the border with The Netherlands, on February 12, 1945.  On February 14, using amphibious vehicles, the North Novies evacuated Warbergen as they made their way to Emmerich.

Next, the Regiment participated in Operation Blockbuster.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster).

…Clifford lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.

In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ by Will Bird, he noted that the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had made “ three attempts …. to capture the village, but they were turned back by very heavy machine gun fire from the front of the village, supported by heavy mortar fire…

On March 25, 1945 the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in Bienen, Germany for the climax of 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade’s role in that Operation.

Aerial Bienen post-war

Post-war aerial of Bienen (view to the southeast towards Rees). The aerial clearly demonstrates the tactical importance of Bienen, laying astride the narrow neck of land. The main road from Rees to Emmerich (nowadays Emmericher Strasse) runs straight through Bienen. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

The Regiment’s task was to pass through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen during the night.  The problem with Bienen was that the road through it was the only access point, “… an isthmus of solid land about half a mile wide with one road, the main Rees-Emmerich highway, which passed through Bienen exactly at the narrowest point…

There was a dyke which led to the left side of the village.  However, “…inside the dyke there was a series of farms from 400 to 800 yards apart, and between these farms and the highway there was no cover of any sort…”  For this reason, capturing Bienen was vital, the task now assigned to the North Novies.

The one day battle was devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded.  Among those who lost their lives was Clifford Bateman.

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

Like Ralph Schurman BOULTER and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, Clifford was temporarily buried on March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Clifford Bateman find a grave

Grave of Clifford Bateman at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo source: https://www.findagrave.com)

Thank you to Glen Bateman for providing a photo of Clifford Bateman. Pieter has been successfully working his way through this list and we hope to tell the stories of a few more in upcoming postings. Coming up in Part 5: John Joseph Bohon.

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.

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 3: The WWII Soldier From Cape Tormentine Who Lost His Life In Germany

March 12, 2023. 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, one of the names on the photo wish list from the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. He was from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, which is just across the Northumberland Strait from where we live on Prince Edward Island.

Screenshot 2023-03-05 at 10-18-15 cape tormentine map

Red marker identifies Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island is across the Strait. (Map source: Wikipedia)

…He died on my birthday! I was just one year old!…” Pieter exclaimed after reading that Carson died during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945. He soon learned that 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the battle are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek. 

Pieter was determined to find a photo and contacted the Cape Tormentine Legion.  Perhaps they had a photo or knew of family members?  Sonny McCarron wrote back that there was a photo in a memorial book in the Legion but it would take him a few days to get there and digitize it.  We just happened to be in Nova Scotia and on our way home would be driving right past the exit to Cape Tormentine.  Perhaps we could stop by?

The answer was yes.  Sonny was unable to be there, but Joe Simpson would let us into the Legion and show us the memorial book.   That’s exactly what happened! 

…The Cape Tormentine Legion had a photo of Charles ‘Marshall’ Carson…

Charles Marshall Carson

Charles ‘Marshall’ Carson. (Photo courtesy of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 81 in Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick)

We got a photo of Pte Charles ‘Marshall’ Carson, and learned that his brother Vance, who died in 2005, served in the Canadian Infantry Corps during the war, but survived and returned home.

Born in Cape Tormentine on October 29, 1921, Marshall was the son of Charles J. and Clara Frances (nee McGlashing) Carson.  His father, who came from Newfoundland, unfortunately died in 1930, leaving Clara to bring up three children – Marshall, his younger brother Ira Vance, and a sister Beverly.

…Marshall wanted to be a paratrooper….

Marshall enlisted with the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on June 19, 1940 at the age of 18.  After leaving school at the age of 16, he’d worked at Fundy Construction Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a year, until just before his enlistment date.

After basic training, Marshall was sent on an anti-aircraft course and was a gunner on an anti-aircraft crew in various anti-aircraft units.  In a December 14, 1942 interview his interest in paratrooper training was mentioned, but he was not selected for this specialized training.

It was noted that his spare time was spent studying and he liked to read detective stories.  He enjoyed sports, especially hockey.    He had a pleasant, friendly manner, and was soft spoken. 

…Marshall spent a year in Goose Bay as a gunner with an anti-aircraft battery….

SixYears-1 Atlantic Coast Defences

Atlantic Coast Defences.  Carson was in Goose Bay, Labrador. (Source: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/SixYears/maps/SixYears-1.jpg)

Marshall remained with an anti-aircraft battery.  On July 2, 1943 he was transferred back to the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery and sent to Goose Bay, Labrador for a year, returning to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on July 6, 1944. (NOTE: Newfoundland and Labrador became part of Canada on March 31, 1949.)

