A grateful Dutch nation extends its enduring gratitude to Canadian Veterans
HOLTEN, THE NETHERLANDS, May 4, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was joined today by Canadian Veterans of the Liberation of the Netherlands, Canadian dignitaries and Dutch Government officials for a commemorative ceremony at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery.
The Liberation of the Netherlands, from the fall of 1944 to the spring of 1945, was one of Canada's most recognized efforts during the Second World War, helping lead to victory in Europe that was officially celebrated on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day). In the Netherlands, May 4 is recognized as Remembrance of the Dead Day, as May 4, 1945 was the country's last day of occupation. May 5 is recognized as Liberation Day there.
- During the Second World War, tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen played a key role in the Liberation of the Netherlands, including up to 175,000 Canadian soldiers of the First Canadian Army. The cost of this victory was high, as more than 7,600 Canadians died in the effort.
- The campaign brought an end to the "Hunger Winter," a brutal time for the Dutch people where, after several years of occupation, food and fuel supplies were harshly limited by the Nazi occupiers.
- After three months of holding the front line in the Netherlands, the Canadians joined the final push to liberate the country. On May 5, all enemy forces in the Netherlands surrendered.
- The ceremony at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery is an annual tradition with a focus on local schoolchildren.
- The Holten Canadian War Cemetery is one of three Canadian war cemeteries in the Netherlands maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Some 1,350 Canadians are buried here (including one sailor and three airmen).
"Seventy years ago, brave Canadian soldiers led Allied forces on a grueling campaign to liberate the people of the Netherlands. We take this important period of commemoration to honour the sacrifices of those in uniform, reflect on the hardships of the oppressed, and give thanks for the freedoms that generations of Canadians have fought to protect."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"Today, the Canadian Armed Forces remembers some 1,350 Canadians whose remains were brought here to Holten. We are saddened that they never saw the end of the campaign in Europe. At the same time, we are emboldened by their courage and forever proud to carry on their legacy."
General Thomas J. Lawson, Chief of Defence Staff
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans of Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468