Sunday, 24 May 2015

Canadian Battlefields of Europe 2015 tour summary: Amsterdam, Holten, and Wageningen



I've returned from this year's battlefield tour, and over the next few days I'll be posting some of the trip's highlights. First up, the Netherlands, 4-5 May. This year's tour started in Amsterdam.

After meeting our group in Amsterdam, we soon moved to Holten for a special service at the Canadian War Cemetery on 4 May, the Dutch Remembrance Day.

The service at Holten included a Spitfire flypast, which was by itself worth the effort to get there.

What really makes the service special is the participation local school children, who come out to lay flowers on the graves of their grandparents' liberators. I don't know how much of it is based on sincere appreciation from a generation untouched by war and how much is a result of their teachers' instructions, but what matters most is that the younger generations are taught the price of their freedom, and who secured it for them.

The next day, 5 May, was Liberation Day. Every five years the Netherlands observes a national holiday, and this year was probably the last time we'll see large numbers of Canadian veterans able to make the trip. That's why I felt it was important to include these events in the itinerary.

Organizers raise the Maple Leaf at the Dreijen grounds for the Foulkes Festival in Wageningen, named after the Canadian general in command of I Canadian Corps who accepted the German surrender in the Netherlands.

The celebrations in Wageningen included parades with vets, marching bands, and period vehicles. There were even a few re-enactors demonstrating the proper (?) organization of a slit trench.

This OP was in good hands...

There's something about seeing kids from another country waving the Maple Leaf that stirs up more pride than just about anything else.

This B-25 Mitchell medium bomber circled over the parade. 


The vets obviously enjoyed the chance to re-live the happier moments of the liberation. Some threw out flowers to the crowd, others stole kisses.

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