Canada had built a massive air base at Goose Bay, Labrador as an alternative to Gander for transatlantic operations. This base became operational in late 1941. (See https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/goose-bay-base.php) The bases at Gander and Goose Bay were vital links in the ferrying of military aircraft to Britain.  Anti-aircraft crews were part of coastal defence. 

On August 19, 1944, Marshall was sent to No. 1 Transit Camp in Windsor, Nova Scotia in preparation for going overseas.  Then, on August 30, 1944, he was transferred to the No. 1 Infantry Training Brigade Group in Debert, Nova Scotia.

…Marshall left Canada for overseas service in November 1944….

He left Canada on November 21, 1944, arriving in the United Kingdom on November 28, 1944 and posted to No. 3 Canadian Infantry Training Regiment (CITR).

On January 8, 1945 he left the United Kingdom for Northwest Europe, and was transferred to the 10th Battalion for a few weeks, before receiving his final transfer – to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders – on January 25, 1945.

The Regiment had reached Kellen, Germany near Kleve, just on the other side of the border with The Netherlands, on February 12, 1945.  On February 14, using amphibious vehicles, the North Novies evacuated Warbergen as they made their way to Emmerich.

Next, the Regiment participated in Operation Blockbuster.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster). 

In March, the Regiment prepared for Operation Plunder, which began March 21, and involved crossing the Rhine River to the north of the Ruhr industrial region in western Germany. With aerial and military support, this took place on the night of March 23, 1945 near Rees, a town situated on the right bank of the Rhine River, approximately 20 km (12.4 miles) east of Kleve. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder)

…Marshall lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

On the next afternoon, March 24, 1945, they encountered fierce German resistance near the village of Bienen. On March 25, 1945, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in Bienen, Germany for the climax of 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade’s role in Operation Plunder. The one day battle proved devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded, as they fought in a deadly battle on open ground.  

Aerial Bienen post-war

Post-war aerial of Bienen (view to the southeast towards Rees). The aerial clearly demonstrates the tactical importance of Bienen, laying astride the narrow neck of land. The main road from Rees to Emmerich (nowadays Emmericher Strasse) runs straight through Bienen. (Photo source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

March 25, 1945 was Palm Sunday – one week before Easter.  The war diary for March 25, 1945 noted the fierce challenges faced by the North Novies.  “….The first hint of trouble came when ‘A’ Company reported at 0825 hours to be pinned down along dyke, under machine gun fire, snipers and moderate mortaring. Shortly after, ‘B’ Company reported to be under fire but close to Start Line. Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were suffering casualties. However, the fire plan was to start at 0845 hours with smoke and ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were ordered to proceed quickly to Start Line under its protection and form up and attack. At 0905 hours ‘B’ Company reported being pinned down in front of Start Line, with two platoons out of contact and suffering fairly heavy casualties. ‘A’ Company also reported being pinned down with a platoon out of contact and suffering severe losses….

During the heavy fighting, Marshall lost his life.  Like Ralph Schurman BOULTER, Marshall was temporarily buried the next day in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

carson, charles m. - 17 g 12_img_8404(1)

Grave of Charles ‘Marshall’ Carson at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.  (Photo courtesy of Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, taken by Frans van Cappellen)

Thank you to Sonny McCarron and Joe Simpson of the Royal Canadian Legion in Cape Tormentine for providing a photo.  When Pieter thanked Sonny for arranging the visit, he was told “…thanks for taking an interest in our veterans…”  Pieter’s reply? “…We sure do.  Their sacrifice will never be forgotten!…

Out of the 39 North Nova Scotia Highlanders killed on March 25, 1945 during the Battle of Bienen that are buried in Groesbeek, 12 were on a photo wish list. Pieter has been successfully working his way through this list and we hope to tell the stories of those he’s found in upcoming postings. Coming up in Part 4: Clifford Bateman.

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

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 2: The WWII Battle Drill Instructor From O’Leary

March 7, 2023. After Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, sent Pieter a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945, we realized that we had attended a graveside commemoration at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands in 2017 for two soldiers from this list:  Ralph Schurman BOULTER and Edison Alexander SMITH, both from Prince Edward Island.

CIMG9004 Sep 15 2017 sign giving directions to Groesbeek Cemetery

Directional sign to the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….The 2017 Commemoration at Groesbeek…..

