When the time came
United at last.
city of Zaltbommel thanks its Canadian liberators. They
gave us our freedom back.
Many of them returned home safely and have been honoured
by us as war heroes every year. But many were killed
during the liberation. Young people, young heroes, who
will remain in our memories for ever. We have also
cherished our veterans for many years.
During the numerous missions to Germany, many planes
were shot down. One such plane of the Royal Canadian
Air Force was shot down by artillery fire in
Zuilichem. All but one crew member lost their lives.
They were buried in the war cemetery at Zuilichem.
The survivor was tail gunner Mike Cassidy, who was 20
years old at the time. After the war he returned
several times to visit the graves of his comrades. It
was his intense desire to be buried alongside them when
the time came. This year he was to return to the
Netherlands for the commemoration of the 60th
Remembrance day on the 4th of May, and visit friends in
Unfortunately, flying officer B.M. (Mike) Cassidy died
in Toronto at the age of 81.
His wife and daughter will bring the urn with his ashes
to the Netherlands on the 4th of May. He will be buried
next to his comrades in the cemetery at Zuilichem. His
last wish will thus be honoured. This much we owe him.
UNITED AT LAST. May he rest in peace.
Albert van den Bosch,
Mayor of Zaltbommel, Holland
Bring out the Dutch tricolour
Church bells rang in Ommen on April 11th, 2005, at six
o'clock in the morning. It is on that date, sixty years
ago, that the Canadian Manitoba Dragoons and the Black
Watch liberated the city of Ommen from the German
The liberation of Ommen began on April 6th, 1945. It
involved heavy fighting, during which two Canadian
soldiers were killed: 24 year-old George Thomas Wilson
and 22 year-old Gerald Wilfred Soanes. Four days later
the Germans attempted to blow up the bridge over the
River Vecht to thwart the Canadian army. Fortunately, the bridge was not
severely damaged. The main force of the Canadian army
Black Watch was able to cross the bridge over the Vecht
effortlessly and oust the German soldiers. Incidentally,
only two German soldiers were still in Ommen but they
quickly escaped by bike. The rest of the enemy army had
already fled the night before.
The principal of the school, Mr. Van der Meulen, wrote
in his diary: "The Germans have left. Somebody has
already come out wearing a German helmet. Others carry
bundles of goods they have stolen. We peer out through
the cracks between the slats of wood covering the
windows and we see the first Canadian patrol walking
through the front gardens and along the road. Very
shortly all of Ommen will become thronged with people."
It is still early in the morning when on Wednesday,
April 11th, 1945, the town of Ommen is declared safe and
free of the enemy. Nearby Erika prison camp, where more
than 170 people perished, is also liberated that day.
The Germans used the camp as a 'judicial prison camp'
and later also as a 'correctional facility'.
The soldiers of the Canadian army were greeted as
heroes. For the first time in five years the population
were able to bring out the Dutch tricolour and the town
hall and other buildings proudly flew the flag of the
Netherlands: Ommen was liberated!
They flee on bicycles
Liberation panorama from the Grote Kerk (Church)
April 20, 1945. The day Nijkerk is liberated and to
think it is also Hitler's birthday!
Early in the morning, tank fire can be heard in the
distance. Rifle and machine-gun fire get closer. Just
before eight o'clock two large motorcycles and a jeep
suddenly drive at full speed into Holkerstraat from the
direction of Venestraat. At the Grote Kerk, three
Canadian non-commissioned officers and an orderly get
out of the jeep. The sexton who has the keys to the
church is hastily drummed up to point out the German
positions in the surroundings from the church tower. Out
of necessity, the sexton addresses the Canadians in
German because he does not speak English.
On the gallery of the church tower the sexton points out
the cacao plant and the furniture factory along the
Arkervaart (canal). Almost one hundred Germans have
entrenched themselves in the cacao plant and more than
thirty in the furniture factory. They have placed a
large canon through a hole in the roof
the furniture factory. This gives the Canadian orderly
such a fright that he runs down the tower stairs as fast
as his sneakers (!) can carry him.
An hour later, using a set of binoculars he has borrowed
from the Canadian non-commissioned officers, the sexton
sees the Canadians throw hand grenades into the
furniture factory, after which the Germans come out with
their hands in the air. The Germans in the cacao plant
flee on bicycles along the Arkervaart towards the locks
and then via the dike to Bunschoten-Spakenburg.
My 15 year-old sister, Martha, tucks the photo albums
under her arm
will be 60 years ago this April 15th that the town of
Winschoten was liberated.
During the course of 1942 almost the entire Jewish
community of Winschoten was picked up and deported to
labour camps and Westerbork. After the liberation, it
was discovered that 389 of them had not survived the
horrors. In remembrance of these Jewish citizens of
Winschoten, an impressive monument was unveiled in the
centre of town on April 15th, 2005.
On November 24th, 1945, Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel E.T.
Winslow also unveiled a monument.
A war monument consisting of a brick memorial wall
covered with roof tiles. A Canadian Maple Leaf carved in
natural stone was mounted in the middle. A boulder and a
bell frame were placed near the wall. The text on the
boulder reads: 'FOR THOSE WHO FELL'.
Later, three plaques of natural stone were fixed to the
memorial wall. The first plaque bears the names and
dates of birth of thirteen resistance fighters from
Winschoten who perished.
The second plaque bears the names and dates of birth of
nine citizens of Winschoten who perished.
The third plaque bears the names, ranks, units and dates
of death of 22 fallen Canadian soldiers. The text reads:
Fas Et Gloria To Canada From Winschoten April
Unveiled 24 November 1945 by lt.col. E.T. Winslow M.B.E.
The war monument reminds the population of Winschoten of
thirteen resistance fighters, nine fellow citizens and
22 Canadian soldiers who died during the years of
occupation through acts of war.
In early April of 1945 the allies advanced quickly on
the province of Groningen. The