On The War Memorial Trail….. Atlantic Canada Remembers – Part 3

‘No soldier buried overseas should be forgotten’ …. Pieter Valkenburg

January 16, 2021.  “No soldier buried overseas should be forgotten.” This statement by Pieter in a news clip on CTV’s Atlantic Live At 5 touched many people who watched it, and many photos and stories continue to be emailed to him.  As mentioned in Parts 1 and 2, Pieter has been working to ensure every email is acknowledged, and that the photos of soldiers buried in The Netherlands are forwarded to the appropriate cemetery for their digital archives. 

This posting features more of the photos submitted…..      

Soldiers buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands

William Broome restored

William Harold Broome. (Photo submitted by the Fleet Family)

On behalf of the Fleet Family, Diane Russo submitted a photo of her uncle, William Harold BROOME of Galt, Ontario, was born in 1913, the son of Simeon and Charlotte (nee Gilbert) Broome.  In 1937 he married Edith Cavel Gillies, and they had a son Billy.  A machine operator before enlisting in the war, he died of wounds received in action on April 25, 1945 during the Battle of Friesoythe in NW Germany, while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. He was buried there temporarily, before being reburied on March 9, 1946 in Holten.

Lt. Percy Dexter Higgins

Percy Dexter Higgins.  (Photo courtesy of the Higgins Family)

On behalf of the Higgins Family, Donald Higgins submitted a photo of his uncle, Percy Dexter HIGGINS, and wrote that “…My father’s brother, Lt. Percy Dexter Higgins, is buried in Holten Cemetery. He served with North Nova Scotia Highlanders R.C.I.C. (from N.S.)…

Lt Higgins lost his life during the Battle of Warnsveld which began late in the day on April 4, 1945. An account of the events is in Will R. Bird’s ‘No Retreating Footsteps… the story of the North Novas’: “…. April 4th was bright and sunny…The Brigadier arrived and the Novas’ next objective was the town of Warnsveld…. The troops were carried in vehicles to a debussing point in the woods…… there was a delay as a huge crater in the road had to be filled by the Sappers before the ‘Wasps’ could get over. Then the tanks had not arrived and the company could not get forward until 1730 hours. A Company started to hit snipers in concealed positions and progress was slow as each house had to be searched in turn….

Bird’s account mentions what happened next…. “….There was considerable shooting going on in various spots and B Company sent a platoon to make sure of an area between them and A Company.  Lt Higgins was in command. There was open ground to be crossed with a fence running at an angle. Three attempts to get over were driven back by machine gun fire.  Lt Higgins then tried to lead a rush up by the cover of the fence and was killed as he jumped over on the other side….”   

Like John James MURRAY, whose story was told in Atlantic Canada Remembers –Part 2, he is listed on a monument in Warnsveld. (See https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/57960/Memorial-Canadian-Soldiers.htm).

An error might have been made in recording the date of his death as April 7, 1945 on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and on his gravestone.  The family has been provided with the service file records should they wish to ask the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for a correction to be made on his gravestone, and for a correction to be made on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

IMG_7900 James King

James King. (Photo courtesy of Terry McCormick)

Aaron Bouma submitted a photo of James Gordon KING on behalf of Terry McCormick. Born July 3, 1910 in Woodstock, New Brunswick, the son of Harris Weston and May King, James was a salesman and radio technician in a music store before enlisting on September 1939.

While serving with the Royal Canadian Artillery, he died in a road accident on August 5, 1945, and was temporarily buried in Ostercheps (north west Germany) before being reburied on March 7, 1946 in Holten.

Pte Richard J Raney - 1

Richard Joseph Raney. (Photo courtesy of The Raney Family)

On behalf of the Raney family, Michelle Sutherland submitted a photo of Richard Joseph RANEY, explaining that “…My great uncle (my grandmother’s brother) was killed in action on April 8, 1945 and is buried at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery.  He was born April 12, 1926 in Point Michaud, Richmond County, Nova Scotia.  I was able to get a copy of his World War II Records & Service Files. As I was reading through his file, I realized that he actually lied about his age at the time of his enlistment. He enlisted in Sydney, Nova Scotia on August 31, 1942. He gave his birthday as February 8, 1924. Immediately I knew that could not be correct because my grandmother was born in September 1923. As it turns out, Richard was actually born on April 12, 1926 and was only 16 years old when he enlisted. He was killed a few days before his 19th birthday….

Following the successful liberation of Warnsveld, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, which Richard Joseph was serving with, continued their advance. Will R. Bird’s ‘No Retreating Footsteps… the story of the North Novas’ explains that: “…. April 8th was clear and sunny and an O-group was held at noon.  The general plan was to seize a bridgehead over the Schipbeek Canal and penetrate into the village of Bathmen.  The bridgehead was to be taken quickly to allow Sappers to set up a Bailey bridge and open the road to traffic….” Richard Joseph lost his life at some point during the ensuing sortie.

Soldiers buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom, The Netherlands

Ernie Thornton

Arnold Ernest “Ernie” Thornton.  (Photo courtesy of Susan Hudson)

Susan Hudson submitted a photo of her uncle, Arnold Ernest “Ernie” THORNTON.  “…He was born in Amherst on September 30th, 1921 and was killed September 22, 1944, eight days before he turned 23….” she explained. “… He was the son of Edward Arnold and Doris Maude (MacDonald) Thornton.  He served with the Calgary Highlanders….” 

Ernie was killed in Belgium during the Battle of the Scheldt and initially buried near Wommelgem, Belgium, before being reburied in the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen op Zoom.

Thank you to Aaron Bouma, Donald Higgins, Susan Hudson, Terry McCormick, Diane Russo, and Michelle Sutherland for sharing photos and anecdotes.  Thank you again to CTV’s Atlantic Live At 5 for helping to get the word out on this quest of remembrance. Atlantic Canadians remember their loved ones who are buried overseas.

More photos and stories in Atlantic Canada Remembers – Part 4! If you have photos or information to share, please email Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1

Missed the previous postings in this series? See:

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© Daria Valkenburg