On September 15, 2017, we were invited by Alice van Bekkum to be present when Nova Scotia resident Harriet Jenereux, the daughter of Smith, came to visit her father’s grave plus the grave of Boulter, her mother’s brother.   We accepted the invitation and made sure we placed flags at the graves of both men, as well as on the graves of several men who were on our list. (See the original posting at https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2017/12/25/on-the-war-memorial-trail-at-the-canadian-war-cemetery-in-groesbeek/)

CIMG8944 Sep 15 2017 Groesbeek cemetery grave of Ralph Schurman Boulter

Grave of Ralph Schurman Boulter at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

….Ralph enlisted with the PEI Highlanders in 1940…..

A Christmas baby, Ralph Schurman BOULTER was born December 25, 1917 in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island, the son of Mcneil ‘Neil’ Amos and Ella May (nee Schurman) Boulter.  When he enlisted with the PEI Highlanders in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on July 10, 1940, he stated he was born in 1917. 

However, upon his death, his mother stated he was born in 1918 in the Estate Form.  This would be incorrect, as when Ralph married Mary Catherine MacEachern in Armdale, Nova Scotia on February 7, 1942, he was 24 years old – consistent with a birth year of 1917.

Boulter from CVMM

Ralph Schurman Boulter.  (Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

After enlisting, Ralph remained with the PEI Highlanders for basic training, before being transferred to No. 6 Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 15, 1941. 

He applied for permission to marry, which was granted.  Unfortunately, the couple didn’t have a long time together, as Ralph was sent overseas two months later, leaving Halifax on April 9, 1942 and arriving in the United Kingdom on April 19, 1942.

….Ralph was a Battle Drill instructor in the UK…..

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom he was allocated to the Cape Breton Highlanders for a week, before transferring to No. 5 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU) Armoured Division. 

Boulter from Van Virt war mem

Ralph at No. 5 (Battle) Wing Canadian Training School in the UK.  ((Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

On May 1, 1942 he was seconded as a Battle Drill instructor to No. 5 (Battle) Wing Canadian Training School at Rowland’s Castle, Hampshire, England, which trained Canadian soldiers in Battle Drill, a course which taught men how to react when coming under enemy fire.

The course tried to mimic combat conditions, using obstacle courses and simulated battlefields, live rounds fired over the heads of students, controlled explosions, target practice, and dummies to bayonet.

a132776-v6 Battle WIng drill

Unidentified infantrymen taking part in a training exercise, No.5 (Battle) Wing, Canadian Training School (Canadian Army Training Centres and Schools), Rowland’s Castle, England, 8 June 1943. (Photo source:  Library and Archives Canada/Department of National Defence fonds/a132776)

Ralph remained there until November 9, 1944, when he was transferred to No. 3 Canadian Infantry Training Regiment (CITR). 

….Ralph went from Battle Drill instructor to actual combat…..

He left the United Kingdom for Northwest Europe on December 31, 1944, arriving the following day.  On February 13, 1945 he was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining the Regiment in Germany, where he would have been reunited with his brother-in-law, Edison Alexander Smith.

On February 12, the Regiment had reached Kellen, Germany near Kleve, just on the other side of the border with The Netherlands.  On February 14, using amphibious vehicles, the North Novies evacuated Warbergen as they made their way to Emmerich.

Next, the Regiment participated in Operation Blockbuster.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster). 

On March 6, 1945, Ralph received a promotion to Lance Corporal.  Meanwhile, the Regiment prepared for Operation Plunder, which began March 21, 1945 and ended April 1, 1945, and involved the crossing of the Rhine River to the north of the Ruhr industrial region in western Germany. With aerial and military support, this took place on the night of March 23, 1945 near Rees, a town situated on the right bank of the Rhine River, approximately 20 km (12.4 miles) east of Kleve. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder)

…Ralph lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

On the next afternoon, March 24, 1945, they encountered fierce German resistance near the village of Bienen. On March 25, 1945, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in Bienen, Germany for the climax of 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade’s role in Operation Plunder. The one day battle proved devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded, as they fought in a deadly battle on open ground.  

Plunder 015 Aerial of Bienen from 23 March 45, just prior to the Rhine Crossing (Courtesy Becker) ww2talk

Aerial view of Bienen taken on March 23, 1945, just prior to the Rhine Crossing (Map source: http://www.WW2Talk.com and identified as ‘Courtesy Becker’)

It was Palm Sunday, one week before Easter.  The war diary for March 25, 1945 noted the challenges the North Novies faced.  “….The weather – sunny and clear.  The day of the battle, 25 March 1945. …. The battalion objective was to be the town of BIENEN… code name ASTOR, which was formerly the objective of the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. They had penetrated as far as farm buildings … but had had two attacks on BIENEN beaten off with heavy casualties.

