On May 23rd M and I were invited to attend an award ceremony at the Flesherton-Markdale Legion in honour of his Dad’s military service during the Second World War, in particular the liberation of France from the Germans. This week the story was all over the local newspapers on the Bruce Peninsula and here is copy of the article and photo that was published in the “Grey Bruce This Week” Paper.
All of his children and their respective spouses were present for the award ceremony where Allan was awarded the rank of Knight of French National Order of the Legion of Honour. Napoleon Bonaparte instituted the honour as a legion of men (and subsequently women) whom he wished to honour for their meritorious services, military or civil. It was a very emotional and moving tribute to Allan and we are very proud of him.
What made this award even more special for me is that my parents are both from Holland and they were just thirteen years old when Germany occupied Holland on May 10, 1940. The Dutch people endured five incredibly difficult years of fear, hunger and poverty before the Canadians liberated them on May 5, 1945. France was liberated from the German occupation on August 25, 1944 almost 9 months before Holland would be liberated.
Allan and all the other soldiers that were there in the Fall and Winter of 1944-45 were not finished yet!
Excerpt from Veteran Affairs Canada Website
“The liberation of the Netherlands, from September 1944 to April 1945, played a key role in the culmination of the Second World War, as the Allied forces closed in on Germany from all sides. The First Canadian Army played a major role in the liberation of the Dutch people who had suffered terrible hunger and hardship under the increasingly desperate German occupiers.
The First Canadian Army also played a leading role in opening Belgium and the Netherlands’ Scheldt estuary (tidal river), gateway to the port of Antwerp. Access to this port was essential to maintain supply lines to the Allied armies as they continued their push toward Germany to defeat Adolf Hitler’s forces and free Western Europe from four years of Nazi occupation which had begun in April 1940.
Following the conclusion of the Battle of the Scheldt in November 1944, winter brought a period of reduced fighting in anticipation of the push over the Rhine River in the new year. When the new Allied offensives began in 1945, the First Canadian Army helped liberate the northeastern and western Netherlands, until the German Army officially surrendered in early May.
Under the command of General Henry Duncan Graham (Harry) Crerar, the First Canadian Army was international in character. In addition to the 2nd Canadian Corps (which included the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions, and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division), the 1st British Corps, and the 1st Polish Armoured Division, at various times American, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers were also included as units. The First Canadian Army in northwestern Europe during the final phases of the war was a powerful force, the largest army that had ever been under the control of a Canadian general. The strength of this army ranged from approximately 105,000 to 175,000 Canadian soldiers to anywhere from 200,000 to over 450,000 when including the soldiers from other nations.
More than 7,600 Canadians died in the nine-month campaign to liberate the Netherlands, a tremendous sacrifice in the cause of freedom.”
And 70 years later I attend a ceremony honouring my father-in-law, one of the surviving Canadian soldiers that helped free my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles from the German occupation of their homeland. How amazing is that !
CONGRATULATIONS ALLAN YOU DESERVE THIS HONOUR !