Mr. Robert Fitzsimmons
WWII Veteran

Liberator of the Netherlands

Barges in canals pulled by women

My name is Robert Fitzsimmons.
My Dad, myself and two brothers enlisted in 1940, I was 18 years old then. I was a member of the 7th Canadian Infantry and part of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, as a "Craftsman".  I ended up in Nijmegen in The Netherlands, in 1944. I remember crossing the Waal River in pouring rain, I will always remember all the water everywhere. When moving forward, we were always in the canals and rivers which were all flooded. Because we spent so much  time in water, we were known as the 3rd Canadian Division of Water Rats. In Nijmegen we set up camp in a field of a small dairy farm. Pouring rain and all was wet. The owners Mr. and Mrs Bob and Mary Nova felt bad for us, they cleaned out their front room and invited us in and sleep on the floor there. It was like heaven, no leaking roof over our heads! This family and all Dutch people were so happy to see us. Upon arrival, we realised that most Dutch people were starving. So we shared our food with them. I saw the Dutch ride their bikes with no tires, barges in canals pulled by women, and I had read about windmills and now I saw them everywhere. I have seen a lot of country and all on foot!  When paratroopers came down, the Dutch women would look for parachutes, and sewed suits out of them for us. I am sorry, that I did not keep one of those silk suits. Out of my group, 18 or 19 soldiers came back, and only two are still alive.


Photo: June 6th, 2005
Skaha Lake
Early in the morning at the Waterfront Inn - Penticton