BIENEN was of tremendous importance to the Germans because it was the focal point of a narrow bottleneck controlling two main roads, the one to EMMERICH… and the other to MILLINGEN.  Secondly, it was of extreme importance that the narrow bridgehead was expanded quickly North and North-East to protect it from enemy mortaring and shelling and allow bridging to be put up.

The enemy were strongly dug in around and in BIENEN itself. They were fresh troops of the 115 Panzer Grenadier Regiment, and fighting fanatically to hold this vital objective. The approach was over 300 yards of flat open country with only a dyke running from the Start Line up the left hand edge of the town….

Right from the start, troops were pinned down, …suffering heavy casualties…”  Worse, in terms of communications, “….contact between platoons was next to impossible because of the murderous fire and heavy mortaring….

During the heavy fighting, Ralph lost his life.  He was temporarily buried the next day in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Out of the 39 North Nova Scotia Highlanders killed on March 25, 1945 during the Battle of Bienen that are buried in Groesbeek, 12 were on a photo wish list. Pieter has been successfully working his way through this list and we hope to tell each of their stories in upcoming postings. Coming up in Part 3: Charles ‘Marshall’ Carson.

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

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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 Battle of Bienen – Part 1: The WWII Soldier Whose Body Shielded A Wounded Major

March 4, 2023. Last fall, Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, sent Pieter a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945. Although there were more casualties from this battle, the list was of North Novies buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.

Not only were we were astonished at the number of casualties, but the date of the battle was very meaningful.  “…They died on my birthday! I was just one year old!…” Pieter exclaimed. 

In looking over the list, we realized that we had already briefly told the story of one – Harry William DOUCETTE of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – and we had attended a graveside commemoration at the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands in 2017 for two other soldiers:  Ralph Schurman BOULTER and Edison Alexander SMITH, both from Prince Edward Island.

….The 2017 Commemoration at Groesbeek…..

On September 15, 2017, we were invited by Alice van Bekkum to be present at the commemoration for two soldiers from the Island.  The reason?  Nova Scotia resident Harriet Jenereux, the daughter of Smith, was coming to visit her father’s grave for the first time.  She would also visit the grave of Boulter, who was her mother’s brother.  

Harriet’s trip had been sponsored by Wish Of A Lifetime Canada (see https://wishofalifetime.ca/), an organization that fulfills seniors’ dreams and shares their stories to inspire those of all ages. Phillips was the sponsor for this program in The Netherlands. (See the original posting at https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2017/12/25/on-the-war-memorial-trail-at-the-canadian-war-cemetery-in-groesbeek/)

CIMG8961 Sep 15 2017 Groesbeek Cemetery grave of Edison Alexander Smith

Grave of Edison Alexander Smith in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We had come earlier that day to place flags at graves, and of course included Smith and Boulter on the list.  Alice brought a photo of Edison Alexander Smith to place by his grave for the commemoration, as well as a candle for Harriet.

CIMG8950 Sep 15 2017 Groesbeek cemetery Harriet Jenereux at her fathers grave

Harriet Jenereaux kneels at her father’s grave. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)


CIMG8953 Sep 15 2017 Groesbeek cemetery Harriet Jenereux and Pieter

Pieter chats with Harriet Jenereux after the commemoration. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In 2017, we only knew that Smith, aged 32, and Boulter, aged 28, were in the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, and were both killed in battle in Germany on March 25, 1945. With the Battle of Bienen firmly on Pieter’s radar, he began his research.

…Edison Alexander Smith enlisted in 1940….

Born October 7, 1912 in West Point, Prince Edward Island to Samuel Dumville and Bertha Burrows (nee MacDonald) Smith, Edison Alexander SMITH was a fisherman before enlisting with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders on July 2, 1940 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. 

In his Occupational History Form, he stated that he had worked as a lobster buyer for W. A. Broidy in Pictou, Nova Scotia for the past 13 years.  He also helped his father, a lobster fisherman, during the summer, and worked as a lumberman in the winter.

He had married Helen Angeline, nee Boulter, on April 10, 1940, a few months before his enlistment.  A few weeks after his enlistment, on July 20, 1940, their son Douglas Scott was born.

Edison A Smith from CVWM

Edison Alexander Smith.  (Photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

After completing basic training in Amherst, Nova Scotia, he was sent to Debert, Nova Scotia in preparation for overseas service.

On July 20, 1941 he left Halifax, Nova Scotia for the United Kingdom, arriving in Avonmouth on July 31, 1941.   A few months later, on December 21, 1941, his daughter Harriet Elaine was born.

