October 8, 2019. While in The Netherlands we visited the three Canadian War Cemeteries and laid down flags of Canada and PEI for the names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, as well as other Islanders who have been identified by Dutch researchers. The first Canadian War Cemetery we visited on the 2019 trip was in Holten. (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. At Holten Canadian War Cemetery for an account of our 2017 visit.) On this visit we also were able to place flags on graves of soldiers that were identified by Pieter while doing research for photos and other information to help the researchers at the cemetery with their “A Face For Every Grave” project.
For some reason, we have never been able to visit the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten on a dry day. We started off in beautiful sunshine, but as soon as we entered the gate into the cemetery, it started to rain. At first we ignored the rain, and were rewarded with a downpour. We got the message and went back to the car to wait for the rain to stop.
While we waited we noticed that schoolchildren from an elementary school in nearby Holten were having a tour and explanation of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in liberating The Netherlands during WWII. We approached a teacher and asked if the children would like Canadian flag pins. As soon as the children understood what was being offered, Pieter was mobbed! “Are you really from Canada?” he was asked.
While handing out pins to the schoolchildren, the rain stopped and we returned to visit the graves. We went through the gate into the cemetery and stopped to take a photo at the entrance. No sooner had the photo been taken than it started to rain again, quite heavily! Back we went to the car.
We were soon joined by Edwin van der Wolf and Henk Vincent of the Information Centre, Canadian War Cemetery Holten, and decided to go for lunch in the hope that the sun would come out later. We’d visited the Information Centre in 2017 (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. At The Information Centre at Holten Canadian War Cemetery) but it closed at the beginning of October for several months for expansion of the facility and preparation of digital innovations, such as holographic stories of various soldiers.
After a nice visit and lunch, the sun began peeking out from the clouds and it started to dry up, so a third attempt was made at placing flags at the cemetery. This time we were joined by Edwin and Henk. Again, however, we no sooner came past the gate than it started to rain. This time we kept on going, and the four of us managed to place 33 flags and take photos of each grave…. in the rain.
Flags of Canada and Prince Edward Island were placed at the graves of the following Islanders:
- Alfred ARSENAULT, born in Urbanville
- Frederick Charles CHEVERIE, born in Summerside
- Nelson DES ROCHES, born in Tignish
- Harald FRASER, born in Vernon Bridge
- Frank GALLANT, born in Mount Carmel
- Carman E. GILLCASH, born in O’Leary
- Maurice J. HUGHES, born in Charlottetown
- Francis E. LAWLESS, born in Grand Tracadie
- Neal F. MACDONALD, born in North Wiltshire
- Daniel Peter MACKENZIE, born in Summerville
- Ruel K. MATHESON, born in Charlottetown
- John B. MATTHEW, born in Souris
- Michael J. MCKENNA, born in Montague
- John A. MCLAREN, born in Armadale
- George Martin MCMAHON, born in Kinkora
- William Douglas SHERREN, born in Crapaud
- Charles B. TUPLIN, born in Kensington
- Archibald H. NELSON, born in Charlottetown
Flags of Canada and Nova Scotia were placed at the graves of the following soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment:
- Joseph A. COMEAU, born in Lower Saulnierville
- Gordon F. JOHNSON, born in Nova Scotia, birthplace unknown
- Lewis W. MARSH, born in Sydney Mines
- Lloyd W. MURRAY, born in Tatamagouche
A flag of Canada was placed at the graves of the following soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, who were not from Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island:
- Allan G. COUTTS, born in Alberta
- Howard M. NICHOLLS, born in Mattawa, Ontario
- Gunnar DALMAN, born in Saskatchewan
Edwin van der Wolf researched a tragic story of Canadian soldiers murdered in cold blood by German soldiers on April 9, 1945 while they were sleeping in tents in Sogel, Germany, and Canadian flags were placed in honour of these men as well:
- Karl CHRISTENSEN of Alberta
- Louis FELDMANN of Ontario
- Lewis GALLANT of Manitoba
- Thomas F. GREENHALGH of Alberta
- Victor HUBACHECK of Ontario
- John D. MCDOUGALL of Manitoba
- Harlow D. RANKIN of Ontario
- Franklin ZIMMERMAN of Ontario
Placing flags is the easiest part of a cemetery visit. Gathering flags to bring from Canada is an event in itself, involving many people who provided them. Our thanks go to:
- the office of Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, Prince Edward Island for Canada flags and pins
- the office of Senator Mike Duffy, Senate of Canada for Canada flags and pins
- Mary McQuaid of Veterans Affairs Canada for arranging for us to have PEI flags
- John Wales of North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum for making a trip to the Island to drop off Nova Scotia flags.
If anyone has more information to share on any of the soldiers listed above, or know of more Islanders buried in the cemetery in Holten, please contact Pieter at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the blog.
© Daria Valkenburg