PORT HAWKESBURY: May 5, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian Forces.
For the last year of WWII, Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands after five horrible years of Nazi Occupation. From September 1944 through to April 1945, the First Canadian Army first fought on the Scheldt River estuary opening the port of Antwerp for Allied use. The Canadian Forces then went on to liberate the rest of the Scheldt/Mass/Rhine Estuary including Northern and Western Netherlands, allowing food and other relief to reach millions of desperate people. More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen died fighting in the Netherlands.
The Canadians were greeted as heroes as they liberated small towns and major cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Millions of Dutch had suffered terribly during the harsh “hunger winter” of 1944-945, and Canadian troops facilitated the arrival of food, fuel and other aid supplies to a population in the midst of starvation.
On May 5, 1945, 1st Canadian Corps Commander General Charles Foulkes, accepted the surrender of German forces in the Netherlands. Three days later, Germany formally surrendered and the war in Europe came to an end.
The Dutch people have rebuilt their beautiful country but have never forgotten to show their appreciation to Canada. At the end of WWII, the Netherlands presented Canada with 100,000 tulip bulbs in appreciation of their participation in the Liberation of their country. Every year since then smaller gifts of tulips have been made. In recognition of the 75th anniversary, the Netherlands presented 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada.
Canadian visitors to the Netherlands are always pleasantly surprised at how warm a reception they get, even to this day, when the Dutch People they come in contact with realize they are from Canada. Family links between The Netherlands and Canada have continued through the years locally and nationally.
Canada, Nova Scotia and the Strait area are home to many immigrants from the Netherlands who came here after the devastation of WWII and who have become a welcomed strength to the community. Those immigrants, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are neighbours and friends.
Canadians are reminded each year during Remembrance Day celebrations from Ottawa of how grateful the Dutch people are to Canada for their Liberation in 1945. Take a moment this week to remember what the Dutch people went through during WWII and the sacrifice Canadians endured in Liberating the Netherlands.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43 said it is lucky to have Comrade Ted Martens, a veteran of the WWII Dutch Resistance, as an active legion member who after many, many years of service to the branch, the Zone and District and Provincial Commands, is still actively involved sharing his experience and history.
To support the Royal Canadian Legion Liberation 75 initiative, Zone Commander John Langley organized the planting of orange Liberation 75 Tulip bulbs in front of Tamarac Education Centre. Comrade Michaelette MacDonald redesigned the flower garden in front of Branch 43 to include Liberation 75 Tulip bulbs. These all should be in full bloom just in time for the 75th anniversary celebration.