Edison was temporarily transferred to the Signals Relief Unit on August 28, 1942, before rejoining the North Nova Scotia Highlanders on December 18, 1942.

On June 6, 1944, he was with his Regiment for D-Day in France.  He was wounded on July 25, 1944 with a fractured right femur, and sent to 21 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England.  He returned to duty in France a month later, on August 25, 1944.

While the Regiment was engaged in the Battle of the Scheldt, Edison ended up in hospital again on October 8, 1944, this time due to cellulitis on his leg, but was discharged on October 19, 1944.

He was again hospitalized on December 14, 1944, and discharged on January 7, 1945. 

On February 19, 1945 Edison was promoted to Acting Sergeant.  This was changed to Sergeant upon his death.

…Edison lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….

By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder)

On March 25, 1945 the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in Bienen, Germany for the climax of 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade’s role in that Operation. The one day battle proved devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded.

Map Bienen Mar 25 1945 Project '44

Map shows position of North Novies on March 25, 1945, near Bienen.  (Map source: Project ’44)

In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ by Will Bird, he reported that during the battle, Major Dave DICKSON and his platoon commanders, including Lt Lorne MONKLEY, “…arranged that the company would advance eastward beside the dyke which ran past the north side of the nearer buildings of the town…During the action, Major Dickson “…was struck down by a bullet at the climax of the dyke crossing….

In the article ‘Too Close To The Guns!’ in Canadian Military History, Volume 12, Numbers 1& 2, Winter/Spring 2003, pp.5-28, author Lee Windsor recorded that …One of Monkley’s section commanders, Sergeant Edison Smith, ran back over the dyke to contact the tanks and Wasps back at the … firebase. A mortar bomb exploded as he reached the top of the dyke, heaving his broken body on top of Dickson and then down the slope….” Edison lost his life, but his body shielded Major Dickson, who survived. 

He was temporarily buried in the Canadian Military Cemetery in Bedburg, Germany before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands in 1947.

…What happened to Edison’s photos?….

This would normally be the end of Edison’s story, except for a November 1, 1945 letter written to the Estates Branch of the Canadian Army by Edison’s widow.  She inquired about the photos she had sent over the years to her husband, which had not been returned with his effects.

In her letter she explained that her husband “…had a very close friend …. Sgt Johnson, also of ‘D’ Company. When my husband died, Lt Lorne Monkley of Summerside, PEI, wrote me, saying Sgt Johnson would write me as when my husband was wounded he had given Sgt Johnson mine and the childrens’ photos and snapshots and other articles to keep for him until he was back in the Unit again…”  She was aware that Sgt Johnson died shortly after her husband, and wondered if her husband’s effects had been sent to Sgt Johnson’s family.

Edison was wounded in July 1944, and his last hospitalization was in December 1944.  There is no record of any other hospitalizations or injuries recorded in his service file.  It seems unlikely that Sgt Johnson would still have Edison’s photos in March 1945.

In a remarkable coincidence, Pieter knew who Sgt Johnson was, as his story had been told in this blog in 2021. Sgt Gordon Frederick ‘Geordie’ JOHNSON, of Truro, Nova Scotia lost his life on April 8, 1945, two weeks after Edison died, and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands. (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/07/17/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-a-photo-of-gordon-frederick-johnson-is-over/)

An inquiry has been made to the family of Geordie Johnson, inquiring if by some chance they knew of any ‘mystery’ photos that had been received with his effects.

Out of the 39 North Nova Scotia Highlanders killed on March 25, 1945 during the Battle of Bienen that are buried in Groesbeek, 12 were on a photo wish list. Pieter has been successfully working his way through this list and we hope to tell each of their stories in upcoming postings. Coming up in Part 2: Ralph Schurman Boulter.

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

….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….

…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 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

Happy Holidays From The Valkenburgs!

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December 24, 2022.  It’s hard to believe how quickly 2022 has raced by.  It seems like only yesterday that Pieter was preparing his research plan for the year, and I was working on the final chapters of a book. 

It’s been a busy year.  Several long-standing searches for photos were successful, meaning Pieter could complete his files for those soldiers.  New research files were added, such as the request to find photos and family for 4 soldiers of Ukrainian descent, and Pieter was able to finish his research for many of the unfinished files from 2021.  There is a lag between him completing his work and me getting a chance to document his research, but that is on my ‘to do’ list for this winter.

While we didn’t get to travel as much as we had hoped, we were able to meet several families, which we very much appreciated.  We were able to able much with the help of media, and the many families that came forward to share photos and information.  What follows in the rest of this posting is a summary of what happened in 2022 with this research project.

