Thousands join Veteran delegation in stirring ceremony to mark historic anniversary
GROESBEEK, the Netherlands, May 3, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Mrs. Laureen Harper, joined Canadian Veterans of the Liberation of the Netherlands, Canadian dignitaries and Dutch Government officials for a Ceremony of Remembrance at the Groesbeek 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 finally celebrated on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day).
- 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 lost their lives.
- 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 exhausted.
- After three months of holding the front line in the Netherlands, the Canadians joined the final push to help liberate the country.
- On May 5, all enemy forces in the Netherlands surrendered.
- The Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and the final resting place for the largest number of Canadian war dead (2,338) in the Netherlands.
- The Groesbeek Memorial commemorates those members of the British Commonwealth forces who died with no known grave during the campaign in Northwest Europe between the date of the crossing of the Seine, at the end of August 1944, and the end of the war.
"The Liberation of the Netherlands is a pivotal moment in Canadian history and one of our finest chapters. It is humbling to be able to share this anniversary with Veterans who have made the journey back to the Netherlands 70 years later, representing all the courageous men and women who have served in a Canadian uniform."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"This anniversary carries a deep significance for my fellow Veterans, and is heralded by generations of Dutch and Canadian citizens as a milestone in the culmination of the Second World War. In no small part, the freedoms cherished today by Canadians and Dutch and citizens the world over, connect to that moment."
Major-General Richard Rohmer, OC, CMM, DFC, O.Ont, CD, QC, Knight of the Légion d'honneur, Senior Canadian Veteran of the Liberation of the Netherlands
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