I was handed two! ... no charge

From: Dave &/or Patti Prowse - Date: 04/27/05 10:07:52 PM
To: Bob Dowling - Subject: Jasper veterans in the Netherlands

Bob, As we discussed this morning, there are very few veterans in Jasper today.  Some, like you may never have served outside Canada.  John Bowen did serve in the Netherlands, and I discovered this through unusual circumstances.  He actually was a resident in Jasper's Seton Hospital in the long term care facility at the time.  I was leading mid-week worship with the residents, and made mention of the Nijmegen marches (40 km per day for 4 days, which I did for 3 summers while serving in Canadian Forces Europe).  The Nijmegen marches started almost a century ago, originating with the Royal Netherlands Fitness Society.  Anyway, John Bowen spoke up, and told me that he remembered the Nijmegen area well (just south of Arnhem and "a bridge too far").  John had been a transport driver  during the liberation of the Netherlands and served with a Service Corps, driving truck convoys over the bridge at Nijmegen.  Unfortunately I don't think John would still be able to talk about his service in the Netherlands today. During my tours in Canadian Forces Europe, I had frequent opportunities to visit the Netherlands for family holidays,


 Nijmegen Marches, battlefield tours and Veterans Affairs Pilgrimages.  Driving anywhere in the Netherlands with Canadian licence plates on your vehicle was quite the experience.  People were constantly stopping to offer hospitality to Canadians, almost as if we were "gods", acknowledging the Canadian involvement in the liberation of the Netherlands. I visited numerous communities (and Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries) for commemorative services during the 45th anniversary of liberation.  On a Sunday afternoon in the city of Apeldoorn a city of 150,000 people, 250,000 people lined the streets to greet the Canadian veterans.  When I think of security for royals in Canada, I couldn't believe the lack of obvious security as Canadian veterans with armfuls of flowers just crowded around the Canadian-born princess Margriet.  I was at that parade in Canadian Forces uniform, and later I discovered that I couldn't even buy a beer in the country, ... each time I approached the kiosk to buy a glass of beer, I was handed two! ... no charge! As you know, I've done some research regarding the names on the honour roll for the village of Jasper.  We had six casualties from the first war, and 16 from the second war.  This is almost the reverse proportion from most other Canadian communities, but indicates the local population ratio in Jasper during those formation years. Of Jasper's 16 casualties from WWII, two of them are buried in the Netherlands, and one very close to the Dutch border.


 I had opportunity to visit their cemeteries and grave sites during my time with Canadian Forces Europe. Flt Sgt (W.Op/AirGnr Raymond Gerard Brasnett of RCAF 214 (RAF) Sqn died 15 October 1942 and is buried at Uden War Cemetery near Nijmegen.  I remember his mother working at the Jasper swimming pool when I was a youngster. There is a Sapper Karl Christensen of 8 Field Sqn, Royal Canadian Engineers, who died 10 April 1945, age 43, and is buried at Holten Canadian War Cemetery near Deventer Holland.  I don't have details of his family connections. Warrant Officer II (W.Op.AirGnr) Alden Preston Cottam of RCAF 617 (RAF) Sqn died 17 May 1943, age 30, and is buried in the Reichwald Forest War Cemetery, Cleves Germany (4 km from the Dutch border, 24 Km from Nijmegen).  He was the son of Edwin A. and Margaret A. Cottam of Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada.  Note, Alden Bradley of Jasper was named after his uncle Alden Cottam, who was a casualty of the Dambusters raid.

Bob, I hope the above will be of interest, and helpful, to the visitors expected from the Netherlands. Dave

The Rev'd G. David Prowse, CD, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd)

      Photo: June 13th, 2005
Early in the morning - arrival in Jasper

Mr. John Bowen (96)
WWII Veteran
Dispatch Rider -Truckdriver /First Division - Service corps