…Book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’….

In February 2022 a book Daria wrote about our 2017 war memorial tour in Europe through 4 countries was published, and is available in print and e-book formats.  See www.nosoldierforgotten.com for more information.

OnTheWarMememorialTrailinEurope_Barcode

…Pieter Honoured With PEI Senior Islander of the Year Award….

On October 21, 2022, Pieter Valkenburg received the PEI Senior Islander of the Year Award, for his ongoing research to uncover the stories and photos of those who served in WW1 and WW2, and sharing his research findings with the public.  

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.   (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/10/23/pieter-receives-pei-senior-islander-of-the-year-award/)

…. Soldiers Listed On The Cenotaph Outside Borden-Carleton Legion …….

This year we added more information on soldiers whose stories had previously been told:

  • After a 7 year search we received a photo for WWI soldier James CAIRNS of Kinkora, Prince Edward Island, who died during the Battle of Amiens and is buried in France.
  • After another 7 year search we received a photo for WWII soldier Leonard Stephen AVERY of Bedeque, Prince Edward Island, who died after he was accidentally shot through the head while examining a rifle. He’s buried on Prince Edward Island.

 … WW1 Related Stories….

  • We explained what a Field Post Card was and shared more observations from WW1 soldier Harold Keith HOWATT, giving a comparison of what went into the Field Post Card and what he actually experienced that didn’t go into the card.
  • We shared the story of how a photo of WW1 soldier Lloyd Clifford SHORTLIFF of Barton, Nova Scotia, whose named is inscribed on the Vimy Memorial in France, was saved when a Legion member bought it at an auction. A Legion in Nova Scotia will be taking possession of this picture.

 … WW2 Related Stories….

  • We shared a story about the 2021 candle lighting at graves of Canadian soldiers in The Netherlands.
  • We shared on update on a 2020 posting about Ralph Gordon MCCUTCHEON, a WW2 flight student at the No. 9 Service Flying Training School RCAF in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, who died in a plane crash in North Tryon, Prince Edward Island.
  • We shared a visit that Pieter made to Coffeen Nature Preserve in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, site of a WW2 era JB-2 missile launching test site. The JB-2 flying robot bombs were the American version of the German V1 flying bombs.
  • We shared a story about the 2022 commemoration of 8 Carleton and York Regiment soldiers who lost their lives during the liberation of the village of Posterenk in The Netherlands on April 13, 1945.
  • We shared a story about the May 6, 2022 unveiling of the Monument in Gendringen, The Netherlands to commemorate those who lost their lives, including 41 Canadian soldiers and airmen.
  • We shared the story of the successful outcome of a photo search for WW2 soldier Allan ‘Gordon’ COUTTS of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, who is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.
  • We shared a story of the tribute to 27 Ukrainian-Canadian soldiers at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands.
  • We shared a story about the search for WW2 soldier Wilfred GIROUX who was in Gilze Rijen, The Netherlands in December 1944 and befriended a Dutch couple, and whose daughter wished to repatriate a photo and two Christmas cards to the Giroux family.
  • We shared the heart-warming story about how WWI soldier Frank PEARCE and his friends made Christmas 1944 in England memorable for the Pearce family.

…Indigenous Soldiers….

We were able to tell the stories of the service by these WW2 Indigenous soldiers:

  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Philip LAFORTE from Manitoba, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier John ‘Jack’ Richard MARACLE from Ontario, who was killed in Germany.
  • WW2 Indigenous soldier Stanley Owen JONES from British Columbia, who drowned on September 8, 1945 in Germany when the carrier he was in overturned in a ditch.

…. Stories About Servicemen From The Maritimes…

We also featured stories about servicemen from The Maritimes:

  • WW1 soldier Theodore (Ted) Francis ARSENAULT from Prince Edward Island, who lost his life during the Battle of Amiens in France.
  • WW2 soldier Bruce Wilbur CHURCHILL from Nova Scotia, who was accidentally killed in The Netherlands when a bullet from a Bren Gun ricocheted and hit him.
  • WW2 airman Rowan Charles ‘Bunky’ FITZGERALD from Prince Edward Island, who 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.
  • WW2 soldier Carman Edward GILLCASH from Prince Edward Island, who lost his life during the Battle of the Delfzijl Pocket in The Netherlands.
  • WW1 soldier George Stanley HENNESSEY from Prince Edward Island, who was in the 1st Canadian Engineers Battalion and survived the war.
  • WW1 soldier Chesley William HOWATT from Prince Edward Island, who was in the 50th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, and survived the war.
  • WW2 soldier Richard Lea HOWATT from Prince Edward Island, who was a despatch rider and scout and survived the war.
  • WW1 soldier John David MACDONALD from Prince Edward Island, who was in the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick Regiment) and survived the war.
  • WW2 soldier Donald Charles MACKENZIE, from Nova Scotia, who was killed in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier George ‘Ivan’ MACKINNON, from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in The Netherlands during the defence of the Nijmegen Salient.
  • WW2 soldier Michael Joseph ‘Joe’ MCKENNA, from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in The Netherlands during the Battle of Rha.
  • WW2 soldier James ‘Frank’ MOSSEY, from Prince Edward Island, who was killed in The Netherlands while serving in the Carleton & York Regiment.
  • WW2 soldier Harold Gordon SABEAN, from Nova Scotia, who was killed in The Netherlands while serving in the Carleton & York Regiment.
  • WW1 soldier William ‘James’ SEAMAN from Prince Edward Island, who was in the 105th Overseas Battalion and survived the war.

…. Stories About Servicemen From Outside The Maritimes…

  • WW2 soldier Elie ANTONYSZYN, from Manitoba, who died on July 15, 1945 in The Netherlands.
  • WW2 soldier Albert Joseph COTE, born in Quebec but grew up in Ontario, who died on October 5, 1944, of wounds received during the Battle of the Leopold Canal in a prisoner of war field hospital in Germany,
  • WW2 soldier Cecil Edward GOODREAU, from Ontario, who was killed in Germany during the Battle of Keppeln on February 26, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier Andrew KERELCHUK, born in Manitoba but who moved to Ontario, and who was killed in Germany on April 19, 1945, during the Battle of the Küsten Canal.
  • WW2 soldier Sam MATVICHUK, born in Saskatchewan but lived in Alberta, who was killed in The Netherlands on April 14, 1945 during the Battle of Groningen.
  • WW2 soldier Neville William NESBIT, from Manitoba, who was killed in Germany on May 2, 1945 following the Battle for Bad Zwischenahn.
  • WW2 soldier Anthony PETTA, from Ontario, who was killed in Germany during the Battle of Hochwald Gap on March 2, 1945, but whose death is recorded as March 3, 1945.
  • WW2 soldier John RUSNAK, from Manitoba, who died in Germany on November 22, 1945 following a collision between his despatch motorcycle and a farm wagon.
  • WW2 soldier John ‘Jack’ Langford WALKER, from Ontario, who was killed in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany on May 1, 1945.

…In Conversation And More….

  • We shared a few adventures that we had in North Bay in May, including people we met, a visit to the North Bay Cenotaph, and an Author Talk at the North Bay Public Library.
  • We wrote about the Author Talk at the Victoria Playhouse in Victoria-By-The-Sea in August.
  • We wrote about the Remembrance Day ceremonies we attended in Borden-Carleton and Kinkora, two Prince Edward Island communities.

…. Interviews To Highlight Search For Photos….

Pieter did several interviews:

  • On Friday, November 11, 2022, 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
  • Charlotte MacAulay of the Eastern Graphic wrote about the successful photo search for WW2 soldier George ‘Ivan’ MACKINNON, who is buried in The Netherlands. The article, ‘Sturgeon soldier’s photo discovered in church’, ran in the newspaper on November 9, 2022. 
  • 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
  • Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote about Pieter’s search for photos and featured the story of Indigenous soldier Thomas CHASKE, then listed the names of several other 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.  See https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/2022/11/04/a-name-without-a-face
  • Charlotte MacAulay of the Eastern Graphic wrote about the photo search for WW2 soldier George ‘Ivan’ MACKINNON, who is buried in The Netherlands. The article, Researcher seeking photo of Second World War soldier, ran in the newspaper on September 21, 2022.  This search was successful.
  • Pieter was interviewed by Charlotte MacAulay of the Eastern Graphic, about the photo search for WW2 soldier James Frank MOSSEY, who is buried in The Netherlands.  The article, Researcher seeks photo of Souris soldier from Second World War, ran in the newspaper on June 1, 2022.  This search was successful.
  • Pieter and Daria were interviewed by Peter J. Wilson of the North Bay Nugget, about their research into soldiers buried in The Netherlands.  The article Couple devoted to telling fallen soldiers’ stories | North Bay Nugget ran in the online version on May 19, 2022 and in the print version on May 20, 2022.  See https://www.nugget.ca/news/couple-devoted-to-telling-fallen-soldiers-stories 
  • Pieter was interviewed by Marcel Vink of De Telegraaf, a newspaper in The Netherlands, about his research into Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands.  The article Zoektocht naar gezichten (Quest For Faces) ran in the newspaper on May 4, 2022 – Remembrance Day in The Netherlands. See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/05/04/article-in-de-telegraaf-quest-for-faces-zoektocht-naar-gezichten/
  • Pieter was interviewed by Charlotte MacAulay of the Eastern Graphic, about the successful photo search for WW2 soldier Barney McGuigan, who is buried in The Netherlands.  The article Search for teen soldier’s photo is successful, ran in the newspaper on January 13, 2022.  See https://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/search-for-teen-soldier-s-photo-is-successful/article_eaee52fa-72e6-11ec-b539-d33f425bb7c3.html 

…. Letters To The Editor For Photo Searches….

Letters to the editor in various newspapers were written in the quest for a photo for:

… Successful Search For Photos …..

Many WW2 soldiers are buried in cemeteries in Europe.  Pieter continues to work with photo wish lists from Canadian War Cemeteries for WW2 soldiers buried in The Netherlands.  This year we also received photos and information on soldiers buried in Belgium. 

Photos of soldiers buried in Dutch cemeteries were forwarded to researchers there for their digital archive. Whenever possible, stories are featured on the blog but there is a backlog due to the success of Pieter’s research.  I can’t keep up! This year, photos were found for:

Buried in Holten Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. Elie ANTONYSZYN
  2. William Eben BROWN
  3. Albert Joseph COTE
  4. John CULBERTSON
  5. Theodor ‘Ted’ HENSCHEL
  6. Andrew KERELCHUK
  7. Amil Adolph LARSON
  8. Donald Charles MACKENZIE
  9. Sam MATVICHUK
  10. Neville William NISBET
  11. Joseph Edmond ROBICHAU
  12. John RUSNAK
  13. Harold Gordon SABEAN
  14. John Langford ‘Jack’ WALKER
  15. William Henry ‘Barney’ WEBB

 Buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. Clifford BATEMAN
  2. John Joseph BOHON (BOHONKO)
  3. Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON
  4. James Edward DUFFY
  5. Cecil Edward GOODREAU
  6. James Edward ‘Eddy’ DUFFY
  7. Marven Glenroy HARVEY
  8. Kitchener ‘Kitty’ LANGILLE
  9. John Richard ‘Jack’ MARACLE
  10. George ‘Ivan’ MACKINNON
  11. Marvin William MCGREGOR
  12. Laurie Douglas PAGE
  13. Wilfred Joseph ‘Willy’ POWER
  14. Anthony PETTA
  15. Louis Allan SEXTON

 Buried in Bergen Op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands:

  1. Milton Evangeline LIVINGSTONE
  2. Robert K. VIDITTO

 Buried in an unmarked grave in The Netherlands following an aircrash:

  1. Rowan Charles ‘Bunky’ FITZGERALD

 Buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium:

  1. Bruce Wilbur CHURCHILL
  2. David ‘Dave’ Stinson HENDERSON
  3. Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Sidney HOOLE

The YouTube Channel….

In 2022 the following videos were posted on the YouTube channel:  On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw

  • S3E1 Book Trailer for ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten’
  • S3E2 Photo Search-WW2 Soldier Austin Havelock Munroe

…Thank you for your support and encouragement of this research project!…

As 2022 comes to an end, we would like to thank all who helped with researching these stories and contributed photos. We also thank readers of this blog, and the On The War Memorial Trail column in The County Line Courier, who suggested some of stories you’ve read.  A big thank you goes to Mike and Isabel Smith, owners of The County Line Courier. 

Thank you to all the families that contributed photos and stories. Thank you to Judie Klassen and Shawn Rainville who volunteered their time to help find families of soldiers through newspaper and online searches. Thank you to Don Smith for answering any aircraft and military flight questions we’ve had.

Thank you to the media who helped publicize the search for photos and information – Bay Today, CBC Radio’s Mainstreet PEI, CTV News, CTV Atlantic News, Dauphin Herald, De Telegraaf, Eastern Graphic, North Bay Nugget, The Guardian, and the Winnipeg Free Press.

Last, but not least, the YouTube channel and videos would not be possible without the invaluable support of post-production editor Wendy Nattress.  Wendy also designed and manages the book website.

….Happy Holidays

Pieter and I wish you all the best for the holidays and in 2023. May we never forget those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Xmas 2022 photo

Pieter’s research work continues. If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @researchmemori1.  

© Daria Valkenburg

 

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